Tony Dyer, the Green Party candidate for Mayor of Bristol has expressed concern that a recent report on “The Impacts of Mayoral Governance in Bristol” records an alarming lack of trust in Bristol City Council and the Mayor.
In response he will create an Assistant Mayor with responsibility to deliver more open democratic decision making in the city. This will be part of a new deal to build trust between those elected to govern the city and the citizenry they are elected to represent.
The Assistant Mayor for Open Democracy will have four key areas of responsibility:
1) Devolution – the Assistant Mayor will be tasked to implement the key Green Party philosophy of subsidiarity. This means devolving decision making down as close as possible to the people who are directly affected by the impact of the decision made. That may be City-wide, at Neighbourhood Partnership level, Ward level, Community level or even, potentially, a single street.
2) Scrutiny – to improve how scrutiny operates in the council, including greater involvement of independent experts. Used wisely, scrutiny helps avoid the unexpected costs too often caused by poorly developed and unchallenged decision-making.
3) Voting – election turnout tends to be lowest in the poorer areas of the city, and it is those areas of the city who feel they have the least influence on decision-making either directly or through their elected councillors. The Assistant Mayor will be tasked with improving local election turnout, and increasing levels of participation in decision-making across the city. This may include piloting proportional representation and/or votes at 16 for local elections.
4) Transparency – to implement the “presumption of openness” that the council is supposed to abide by, this includes challenging decisions by the executive and senior officers to render documents and reports as “commercially confidential”
A key role of the Assistant Mayor for Democracy will be to challenge the Mayor, the Cabinet, and senior officers to be increasingly open and transparent with the citizens they represent whilst also encouraging greater participation by citizens in decision making.
Tony Dyer, said “Leadership is about far more than visibility – strong leadership does not avoid scrutiny, delegation, transparency, or participative democracy – it welcomes it. To progress, Bristol needs strong visible leadership confident in its decision making ability, as well as an active and informed citizenry fully participating in democratic decision-making. Only with both, working together, will our city fulfil its full potential. To achieve this, I will appoint an Assistant Mayor for Open Democracy to help build trust between the Mayor, the council and the citizens who elect them.”
The Impacts of Mayoral Governance in Bristol