There is much written about the key principles of good governance, one of which is accountability. As the blogger, the Druid and others have said ‘how can you hold a Councillor to account if you do not know what they stood for in the first place’.
It is clear that the current model on Ynys Môn is not working; simply saying, “let’s get rid of all the current leaders” is not an answer if we have no alternative model. As President Obama said about good governance in Africa, and quite apt to our local level as well - “Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions”.
David Beetham in his study ‘Liberal Democracy and the Limits of Democratization’’ summaries the meaning of democracy as:
“A model of decision-making about collectively binding rules and policies over which the people exercise control, and the most democratic arrangement is that where all members of the collectivity enjoy effective equal rights to take part in such decision making directly - one that is to say, which realizes to the greatest conceivable degree the principles of popular control and equality in its exercise”
So how could this ideal be achieved?
How about - In addition to a Good Governance Commissioner, appointed to check that the Council follows good governance principles, and to deal with complaints against the Council, the idea of Local Good Governance Boards.
Local Good Governance Boards would be made up of volunteers invited to join and trained by the Good Governance Commissioner. The members would be drawn from a cross-section of the community, in addition to key stakeholders such as i.e. business community, voluntary organisations, charities, and the church.
Their primary purpose would be:
- To encourage and lead local debate about the needs of the community through the development of a local framework.
- To monitor and report on the work of the local councillor, judged against the councillor's manifesto.
- A conduit for debate about important issues that affect the local community and based on the local consensus make recommendations to the councillor (and or others) as to the way forward. On certain important issues, hold local referendums. The councillor would need to publish clear reasons why they decided not to follow the recommendations made. If a referendum were held there would be a clear mandate.