The proposed new constitution for the Bexhill Town Forum was thrown out at a heated meeting on Friday (July 17).
The Annual General Meeting at St John’s Church was arranged to simply sign off the constitution after two months of drafting and consultation.
Instead several residents opposed it on the point that the final draft had not been seen by the forum before Friday night.
After a couple of hours of arguing, a visibly frustrated and exhausted committee chairman Alan Peirce closed the meeting with no decision on the constitution.
“We didn’t expect this tonight, we will go away and we’ll think about our next course of action,” he said.
“I’m disappointed that this has caused so much problem when after all it was written in good heart and good will.”
Many residents called the constitution ‘undemocratic’ and accused the committee of taking the decision-making powers away from the forum.
A motion to not approve the constitution at the AGM was voted in favour of by 23 to four.
Founder of the forum in 1996 Margaret Jones said: “I am concerned to ensure that the democratic basis of which this forum was founded is continued. This has to be a democratic organisation.”
Mrs Jones wanted to keep the original ‘terms of reference,’ as she believed the purpose of the forum would be changed by the new constitution.
Others picked holes in the final draft and were concerned by the processes used.
The atmosphere of the whole meeting was hostile as committee members were upset by the accusations after spending so much time working on the constitution for the good of the forum.
Vice-chairman Theresa Stanbridge said the committee have tried to bring the forum into the digital world with this new constitution.
“The Town Forum is about communication. It is not a decision maker; it has no powers; it does not spend large sums of money,” she said.
“Its role is to inform the people of Bexhill of what is happening and planned in our town, enabling them to ask questions of experts and to express opinions that are then passed to the councils or others who are responsible.
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