Your reporter Jack Duggan, writing in last Friday’s Bexhill Observer, painted a useful picture of the Bexhill Town Forum’s constitution meeting, but I think some areas merit further clarification.
The meeting was poorly attended due to the uninspiring nature of the topic for discussion. A little over 30 people contrasts with a meeting on parking in May, 2014, that attracted over 250 people.
However, those who did attend broadly agreed that the proposed constitution was unacceptable as it appeared undemocratic by vesting the executive committee with near dictatorial authority.
These included a highly respected former president of the Bexhill Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, the chairman of the Bexhill Alliance, the Founder of the Bexhill Town Forum and four former chairmen or acting chairmen of the Bexhill Town Forum.
Secondly, the founder of the Forum, Ms Margaret Jones, explained that the proposed constitution breached the ‘terms of reference’ by which Rother council had set up the Bexhill Town Forum.
Vice chairman Theresa Stanbridge appeared to be downgrading the purpose of the forum from Bexhill’s main consultative body into an organisation whose ‘role is to inform the people of Bexhill...enabling them to ask questions of experts and to express opinions’.
Thirdly, the executive committee appeared to have rejected most of the constitutional amendments made by the seven members who had submitted their considered and detailed proposals.
What therefore was the purpose of the consultation?
Following the executive committee’s defeat by 23 votes to four, the chairman stated that a revised document would be published on the forum’s website as a basis for further consultation.
A former chairman of Rother council, Mrs Christine Bayliss, then advocated that a list of amendments rejected by the executive committee should be published ahead of the next constitution meeting with each one being considered individually by the Forum. Her proposal appeared to have been accepted by the chairman, Professor Alan Peirce, when I pointed out that a decision on the way forward was not in his gift and one for the Forum meeting to take.
With all the substantive community issues that the Bexhill Town Forum should be considering, it’s a shame that the executive committee have chosen to create and focus on this unnecessary document for which there has been no public demand.
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