BOARDS, BORES, AND THE EROSION OF LOCAL DEMOCRACY

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by Olivia Hanks

I had the dubious privilege of being in the public gallery for the first meeting of the re-established Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) earlier this week. This board, made up of councillors from Norwich, South Norfolk and Broadland, is tasked with developing a strategic document, the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP), which will dictate where housing, roads and other infrastructure will be built in the area over the next 20 years.

The meeting, which was scheduled to last from 3.30 until 5pm, finished at 4.10 with very little discussion having taken place. You might have thought that, having been successfully taken to the High Court for failing to consider alternative options during the creation of the GNLP’s predecessor the Joint Core Strategy (JCS — I promise that’s the last obscure abbreviation), the board would be asking itself a lot more questions this time around. Although it was admittedly a more or less introductory meeting, agreeing the board’s terms of reference and the next steps, there was an opportunity for comments, which was taken up by only three members.

This matters because these dozen men — and shockingly, they are all men; all white; none under 50 or so — are shaping the future of Norwich and the surrounding area. It matters because sometimes it is hard to spot the moment for intervention until it has already passed.Continue Reading

THE MISEDUCATION OF GRAMMAR SCHOOLS

by Candice Nembhard

When I think back on my time in grammar school education, it is not with entirely fond memories. I was a working class, BAME student, whose parents were working tirelessly to make sure my educational needs were catered for — be it my uniform, school trips or even paying the annual school fund. Even so, little could be done on their part to protect me from the overly-competitive nature of the grammar school system; an educational structure that paraded itself as a diverse and inclusive market only out of an innate self-fulfilling prophecy to produce a particular class of intellectuals.

It is this underlying vision for education that further widens the gap between the lowest earners in Britain and those that are at the top. The division of children at the age of 11 to test their intelligence further predates to a privileged notion that intelligence is hereditary, and if not, that it can be bought.Continue Reading

IT’S TIME TO REFORM UNION COUNCIL

by Elliot Folan

For the last 3 years, I’ve sat on the UEA Student Union Council. Council has the power to set SU policy, call referendums, mandate Officers to take political stances and actions, rewrite the SU budget and elect members of various committees. In the last year, however, it has become clear that its ability to exercise these powers – and to represent the 14,000 students that make up UEA’s student population – has been hamstrung by various issues. A handful of councillors have blamed the rules of Council, but I strongly disagree: there are only a few rules that every councillor should know, and those can fit on one side of an A4 piece of paper. The rest are all rules that the Chair and Deputy Chair should know in intense detail, and interpret and explain for the rest of the meeting.Continue Reading

IN THE INTEREST OF LOCAL PEOPLE: VIEWS OF JAMES ANTHONY, LIB DEM CANDIDATE FOR TOWN CLOSE

The Norwich Radical is embedded in our home city. We seek to be a platform for debate and discussion of progressive and radical politics within Norwich. We know that the ballot box is only one of many ways of making change, but that elections play a major role in shaping and determining the future of our political landscape. In light of this, we got in touch with candidates standing in the Norwich City Council elections on May 5th, asking for their views on the biggest problems facing Norwich, and their vision for what the Council can do.

by James Anthony, Liberal Democrat candidate for Town Close.

I’m James Anthony, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Town Close. I’ve always been interested in politics and how ordinary people can make extraordinary changes to the world around them.  I believe that any level of government, local or national, should always work for the people and never the other way round. Individuals need to be free to live their lives and government should only interfere with that right when the rights of others are at risk. This is why I became a Liberal Democrat.

As I have paid close attention to the workings of Norwich City Council and attended a number of council meetings, it has become clear that more of the city needs an increased liberal voice in local government to stand up for the interests of residents. I believe I have what it takes to be that voice. This is why I jumped at the opportunity of standing to be a city councillor for Town Close.Continue Reading