Tag Archives: Democracy

Will the council be spending another £90k on monitoring mentions of the mayor on social media?

“The Council is planning to develop additional Deliberative Democracy work in 2020/21 to further strengthen public engagement,” states the Q4 Performance Report that is going to scrutiny in July. Previous ‘democracy work’ by the council has meant the mayor paying £90k of public funds to check what people were saying about him on Twitter. I thought I should follow-up.

The email to democratic services has been published below. The rest of the post is a roundup of some highlights.

The Overview and Scrutiny Management Board is meeting on 8 July 2020 and the agenda is available here.

The last item is the Performance Report (PR) for Quarter 4. It includes various interesting updates.

Air Quality — As XR activists sit on top of City Hall and are ignored by the mayor, we learn that the number of deaths attributable to air quality have increased since 2017.

SEND — The targets for Education and Health Care Plans are well-below target with only 10 being issued within 20 weeks. This does not mention the quality of the plans or whether they will be appealed, and if indeed they mean that the child has a school place.

The Affordable housing target is well-below what was desired. Only 113 affordable houses build in Q4.

The Housing Festival Ltd gets a mention [or is it Monastery 2.0?].

The council are apparently benefiting to a sum of over £500k on the work that it has been doing. Note that the Housing Festival has so far been paid £225k by Bristol City Council with only £115k of that from a WECA grant for innovation.

I would have liked to ask a few questions of OSMB but was limited to two. i chose to ask about Impact Social and deliberative democracy because I have lodged a complaint with the ICO about the refusal of my subject access request by the council, and about the council’s lack of GDPR notice.

Hi Democratic Services,

In the Performance Report published for the OSMB meeting, the text to item:WC4 BCP533 Increase the percentage of people who feel they can influence local decisions (QoL) states the following: ” the Council is planning to develop additional Deliberative Democracy work in 2020/21 to further strengthen public engagement.”

Residents already know about the £90,000 paid to Impact Social for monitoring social media (with no clear GDPR specification), and the £8000 a year to Delib Democracy for a platform for the Citizens Panel. In addition to the Quality of Life Survey, would you please let me know:

1. What is the additional Deliberative Democracy work in 2020/21?

2. Whether the Impact Social contract is being cancelled or renewed in September 2020?


You can see further information about Impact Social at this link: https://medium.com/@jo.stillawake/has-the-bristol-mayor-learnt-the-wrong-lessons-from-cambridge-analytica-a17b26421ff1

Thank you,

Joanna

Who rules Bristol?

10 million people paid to vote for the 2010 X Factor final, 14.5 million people watched Britain’s Got Talent final in 2012 and the 2010 elections drew only three times as many as the latter at 45.5 million people.

A lot of people enjoy interacting when it comes to entertainment and there’s nothing wrong with being entertained, amused, numbed, distracted, unoccupied with thinking about power relations and disadvantage in the world but there’s no part of me which believes that those people are promoting democracy by voting for Pudsey the dog.

To bring this a little closer to home, because that’s where I’m heading, the Bristol mayoral election had a voting turnout of 24% with 41,032 people voting in favour of a mayor, and 35,880 voting against.

All this flashed through my mind when I read on Bristol Democracy that “the Bristol Democracy Project as a whole isn’t going to be about discussion and debate, as it looks like every organisation and their dog wants to host a debate with the candidates for Mayor on their own area of interest. These debates only ever tend to attract people already interested in the subject, whilst this project is about connecting with the people who aren’t interested in decision making in Bristol at the moment.”

This is followed up on another blog post about blogs: “So, what does any of this mean for democracy and public involvement? Well, first of all, I think it’s important that as many people as want to be encouraged to blog about Bristol. The more we talk to each other about the things we see, the better informed we will all be.”

Right.

“A healthy local media is a sign of a healthy local democracy, and blogs are an important part of local media in any area.” Bristol Democracy Project

Really?

Blog 1: Lady in Bristol – latest post is on the Travis song Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
Blog 2: What to do if you post to the wrong account on Twitter.
Blog 3: blah blah
Blog 4: a politician’s blog

There are a few more social blogs, cultural, comedy, food, and one or two by politicians. Few question our political process. Few question what will we do about power relations. Many are the equivalent of voting for Pudsey, including a lot of posts on this here blog as well.

The media is an important part of a democracy, which is why it’s sometimes called the fourth estate (alongside the judiciary, executive and legislature) because questioning our rulers is a huge part of ruling our world.

Talking about who wore what, who ate where and who listened to something or other is not part of democracy. Even freedom of speech is not an inherent part of democracy.

Questioning people who are about to gain powers over a city about what they plan to do with them is part of a democracy. It is the very thing which defines the media. So while I laud the Bristol Democracy Project for its intentions, I can’t help but think that they are very wrong with criticising the first hustings which have been organised and promoting any and all types of blogs as a sign of democracy.

And if you ever wonder whether any type of talking and sharing is part of democracy just go search for Pudsey or wait for his memoir. You won’t have to wait long.

The Bristol Council House