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President against public committee meetings

Posted Tue 25th November 2008 at 10:44

Alderney's President believes open government would not be improved if committee and working group meetings were made public.

Writing in his annual newsletter, Sir Norman Browse said: "Open government means many things to many people.

"To me it means that information must never be intentionally hidden from the public, that the government makes every effort to tell the electorate what it is doing and discussing and, whenever possible, seeks the electorate's views and opinions about its proposals and activities. It does not mean government by referendum.

"I do not believe that openness would be improved by making committee and working group meetings open to the public and press. In most jurisdictions in which local committee meetings are open to the public, the politicians and civil servants are remote and often faceless whereas in our small community we know everybody and unfairly tend to blame individuals and not the collective voice of government."

Sir Norman went on to say open meetings would increase the number of inaccurate rumours which circulate round the island.

"I am sure that open meetings would give rise to far more inaccurate rumours than currently circulate and to personal accusations and vendettas."

Sir Norman also extolled the virtues of Alderney's political system and said a party system "would not work".

"If we had political parties they would present their programme in their manifestos and the electorate would know what each party, if it became the government, intended to do but with our small number of members, a party system would not work.

"We are far better off served by ten independent members who, though they may disagree on different topics, all strive to promote a prosperous future for Alderney. A desire and ability to do something for Alderney should be the criterion you should use when deciding who to support at the forthcoming election."

Sir Norman said he hoped at least eight candidates stand at the election, when five seats on the States will be up for grabs.

The President also went on to outline his duties.

"The President's main task is to be the presiding officer at States meetings and to represent the island at home and abroad.

"The President does not pursue an active role in island politics but must know what the politicians are proposing, lest their views are equally divided and he/she has to give a casting vote. The people of Alderney elect the President and in so doing give the President the right to use the casting vote in the manner which he or she believes is the best for Alderney. Any casting vote is bound to upset half the members but can never override a majority view."

The letter ended with Sir Norman predicting a successful 2009 for the island.

"In spite of the world's current financial problems, I believe 2009 will be a good and successful year for Alderney."

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