The Thorne Commission on Local Governance was established by the Cabinet to oversee consultations with stakeholders to guide the process of electing community-based People’s Assemblies in Barbados. The proposed People’s Assemblies will implement measures to:
1. Improve accountability in governance;
2. Engage people participation;
3. Establish high standards in the Public Service;
4. Contribute creativity, intelligence and energy to public affairs administration;
5. Deliver critical services to communities;
6. Protect neighbourhood welfare;
7. Participate in collective decision-making and administrative activities which are designed to foster social and national unity.
The Assemblies will be community-based, democratic, participatory governance structures based on voluntary, non-partisan service and not subject to the dictates of any Government Minister.
Twenty Assemblies are proposed:
· One Assembly: St. Lucy, St. Andrew, St. Joseph, St. John and St Thomas
· Two Assemblies: St. George, St. Peter, St. Philip and St. James
· Three Assemblies: Christ Church
· Four Assemblies: St. Michael
Membership can consist of an equal number of elected ex officio members from Government agencies, parish residents and youth from secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
It is proposed that elections be organized by the Electoral and Boundaries Commission which will publish the candidates’ CVs. Candidates will address residents at a Town Hall meeting. Electioneering will not be permitted. The Assemblies will be for a period of three years.
The senior student body of each Secondary School should elect one male and female student each to serve. The University of the West Indies (UWI) student body should elect ten students. The Barbados Community College (BCC) and Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute (SJPI) should each elect five representatives. A total of ten students will serve on each Assembly.
The 20 Assemblies of approximately 30 members each will have in total 600 members. Each People’s Assembly will elect presiding officers and can meet to make decisions about and coordinate the work of the Assembly. The 20 Assembly chairpersons can form a Caucus under a revolving Chairmanship to make decisions about and coordinate the “national” duties of the 600 members.
Parliament can include a financial allocation in Government’s annual Estimates of Expenditure, to be divided equally among the People’s Assemblies and subject to audit by the Auditor General.
1. Oversight of Government Agencies
Establish “Oversight” or “Public Accountability” committees for government agencies which provide critical services to improve efficiencies and accountability, e.g. the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, National Housing Corporation, Barbados Water Authority, etc. The Chairpersons’ Caucus can select persons from the 600 members to carry out inspections, receive public complaints, meet with Management to discuss issues and suggest remedies and provide status reports to the public.
2. Community Wellbeing Teams
Establish a “Community Wellbeing Team” to build a community oversight and assistance programme to protect children, elders, differently-abled persons, and needy residents in conjunction with the relevant Government agencies.
3. Sanitation / Road Repairs
Establish a “Sanitation and Road Repairs Committee” to respond to emergency cases of garbage pile-ups, excessive overgrown bush, or potholes, as well as general environmental protection and anti-littering campaigns.
The Ministry of Education can consult with each Assembly on the selection of members to serve on Boards of Management of schools within the Assembly area or to select an Assembly member for said boards. The Assembly members can also form a “Youth, Education, and Social Development Think Tank” to construct improvements.
5. Community Development and Sports
A “Management and Programme Development Committee” consisting of Assembly members, the National Sports Council, the Community Development Department, and the National Cultural Foundation can oversee community development, sports, and cultural programmes for the Community Centres of their Assembly area.
6. Vendors’ Licences
Each Assembly can receive applications for wayside vending licences; identify public locations for vendors; determine whether to issue licences; inspect wayside vending locations and ensure that proper environmental and other standards are maintained.
7. Community Forum
A quarterly Community Forum consisting of community and Assembly members, as well as Members of Parliament can discuss national affairs and pending Bills.
8. Planning Permission
The Town and Country Planning Department can consult with the relevant Assembly before approving applications for major construction or other physical development projects, particularly for areas of key interest, e.g. beaches and historical sites.
9. Government Development Planning
Government Ministries and agencies can consult with the Assemblies in developing plans and strategies for areas such as roads, road repairs, public housing, health clinics, jobs for the unemployed, and sporting or recreational facilities.
10. A People’s Cooperative
Government can provide each Assembly with technical advice, material assistance and land/property for a community-based cooperative business project, e.g. a food producing farm.
The Thorne Commission invites ALL to come and share your views at a series of Town Hall Meetings being held throughout the island. For further information, visit our Facebook page: facebook.com/ThorneCommission, contact us via email: [email protected] or Tel. No.: 535-1600.