The Bath City Forum emerged out of a discussion about ways in which it might be possible to address the “Democratic Deficit” issue. This was the fact that although it is the largest town in BANES it did not have its own democratic forum unlike all the other towns in BANES and that it is represented by a relatively small number of councillors compared to its economic and cultural impact on BANES.
The discussion focused primarily on two scenarios based respectively on parish models or Winchester Committee model. The Bath City Forum, loosely based on the Winchester model was what ultimately emerged from this process.
The City Forum failed to deliver:
- It is perceived as undemocratic because of the appointment of 13 members selected by a largely opaque process using undisclosed selection criteria
- It has failed to achieve any significant level of public recognition
- It has failed to achieve any significant level of public participation or attendance
- It is widely perceived a talking shop which has failed to create any vision for Bath or identify solutions to its problems
- A number of public bodies have used the existence of the forum as an excuse to withdraw from other forms of public consultation and engagement
Alternatives for moving forwards seem to be:
- To go down the route of creating a Bath City/Parish Council
- Create a unique structure or structures to address the original problem but incorporating lessons learned from the failure of the Forum
- Reform the BANES council structures and processes to properly acknowledge the central role Bath plays in the economic and cultural success of BANES as whole
From the point of view of Bath City centre residents, we would prefer BANES to go down the route of reforming BANES structures. However, if this is considered to be too radical we would support the creation of a Bath City/ Parish Council.