Published on: Friday, April 29, 2022
In the run-up to electing the new Somerset Council, local politicians David Fothergill (Conservative Party), Bill Revans (Liberal Democrats) and Mark Shelford (Police and Crime Commissioner) joined over 160 people at Temple Methodist Church in Taunton for Citizens Somerset’s Accountability Assembly.
King’s College, Taunton is one of the founder members of the Somerset Chapter of Citizens UK, which is made up of hundreds of organisations committed to actioning for social justice in their local communities and the common good. Citizens are strictly non-partisan but periodically people from member organisations arrange to meet with local politicians at an Assembly to review the programme and make requests for action.
Pupils at King’s College have set up a group with the acronym K-CAP (King’s Community Action Programme) to work on areas of concern nominated by King’s pupils. An early focus has been to make local parks in Taunton safer, and more attractive places for young and old alike.
Teacher Sandra Lawson and pupils from K-CAP attended the Accountability Assembly to feedback on the work they have been doing over the year, such as leading on issues relating to safety on our streets, undertaking listening exercises with the local community and developing plans for improvements. Each had an important role on the night; Sophia Arnold was a Co-chair, Evie Piper spoke on the Real Living Wage campaign, Ozobialu Mbanefo gave testimony on street safety, Inaki Juan-Aracil Cadarso represented King's on the Roll Call, and Charlie Glashier made Housing and Homelessness asks of the politicians on stage.
Martin Wall, one of the Co-chairs of Citizens Somerset explained at the event: “We don’t support or endorse any politician or political party. We believe in playing our part to restore trust, integrity and accountability to our democracy. We believe this is so important during such divisive times. We want to work with whoever is in power and tonight is the start of crucial relationships being formed between decision makers and ordinary people like you and me”.
Following powerful testimony, the four election candidates all agreed to “work with Citizens Somerset on the plan to enable children and young people to flourish and to keep them safe in our community, and to start this work by working with us to ensure our parks in Taunton are safe, drug free and accessible spaces”.
Fran Hicks, Co-chair of Citizens Somerset said, “We are very excited about the success of the Assembly. As a result of commitments made this evening, whoever wins the elections for the new Council, many thousands of people will benefit directly as these decisions are implemented.”