When first elected in 2011, Glastonbury’s ‘Green Four’ championed the creation of a new Town Council advisory committee dedicated to developing an integrated tourism and pilgrimage strategy to promote Glastonbury as cultural and spiritual centre of worldwide significance importance in the 21st Century.
As a result, ‘Promoting Glastonbury’ was convened as a forum for dialogue between councillors and the various stakeholders including our visitor attractions, independent shops and high street traders, tour guides, and the Tourist Information and Pilgrim Reception Centres.
A key development from Promoting Glastonbury was the town’s involvement with the EU’s Enterprise and Industry Directorate General’s new pan-European spiritual and cultural tourism route based on the legend of the Holy Grail: The Grail Project.
Green Cllrs Jon Cousins (left) and Denise Michell (right) meet with the Grail Project’s Sharon Cooper and Professor Paul Fidgeon at the University of West London.
Following the election in 2015, a stronger Green representation on the council reinvigorated the Promoting Glastonbury into a fully-fledged committee of Glastonbury Town Council, and reviewed its aims, objectives, and terms of reference.
As part of this review, a non-councillor member of the committee – Paul Lund – was appointed to the role of Deputy Chair; an unheard of departure from convention; demonstrating the Green’s commitment to their election manifesto to “foster strong participatory democracy”, within the council.
Wishing to increase non-councillor involvement, Cllr Jon Cousins researched the potential for unelected members of a committee to vote; discovering that – by virtue of the obscure Article 3 of the Parish and Community Councils (Committees) Regulations 1990* – non-councillor members of committees do have voting rights in respect of any function under s.144 of the 1972 Act relating to “the promotion of tourism”!
On Monday 23rd May 2016, history was made in Glastonbury’s Council Chamber when the first non-councillor Chair of a committee – Morgana West – was elected! Non-councillor Paul Lund was duly re-elected as Deputy Chair... This was followed by the first ever non-councillor proposal of a resolution; seconded by another non-councillor, and voted on by all the members of the Promoting Glastonbury Committee – elected and non-councillor members together!
* Section 102(3) of the Local Government Act 1972 provides that a local council can appoint persons who are not its members to committees and sub-committees (including joint committees and sub-committees). By virtue of s.13 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, non-councillor members of committees and sub committees do not have voting rights except in respect of certain council functions. By virtue of Article 3 of the Parish and Community Councils (Committees) Regulations 1990 (SI 1990/2476), non-councillor members of committees have voting rights in respect of any function under s.144 of the 1972 Act relating to the promotion of tourism.