Peter Macfadyen is a pioneer, who got involved in local politics by accident but quickly became a passionate advocate of its reform and the reform of party politics – a system that currently works for the benefit of the few and the exclusion of many.
After a lively meeting in his local pub, Peter and a group of local residents took control of their local council. Since then they have gone on to create a whole series of radical and progressive changes to their town of Frome including saving a meadow from developers, opening a vibrant community space and the inclusion of as many people as possible in the political decision making process.
What would happen if the approach of these people, who only took power because they wanted to do the best for their town, was replicated up and down the UK?
Flatpack Democracy is written as a practical guide to taking political power at a local level.
It sets out ideas about how that power can be used to enable local people to have a greater say in things that are important to them. It is based about what actually happened in Frome, Somerset, so it is both an instruction manual and a history.
“What we are doing in Frome is attempting to create a new, inclusive democracy, starting from the grassroots up. I would suggest that the problem is not the people – who are as keen to be involved as ever – but the systems for governance and the democratic structures that are manifestly no longer fit for purpose. We have set out to encourage and inform those who wish to attempt a similar journey. We do not yet know if the story of one dynamic parish council can be replicated, nor whether Frome can spark a national movement for change”.
What is clear, though, is that change is essential. As Albert Einstein said: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
You might also enjoy this fantastic talk by another independent councillor Arthur Price: