Week 21 – Re election hustings

I had planned to do this week’s blog on a different theme but will put that off for now following the announcement on Wednesday that there will be a General Election on 4 July.

As a non party political organisation the trustees agreed, earlier this year, that it would be a good idea to investigate the idea of hosting an in person hustings for the forthcoming election.  I contacted each of the three main parties in the slightly amended Wimbledon constituency several weeks ago to ask if they’d be interested in attending.  They each responded positively.

We had subsequently talked about arranging one for the Morden & Mitcham constituency but like most people I think the timing of the announcement has caught us a bit on the hop!

We have also made contact with the other three candidates in Wimbledon that we have information on and are trying to arrange a venue in central Wimbledon for the event which we hope to arrange for an evening on the week commencing 17 or 24 June.

The plan is also to contact all the candidates in the Morden & Mitcham constituency and arrange a venue and separate date for that too at about the same time.

We have started to approach potential facilitators to help lead the sessions with the support of the team at Wimblecomm and are also exploring on-line access and livestreaming or, in the absence of that, simply recording the session for future viewing.

There will of course be lots of questions you will want to ask the candidates, some of which I’m sure will get standard responses based on their manifestos.  But in Wimbledon anyway whoever is elected will become your new Member of Parliament for the next term at least, so it’s an opportunity to get to know them as a person as well.

We will endeavour to find ways to accommodate as many questions as possible either through online means or directly at the meeting.  I suspect we will probably have to set up an advance booking system for attendees on the day to manage numbers, but attendance will of course be open to any voter within each specific constituency.

I personally have had experience of helping run the annual Board elections for the Dons Trust (the owners of AFC Wimbledon) on several occasions during the last decade (essentially as the Returning Officer).  The Elections Steering Group at the Dons Trust generally took the view that hustings should be organised by others although we often had some input into them.

Notwithstanding that the Wimblecomm team have decided to take this on and would welcome any support organising this.  We will be funding this from our own resources but may set up a Just Giving (or similar) page as we would also welcome donations as well as any offers of help.

Elections are an important part of our democracy in this country and whatever your views we hope the debate will be a constructive one and the issues will be discussed freely but in a polite and respectful manner.

We are investigating accessibility options given the need to be as inclusive as possible and will be seeking to publicise the events as widely as possible via social media and related platforms so please do tell local residents of our intentions.  We plan to have a new section on the site devoted to the hustings. We regularly discuss, as trustees, how we can help further promote the excellent work that we do here at Wimblecomm, so are keen to make this a success.  We see this as part of our charity’s broader aim to connect people, places and passions.

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