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Posted - 27 Jul 2012 :  09:49:41  Show Profile
"westsussexbluenose" has posted the following topic in the APC Forum:
On the basis that there is an APC forum, for questions to be posed to the APC, why are such draconian rules enforced.? I have another question(at the risk of breaking the rules) - how is it possible to have a debate on important issues which affect all of us who care with APC when one is restricted to at best two replies, and then encouraged to write if not happy with response. It is impossible to have a discussion via the post - reminds me of days when pen friends were all the vogue!

APC may well reply later to these questions but, in the meantime, I will make my own comments here on this particular Forum as I have been a party to the establishment of the APC Forum.

I may be wrong but by the tone of the posting "westsussexbluenose" appears to have a beef with APC and wants to drag others into a slanging match with them and choses to remain anonymous in the bargain. He does not even want to go down the path of asking a question in the first place and seeing what reply comes back!

I can only surmise that "westsussexbluenose" is a new reader of these Forums because older readers/members will recall the time when some APC councillors (including chairmen) joined in an open debate on APC issues. The results often resulted in a tirade and downward spiral against APC by some members which resulted in the loss of councillors, made their recruitment difficult, affected APC's perception of these Forums, and certainly did nothing for relationships in the community.

Now, I will never agree with some actions of APC and will periodically criticise or comment on their actions on these open Forums, but we do need a parish council to represent us as a body, and constantly undermining the Council or hurling abuse at councillors is not, in my mind, the way forward.

The previous Chair of APC approached me to have an APC Forum (or Question & Answer area) with a view to APC being more transparent and being in a position to answer questions without abuse. So the APC Forum is not (and was never going to be) an open discussion forum as others under the "Angmering Forums" banner.

The decision to have an APC Question & Answer area on the "Angmering Forums" was a majority decision by councillors and was not to the liking of all of them, largely because members can elect to be anonymous if they so wish. However, I have been pleased with the way it has worked to date and it is noticeable that with answers to questions by APC, there has been a lot less hostility toward APC in the last 8 months which is generally better for our community. We may still not agree with APC on some issues but, with considered replies to questions by the previous Chair and the current Chair, we at least know why they have taken an action.

To prevent abuse, based on previous experiences here, I personally drew up the strict rules and agreed these with the previous Chair. They give the questioner the ability to challenge a response from APC but limit it to just one as, again from previous experience, there are those who would never be satisfied with APC's response and would carry on ad infinitum.

A questioner, if still not satisfied with the response, has many other routes open to them. They may go and actually talk to APC, they can email or write a letter to APC, they can openly ask a question and comment on the response at an APC meeting where the public can attend, or they can write to a local newspaper. A member such as "westsussexbluenose" can still set up a debate in this "Angmering Organisations & Clubs Forum" but don't expect APC to join in although one or two councillors might do so in a private capacity but stating that their views are not necessarily those of APC.

I think the Angmering Forums have been a qualified success since they were established some years' ago. This success is probably the result of allowing members to post anonymously if they so elect - not all do. This allows some members greater freedom of expression but, in my opinion, it also requires an anonymous member to post messages responsibly and with some thought on the impact a posting may make on an Angmering organisation or an individual.

I believe in responsible free speech. I do not necessarity agree with every statement made in these Forums and do not expect everybody to agree with me
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