The Canterbury Society is actively supporting the Campaign for Democracy in Canterbury District (CDCD), a coalition of community groups in the Canterbury District which believe that the Council’s current system of decision-making is flawed. CDCD came into being following the publication of the Canterbury Society’s Vision for Canterbury which contained an analysis of the democratic deficit in the city. Since its formation, CDCD has focused its efforts on institutional reform in Canterbury District.
In February 2014, the Campaign for Democracy in Canterbury District invited the Canterbury Society to host a large public meeting where it debated the pros and cons of an executive system and a committee system of government. Following a unanimous vote to revive of the Committee system, CDCD has been activated a provision of 2011 Localism Act which allows local residents to petition for a referendum on such a change. If it can gain 5,500 signatures, a referendum on a reversion to the committee system will be held on 5th May 2015.
The Campaign for Democracy in Canterbury District’s efforts to revert to a Committee System of governance in the Canterbury District have triggered a debate within the Council about its institutional processes. In April, the Council agreed to has set up its own commission (comprised of the Political Management Member Panel) to consider the issue and make a recommendation about the optimal system of governance in the Canterbury District. In July, the commission recommended that the Council commit to a Committee system of governance from 2015, and that the commission develop the detailed design of how the Committee system would operate in practice.