The communication channel of Occupy Totnes community

Dialogue Between Totnes Town Councillers and OT 13/12/11

Dialogue Between Totnes Town Councillers and OT 13/12/11

Dialogue Between Totnes Town Councillers and Occupy Totnes.


7pm 13 of December 2011 at the Guild Hall Totnes.


Facilitated by Cllr Robert Vint [Deputy Mayor]

Stacked by Ian

Scribed by Tim and Mark (this doc compiled by Mark using Pete’s, Tim’s and my own notes)


Present (going round the room – from memory – please amend if necessary)





Cllr Robert Vint [Deputy Mayor]

— (sorry don’t have the name of one Occupy member)







Cllr Susan Greenway

Cllr Vera Harvey

Cllr Alan Gorman

Cllr Carol Wellwood

Cllr Mike Craddock



The Meeting


We had a go round to introduce ourselves.


Pete introduced Occupy Totnes. He said that we are a peaceful, non violent group of individuals that stand in solidarity with the Global Occupy Movement. That we are concerned about the corrupt banking system and are interested in a truly democratic government. He explained that we are:


  • Creating a free and open forum for community dialogue and to discuss wider global issues.
  • Informing and educating the community about the issues.
  • Hosting community events and educational workshops.


He then read out a introductory section of an Occupy Wall Street manifesto.


Ian then asked if the Town Council could give Occupy a space in a building to be used for public General assemblies. He stressed that this was an urgent issue.


There was some discussion about, if a space could be made available, how it would be financed. A peppercorn rent was mentioned. Mark made the point that to pay rent made an separation between Occupy and the Council and perhaps we should look at the issue as something we could all be a part of. There was some discussion about this, but councillors pointed out two main problems.




  • Running costs (electricity, heating, cleaning, maintenance etc)
  • And if Occupy is given a rent free space it maybe seen as unfair to other community groups that do pay.


There was then some discussion about how Occupy is different from other community groups as it is an all inclusive community run forum that is open to everybody.


Paul mention the Civic Hall vestibule as a possible space. Mark asked if a small secure room in the building could be used for meetings and storage – allowing for larger meetings, workshops and community events to be held in the larger hall when it was not in use and Occupy’s materials could be stored away safely. It was pointed out that a small space would restrict the number of people able to attend GAs. Peter pointed out that at the first GA (held in the main Civic Hall) 47 people, sat in a circle which fill half the hall.


The subject of noise in the Civic Hall was mentioned and that there was one house which has been built particularly close. The huge cost of sound proofing the hall was brought up. James pointed out that perhaps it would be cheaper to sound proof the house rather than the hall.


Ian reminded us that the issue of a space was urgent. There seemed to be general agreement about this but it was pointed out that the Town Council decisions can only be made at Full Town Council Meetings. The next is 9th of January 2012. It was also pointed out that it was probable that this would be the meeting in which the issue was raised – we could expect to have to wait till the following meeting (6th of February 2012) to get a decision.


The time frame was then discussed and most seemed to agree that the environmental, economic and social problems looming for the community needed to be addressed urgently. Cllr Robert Vint said that the council was very interested in finding new ways to help solve these problems.


Mark proposed setting up a regular meeting with the council. Robert suggested a steering group. Tim was concerned that such a meeting might be exclusive. Cllr Carol Wellwood suggested organising a meeting run on the consensus decision making structure. Ian and Tim then explained the hand signals and process to the Councillors present. Councillors showed some enthusiasm for the idea. Members of Occupy reiterated the invitation to all councillors to attend the daily Occupy GAs.


Pete made the point that this was a historic meeting and that Totnes had a history of making change for the better. He also made a case for working with the Council and police so as avoid any confrontation.


Cllrs Vera Harvey, Mike Craddock and Carol Wellwood all said that Occupy’s need for a public forum space would require a very strong case to be presented at the next Full Town Council meeting. Cllr Mike Craddock recommended that Occupy draw up a list of the benefits that such a space would provide the community with.


Though this was a liaison meeting (no decisions could be made) the Town Council Working Group (Cllr Carol Wellwood and Cllr Susan Greenway) will find out what space is available and feedback to Occupy by Thursday or Friday of this week (15th or 16th of December).


Another meeting with Occupy was pencilled in for 3rd of January 2012.


We ended the meeting with a go-round. Everyone was very positive and said how much they enjoyed the meeting.



Suggested Agenda points arising from this meeting:


  • Set up a working group to draw up OT’s case to present to next Town Council meeting. Including a list of benefits to the community.


  • Discuss alternative action if no Council space is available.


  • Press release about meeting.

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