“This is about trying to create participatory democracy not representative democracy….It’s saying elect 17 people and then their job is to build a community where whatever it is you want to get done, you can – or at least have a good try at it – and there will be money and support.” ~ Peter Macfadyen





Listen to the conversation:

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About this interview:

How can we change politics for the better to benefit our local communities?

In this episode Amisha meets Peter Macfadyen. Currently serving his home town of Frome as a member of the UK’s first fully independent council, Peter has spent over 40 years engaged with social justice. He speaks with Amisha about how Frome is transforming from a forgotten market town into one of the most progressive communities in the country, reversing regional trends in both health and political engagement.

Peter tells the story of how he became Mayor of Frome by accident and – along with 16 other independent councillors – rewrote the rule book for local council operations.

What happens when you give 40% of council taxes directly back to the community? What about giving children from the age of 10 a chance to vote on how council budgets are allocated? Peter reports back on the results of these and other direct efforts to return a sense of ownership to the community.

Peter’s book ‘Flatpack Democracy’ has reached communities across the country and he supports a network of 80 or so independent councillors and candidates, all engaged with improving the way the lowest level of government works in the UK. He shares his views on why manifestos inevitably end in broken promises, why he favours removing party politics at the local level and the need for epic facilitation skills in local government to effectively navigate both conflict and complexity.

“Our theory is that actually we agree on nearly everything. We may not agree on how to do it, but the things that are going to be best for ordinary people from Frome are going to be pretty obvious.” – Peter Macfadyen

Peter Macfadyen has worked in areas of social justice for 40 years. As well as serving as an independent councillor for Frome, Peter founded Sustainable Frome and is a Director of Frome’s new Renewable Energy Co-op. His early training was as a gardener, followed by time spent working with disabled people and disability rights organisations in Africa and India, as well as being a grants assessor for Comic Relief for over 20 years. Recycling, reusing, organic, growing, cooking, grandfathering and bicycling are all central to his activity, and Peter’s wife Annabelle and children Ben and Amy are also all variously engaged in creating a more sustainable future. Peter is the author of Flatpack Democracy: A DIY Guide to Creating Independent Politics. 

Mockup with spine

To find out more about Peter, visit www.flatpackdemocracy.co.uk

To connect or work with Amisha Ghadiali, visit www.amisha.co.uk  


Links from this episode:

Flatpack Democracy – Website & Book

Frome – Transition Town

Independents for Frome

Compassionate Frome Project

Mayor’s Chain Exhibition

Julian Hight – World Tree Story

National Democracy Week


Amisha’s Presence Mentoring Programme – starts August 20th

Our Patronathon – September 11th


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