Making Birmingham Votes Count

Debating Representation in Council Chambers
6th February 2018

Following our Rally celebrating 100 years since the signing of ‘The Representation of the People Act’, People’s Heritage Co-operative are working with Birmingham City Council Wellbeing Service seeking funding for a range of activities throughout 2018 and into 2019.

We asked Birmingham Citizens what they thought.  We went out to Wellbeing Centres, conducted an online survey and asked people on 6th February to gauge the appetite for our project and begin to see what shape our project should take.

When asked ‘Do you think our voice is heard?’  60% responded ‘NO’, 25% YES, with the remaining 15% qualifying their response, with comments like:

‘Heard but not listened to, or acted on’

‘It is often the voting demographic which is ‘pandered to’ skewing true representation’  

‘To some extent, but not enough’

‘There is still inequality for women’

‘My voice is heard, but not young people’

Answering the question ‘Should we celebrate  the Representation of the People Act’ there was a clearer number (92.5%) answering YES, and likewise, ‘Do you think we should be looking more closely at how our voice is heard in politics today?’

People’s Heritage Co-operative will continue working with the Wellbeing Team how 100 years ago changes in the Representation of People in Parliament. What campaigning happened in Birmingham, and what impact did the Act have for people living in Birmingham. We want to find out why people in Birmingham do not feel that their voices are heard, what has changed and how we might improve Representation in Birmingham.

This year in May will be the first ‘all-out’ election for Birmingham City Council following a boundary review, which reduced the number of councillors from 120 to 101, serving 69 wards (previously 40 wards).  Added to National uncertainty as Brexit rumbles on, the question of how we are represented, and whose voice is as pressing as ever.  And what can we learn from one hundred years ago to bring about better Representation?

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you think your voice is heard?. Number of responses: 92 responses.
Forms response chart. Question title: Should we celebrate the Representation of the People Act in Birmingham?. Number of responses: 93 responses.
Forms response chart. Question title: Do you think we should be looking more closely at how our voice is heard in politics today? . Number of responses: 93 responses.

Here are some of the photos and links from our 6th February 2018 Rally outside the Council House, and inside the Council Chambers.

Another great @Jassansi pic of @BrumLordMayor joined by past female Lord Mayors, Councillors & Staff in the Council House for #vote100 #suffrage100. Read more about our plans for the centenary year: #bhamremembers

— Bham City Council (@BhamCityCouncil) February 6, 2018

Crowds prepare to enter the Chambers to meet the
Lord Mayor and Councillors

Watching ‘Fight for the Right’ Film made by local schools 
Singing Suffragette songs outside Council House

Just heard brilliant question from @RachelGillies on behalf of @PHCooperative to full meeting of @BhamCityCouncil Pleased to hear room being renamed in honour of Ellen Pinsent – but where’s the funding or support to mark 100 yrs of #RepresentationOfThePeopleAct ?

— Liz Palmer (@moseleyliz) February 6, 2018

Councillors are gathering to view #FightfortheRight about the women’s suffrage campaign in Birmingham. Would you be a #Suffragette or #Suffragist?

— Rachel Gillies (@RachelGillies) February 6, 2018

— ActiveStreets (@ActiveStreetsUK) February 7, 2018