We now know that all meetings except those on 'visits' MUST be open to the public, subject to space available and all may be recorded.The atmosphere the EU Committee has managed to create, in my view, having seen them both in Strasburg and now in Kendal is well intentioned and welcoming. My feeling is we should try and build on this opportunity and make the most we possibly can out of it.
I intend to make the following suggestions to the secretariat and feel that if they were taken up, much of the criticism would disappear:
- All meetings should be held in the centre of key affected areas. Large enough halls/hotels chosen to enable as many as possible to attend.
- Plenty of advanced, well targeted, advertising should take place to enable people to arrange relief milkers and the like, so that they can attend.
- All meetings with the exception of farm or site visits or working lunches MUST be held outside normal working hours to enable highest attendance.
- It should be made clear that except for meetings designated as 'public', subject to time, only invitees will be able to speak. However anyone may attend subject to space and also may tape the proceedings if they wish.
- Farm visits should also be well publicised even though numbers would have to be restricted at the discretion of the farmer concerned. Also farms chosen should reflect the 3 to 1 balance non NFU versus NFU farmers. Again I am told the NFU were top heavy in the Northern visits. They were certainly top heavy in Kendal.
- Speaker systems must be provided to enable everyone to hear clearly. Kendal was extremely difficult from that point of view for anyone near the back. One of the problems was the simultaneous interpretation going on in the middle of the front row. Could not the people requiring interpreters either be on the side or in some way have a portable earphones system?
- As things stand all attendees at meetings are obliged to sign a sheet of paper, which is handed round. Would it not be an idea to have an extra column for people (voluntarily) to add their email address or full address (if they are not on the net) if they would like the information. Then the rushed speeches that each MEP is at present attempting to make, could be submitted in writing later. Thus killing two birds with one stone by saving valuable time and submitting more considered response to all the interested parties.
- All EU MEP'S must wear nametags and the name of the party they represent.
- Ditto for all EU staff organisers, as no-one can tell who anyone is or who to ask about anything. At Kendal, I found myself having to get the hotel staff to point people out to me for assistance.
- Government representatives such as DEFRA or the NFU whether they are speakers or not should have name tags, as should all invitees, including their organisations and /or positions, such as 'farmer' 'hotelier' 'vet' 'welfare campaigner ' etc. Blank tags should be available for anyone else attending wishing to use them.
- At meetings where the speakers have been invited, an intended agenda with the list of speakers and their subject/organisation should be provided to all attendees.