The first Bemerton Heath Democracy Café is in St Michael’s Community Centre on Saturday, June 1.

The event is the latest venture by Salisbury Democracy Alliance after the launch nearly two years ago of Salisbury Democracy Café, which, the organisers say, continues to go from strength-to-strength at its meetings on the second Saturday of the month in the Playhouse.

Since its launch, the city café has inspired democracy cafés in Oxford and Southampton – and there is also a Salisbury Theology Café. The Bemerton Heath café is a joint venture between the Democracy Alliance and St Michael’s Community Centre.

Democracy Café spokesman Dickie Bellringer said: “I am grateful to centre manager Ineta Zeile and everyone at the centre for the opportunity to showcase deliberative democracy in action on Bemerton Heath.

“Initially, we are planning three cafés for the first Saturday of each month between 10am and 12noon but we hope it will become a regular feature. The cafés are in the Poppy Room.

“We take part in the city’s two grammar schools’ citizenship day in October and we are now offering pop-up cafés to spread the deliberative experience. We recently held one for the local network of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) of which I am a Fellow.

“We want to forge bonds through dialogue, not division.”

“The cafés have no pre-set agenda – each participant is given the chance to suggest a question or topic on any subject on the day and vote on them. The most popular topic forms the basis of the dialogue.

“No-one is expected to ‘prove’ their argument and there is no vote at the end of the session, enabling people to express their views in a free and open forum.

The Alliance is supported by the RSA, Wessex Community Action, Talk Shop and Salisbury Democracy Café. Its official adviser is Graham Smith, Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the study of Democracy at the University of Westminster.

www.salisburydemocracyalliance.org

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