On Wednesday 13th April 2011, people from across the north of England joined a panel of five guests to debate the Alternative Voting Referendum proposal which people are being encouraged to vote on Thursday 5th May. The event was organised by Christian Nightlife Initiatives, Halifax Street Angels and Hope Calderdale with support from the Charities Parliament.
The evening was chaired by Dave Gilpin - Pastor of Hope City Church which includes congregations in seven cities, author, regular radio and tv presenter.
The panel was made up of Linda Riordan MP for Halifax; Bishop Colin Buchanan, former Bishop of Woolwich and Honorary Assistant Bishop of Bradford; The Reverend Canon Dr Jonathan Draper, Canon Theologian of York Minster; and James Baker of the Calderdale Yes to AV campaign.
The evening began with a wine reception with an opportunity for people to meet with panel members. After a short video presentation with input from Steve Chalke MBE, who founded the Charities Parliament, Dave Gilpin began by offering an overview of Alternative Voting speaking from his experience in Australia and of the compulsory voting system. Dave presented quotes from both Yes and No sides and then handed over to the panel guests to share their views and thoughts.
The evening was then opened to debate and questions from the audience members resulting in lively and passionate conversation.
At the close, Pete Brieriely, the Director of the Charities Parliament urged those present to carry on the conversation and to raise the issue in forums until the day of the vote on 5th May.
Reflecting on the successful event, Dave Gilpin who chaired the evening commented,
“The aim of this event was to raise the issue of the AV Referendum. This is an important occasion in the life of this nation and it was good to hear from both sides of the debate and to be able to chair an event that sparks discussion.”
Adam May, the National Director of Development of Christian Nightlife Initiative went on to say:
"The event on Wednesday demonstrated that people should have a voice on important issues to them, and through the kind sponsorship this is one of many events taking place across the country. The event does not end when we head home, but should continue until voting day itself. My challenge is not to ignore this issue, but get involved. This week we have been privileged to hear from MP's, senior church leaders and campaigners so do listen again online on our website if you were unable to join the debate!"
More information on the AV Referendum can be found online at www.faithworks.info/debatingdemocracy.
Podcasts of presentations are available on the CNI website: www.cninetwork.org.uk.