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Diocesan synods and a lack of transparency

by
16 March 2011

iStock

From Rosalind Lund

Sir, — For a small research project, I have been searching the internet for the names (and preferably ad­dresses and contact details) of diocesan-synod representatives in the provinces of Canterbury and York.

It has proved extremely frus­trating. Looking at each diocesan website, via the very useful diocesan map with links on the Church of England website, I have dis­covered that, of 43 dioceses, only nine have listed their diocesan representatives (that I could find). Of those, per­haps two have gone the whole hog and provided contact details.

I am shocked and disturbed by this. As a UK citizen, I have access to my MP, my county-council repres­entative, and my district- or town-council representative. It is easy to discover who he or she is, and his or her email address and/or phone number. If I wish to contact my local representative on the diocesan synod, however, it involves much chasing around and potential discussions concerning the Data Protection Act.

Yet, as a member of the Church of England electoral roll in my parish, surely I should be able easily to discover something which is a matter of public record? At the time of the synod elections, candidates will have circulated deanery-synod members, and the results were published, often in the local press.

I should be interested to know whether the majority of dioceses have decided that membership of diocesan synod is so unimportant that they cannot imagine anyone wanting to research it via the inter­net; or whether they are trying deliberately to be obscurantist.

We live in a society where de­cisions taken should be transparent, as should membership of public bodies. I hope the C of E will agree that its own organisation should also be transparent.

ROSALIND LUND
1 Arbury Road
Cambridge CB4 2JB

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