Newham Council launches country's first permanent Citizens’ Assembly

Newham Council has launched England’s first permanent Citizens’ Assembly in a move to give power to residents and to put the borough on the map as a beacon of democratic participation.

50 residents from across the borough took part in the first Assembly, which focused on ways to make the borough greener, which was chosen in a public vote as the top topic of interest by 31% of those who voted.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, green spaces became increasingly important, being one of the few places people could visit to help boost their mental health and wellbeing.

Commenting, Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz said:

“We are launching a permanent Citizens’ Assembly to empower people to have a say about the issues that concern them the most, in their community and to develop proposals and work with us to make positive changes in their borough.

“We know how important our parks and green spaces have been to so many people during lockdown, so this is an important opportunity to help the borough become a healthier and happier place for everyone, including our children and young people.

“This is an important step in our plans to continue to encourage and empower residents to work with the council to co-design plans and services, develop ideas and have their voices heard.

“This standing Citizens’ Assembly forms a crucial part of our plans to deepen participation and democracy at all levels across the borough, involve people in decisions and to continue to rebuild trust in the council.

We are putting Newham on the map as a beacon of participatory democracy in this country.”

Citizens’ Assembly participants will hear evidence from a range of expert speakers to help them form their recommendations, which they will submit by the end of this month.

Speakers include academics, artists, community groups, cooperatives, councillors, entrepreneurs, frontline staff, planners, start-ups and people from different walks of life sharing their lived experience and inspiration.

The second most popular issue, chosen by 30% of Newham’s residents who voted, was ‘the 15 minute neighbourhood’, which will be debated at a second Citizens’ Assembly in the winter.

Newham Council and the authority’s Cabinet will consider all of the Assembly’s recommendations and give a formal public response to each one in the autumn.

PSE will be hosting a Public Sector Decarbonisation event on 9 September. Join us for the full day event by registering here.

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