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Mayor set to announce Commission on participatory democracy

19 November 2018 in Council and democracy and Mayor
​Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz is set to take another step towards having a more transparent and accountable Newham Council by announcing the start of a conversation with residents to create a Democracy and Civic Participation Commission.​
​The setting up of a Commission was first revealed in the Mayor’s election manifesto. She is set to tell a meeting of the Council next Monday (26 November) that council officers are being tasked with developing the proposal.

Mayor Fiaz said: “I want people at the heart of everything the Council under my administration does. Our residents deserve to have a say on the decisions we make on their behalf.

“I’m really excited by the prospect that Newham can be the flagship for participatory democracy that others can follow. People in this borough say they haven’t been listened to and ask what has the council ever done for them? All that must change.”

A report before the Council on Monday sets out how the Commission would be chaired independently. Council officers will be asked to work up plans on its remit and its scope of work and cost, which would feed into a review of which model of political management and council governance is best suited to local needs, including continuing to have a directly elected mayor. 

Conversations and evidence gathering with residents is likely to be wide-ranging and involve social dialogue online, roadshows and public inquiry-style sessions with national democracy experts, academics and councillors. The Commission would be tasked to report within 12 months of being set up 

The Mayor added: “It’s really important that our residents and our young people are at the centre of this process. I want them to feel part of their community and to feel more responsible personally for decisions made in public about the things that matter to them every day. They can bring passion, energy, ideas, and solutions to the way Newham is shaped in the coming years.”

Since being elected in May the Mayor has already taken steps to improve the transparency of the council by introducing citizen assemblies in the borough’s eight community neighbourhoods, by staging youth assemblies for young people, and by inviting residents to question councillors at meetings of the Council.

Mayor Fiaz added: “The election turnout in Newham in May was only 35.8% of those eligible to vote, and in last year’s general election only two-thirds of electors aged between 18 and 44 voted. Democracy and governance in Newham has to be more representative of our community and result in increased confidence in the people our residents elect.”

Further details of the proposed Commission can be seen in the agenda for Monday’s Council meeting available at www.newham.gov.uk/councilagendas​