Citizens' Assemblies

Newham Citizens' Assembly

Newham’s residents have decided that ‘greening the borough’ is the issue they want England’s first permanent Citizens’ Assembly to discuss this summer.

Newham Council wrote to 10,000 households selected randomly inviting them to register for a place on Newham’s Citizens’ Assembly.  Fifty people from those registered to take part have been selected randomly to join the Citizens’ Assembly to discuss and recommend ways the Council should help make Newham a better, happier and healthier place to live

The theme itself reflects the importance of parks and green space to residents, particularly following the challenges to mental and physical health since March 2020. This first Citizens’ Assembly will therefore examine how we can make the borough’s green spaces more attractive and enjoyable for people. 

Citizens’ Assembly Dates Agenda Items

10 July - Morning Introduction

  • Understanding how the Assembly will work
  • Participants getting to know each other
     

10 July - Afternoon Welcome

  • Welcome from the Mayor on importance of democratic participation and citizens assemblies
  • Introduction by the Councilon the issue to be deliberated

 

11 July – Morning

Understanding the issue

 

  • Introduction to the evidence by Newham – the place & people & the issue
  • Interactive activities to reflect on the above

 

11 July – Afternoon

Understanding the lived experience

 

  • Expert witnesses from local communities – young people, residents doing innovative activity on parks & open spaces, wider community groups
  • Interactive activities to reflect on the above

 

24 July – Morning

Future thinking and innovation

 

  • Expert witnesses on future thinking on urban environments and investment
  • Interactive activities to cluster themes

 

24 July – Afternoon

Turning ideas into proposals

 

  • Group deliberations to turn ideas into proposals
  • Interactive activities to prioritise actions

 

25 July – Morning

Testing & refining

 

  • Testing ideas with experts, including the feasibility and the trade offs
  • Voting on proposals

 

25 July – Afternoon

Turning vision into recommendations

 

  • Assessing & refining the recommendations based on a set of criteria
  • Interactive activities to do above

 

31 July – Morning

Finalising recommendations

 

  • Final drafting of recommendations and who is responsible for them
  • Voting to make the final decisions on the recommendations

 

31 July – Afternoon

Turning ideas into proposals

 

  • Presentation to the Council (including the Mayor)
  • Feedback from the Council
  • Celebrating & feedback
  • Staying involved

(Early, mid & end of July) Micro Group Sessions

 

  • These sessions enable assembly participants  to build personal relationships and reflect on the process
  • Each micro group session will help ensure the participants are prepared for the next steps for the main assembly sessions

Advisory Board:

The role of the Advisory Group is to support the Citizens’ Assembly process by providing advice and oversight to ensure: 

  • The assembly is focussed on the key themes that have been highlighted, and
  • The evidence and materials are comprehensive, accurate and balanced and perceived as such by the outside world, and
  • The independence of the materials produced as background for assembly members.

The Advisory Group is made of local stakeholders who can bring knowledge of the borough and of their sector and regional stakeholders who have influence in the borough. While the group does not have any decision-making powers, it helps ensure that the Citizens’ Assembly considers the different levers that their sectors have overall, both within the borough and at a regional & national level.

The members were representatives from Populo Living, East London Business Alliance, Compost London, Citizens UK, Royal Docks, Barts Health Trust, GLA and UCL.

Delivery Partners

The Democratic Society (DemSoc)

The Democratic Society is working with us to design the Citizens’ Assembly and will be instrumental in delivering these sessions. They are a non-partisan and independent organisation dedicated to building new democratic infrastructure that lets people involve themselves in the decisions that shape their lives.

The Sortition Foundation

The Sortition Foundation has been working with us to recruit local participants to participate in the assembly, ensuring that these participants reflect the diverse range of communities and groups in the borough. The Sortition Foundation is a non-profit organisation that exists to support and promote the use of democratic lotteries such as this.

Involve

Involve is working with the Democratic Society to design the Citizens’ Assembly. They are the UK’s public participation charity. They develop, support and campaign for new ways to involve people in decisions that affect their lives.

How did Newham Residents Decide on the first issue

In a historic opportunity to help shape the borough, residents voted on the two most important local issues from a shortlist of themes via the Council’s website.

Thirty one per cent chose ‘greening the borough’, closely followed with 30 per cent selecting ‘the 15 minute neighbourhood’, which will be debated at the second Citizens’ Assembly in the autumn.

People want to live in vibrant communities where they can easily work, meet, shop, and access the everyday services they need, but are concerned that some of our high streets are struggling. The second Citizens’ Assembly discussion about the 15-minute neighbourhood will allow people to have their say on the neighbourhoods they want.

Nineteen per cent of residents selected tackling health inequalities; 15% a new deal for young people; and 5% for good work and taking advantage of new technology. These important issues are being addressed by the Council through a wide range of initiatives and programmes such as:

  • ’50 Steps to a Healthier Newham’, which aims to tackle the health inequalities that exist within the borough, Newham’s Covid Health Champions, Community Health Champions and Social Welfare Alliance.
  • The Youth Empowerment Fund to support young people in achieving their ambitions, our Youth Zones, Youth Assemblies, Year of the Young Person and our Youth Safety Board.
  • ‘Our Newham Work’, which is designed to help Newham residents into work.

The Citizens’ Assembly will be an exciting opportunity to lead the way in participatory democracy, by debating the issues residents are most concerned about.

Who sits on the Citizens’ Assembly

Ten thousand letters were sent to randomly selected households inviting residents to register for a place on the Citizens’ Assembly. Fifty people have been randomly selected to represent the area to discuss key issues and recommend ways the Council should tackle them.

Those people selected to take part will have the opportunity to meet with individuals from all walks of life who live in Newham. They will hear from engaging speakers, and discuss the issues involved in small groups, with facilitators to make sure everyone has their voice heard.

Chosen Citizens’ Assembly participants will take part in Covid compliant events over 3 weekends, and 3 weekday evenings from July 10 to July 31. Participants will receive £330 for their time and the chance to take part in a second Citizens’ Assembly planned later this year. Tech and other support will be provided to help people participate.

The outcomes of the Assembly will be presented to the Council and the cabinet will consider all the recommendations made, and give a formal public response to each one.

The Citizens’ Assembly is a chance to: 

  • Debate a key issue that most affects the lives of residents
  • Discuss and work together to find solutions to the issues  
  • Connect with other Newham people and share knowledge 
  • Hear from great speakers
  • Present recommendations to the Council for consideration 
  • Give directions on how funding available to your area is spent. 

Giving people the chance to have their say forms part of a radical overhaul of democracy in the borough, designed to involve residents in decisions and build trust in the Council and make it a happier and healthier place to live.

For more information about how the Council is tackling health inequalities, supporting young people and getting people in to work, visit:

50 steps

Covid health champions webpage

Community health champions webpage

Newham Social Welfare Alliance

Youth Empowerment Fund

Year of the Young Person

Newham Year of the Young Person (PDF)

Our Newham Work website