People power in action - Newham Citizens’ Assembly looks at 15 Minute Neighbourhoods

Newham’s permanent Citizens’ Assembly will meet again this weekend (Saturday 22 January and Sunday 23 January) as part of the Council’s commitment to give power to the people, by expanding democracy through this innovative new way for residents to help shape policies which matter to them.

Fifty residents from across the borough will take part in this second permanent Assembly, which will focus on the issue of ‘15 Minute Neighbourhoods’, a topic chosen by residents themselves.

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz OBE said: “I am very much looking forward to hearing from this, the next session of our Citizens’ Assembly, which will be another important opportunity for people in Newham to have a voice on issues which matter to them. I will be excited to hear the ideas that emerge on how we can achieve ‘15 minute neighbourhoods’ and shape the places we live in ways which can really improve our lives.”

The ‘15 minute neighbourhood’ concept has been adopted by cities across the world, including Paris, Lagos, Shanghai, Melbourne and Bogota. In essence, the idea is to create more liveable and sustainable neighbourhoods in which residents can access all of their day-to-day needs within a 15-minute walk or cycle of their home.

Mayor Fiaz said: “The issue Assembly participants will be discussing comes at a really important time, and this topic goes to the heart of the vision we have for Newham. We have embraced this model of place making, which is about making our local areas responsive to the people and places which exist, and looking at a variety of needs in what is often a complex and challenging urban environment.”

“I am delighted that we have such an impressive range of experts coming to talk to us and share views with the Citizens’ Assembly, including from Paris, a city from which we have taken inspiration given their pioneering work on 15 minute neighbourhoods. This is about building a thriving, sustainable borough where all residents are served by local centres which meet their needs.”

“We want to see place making in our local centres which can ensure that people can access a range of activities right on their doorstep. It is an approach with a better understanding of both the space and the shape of our areas and which is more responsive to the specific and diverse needs of the local population. This approach seeks to build a public realm that is sustainable, will reduce pollution, help local economies and create more vibrant, healthy and cohesive ways of living across Newham.”

“This Citizens’ Assembly is very timely, as the borough recently won a significant amount of funding from government specifically to develop 15 minute neighbourhoods as part of our bid to their Levelling up Fund. The Assembly’s ideas will feed into this process, as well as our current refresh of our Local Plan.”

Pandora Ellis from DemSoc said: “All of us at Democratic Society are excited to be part of this event once again. Having delivered such a successful first standing Citizens’ Assembly, it’s great that the council are committed to making this a permanent feature. We have recruited 25 new representatives and retained 25 previous Assembly members, so it will be interesting to build on the process with a combination of experience and fresh thinking. Previous participants have already shared similar excitement, as they support newer members into the Assembly.”

The Council and the Cabinet will consider all the Assembly recommendations, and give a formal public response to each one later this year.

Published: 21 Jan 2022