Citizens' Assembly serving Northumberland set to be formed in response to climate emergency

A Citizens’ Assembly looks set to be formed as part of the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s response to the climate emergency.

By Ben O'Connell
Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 11:40 am
Updated Saturday, 26th October 2019, 3:27 pm
Picture c/o Pixabay
Picture c/o Pixabay

Declaring a climate emergency was one of the key election pledges of Labour’s Jamie Driscoll during his campaign to become the first North of Tyne Mayor and one of the first things he did upon taking office in May.

At a meeting of the combined authority’s cabinet, members agreed that further development work should take place to explore the creation of a Citizens’ Assembly.

It would be ‘a representative group of residents who are selected at random from the population to learn about, deliberate upon, make trade-offs and arrive at workable recommendations’.

Mayor Driscoll said: “This is to make sure we take people with us.”

The report to cabinet explained that the idea is that it would provide meaningful participation, enabling residents to shape policy and influence decision-making; allow different ideas to be tested; provide realistic data about what people will and won’t do, and different value judgements; and get buy-in for the conclusions, providing further legitimacy to any subsequentproposals from the authority to national Government.

All three of the constituent councils – Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle – have also declared climate emergencies this year.

As previously reported, Northumberland County Council held a public meeting last week to discuss initial proposals that are likely to be in its action plan, which is being drawn up to help meet its pledges of halving its carbon footprint by 2025 and making the county carbon-neutral by 2030.

This included plans to create a Climate Change Commission, which would see the council teaming up with world-leading experts and industry leaders ‘to make a real difference in our collective responsibility’.

Coun Glen Sanderson, the council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “One of our commitments which we’re very excited about is the creation of a Climate Change Commission which will enable us to work with experts with a wide range of skills to help us achieve our commitments.

“We’ve always stressed this is not an issue just for the council – it’s an issue for every one of us and it is clear people have some innovative ideas we can all explore as we take our action plan forward.”

Peter Fuller, from Climate Action Network Northumberland (CANN), which petitioned the council to declare a climate emergency earlier this year, added: “The council has already achieved much, but must now take the message out to the whole community so we can work together on finding solutions that work for Northumberland.”