News and events

Citizens' assembly FAQs

What is a citizens’ assembly?
A citizens’ assembly brings together members of the public to consider an issue and make a recommendation on what should be done to address it. Citizens’ assemblies are made up of members of the public, selected randomly to reflect the local population.

How do citizens’ assemblies work?
Residents are invited to join the assembly through a “civic lottery”. People are randomly selected to be invited to take part. From those who agree, a group is selected that matches the characteristics of the wider community. The assembly members learn in depth about the issue, hearing from experts, interest groups and people with lived experience of the issue. Neutral facilitators support the group to deliberate on what they’ve heard, considering the different evidence, arguments and options. They then reach a collective decision on what they think should be done.

An independent advisory group will oversee how the evidence is selected, to ensure that participants are provided with factually accurate, balanced and unbiased information concerning the topic. 

Why hold a citizens’ assembly?
We are committed to strengthening and widening our approach to community engagement and to involve people in decision making. A citizens’ assembly is one way of doing this; so it is important that we explore the benefits of this kind of consultation for Kingston. We hope that the assembly will provide good evidence for policy makers about how the people of Kingston feel about this issue and what we should do to tackle it together.

The event will be widely publicised, which will draw attention to the issue of poor air quality and the impact on our health and the environment. We cannot deliver an improvement in air quality alone; we need the support of our residents and communities to make the change. Citizens’ assemblies are also a great way of hearing from people who do not usually contribute to consultations.

What issue will the Kingston citizens’ assembly consider?
The subject for consideration by Kingston’s first assembly is air quality. Clean air is essential for a good quality of life and in Kingston, we want to reduce air pollution for everyone. Air pollution is the biggest environmental cause of ill-health in the UK contributing to 1 in 20 deaths from strokes, heart disease, chest infections and cancer. 

Where and when will the assembly be held? 
The citizens’ assembly will be held at Kingston University Penrhyn Road Campus. It will be held over two weekends:

  • First meeting: 9 - 10 November
  • Second meeting: 30 November - 1 December

Who is running the event? 
We have commissioned two independent organisations to deliver this citizens’ assembly. This is our first assembly, and we are committed to embedding open democracy in our work, so we want to learn from organisations who are highly experienced in working with residents in this way.

  • The Involve Foundation is running the Kingston Citizens’ Assembly and will organise the design of the process to enable the participants to learn, consider and come to recommendations about the topic. They will also be reporting to Kingston on the findings of the assembly.

  • The Sortition Foundation is responsible for independently recruiting people to take part in the assembly.

How many participants will be selected?
A maximum a 40 people will be selected. 

How do you select people to become members of the assembly? 
The assembly members will be selected through a “civic lottery”. The Sortition Foundation will send invitations to approximately 7000 randomly selected homes in Kingston asking for volunteers. They will then sort those volunteers into a final selection of a maximum of 40 participants. The Sortition Foundation will use demographic information for this final step, ensuring that the assembly is representative of the Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames.

Will participants be paid for their time?
Participants will receive an honorarium of £150 on completion of both weekends.

How will you make sure that the assembly is accessible to everyone? 
We have ensured that the location for the citizens’ assembly is accessible for all and has lifts, ramps/flat ground and automatically opening doors. We will also make sure the event is accessible to those who are visually/hearing impaired.  

What will happen after the event?
The ideas and recommendations from the Kingston Citizens’ Assembly will be presented to Full Council on the 17 December 2019 for debate. Council will then delegate to the Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee for further deliberation and recommendations informing the work of the council going forward. 

How will the recommendations of the citizens’ assembly be taken on board?
The recommendations will be debated at the meeting of the Full Council on 17 December. Council will then delegate to the Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee for further deliberation. The recommendations from the citizens’ assembly will be used to inform and shape decisions made by the council and how we work with partners and the community to improve air quality.      

Is it possible to be an observer during the citizens’ assembly process?
Yes, residents can apply to be an observer at the citizens’ assembly and we will confirm how to do this at a later date. 

Will the citizens’ assembly be live streamed? 
We are looking into enabling the citizens’ assembly to be live streamed and we will confirm this at a later date. 

Is there a way I can take part other than being a member of the assembly?  
We are currently collecting ideas on how air quality can be improved in Kingston. We held an Air Quality forum on 11 July and people have been inputting ideas through our Let's Talk engagement portal. These ideas will be included in an information pack for the assembly members. We will also be opening a ‘call for evidence’ from the community from Monday 9 September to Wednesday 9 October. During this time you will be able to put forward evidence you would like to be presented to the assembly and suggest questions for the experts.

Any evidence submitted will be considered by the independent advisory group to ensure that participants are provided with factually accurate, balanced and unbiased information concerning the topic. You can submit your evidence in the following ways: