News

Kingston’s first ever citizens’ assembly confirmed for Autumn

Kingston Council has confirmed that the borough’s first ever citizens’ assembly will go ahead over the two weekends of 9 - 10 November and 30 November - 1 December 2019.

The assembly puts local people at the heart of considering how we can collectively tackle air quality in Kingston. It will take place over four days and residents will be given the opportunity to learn about and discuss air quality issues and then reach a conclusion about what they believe should be done to tackle the problem. 

Involve, a charity specialising in running public participation events, has been chosen to lead the project in partnership with the council. They are one of the UK's leading public participation charities and aim to put people at the centre of decision making. They have a track record in assisting with and delivering similar projects for the London Borough of Camden, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and UK Parliament. 

Residents of the borough will be randomly selected and invited to be members of the assembly.  Recruitment will start in September and is being run by an independent organisation who specialise in the selection process. They will ensure the assembly reflects the demographic make-up of the borough and that a range of voices are heard. 

Being a member of the panel for the Kingston Citizens’ Assembly is just one way residents and communities can be involved in the work to tackle air quality. 

Those who live, work and study in Kingston can submit evidence that they wish to be considered by the assembly. This will be reviewed by an independent advisory group to assess that it is fair and balanced. Residents can apply to be an observer during the assembly meetings and anyone can put forward ideas for improving air quality via the council’s engagement portal www.kingstonletstalk.co.uk  

Cllr Hilary Gander, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainable Transport, said:

“Air quality is one of the biggest issues affecting the borough and has huge impacts on our health - we need to take action to tackle it. We also know that we, the council, can’t solve this on our own. We want to work together with residents, communities, businesses and partners to find solutions and ideas that will improve all our lives, and this is just one of the ways in which people can get involved.”

Cllr Tim Cobbett, Portfolio Holder for Engagement and Continuous Learning, said:

“The citizens’ assembly is hugely exciting and it’s great to be at the leading edge of involving communities and helping them play a vital and pivotal role in decision-making. We are committed to trying new ways of working with residents on the challenges we face, focussing more on evidence and coming together to find solutions. The council is very keen to hear people’s views and we are confident we will learn from the experience so we can use the format ourselves in the future.” 

Tim Hughes, Director at Involve, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Kingston on this important issue. Citizens’ assemblies are a fantastic way of addressing challenging issues by drawing on the ideas and wisdom of people from all walks of life. We’re looking forward to working with residents of Kingston to develop an action plan for improving air quality in the Borough.”

More information about the council’s plans to improve air quality in Kingston is available at www.kingston.gov.uk/CitizensAssembly. You can read more about Involve at www.involve.org.uk and citizens’ assemblies here.