Oliver Coppard: ‘citizens assembly will help us make decisions everyone can support’
and live on Freeview channel 276
Citizens assemblies – groups of people brought together to discuss big issues and make suggestions to tackle them – date back to ancient Athens and gained popularity in recent years.
This assembly’s focus is the climate emergency which Mr Coppard recognised as “the biggest challenge we face and the biggest opportunity in front of us”.
His goal is to have an entirely net zero economy across the region by 2040.
He said: “This is about a different form of politics, doing politics differently – putting our communities’ voices at the heart of decision making.
“What I really hope this achieves is it will help us take decisions everyone in South Yorkshire can support. Right now we have 1.4 million people in South Yorkshire who all have slightly different versions of what getting to net zero looks like.
“We need to bring people together so everyone can understand the decisions we are making are based on the thoughts, feelings and wants of everybody who lives here.”
Letters were sent to 30,000 people across the region at random and 100 demographically and geographically representative members were chosen to take part. They will be paid £300 for their participation.
Thomas Chigbo, deliberative democracy and engagement manager at TPXimpact which is running the assembly with SYMCA, said it was an exciting democratic experiment.
He said: “Having that solid backing from the mayor and having the commitment to take these issues seriously and respond to the recommendations that come out of it is really helpful.
“I hope it gives everybody in South Yorkshire a sense of confidence about the ability of ordinary people to come together and help make big decisions.
“I hope the ideas and proposals for action actually get taken forward by decision makers, businesses and individuals. Hopefully this is an experience that inspires the people here to do more democratic engagement and feel a greater sense of their own power and ownership of what’s going on in their lives.”