Following a motion proposed by Green Councillors in January,(1) Bristol Council is moving forward with plans to carry out a Citizens Assembly involving a representative cross-section of 100 Bristolians, to advise on the city’s future priorities and recovery as Bristol begins to emerge from coronavirus. Participants in a Citizens Assembly would be selected to be representative of Bristol’s population, ensuring a cross section of participants of different ages, races, social economic backgrounds, sex and geography across the city.
Before the Citizens Assembly the Council is planning a mass survey of Bristolians, to help inform the aims of the assembly and what topics it should focus on. The survey launched on 5 August and will run until 9 September. (2) It will be followed by an online discussion forum. Both consultations will help set the agenda for Bristol’s first Citizens Assembly, where a representative body of 100 citizens will discuss and produce recommendations on important policy issues facing the city.
Green Councillor Paula O’Rourke proposed the motion at a Council meeting on 14 January. She said:
“I am really pleased that our Green motion on Rebooting Democracy has led to Bristol being the first city to use a citizens’ assembly to build the post-Covid recovery. The motion was supported by Labour’s Asher Craig and since then we have worked cross party and with some skilled officers, to design the process.
“With Bristol coming out of lockdown, the city still faces big decisions on how we tackle the climate emergency and recovery from Covid-19 and the lockdown. Instead of returning to business as usual we have an opportunity to build back better. Rather than being bound by our own assumptions of what people will or won’t want, we can bring ordinary Bristolians into decision making and have them set the city’s agenda.
“I’d encourage everyone to fill out the Council’s survey – have your say in the city’s priorities and help us set the aims for the Citizens Assembly that will explore these issues in more detail”
1) For further details on the Green party motion, which passed at a Full Council meeting on 14 January, see: https://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/news/reboot-democracy
2) The Council’s survey can be found at https://bristol.citizenspace.com/bristol-city-council/your-city-our-future/
3) A photo of councillor Paula O’Rourke can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/140746060@N06/44587280072/in/album-72157695415220290/