Crick Centre launches Democracy Matters: UK Citizen's Assembly pilots
Professor Matthew Flinders is leading the project as Principal Investigator.
A pioneering project to debate Britain’s constitutional future, involving the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics, launched in Parliament last week.
Academics and civil society organisations will bring together citizens and politicians for two pilot Citizen's Assemblies - one in the North and one in the South - to discuss topics including local devolution, decentralisation and new ‘City Regions’.
With the Government’s flagship Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill currently making its way through Parliament, the pilot projects are expected to be a crucial and rare opportunity for people to engage with the detail of ‘legislation in the making’.
The two Economic and Social Research Council-funded initiatives, led by a project team of leading academics from the Universities of Sheffield and Southampton and University College London, with the Electoral Reform Society, will take place in Sheffield and Southampton in October and November.
The launch event marks almost a year since the Scottish referendum, which saw huge citizens’ engagement on an issue central to the UK’s constitution. It also follows major constitutional debates going through the Houses of Commons and the Lords, including Lord Purvis’ Constitutional Convention Bill and English Votes for English Laws.
Professor Matthew Flinders, Director of the Crick Centre and Principal Investigator for the project, said: “This is a huge opportunity to feed the views of the public into the policy-making process and to explore the potential of new democratic methods to reinvigorate British politics.”
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, added: “This launch marks the start of a very exciting democratic project to get citizens involved in the democratic future of their cities and indeed the UK. A year on from the Scottish referendum, it’s more vital than ever that the public – particularly in England – have a say on where they think power should lie in Britain.
“These Assemblies could pave the way for a future UK-wide Constitutional Convention, and they are a real opportunity to mould the devolution agenda so that it genuinely involves citizens and puts democracy at the heart.
“This project is the first of its kind – and could set the agenda for future debates on not just local government but the UK’s constitution as a whole. Alongside key legislation going through Parliament, this is a pivotal and innovative process and one to watch.”