The Greater Cambridge Citizens’ Assembly on congestion, air quality and public transport brought together 53 randomly selected residents from Greater Cambridge and the wider travel to work area for two weekends during September and October 2019.
The citizens’ assembly was set the task to develop recommendations to the Greater Cambridge Partnership in response to the question:
How do we reduce congestion, improve air quality and provide better public transport in Greater Cambridge?
Across two weekends, the citizens’ assembly heard a range of evidence relating to the challenges of congestion, air quality and public transport – this included learning, exploring and discussing:
- The situation in Greater Cambridge now and projections for the future;
- The impacts of congestion, air quality and public transport on our health; our environment; and our lives;
- Visions and approaches locally and from further afield on different ways to tackle the problem; and
- The range of measures that could be used to address the situation.
Background to the project
This project forms part of the Innovation in Democracy Programme launched by DCMS to trial the involvement of citizens in decision-making at local government level through innovative models of deliberative democracy. The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) is trialling the involvement of citizens in decision-making at local government level through innovative models of deliberative democracy.
It is supporting three local authorities - Greater Cambridge Partnership (Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council), Dudley Metropolitan Council and Test Valley Borough Council - to open up a key policy decision to citizen deliberation, complemented by online engagement.
In Greater Cambridge the participants will take into consideration the following issues during the course of the deliberations:
- Predicted growth in the Greater Cambridge area and beyond, and implications for commuter numbers and patterns
- Focusing on regular journeys into and around Cambridge and from across the travel to work area
- The need to reduce traffic levels by 10-15% on 2011 levels, equivalent to a reduction of more than 20% today
- The need to identify a future funding stream to maintain improvements to public transport services in future
- Measures that can be used to address reduce congestion, improve air quality and provide better public transport (including other active modes of travel)
IiDP is jointly delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government.
Each participating Local Authority will have support from the Democracy Support Contractor Consortium made up of Involve, The Democratic Society, mySociety and the RSA, as well as up to £60,000 to cover the costs of implementing the Area Democracy Forums and online engagement. The programme is being independently evaluated by Renaisi.
A preliminary report was published immediately after the assembly. The full report outlining all of the assembly's outputs and recommendations was published in November 2019.
The full report was due to be presented to the Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly and Executive Board in late 2019, but due to the UK General Election, this happened in early 2020 instead.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership has now published a draft response to the Citizens' Assembly's recommendations here (p.80 - 97).