One that serves the young, old, walkers, drivers, bus users, cyclists, disabled drivers and non-drivers, carers and those with small children …

Such complex issues are increasingly being addressed around the world by convening Citizens’ Assemblies (at government level as well as in local areas, for example), where randomly selected residents (a group of 50-100, commonly) are given expert advice about a topic, which they discuss, and then draw up a set of recommendations. An independent organisation such as the charity Involve supervises the process, including which experts provide the information, and the Sortition Foundation organises the random sample. In our traffic example, the recommendations would then be presented to Haringey Council, who could then act on them in the knowledge that people with different backgrounds and experiences had worked these out together.

The selection process has two levels – initially, several thousand residents are randomly selected and sent invitations, then a stratified random sample is generated from those who reply (and supply demographic details, as well as e.g. whether or not they own a car). So the resulting sample should reflect the demographic etc. characteristics of, in our case, the population of Haringey.

A petition has been organised by a coalition of local groups to ask Haringey Council to convene such a Citizen’s Assembly to clarify what residents want - please sign!



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