Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

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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Hi Alan, see above. If your (and Annabel's?) problem is that politicians are more 'top down' or 'tin pot dictators' citizens assemblies doesn't change that. That's not too quibble with your diagnosis, or that citizens assemblies might have some value for some things, but by drawing a line between the two I think you may be doing citizens assemblies a disservice - far more helpful imho to understand and explore what they are actually good for.

Step (1) Find and elect some honest politicians. They do exist.

I've just clocked that this is an Extinction Rebellion (XR) initiative. In fact, it's one of their 'demands' of government.

A little more transparency would have been nice, Annabel. But I understand that having XR driving it will, for many, undermine the warm and cuddlies of 'equity' and 'democracy'.

They are holding an event this Sunday in Finsbury Park. I believe there will be a talk about Citizens' Assemblies at 2.15.

This campaign is a coalition of local groups, which was initiated by Haringey Clean Air, XR Haringey and Haringey Living Streets. I am a member of Haringey Living Streets. It is just a petition, not an act of civil disobedience. If you think that what it proposes is a good idea, then sign it; if not – leave it. We are at an early stage in growing the campaign – any other local groups who would like to support it would be very welcome to join us, and we would put their logo – or just name – at the bottom of the poster (I think more logos are waiting to be added).

You mention ‘equity’ and ‘democracy’ – these concepts apply to the Assembly (which needs to be demonstrably representative of Haringey residents), not the campaign. The CA would be commissioned by Haringey Council, and XR would have nothing to do with it – ‘warm and cuddly’ or not! Just as Haringey councillors and officers would have nothing to do with the actual running of the Assembly.

Citizens’ Assemblies are indeed a major plank of XR policy – but so they are of many governmental and other institutions, and increasingly so. This German website has the longest list of governmental CAs and Citizens’ Juries (like CAs only smaller) worldwide that I have seen – several hundred of them:


In the UK, the Institute for Government (which is not a radical institution!) has several recommendations for ways that the government or parliament could used CAs. Six House of Commons select committees commissioned a UK Assembly on Climate, and another two commissioned one on Social Care. Nine London boroughs have run them, some more than once – so Haringey would only be following in an established tradition if they ran one too (the first CA was in Canada in 2004). Extensive research is being devoted to the topic – I gave some UK links earlier in this thread.

I meant to include this with the previous post.



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