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Newham “radically overhauls democracy” with UK’s first Citizens’ Assembly

Would you take part in the scheme? (Credit: Nick Youngson)

The UK’s first permanent citizens assembly will be launched in Newham in what the council are calling “a radical overhaul of democracy”.

Net week all residents will be asked to choose one local topic they want the assembly to debate this summer.

10,000 letters have already been sent to randomly selected households inviting them to apply for a place on the “ground-breaking” scheme to shape the borough’s future.

50 residents will eventually be chosen to represent an area within Newham.

They will discuss the chosen topic and recommend ways for the council to fix it.

“This will be an exciting opportunity to lead the way in participatory democracy, by debating the issues residents are most concerned about, and having a greater say in how local funding is spent,” said a council spokesperson.

The chosen participants will be paid £330 to take part in events over three weekends and three weekday evenings between 21 June and 23 July.

While the practice dates back to ancient Athens, it began to gain traction in modern political circles in the last two decades.

It has been used in the Netherlands and Canada to deliberate on the countries’ voting systems, and last year a UK Climate Assembly met to debate ways to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

If you have received an invitation and would like to be considered, you can register your interest online or by calling 0800 009 6486.

The deadline is Monday, 17 May.

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM 

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