On the hottest day on record in the UK, Tuesday 19th July, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet received the initial report from Street Voice, the Citizens’ Jury on transport, health and climate. It was one of a number of items on the agenda that related to the climate crisis, and the heat seemed to help focus minds on the need for urgent action in this area.
The Street Voice agenda item was introduced by Cllr Philips, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, who pointed out that the selection of Jury members and the design of the process were carried out independently of the Council, by a research team from Oxford University. She thanked the Jury members, and added her thanks to the Advisory Group, which included three elected members from the County. The report had clearly been read with interest, as there followed a range of engaged comments from Councillors.
Cllr Enright, Cabinet member for Travel and Development Strategy commented, “As a piece of work entirely separate from the Cabinet, as soon as we heard about it, we were intrigued as to what the Jury might find. I have to say that it is extremely pleasing to find it matches very closely to the discussions we have around the Cabinet table and at Cabinet meetings and seems to be entirely in line with the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan[…] There is an examination of the extent to which the discussions were neutral or biased, and were very largely seen to be fair and unbiased, and also that a variety of perspectives was explored […]. It seems to have been a very useful exercise too and I hope we can continue to promote it and work with the Citizens’ Jury’s outcomes.”
Cllr Gant, Cabinet member for Highway Management, also reflected that many of the Jurors’ key points align with the Council’s Local Transport and Connectivity Plan, including cycling training as part of the school curriculum, support for the Pick-Me-Up service and e-scooters, meaningful public engagement in the implementation of interventions, extensive communication with, and support for, affected groups such as care-workers, community nurses and residents for whom car use is essential, and the introduction of infrastructure for clear physical or temporal separation between different forms of transport, where this would make active travel safer. “I’m very grateful to the members of the Jury for their work,” he concluded.
Cllr Phillips reminded Cabinet members of the next steps for their engagement with the Citizens’ Jury: that the Street Voice Final Report will come back to Cabinet after it’s been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, where Cabinet will decide whether to accept, amend or reject any of the Jurors’ recommendations.
Cabinet agreed four recommendations; they:
- Noted the independent research project undertaken by the consortium of researchers from Oxford University
- Requested that Overview and Scrutiny consider a dedicated event to consider the findings in Committee
- Committed to consideration of and response to the recommendations from the Jury and any subsequent Overview and Scrutiny Committee considerations; and
- Formally recorded its thanks to the residents who participated in the Jury
Cllr Leffman, Leader of the Council highlighted the potential benefits of representative deliberative processes beyond developing policy recommendations. She cited evaluation findings that showed the impact of participating in the Citizens’ Jury on the increased likelihood that jurors will be engaged in decisions that affect their community in the future. “I think this is a process that’s well worth continuing with” she commented, “not least of all because it gives people an opportunity to become more involved in the democratic process.”
The Final Report will be presented to Council after the summer, and Cabinet will consider the report’s recommendations following the dedicated Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting. Follow our feed on Twitter @GCHUOxford to get the latest Street Voice news.