#StreetVoice Citizens’ Jury – OCC Scrutiny meeting

An update on project progress as the report for the Street Voice Citizens’ Jury is due to be discussed at Oxfordshire County Council’s ‘Performance & Corporate Services’ Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting on 30th September 2022.

After a summer of processing the Street Voice data, this coming Friday (30th September) the team will be presenting the report of the Street Voice Citizens’ Jury to Oxfordshire County Council.  It will be delivered to a meeting of the ‘Performance & Corporate Services’ Overview & Scrutiny Committee whose role is to review County policies and related evidence, holding the Cabinet to account.  

The research team, along with two of the Jurors, will outline the process underpinning the Jury’s four meetings. This included Jurors hearing the input of speakers from many perspectives, questioning the speakers, listening to each other and seeking common ground, supported by the principles of convergent facilitation, to reach a set of 41 ‘priority recommendations.’  

The recommendations cover a range of themes: public transport, active travel, private cars and motorised transport, education and public engagement, and logistics and infrastructure.  Some of the recommendations concern actions that Oxfordshire County Council itself could take, and in some cases align with existing plans, while others would require Oxfordshire County Council to collaborate with, or influence, other agencies or levels of government. We are hoping for a lively discussion at the meeting, and that many of the recommendations put forward by the jurors will be considered by the Council. 

Beyond the recommendations themselves, we see the Street Voice Citizens’ Jury as a springboard for Oxfordshire County Council to position itself as an early adopter of innovative methods for public engagement to address challenging policy issues.  A number of other local authorities have seized the opportunity to reinvigorate democracy, for example in the London Borough of Newham, which set up the country’s first permanent Citizens’ Assembly in 2021, or the London Borough of Wandsworth, which is currently organising a Citizens’ Assembly to address climate change and contribute to achieving carbon neutral status by 2030 with specific follow-up actions involving citizens after the Assembly has taken place.  

Rather than regarding the Street Voice Citizens’ Jury as an event that has finished, we would urge the Council to see it as a beginning, to capitalise on the engagement and good-will shown by Jury members and to follow through with further initiatives. The Jury spent time working through differences to identify common ground and agree on solutions to thorny issues. They have demonstrated the value of a deliberative approach to addressing policy. We hope this process will not stop here!