Street Voice: A Citizens’ Jury to find common ground on solutions to the impact of travel on health and climate change in Oxford

Stay up-to-date with the Street Voice project through @GCHUOxford on Twitter and through the regularly published Street Voice blogs.

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Principal Investigator: Dr David Howardⁱ

Co-Investigators: Prof Catherine Popeⁱⁱ & Dr Juliet Carpenterⁱ

Researcher: Dr Alison Chisholmⁱⁱ

Administrator: Robert Weaversⁱ

Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation, Kellogg College

ⁱⁱNuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences

A small team at the University of Oxford is organising a Citizens' Jury to help answer important questions about how people can travel where they need to in Oxford in a climate-friendly way that promotes health.

Traffic and travel have an impact on people’s health and climate change, but it can be difficult to find transport policy solutions that work for everyone. All voices need to be heard on this issue, and citizens’ juries are a tried and tested, inclusive and balanced method that help communities solve local problems.

Our aim is to create an opportunity for local residents to understand each other's views and experiences, and to reach decisions that people can agree on about how to make Oxford an inclusive, fair and safe place to move around in ways that are good for people’s health and the environment. We hope it will help to deepen democracy and empower local people.

An Advisory Group which includes local campaigners, councillors and academics ensures that the process is fair and unbiased. They oversee the selection of jurors and the “expert witnesses” who will share information with the jurors. The process will be run entirely independently of Oxfordshire County Council, but the Jury’s recommendations will be presented to the Council.

Draft terms of Reference can be found here.


Background

The impacts of transport and travel on inequalities in health and well-being, and the social and economic problems created by congestion and noise, are well-documented. Interventions to alter the form and patterns of travel can be highly emotive and at times polarising, potentially highlighting concerns over social inequality, mobility, access, and fairness. Interventions such as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are designed to reduce vehicular traffic in urban areas, with the intention of stimulating active travel and improving shared experiences of walking and cycling. Such interventions are often highly popular with some local residents, but meet with strong resistance from others, particularly if they are felt to have been imposed without their consent, and if the benefits and costs of the schemes are perceived to be unfairly distributed.


Deliberative democracy

Representative deliberative democracy is increasingly employed to address contentious “wicked” policy issues. Citizens’ Juries are a form of representative deliberative democracy, and operate on three broad principles.

1. Representativeness

Jury members are recruited to ensure representativeness on multiple criteria, achieved through random sampling from which a representative selection is made. It is critical to the credibility of the project that the selection process is transparent and robust. Stratification criteria were agreed by the Advisory Group, and include: ethnicity, age, sex, socioeconomic status, disability and concern about climate change.

2. Deliberation

Deliberation is careful, informed and open discussion to weigh evidence about an issue. As the Canadian organisation MASS LBP write, “Deliberation is different [from consultation]. It aims to determine what a group of people can agree to, rather than what as individuals they might like or want. This process produces a set of well-informed recommendations that can form the basis of future policy decisions, rather than generating a list of top-of-mind opinions” and “Enlisting citizens and residents to participate in the development of public policy is an important step towards strengthening public confidence in government, as well as improving policy outcomes.

3. Impact

Citizens’ Juries are linked to public decision making. A public body will commit to receiving to the report of a Citizens’ Jury and to responding within a given time, explaining why they will act on some recommendations and not others.


Street Voice

This study is a small-scale Citizens’ Jury. It will engage a stratified random sample of 16 residents from Headington and surrounding areas, who will form the jury.

The Headington area has been chosen as the site for this project because there are plans to consult on the introduction of new traffic schemes there in the near future. People from 2000 households in Headington, Barton, Sandhills, Northway, Quarry and Risinghurst have been invited to register their interest. 16 local residents from all walks of life will be chosen by “civic lottery” to form the “jury” to reflect the population of Oxford in terms of age, sex, ethnicity, disability and concern about climate change.

Over four meetings, jury members will be informed about the issues surrounding air pollution, climate change, public health, inequalities, mobility, road safety, access, business and traffic management by expert witnesses, including ‘neutral’ experts, stakeholders, and advocates representing different sides, so that the jury can receive a balanced and complete picture of the main issues relating to travel in Oxford.

Time will be allocated for the jurors to ask questions of the witnesses, and for them to deliberate. The final stage of the process will be for the jury to formulate a response, either by consensus or voting, to the main question, which will frame the issues, the wording of which will be agreed by the Advisory Group (see below), along the lines of:

“How can we travel where we need to in Oxford in a way that’s good for health and the climate?” and sub-questions:

  • “What do people who live in, work in or visit Oxford need so that they can move around safely and easily?”
  • “How are people’s travel needs best balanced with the need to promote health and fairness and tackle climate change?”
  • “What can Oxfordshire County Council do to help achieve these aims?”

Aims

The Street Voice project will convene a Citizens’ Jury with the following aims:

1. To facilitate deliberation among a representative selection of residents of the Headington area on an overarching question agreed by the Advisory Group.

2. To generate ideas from these public deliberations to produce acceptable solutions to the negative impacts of how people travel

3. To use the evidence generated to inform local transport policy.

4. To evaluate the Citizens’ Jury as a method to explore a contentious local issue.

This Citizens’ Jury aims to facilitate local citizens’ understanding of each other’s experiences of, and perspectives on, the introduction of measures (such as LTNs) to reduce the negative health and climate effects of urban traffic pollution; and to share the significance of integrating diverse opinions, developing mutual respect, and co-generating an understanding for sustainable urban development and planning, while considering broad principles, rather than the technical details of such plans. The jury will explore the nature of concerns and fears relating to proposed or existing interventions, how they might be altered to mitigate problematic effects, and what approaches to reduce the problems associated with the current transport system might be considered to be more acceptable.


Project team structure

The Project Delivery Team (Oxford University researchers and other staff) are responsible for the planning and operation of the Citizens’ Jury, and preparing the final report.

The project will be overseen by an Advisory Group, which was convened to ensure the legitimacy of the process, i.e. that the jury members and Expert Witnesses are selected without bias, and the overarching question to be addressed is neutral.

The Advisory Group meet virtually and will provide guidance for the wording of the main question, and the overall process; the selection and recruitment of experts and advocates; the provision of preparatory materials, and comment on the study’s outcome and report.

Advisory Group Membership

  • Lizzie Adams (Involve)
  • Emeritus Professor David Banister (Transport Studies Unit, University of Oxford)
  • Dr Audrey de Nazelle (Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London)
  • Cllr Mohamed Fadlalla
  • Dr Jo Hamilton (School of Geography, University of Exeter)
  • Paul Kahawatte (Navigate)
  • Cllr Kieron Mallon
  • Sadiea Mustafa-Awan (Reconnecting Oxford)
  • Professor Alan Renwick (Constitution Unit, University College London)
  • Cllr Roz Smith
  • Scott Urban (Oxfordshire Liveable Streets)

 

CJ Project team structure