Sixty residents chosen for the Cambridge Citizens Assembly

CambridgeshireLive reports:

Citizens Assembly set up to inform Council transport decisions

A citizens’ assembly has been established by the Greater Cambridge Partnership to make recommendations which will inform its infrastructure development plans.

The assembly is made up of 60 residents “chosen through a civic lottery process so that it fairly represents the population”.

It will meet to address the following question: How do we reduce congestion, improve air quality, and provide better public transport in Greater Cambridge?

Its members will also hear from experts and be supported by an advisory group.

The assembly will meet on September 7 and 8, and October 5 and 6, before its recommendations go to the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s Joint Assembly and Executive Board in November and December respectively.

Its membership was decided by sending out invitations to 10,000 randomly selected households. 211 people replied, and from this a third party – the Sortition Foundation – selected 60 people “that match the demographic profile of the area”.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is made up of Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and the University of Cambridge, and is working to develop transport infrastructure across greater Cambridge.

Responding to a question from the Local Democracy Service about the relatively low number of responses to the Citizens’ Assembly invitation, a Greater Cambridge Partnership spokesperson defended the turnout.

The spokesperson said: “The recruitment and organisation of the Citizens’ Assembly is being carried out by Involve and the Sortition Foundation, who have run citizens’ assemblies on a broad range of subjects across the country.”

They added: “We’re confident that the citizens’ assembly will reflect the diversity of the local community and we’re looking forward to hearing what they have to say on an important issue for Greater Cambridge.”

One Response

  1. Its membership was decided by sending out invitations to 10,000 randomly selected households. 211 people replied, and from this a third party – the Sortition Foundation – selected 60 people “that match the demographic profile of the area”.

    Assuming an average of three (?) persons per household, this would mean that the second lottery pool consisted of the 0.7% who accepted the invitation from the original sample. No amount of stratification can correct for the unrepresentativeness of such a tiny self-selected sample. Why would anyone think such a body would be more representative than one chosen by voters?

    How do we reduce congestion, improve air quality, and provide better public transport in Greater Cambridge?

    This sort of leading question would suggest that the CA was an attempt to legitimise the council’s policy, even though nobody would have chosen the anti-car activists who are likely to be attracted to such a body.

    Liked by 1 person

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