After hosting the first ever citizens’ jury at town council level, KTC focused on understanding what residents thought it should do and ensuring commitments from local partners.
Kendal Town Council (KTC) engaged a not-for-profit social enterprise to facilitate their Climate Change Citizens’ Jury in 2020. It was the first ever citizens’ jury at town council level and they focused their efforts on both understanding what residents thought the council should do about climate change and ensuring they guaranteed commitments from local organisations to make a change.
With limited resources and lacking a dedicated communications team, the challenge for Kendal Town Council was bringing about meaningful change and keeping residents engaged throughout the process.
Combining funding from the District and County Councils in Kendal with money from a community crowdfunding appeal, KTC set up a citizens’ jury to create a set of recommendations for the area. As part of the jury, KTC established a strong oversight panel made up of organisations they felt would best be able to implement the recommendations. Each member of the oversight panel, which included local climate groups such as South Lakes Action on Climate Change, South Lakes Extinction Rebellion and Cumbria Action for Sustainability made a commitment to take action based on the recommendations made by the jury. These commitments varied from ‘we will look at them to and consider them’ to ‘we will action them.’ This was quite difficult for organisations as they were unaware of what the recommendations would be, but all organisations at least committed to discussing the recommendations at key meetings and bringing their conclusions back to the jury.
KTC produced a video which showcased the recommendations arising from the jury. Before releasing it to the public, the council hosted private screenings of the film with the organisations who signed up to recommendations. Here they spoke to each organisation to discuss which of the jury’s recommendations could be implemented and to invite them to return and discuss the next steps with the jury.
All organisations committed to discussing how they could implement the recommendations and will now meet biannually at a recommendations panel to share their progress with the jury members, explore partnership working and share examples of best practice.
Commitments from organisations include becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 and asking Board members to share the recommendations with their own representative groups and organisations.
KTC recognised that limited resources meant they would find it difficult to reach every resident in Kendal, therefore efforts were focused engaging with organisations that were well placed to implement recommendations from the jury. The challenge is to ensure that the next steps are shared with the entire population so everyone can see the good work in progress.
Helen Moriarty, Project Manager at Kendal Town Council
I think it’s a good way of creating some accountability. If we can say confidently this is what the citizens of Kendal want, the people who serve those citizens need to listen and do something. The commitment of the organisations to date show that they want to listen and are willing to take action and I think that’s brilliant.
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