Citizens Assemblies: open letter to julian German, Leader of Cornwall Council

Open public letter from Deb Pepper to Julian German, leader of Cornwall Council.

Letter urges him to consider the use of Citizens Assemblies in addressing Climate Emergency we face.

At the time of writing Derek Thomas MP has requested the establishment of a Citizens Assembly be included at the nextmeeting of MP’s and the Senior Leadership Team at Cornwall Council

Dear Julian German
Having listened to the Cornwall Council (CC) January 22nd meeting webcast RE Declaration of Climate Emergency, attended a recent public meeting on the 31st May- reviewing the progress of the subsequent Climate Change Action Plan, and filled in the CC tick box Questionnaire for public opinion,  I would like to suggest that cabinet members (if not all councillors) be advised on the employment of Mini-Publics, otherwise known as Citizens Assemblies (CA’s)- this recommendation is in response to what I have perceived as:

A) an uninformed scepticism towards CA’s (and the name even?)
B) a worrying lack of understanding of what CA’s are,
C) little knowledge as to the delivery and participation of such a process when facilitated professionally, participants are given balanced facts and the time to deliberate and most importantly 
D) no realisation of the huge support and benefits for Councillors of such informed public guidance when having to make the very tough decisions in house and  the necessary requests to our government for the policies,legislation and resources needed to avert the climate crisis that our Council have declared and we are acknowledging, or trying to!
Once understood fully it would seem a huge oversight, indeed a missed opportunity and a failure on behalf of our leaders if they were not to use such a valuable tool. As such I feel strongly (and in fairness to council members, who like most of us had not heard of CA’s till recently) that this is an issue that must be addressed.
I believe it would be useful reading for them and would allay some of the misconceptions of CA’s and concerns that Cabinet members expressed, one indeed describing such a process as basically, a last resort if all went badly wrong! And you cannot do this or you feel that this is not an appropriate request then please advise and I will do so myself.
These are extraordinary times and the climate crisis is a challenge of such enormity that touches every single one of us and requires some extraordinary cooperation and commitment amongst us all to work together, bottom down, top up and every bit in between. We all have a responsibility to prepare ourselves, our friends, colleagues, family and fellow global citizens in the best and most informed way we can, and this necessitates public awareness, understanding and participation of all.
It is the duty of our leaders to facilitate that in the most effective way possible.  A Citizens Assembly, if conducted with integrity (as were those live streamed in Ireland recently on Climate change, social care and the eighthamendment), will go a long way to setting the scene for doing so. Please think about this seriously, many people have studied this ancient form of truly democratic public participation, it is a tried and tested process and makes a lot of sense when having to make uncomfortable and controversial decisions, it also opens the door to some great opportunities for progressive change- a healthier and fairer planetary existence and the possibility of saving ourselves in this planets sixth mass extinction, one that this time- we are responsible for.
I really feel it would be of value for you (and other members) to watch the addressing of the Irish Citizens  Assembly which encapsulates everything and more of what I have tried to convey above
Please also see this useful review of the Irish CA, which has interviews of participants- it seems they really understood the gravity of the issue, unlike their government who have seemingly and sadly failed to listen to their recommendations
I am quite sure that you get lots of requests and links to read or watch information that genuinely concerned and well meaning residents of Cornwall like myself  have made or sent, but please make time for these because I believe in doing so you will understand the importance of CA’s and why I have asked you to do so. Thank you in advance for your time, a precious commodity for us all and of particular pertinence here.
Deb Pepper
St Just

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