One of the projects the Alliance is keen to progress is to hold a Citizens’ Jury in Salisbury. The idea is to assemble a randomly chosen group of people to discuss a particular problem or topic in some depth. Advised by experts in the topic, the group comes together over several weekends and aims to come to some kind of conclusion. The idea is particularly useful with those knotty and difficult issues which can divide communities sometimes for many years. Salisbury has several of those for example, traffic, pedestrianisation and how the city should adapt to climate change. Views can become entrenched and often detached from any rational examination of the evidence.
At a meeting of the core group today, we heard of the progress being made. Several political parties have CJs in their manifesto. A meeting was held with Kendal Town Council who held a jury on the topic of climate. Kendal is relevant because they are a parish council like Salisbury.
We discussed the prospects for funding through the Area Board. We also considered how we could secure a majority of councillors keen to support the idea. On that front, progress is being made although there are some councillors who are not in favour. In view of recent voting results, there may be more of a groundswell of support by people who feel their views were being ignored and this in turn may be reflected in some politician’s attitudes.
Further meetings are due to be held to see if the idea can be progressed into an actual project. For now, we can say there is cautious optimism that we may be successful in securing agreement and funding for a jury to be held.