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Wales’ first citizens’ Climate Assembly calls for better public transport links

30 Mar 2021 4 minutes Read
Picture by Chrisbunting2. (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Wales’ first-ever citizens’ Climate Assembly has called for better public transport links.

The Electoral Reform Society said it showed the essential role that citizens’ assemblies could play in Wales.

The assembly was held in Blaenau Gwent and a demographically representative group of participants from the area were selected.

Participants spent four weeks hearing from over 20 expert speakers on a range of issues including housing, fuel poverty, transport, nature and green space, jobs and skills before considering the evidence and voting on recommendations.

The final proposals were presented and voted on during the Assemblies final session on Sunday. Five key recommendations were passed with over 80% of the assembly members support, including:

  • The establishment of an affordable, integrated road and rail transport system in Blaenau Gwent with a one-ticket system for bus, rail and cycle schemes
  • Establishing safe and easily maintainable infrastructure for walkers and cyclists
  • New training for local tradespeople, qualifications and upskilling to increase green construction skills across the borough
  • Implementing a programme of woodland preservation and reforestation increasing opportunities for jobs, biodiversity and connecting woodlands.
  • Ensure new housing is developed with the latest sustainable techniques

Jess Blair, Director, ERS Cymru said it was Wales’ first climate assembly “but we hope it will not be the last”.

“The Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly shows what happens when you do politics differently – brining a community together and providing them with the space to deliberate on important issues in their local area.

“Citizen participation is vital in local decision making, it brings legitimacy, builds trust and shows that, when given the support, ordinary people can help shape their communities and come up with valuable solutions to important issues.

“Now the assembly is has spoken we look forward to seeing how Blaenau Gwent responds to their recommendations.”

‘Shocked’

Matt, Participant, Blaenau Gwent Climate Assembly said he found the climate assembly to be a very rewarding experience.

“I was able to connect with many different types of people from all walks of life within Blaenau Gwent to talk about a common goal,” he said.

“Some of the evidence that we talked about certainly shocked me, but it was comforting to know that the solutions are really within our own hands and I’m really looking forward to having our recommendations evaluated, and hopeful some will be taken forward to make a real difference within Blaenau Gwent so that we can really start to see some positive change.”

The recommendations will now be sent to the Blaenau Gwent Public Service Board’s Climate Mitigation Steering Group, who have made a commitment to respond.

Another participant, Sunita, said: “Before taking part in the climate assembly, I was aware of the causes and the effects of climate change and have always been passionate about doing everything that I can to make a difference on an individual level.

“I have learnt so much from my experience as an Assembly Member; from recognising that there is a lack of awareness about climate change on a local and national level, to understanding the level of interest and passion from the people of Blaenau Gwent to make things better.

“Collectively we demand change from our council and our government. We urge the council and the governing bodies to listen to our recommendations that we as an assembly decided on and act upon them.

“We will not stop here. We will continue to learn. We will persist to make sure that our voices are heard. We will strive to make a positive difference in our own lives and in the communities around us.”

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