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Dudley Council
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We are committed to involving our local communities in creating vibrant towns and neighbourhoods, which are places that people want to be. As part of this we are thrilled to be one of only three councils selected by the government to set up a People’s Panel, which we will use to help create our vision of Forging a Future for all in Dudley.

Councillors are working for their local communities during the current emergency situation. Due to Government rules on social distancing, advice surgeries are suspended until further notice. 

Your Councillors can still be contacted for any issues or concerns by using their contact details on their webpages. 

What is Dudley People’s Panel?

People's Panel logoIt is a way to give a voice to local people. Fifty randomly selected members of the public were invited to consider an issue and make recommendations to the council on what should be done.

The People's Panel gave members of the public the opportunity, time and space to learn about a topic, before giving detailed recommendations for politicians to consider and respond to.

Panel members heard from and questioned witnesses, including experts, other residents and representatives from business and the community. Participants discussed what they heard with one another and decided what they thought.

The Panel made a joint decision on what it thought should be done and has reported its recommendations to the local community and council.

On this occasion the topic was on the future of Dudley and Brierley Hill town centres.

The question

What can communities and the Council do together to make Dudley and Brierley Hill town centres places that are vibrant, welcoming and somewhere we are proud of?

How will we know we are making a difference in: 12 months; 3 years; by 2030? 

To answer these questions a group of local residents got together for four days to take part in a citizens' assembly, which we called a People’s Panel, to help solve these key issues.

Dudley People’s Panel took place during November 2019. 

Why focus on town centres?

The way we spend time in town centres has changed. People no longer go into town to get all of their shopping.
We want to know how you would like to use your town centres and how can we make sure that they survive and thrive?
What will encourage you, your family and future family to go into and enjoy your town?  These are important questions that we need your help to answer.

How can I get involved?

This has now happened.

  1. Become a member of Dudley People’s Panel - in late September invitations to be a member of the Dudley People’s Panel were posted to 10,000 random addresses in the local area.
  2. Share your thoughts - from 2 to 29 September we asked for your views about the future of Dudley and Brierley Hill town centres and what evidence you think the People’s Panel needs to hear and consider.  Your responses will be considered by the Advisory Group to support development of the Panel's plans, evidence and materials. They will also be presented at the People's Panel and published here shortly.
  3. Watch a People’s Panel session - applications to observe the People's Panel closed at midnight on 22 October 2019. Evidence presented at the People's Panel will be live streamed on You Tube and recordings will be available on this website shortly afterwards.

Which other organisations were involved?

We were awarded funding and support from the UK Government’s Innovation in Democracy Programme to hold a citizens’ assembly, which we are calling Dudley People’s Panel. It is jointly delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Two independent organisations ran our Panel:

  • The Sortition Foundation randomly recruited people to take part in the People’s Panel. They then went through the list of those who registered to take part and make sure that the Panel was broadly representative of the local community.
  • The Democratic Society (Demsoc) is an organisation working for greater involvement in democracy. Demsoc organised and ran the People's Panel. They also wrote the report on the Panel’s outcomes.

Who is on the advisory group?

Anna Baker-Barnes – Revival Fires

David Hoskin – Rector of the Brierley Hill Team

Eve O’Connor – Cornbow Centre, Halesowen and Dudley Borough Vision Lead for Town Centres

Iain Walker – newDemocracy Foundation

Kate Green – Dudley Council for Voluntary Service

Tim Sunter - Brierley Hill Community Forum

Traci Dix-Williams - Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust

Sean Latham – Dudley Youth Council

Shane Birch-Bastock - Pentax Developments Ltd

Vicky Rogers – Halesowen Business Improvement District


Following this experiment in participatory democracy, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have published the Government's Innovation in Democracy materials:

Videos of Dudley People's Panel

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you running the Dudley People’s Panel?

- We want to give members of the public more say over decisions that affect them and their communities
- Councillors who make decisions will benefit from the knowledge and ideas that local people can give

Are you only considering Dudley and Brierley Hill town centres?

  • As part of the Forging a Future for all vision we want to create vibrant towns and neighbourhoods across the borough by 2030.
  • The People’s Panel will allow us to capture local people’s thoughts and ideas on the future of the borough’s town centres. This will be most effective if the Panel can focus on a small area, to allow them to consider evidence in depth.
  • Current regeneration projects in Dudley and Brierley Hill have the potential to significantly change how these town centres are used in the next five years, so it is important to have public input here.
  • However, as part of the process, ideas from other town centres will be shared with the People’s Panel. All lessons learnt from the People’s Panel can then be considered for our other towns in the borough.

What will the council do with the People’s Panel recommendations?

Councillors will use the information provided by the People’s Panel to help them decide what to do in the short, medium and long-term to make Dudley’s town centres vibrant and welcoming.

How can I take part in the People’s Panel?

In September, a few thousand invitations were posted to households in the local area that were randomly selected from the postcode database.  From those who agreed, a group were selected that matches local residents as closely as possible. For example, we look to have a mix of men and women, younger and older, from different ethnic backgrounds, etc.

Will the council choose who takes part in the People’s Panel?

No. The selection will be run by an independent organisation called The Sortition Foundation which will approach people randomly based on their postcode. You must be invited to take part.

Is it possible to attend a People’s Panel session if I’m not selected to be a member?

Yes. While assembly members are selected randomly you can apply to be an observer. Observers can’t take part in the decision-making process, but you can watch some of the discussions. Applications to observe the People's Panel closed at midnight on 22 October 2019. Evidence presented at the People's Panel will be live streamed on You Tube and recordings will be available on this website shortly afterwards.

Who can apply?

Everyone, 16 years old and over, living in a household that has received this invitation, can register their interest in attending, with a few exceptions set out below. Please note that a maximum of one adult from any single household will be selected to participate.
The following people cannot apply: Elected representatives from any level of government, local authority staff working in planning, paid employees of any political party, or staff or board members of organisations actively campaigning on planning issues.

Who decides what evidence is heard by the People’s Panel?

The People’s Panel will be supported by an advisory group. The advisory’s group’s role is to provide advice and oversight to ensure the Panel’s plans, evidence and materials are accurate, balanced and unbiased. This group will be made up of 5-6 people, including Dudley’s Forging a Future for all borough vision lead for town centres. 

Can I suggest who else should give evidence to the Panel?

Yes. We are interested in knowing what evidence you think the People’s Panel needs to hear and consider. Submitted ideas will be considered by the advisory group that oversees the project. The advisory group will ensure that the information considered by the People’s Panel is accurate, fair and balanced.
We asked for your views about the future of Dudley and Brierley Hill town centres and what evidence you think the People’s Panel needs to hear and consider.
All ideas submitted will be published on this site. However, we reserve the right not to accept offensive or inappropriate submissions.

Will People’s Panel members be paid?

Yes. Each person who takes part will get £300. They will also have their travel expenses paid, as well as support for childcare or other caring duties.

Will the £300 affect my benefits?

If you are receiving state benefits we strongly encourage you to get advice from a trusted source of welfare benefits advice before you agree to receive money for your involvement in the People’s Panel. We are happy to explore other options with you, such as providing gift vouchers – for example for your preferred supermarket. But even in this case your benefits may still be affected. You are also welcome to attend the Panel without accepting the gift if you wish to do so. We can cover your food, drink, and travel expenses without it affecting your benefits.

Who is funding the event, and who is running it?

Dudley Council has been awarded funding and support from the UK Government's Innovation in Democracy Programme to hold this People’s Panel. The programme is supported and run by the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Two independent organisations are delivering the event:

  •  The Sortition Foundation promotes the use of randomly selected groups of people in decision-making. The Sortition Foundation is responsible for recruiting a diverse and broadly representative group of people to take part in this event.
  •  The Democratic Society (‘Demsoc’) is a UK-wide not-for-profit organisation that promotes participation and dialogue in a democracy. Demsoc will run the Citizens’ Assembly - facilitating the process by which the members learn, discuss, and come to recommendations about the topic. They will also write a report on the outcomes.

How much does the People’s Panel cost?

We have been awarded £60,000 from the government to run this Dudley People’s Panel.

What is the timetable for the People’s Panel?

July 2019 – councillors decided what town centre question the Dudley People’s Panel is to consider
August 2019 – advisory panel created of people who will support the People’s Panel
September 2019 – invite letters sent out to recruit people to take part in the panel
October 2019 – recruitment closing date – respond to your invite
October 2019 – apply to attend the panels as an observer
November 2019 – People’s Panels to take place
December 2019 – People’s Panel recommendations are sent to the council to consider

How can I find out more information?