News

Citizens’ Assembly conveners take office

Published: 06 Aug 2019 09:55

Dates of new project’s meetings announced.

 

Two independent conveners have been appointed to lead the first Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland.

Former Labour MEP David Martin and third sector leader Kate Wimpress were welcomed to the role by Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell, who described it as a key moment for the project.

Meanwhile, it has been announced that Assembly meetings will be held over six weekends from 25/26 October 2019 to 24/26 April 2020 in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The conveners will oversee the organisation and functioning of the Assembly, host meetings and represent it in public. They will be supported by a secretariat

Ms Wimpress is the Director of North Edinburgh Arts and Chair of Scotland’s Regeneration Forum (SURF).  She has a strong track record of working with communities. Mr Martin was a Member of the European Parliament for 35 years, serving as a Vice President from 1989 to 2004.

Mr Russell said: “The Citizens’ Assembly will enable people to engage with complex and contested issues about our constitution on an inclusive, informed and respectful basis.

“It is part of a process of expanding and enriching our democracy. Politicians do not have all the answers and people’s voices need to be heard.

“The appointment of the conveners to lead the Assembly is an important moment. I am delighted to welcome David and Kate to their roles and look forward to watching this initiative progress.”

Ms Wimpress said:

“It is an honour to take up the post of convener of the Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland and to work alongside David.

“I applaud the Assembly’s ambition, enabling mature debate by making enough time, space and support available to interrogate complex issues. Twenty five years working with communities has shown me, many times over, that transparent, inclusive and respectful engagement leads to the best outcomes.”

Mr Martin said:

"I am delighted to have the opportunity to co-chair Scotland's first Citizens' Assembly. This is an unprecedented chance to place Scottish citizens at the heart of our political debate at a time of momentous change in our relationship with Europe. I am greatly looking forward to hearing directly from the members of the Assembly on how they want to shape our country."

 

Background

Biographies of David Martin and Kate Wimpress are available on the Citizens’ Assembly website.

The Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland will have a minimum of 100 members who broadly reflect the adult population of Scotland in terms of age, gender, socio-economic class, ethnic group, geography and political attitudes.

It will consider three broad issues:

- What kind of country are we seeking the build?

- How best can we overcome the challenges we face, including those arising from Brexit?

- What further work should be carried out to give us the information we need to make informed choices about the future of Scotland?

The Assembly is independent from government and will decide its own detailed agenda and call expert witnesses. At the end of the process it will produce a series of recommendations.

The meetings will be held over the weekends of 25/26 October (Edinburgh), 29 November/1 December, 17/19 January, 21/23 February, 27/29 March and 24/26 April (all Glasgow).