CALLS have been made for a Citizens Jury to be set up in Salisbury in order to improve public consultation.

The request was made during last Monday’s full council meeting, with support from the Liberal Democrats group and the Salisbury Democracy Alliance.

According to, a Citizens Jury is made up of "a representative group of citizens [between 12 and 24] who are selected at random from the population to learn about, deliberate upon, and make recommendations in relation to a particular issue or set of issues".

It is still up to elected politicians whether or not to follow the assembly’s recommendations.

Alan Bayliss, Liberal Democrat Salisbury City Councillor for Milford, said he is in favour of an assembly - or a citizens jury - and that "you can't put a price on democracy".

Cllr Bayliss said: "After the cancellation of our ‘People Friendly Salisbury’ (PFS) scheme and the removal of the then recently installed cycle lanes before either had been given a chance to be properly piloted, some argued that ‘proper consultation’ had not been carried out, including Conservative party candidates for the then upcoming Unitary and Parish council elections.

"Public consultation is always difficult as people consume information in different ways. Not everyone subscribes to email lists, uses social media of which there are obviously many flavours, or reads the local press, and for a relatively small council like ours, mail shots to all city residents on every potentially contentious issue would be prohibitively expensive."

Cllr Bayliss added he is in favour of expanding "public engagement as much as possible", and that these are consultative not decision-making groups and would "in no way subvert the power of the City Council".

Possible funding

The Salisbury Democracy Alliance says it is "keen" to hold a Citizens’ Jury in Salisbury, and has discussed applying for funding through the Area Board.

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 would come together over several weekends and aim to come to a conclusion.

The group added: "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."


Figures quoted by councillors during the meeting (£60,000 was one) were used to argue that this process was too expensive.

But Cllr Bayliss added: "Some of these councillors were the same ones complaining about the lack of consultation on the PFS scheme before they were elected.

"This seems to at best contradict their previous position and at worst be just hypocritical. I’m also not sure how you can justify this as being ‘too expensive’ after the almost half a million pounds was wasted on the cancelled PFS and cycle lanes and access to £1.3million of additional funding lost.

"If the schemes were truly against the wishes of the majority, you would think that they would be in favour of Citizen Juries and all that money would have been saved with the PFS and cycle lanes never implemented.

"Is it perhaps that they fear the result of deliberation would not fit their narrative and agenda?”

Councillors from the Labour group, Conservative group and Independents have all been contacted for comment.

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