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Thousands of community leaders across Citizens UK alliances ask candidates for campaign pledges ahead of local elections

Thousands of community leaders across Citizens UK alliances ask candidates for campaign pledges ahead of local elections

Over the last couple of weeks, thousands of Citizens UK community leaders organised and attended assemblies in a monumental display of people-power.

Local people experiencing injustice took to the stage, alongside Councillors and Mayoral, MP and Police and Crime Commissioner candidates from across the political spectrum. Ten assemblies took place in different Citizens UK alliances, with community leaders calling for campaign pledges from each of the candidates ahead of local elections.

Together, they won incredible change and commitments from decision makers representing the Conservative Party, Labour, The Liberal Democrats, The Green Party and an Independent politician. From campaigns on making London a Living Wage City, fair timely and affordable pathways to Citizenship, building affordable housing and more, see some of our key highlights below.

Sadiq Khan standing on stage clapping behind a podium which says London Citizens
Sylvie Pope
Sadiq Khan – Mayor of London (Labour Candidate), London Citizens
Man stands in front of lectern
Tom Byrne – Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate, Birmingham Citizens
Aidan King – Liberal Democrats Mayoral Candidate, Tyne and Wear Citizens
Sian Berry – Green Party MP candidate, Brighton & Hove Citizens
Jamie Driscoll – Mayor of North of Tyne (Independent candidate), Tyne and Wear Citizens

A selection of wins

  • London Citizens won a commitment from Labour Mayoral Candidate Sadiq Khan, who committed to back Citizens UK’s national campaign for a real Living Wage for social care workers, as well as double the number of businesses accrediting as Living Hours employers, which protects workers from precarious work.
  • Peterborough Citizens won a commitment from Ashley Butterfield, CEO AEPG land Promotor of east of England Showground, to make 30% of their new 2000 homes affordable.
  • West Yorkshire Citizens won commitments from Mayoral Candidates to explore a route towards free bus travel for people seeking asylum.
  • Birmingham Citizens won a commitment from Tom Byrne, Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner to make and share long-term area action plans around how youth violence will be tackled on the ground in different parts of the region.

Local Elections

Local elections take place on Thursday 2nd May. You can see a full list of candidates here:


Metro Mayors: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainer/metro-mayors-and-2024-mayoral-elections

Police and Crime Commissioners: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/voting-and-elections/how-elections-work/types-elections/police-and-crime-commissioners

It is not yet confirmed when the next UK General Election will take place, but it is expected to be between Autumn 2024 and early 2025.

See the full list of MP candidates here: https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/ppcs/

What is an assembly?

An assembly is a chance to demonstrate and celebrate the power that civil society can build. They are led by many of our diverse member organisations, such as schools, universities, faith groups, charities and unions, with community leaders who have experienced injustice sharing testimony on the issues that matter. Citizens UK is a non-partisan organisation, and assemblies gives members an opportunity to win commitments and build relationships with decision-makers from across the political spectrum. We follow up from assemblies by asking to meet with elected decision-makers, and hold them accountable on the promises they make.

Assemblies

These are some of the Assemblies that took place over the last few weeks...

Peterborough Citizens

Young school boy stands on stage at a podium, looking out to the audience with a presentation slide behind him reading "together we listened to 10,516 citizens! That's 5.5% of Peterborough's population".
Salomé Revault d'Allonnes

On 18th April, 241 Peterborough Citizens gathered with a focus around their Housing and Racial Justice ‘It’s not banter’ campaigns. The night included multiple performances from young leaders, displaying creativity through song and dance around different campaign asks, as well as encouraging commitments from powerholders.

Highlights from our Assembly include:

  • Winning a commitment from Ashley Butterfield, CEO AEPG land Promotor of east of England Showground, to make 30% of their new 2000 homes affordable

This is my first Citizens UK action. I thought I was going to enter a room of 30 people, not 250. As a combined authority, we are pleased if we have consulted 500 people, you managed to listen to 11, 000 Peterborough Citizens! Deputy Mayor & councillor Anna Smith

I love the Citizens movement, I love how it’s getting younger people and people across different generations involved in taking charge of our city together to make change happen Andrew Pakes, Labour and Co-operative MP candidate for Peterborough

Thames Valley Citizens

On 19th April Thames Valley Citizens gathered in Oxford Brookes Student’s Union and ignited their campaign on housing, work and safety of women and girls in front of local councillors and the candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner.

Candidates present included Cllr Susan Brown (Oxford City Councillor, Leader of the Council and Leader of the Labour Group), Cllr Lawrence Fouweather (Oxford City Councillor, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group) and Tim Starkey (Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner).

See more information from the Diocese of Oxford on the commitments made by candidates on the Living Wage, housing and recording misogyny as a hate crime here.

Tyne and Wear Citizens

A woman is speaking at an assembly with Tyne & Wear Citizens logo
Davey Poremba - Fly Films UK

Hundreds of community leaders came together at Tyne Theatre and Opera House on the 22nd of April. Members put questions to local and MP candidates from a range of political parties on topics including the cost of living, education, racial justice in education, housing and mental health.

Two candidates said yes to all of the asks - Labour's Kim McGuiness and Independent Jamie Driscoll. The other candidates Conservative Guy Renner-Thompson, Lib Dem Aidan King and Green Andrew Gray were largely in agreement, although were not as committal on the proposal for free public transport for those on means-tested benefits.

Highlights from our Assembly include all mayoral candidates committing to working towards our asks, if elected, on:

  • Making The North East a Living Wage Region
  • Making public transport free for people on means-tested benefits
  • Devoting £300k to a school based counselling pilot
  • Racial justice in education taskforce to address educational inequities
  • Developing a good landlord charter
  • Affordable housing based on benefit allowance

Find out more about Tyne and Wear Citizens here.

London Citizens

On 25th April, over 2000 people gathered at Methodist Central Hall Westminster for the London Mayoral Citizens Assembly. The assembly focused on three main priority areas: the real Living Wage, housing and migrant justice.

The assembly also included performances of dance, song and drama that moved the room and showcased the diversity of our alliance.

Labour Mayoral Candidate Sadiq Khan was there on the night, with Susan Hall, Conservative Mayoral Candidate, also having been invited but later pulled out.

Sadiq Khan responded positively to the asks from leaders on the night, committing to:

  • Back Citizens UK’s national campaign for a real Living Wage for social care workers
  • Double the number of businesses accrediting as Living Hours employers, which protects workers from precarious work
  • Support our national campaign to improve pathways to citizenship
  • Co-run a London wide day for ESOL (English speakers of other languages)
  • Get community land trust sites with London CLT over the line in Shadwell, Greenwich and Ealing
  • Work together across London to retrofit and repair Londoners’ homes

West Yorkshire Citizens

Birds eye view shot of lecture theatre filled with people in their seats, facing the front of the room which has a panel of 12 people sitting across a long table

On 25th April 131 people gathered at Leeds Beckett University for the West Yorkshire Assembly, calling on Mayoral Candidates to support campaigns on work, public transport and mental health.

Tracy Brabin (Labour), Tamas Kovacs on behalf of Arnold Craven (Conservative) and Andrew Cooper (Green Party) were in attendance.

Highlights from our assembly were securing agreement for a programme of work which includes:

  • Mayoral and Leeds City Council support to work together to create more inclusive pathways to work which pays, as well as meaningful and accessible work experience opportunities, including for those  under 18 in age.
  • Commitment from Mayoral Candidates to work with us around reforming accountability for the bus services and commissioning a report around poverty proofing of bus services. Commitment from the MP (Alex Sobel) to work on a meeting with Louise Haigh MP, Shadow Transport Minister, to work on the Government settlement for regions, but said that buses ask would be covered by the recent “Getting Britain Moving” policy paper – which focuses on trains not buses this needs following up.
  • Commitments from Mayoral Candidates to explore a route towards free bus travel for people seeking asylum; creating training for bus drivers so they can respond to incidents where people are feeling unsafe in real time
  • Commitments from Mayoral candidates and Alex Sobel MP to meet with us to work towards total geographic coverage for student tickets across West Yorkshire
  • Commitment from Mayoral Candidates to work with us and the Enhanced Bus Partnership to make a plan to reconnect disconnected communities and to convene meetings with the Enhanced Bus Partnership to launch a reliability investigation, with Tracy Brabin committing to supporting an ask of those companies for a 70% reduction in ghost buses within 1 year
  • Candidates agreeing to use their convening powers to bring together health, education and local authorities with leaders across the region to conduct an audit for mental health support for young people within 12 months of taking office

Brighton & Hove Citizens

Two leaders are sitting in the audience having a discussion

On 25th April, 300 Brighton and Hove Citizens members packed into Congress Hall for their Assembly.

Not only was this a night to celebrate many of their recent successes but to also hold power to account on some of the pressing issues facing the city.

In attendance was Bella Sankey, Labour Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, Councillor Gillian Williams, Councillor Tristram Burden, Councillor Jacob Taylor, Labour Candidate for Brighton Pavillion Tom Gray and Green Party Candidate for Brighton Pavillion Sian Berry.

Highlights from our assembly include:

  • Celebrating a £200,000 investment from the Council to ensure all Secondary Schools across the city receive counselling support. Additionally, commitments were also won from councillors to discuss the inclusion of colleges before next year
  • Celebrating securing better wages for hundreds of workers, alongside a commitment from Tristram Burden to work with us in setting up a city-wide task force to ensure a real Living Wage for everyone in our city!
  • Won a commitment from Councillor Gillian Williams to work with us to develop a process to ensure that developers can’t get away with ignoring people’s needs, such as our Good Development Standards.

Birmingham Citizens - West Midlands Assembly

On 25th April, hundreds of community leaders in the West Midlands turned out to their Citizens assembly to ask both Mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner candidates to make pre-election pledges towards key issues in their community around housing, employment and safety.

Highlights from our assembly include:

  • Birmingham Citizens won a commitment from Tom Byrne, Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate to make and share long-term area action plans around how youth violence will be tackled on the ground in different parts of the region.
  • Won a commitment from Labour Mayoral Candidate Andy Street, who committed to cracking down on rogue landlords by creating a register of them, ensuring no one has to stay in accommodation that is unfit for human habitation

Read all of the responses from West Midlands candidates here.

Want to learn more about our policy asks?

As we head into the General Election 2024 we are launching our Citizens Agenda, an overview of the issues our membership has agreed are the most important to organise around.

Read on to learn more about how you could get involved!

Posted by Sophie Thomhave-Lee on 1 May, 2024

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