One of the reasons for doing these progress reports is to be as transparent as possible about what we are doing, why we are doing it and what progress we are making. The good practice models we have looked at, stress the need for citizen panels to demonstrate fairness and balance in the recruitment of panel members, speakers, and background briefing material given to panel members.
in terms of recruitment we are aiming for a diverse panel through the set of questions we ask applicants. The main aim here is age and gender balance. But we also hope to include a diverse panel in terms of housing tenure – home owners, social housing and rental – given that housing itself is one of the big issues we are looking at.
The biggest headache so far is age; we only have one applicant under the age of thirty five, so if you know of anyone that fits the 18 to 35 bracket, please encourage them to apply!
In terms of recruiting speakers, our biggest challenge at the moment is engaging a local business. We have a trade union rep who is willing to speak on issues of low pay and high rentals but we have as yet no-one from the business community who is willing to speak. I’ve been in contact with a few local businesses so far and while they are happy to chat informally, they are less keen on the idea of speaking in public.
Without a business voice, this could lead observers to claim that the citizens panel is biased towards one point of view (the trade union one). We are working as hard as we can to include a business voice and I have been in touch with Penzance BID and Penzance Chamber of Commerce. Fingers crossed.