Policy decisions that take scientific evidence into account are critical for dealing with the biggest issues we face, like climate change and inequality. Lots of decision making in the UK is now done at a local level, through councils rather than central Government.
On a day-to-day basis councils are making difficult decisions that relate to the environment and climate. Things like:
Should we build more parking?
What type of street lighting should we have?
How can we make our high street safer, to reduce Covid-19 transmission?
What are the environmental impacts of two competing development proposals?
These decisions are easier to make if evidence is available and accessible.
We were awarded a small amount of seed funding from Civic Square’s Dream Fund to pilot placements for scientific researchers to work with their local councils, providing on-demand advice on scientific issues to fit the needs of councillors, and perhaps also passing on the skills to find and use scientific information. The researchers weren't there to advocate and didn't sit as part of the council, their role was simply to help find relevant information that might otherwise not be accessible/discoverable by councils, and to broaden the range of information that the councils have available to use. The pilot began in March 2021 and ended in June 2021, and full write-up is available here.
In November 2021 we were awarded further funding from UKRI to bring a group of councillors and scientists together to decide how a national roll-out could happen. You can read more about this here and if you would like to take part in our event on 10 December 2021, do get in touch. This next phase of the project is being run in collaboration with Dr. Vivek Nityananda (Newcastle University), Dr. Jo Garrett (European Centre for Environment and Human Health), Christine Leiser (Mevagissey Parish Council), Martyn Alvey (Cornwall Council) and Mark Williams (Falmouth Town Council).