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Project calls for "100 ideas" to transform the north

Organisers say they want to create "a long list of small but practical ideas which could truly change the north."

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Cllr Patrick Hurley facilitating the '100 Ideas for the North' workshop at Sheffield's Festival of Debate.

A new project is calling on members of the public to submit 100 ideas that could transform the north of England for the better.

Organisers Tris Brown and Patrick Hurley plan to eventually turn the submissions into a book, creating a manifesto for how the north could flourish after decades of Westminster indifference.

Brown and Hurley are collecting ideas both through a series of group sessions, including at Sheffield's Festival of Debate, and online.

"There's been a lot of talk about the north, but it doesn't feel like government is truly listening to people up here," Brown told Now Then.

"This project is about asking real people what would they like to see in their community and sharing those ideas with each other. Then we can look at how we make them happen."

The pair found inspiration from an unlikely source, after discovering right-wing American politician Marco Rubio's '100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future' campaign from 2006.

Brown, who has previously worked at the mayor's office at Liverpool City Council, said there was "something about the format which stuck with us."

"At its core it's about writing a long list of small but practical ideas which could truly change the north, but what I think is most attractive is that we're asking the people of the north to write them with us," he said. "It's a collaboration."

Brown's partner on the project, Patrick Hurley, is a Labour councillor in Liverpool and co-founder of UBI Lab Liverpool, which explores the potential of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) in the city.

A pilot of UBI in the north is among the ideas that were put forward by the public at a session in Sheffield last month, alongside affordable eco-homes and community wealth building.

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Tris Brown and Patrick Hurley facilitating the Sheffield workshop in May.

At the project's first session in Huddersfield participants agreed on the idea of 'Citizenship Support Specialists', which they describe as "independent people who care and know about citizenship and local government" and could educate young people in schools.

The criteria for the project is that ideas should be positive, and small enough to be implemented in local communities but big enough that they could be replicated or scaled up in communities across the north.

"This rules out both ultra-local specific pet projects and huge billion-pound infrastructure projects which tend to crowd out other ideas because they seem so out-of-reach to most people," said Brown.

"The ideas we have been gathering so far all seem really deliverable and relatable, such as community kitchens, human libraries and local markets."

Anyone can submit an idea through an online form or via Twitter, and every idea will be part of the final report.

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