Community Panel meets for the first time

Monday, 21 September 2015

The Community Panel comprising 34 people from all walks of life, met for the first time recently to learn about Council’s services and assets and start to deliberate on the City’s future.

The residents will meet another five times between now and December to answer the questions: What local services and infrastructure do we need in Penrith? What should we do, to what level of quality, and how should we pay for it?

Penrith Mayor Ross Fowler OAM said: "The Deputy Mayor Greg Davies and I dropped in briefly to welcome the panel to Council before leaving the Community Panel to their deliberations, but we could feel the energy in the room and we are looking forward excitedly to seeing their recommendations near the end of this year.

"The highly engaged Panel have already come up with more than 70 points where they would like more information, covering topics such as economic development, planning, advocacy, growth, transport and parking.

"This demonstrates the breadth of their enquiries and their desire to deeply explore the question they have been given," Councillor Fowler said.

The information is being collated and will be presented to the Panel prior to their next meeting in late September.

The Panel also considered submissions from groups as well as feedback provided online at and on social media.

Residents can follow all the Panel's questions, the experts' answers and deliberations, as well as provide their own comments on

The Community Panel is being overseen by the newDemocracy Foundation, a non-partisan, non-issue based research organisation exploring less adversarial and more representative modes of public decision making.

Executive Director of the newDemocracy Foundation, Iain Walker likened the community panel to a jury process: "The jury concept has been successful overseas, and in trials around the country with local and state governments, where they've earned strong community support," he said.

"We think people have more trust in public decisions when they see more everyday people involved - the same way we trust the criminal jury," Mr Walker said.

"This is an exciting and innovative new direction in deliberative democracy with the Community Panel helping to shape the City's future," Councillor Fowler added.

"These people are your neighbours. They have jobs, leisure pursuits and families similar to the rest of us and they are being given the opportunity to comment and make recommendations on Council's services and assets."

Information contained within this news release was correct as at Monday, 21 September 2015.