25/10/2011 - Permalink

More than 100 young people enjoy Local Democracy Month question time events

Related topics: Democracy

More than 100 young people put their questions to councillors, council officers and MPs among others at question time events held as part of Local Democracy Month (LDM) in Shropshire during October 2011. 

LDM in Shropshire aims to help more young people get involved in local decision-making, including offering opportunities to find out more about the council, what it does and how it works with its partners. 

This is the second year that Shropshire Council has extended the international Local Democracy Week (Monday 10 October to Sunday 16 October 2011) event in the county to include the whole of the month, following its success in 2010. 

To mark the month, Shropshire Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs), with support from Shropshire Council’s customer insight team, organised three fun question time events for young people across the county at Sir John Talbot’s School in Whitchurch; Shirehall in Shrewsbury; and Ludlow College, between 6 October and 20 October 2011. 

Young people aged between 11 and 18 years old were invited to come along for the chance to put their questions to the panel of councillors, council officers, MPs and representatives of other services.  Each panel was chaired by MYPs. 

Before the panel sat down to take questions, young people also had the opportunity to vote on topical issues and take part in smaller discussions. 

Questions were on any topic which affects young people, from job opportunities and transport, to smoking, drugs, and alcohol. 

Councillor Aggie Caesar-Homden, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for education and skills, said:

“It has been great to see young people, councillors, council staff and Members of Parliament across Shropshire join together this month to celebrate Local Democracy Month. 

“The month places the focus on how we want young people to share their views on what happens, both within and beyond their local community. 

“MYPs are democratically elected by young people to represent them locally, regionally and nationally.  They work extremely hard; I am very proud of their achievements since the elections were first held more than a decade ago, and we would encourage more young people to influence policies on a range of issues. 

“I have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the question time events and helping young people to express their ideas and suggestions, and encouraging them to have their voices heard.

“MYPs have done a fantastic job in chairing the events and the young people have come up with a range of questions for us to answer which have really given us food for thought.  The events have been lively and interesting and it looks like this could be the best initiative of this kind to be held in the county since Local Democracy Week was first marked in Shropshire in 2004.” 

Shropshire MYP, James Ellsmoor said:

“They were fantastic evenings and it was great to see young people and councillors really engaging.  All the events were well attended and we have had really positive feedback from the young people who attended, youth workers and the panel members.  Many young people said they thought decision-makers would not listen to their views, but after the events realised that they really could make themselves heard.” 

The question time event in Whitchurch was broadcast live and can be viewed online at www.ustream.tv/user/ShropshireCouncil 

During the month MYPs and the Speak Out Group are also visiting schools and colleges to share information on getting involved in local democracy and to encourage young people to stand in forthcoming MYP elections. 

The Speak Out Group meets regularly to discuss young people’s issues, take part in meetings with councillors, as well as support the MYPs to run events for young people. 

To find out more about MYPs and the Speak Out Group go to www.shropshireyouth.com, call the customer insight team on 01743 210415, email dawn.lewis@shropshire.gov.uk or visit the Shropshire Youth Facebook page at www.facebook.com/shropshireyouth

More information on European Local Democracy Week is available here: http://www.coe.int/t/congress/demoweek/default_en.asp