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11/4/2011 - South Lakeland young people give democracy event their vote

South Lakeland pupils learned about democracy and how young people can have a say in decisions which affect them at a recent youth conference hosted by Cumbria County Council.

Pupils from eleven secondary schools, students from Kendal College, and other south Lakeland young people learned about how the law and politics affects their every day lives, how democracy works and why it is important.

Pupils used interactive voting technology to give their views on issues such as the voting age and what they thought of laws from around the world.

They then got the chance to invent a new law and pitch their idea to fellow pupils at the event, which took place in the council chambers at Cumbria County Council's Kendal headquarters.

The conference was funded by South Lakeland Local Committee; a group which is comprised of county councillors in the area and which has delegated powers and money to deliver services and make decisions in the district.

It was also made possible with support from South Lakeland District Council and councillors, South Lakes Federation and charities Young Cumbria and Brathay Trust, which designed the programme and workshops for the day.

Young people were asked for their thoughts on a possible youth council in South Lakeland. This would help young people influence decisions on the issues that matter to them and have a stronger voice in politics in the district. 

The feedback for this idea was overwhelmingly positive and young people will be invited back later in the year to start getting the youth council up and running.

Cumbria County Council, in partnership with the district councils and Brathay Trust, is currently developing youth councils across Cumbria. 

In Furness, the results of the first youth council elections were announced last week and twenty young councillors were welcomed on to the council. Representatives from the youth councils will be invited to form a Cumbria Youth Council to ensure young people's voices are heard at a countywide level.

Luke Smithurst, 13, and Sam Guy, 14, from John Ruskin School both attended the Youth Conference. 

Luke said: "We learned a lot about how young people can give their views on important issues, like through youth councils. It would be really good if one could be set up in South Lakeland so young people can help make decisions, too."

Sam added: "It was interesting to learn about how politicians make decisions that affect our lives, like VAT. Their decisions about how much VAT to charge affects how much things cost and how much money you have to spend. It made me realise it's important to vote when you get the chance."

County Councillor Clare Feeney-Johnson whochaired the event, said:

"South Lakeland Local Committee is keen to get young people more involved in decisions and this event has been an important step in this.

"We were delighted to see how young people saw the importance of giving their views through the democratic process and how they were particularly interested in the prospect of a youth council for the district."

Nathan Davies from Brathay Trust designed the programme for the day and led the discussions and voting at the event. 

He said: "It's great to see young people having the opportunity to meet with local councillors and engage with them about issues that are relevant to them. It shows how keen young people are to be fully involved with the democratic process, and ensure that their voices are heard, and hopefully this is the start of an inclusive process."


Media enquiries to Media Officer Paul Bell on 01228 226337.



Media enquiries to Media Officer Paul Bell on 01228 226337.