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LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEK: OF FAME ACADEMY AND COCO POPS

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Young people across Wales are be encouraged to think about politics and how they can contribute to their communitie...
Young people across Wales are be encouraged to think about politics and how they can contribute to their communities as part of 'Local Democracy Week'.

Most local authorities in Wales are 'listening to tomorrow's voters today' by organising events to encourage young people to speak up about democracy, to interact with politicians and contribute to the decisions being made that affect their communities.

School pupils and young people across Wales will participate in council meetings and question-time debates with cabinet members, participate in role-plays involving deciding where to spend budgets, receive community participation awards and will be launching youth councils and fora as part of the week long initiative.

WLGA leader Sir Harry Jones said: 'Young people are the future of our communities and of our wider society. Welsh councils are encouraging young people to think about their roles and responsibilities as citizens and how they can contribute to the future of their communities.'

'Over 4.5 million people voted during the final night of BBC's Fame Academy last week and 1 million people recently voted to change Kellogg's 'Choco Krispies' brand name back to 'Coco Pops'. Voting is as popular as ever - but unfortunately not when it comes to politics and therefore democracy. We all have to work harder to reverse this trend.'

Evidence suggests that there is interest in politics amongst young people. However, most do not bother to vote when they become eligible at 18. Only 16% of under-25s and 21% of 25-34s voted in May's national assembly elections, while as many as 56% of the over-55s did (NOP survey for the Electoral Commission). The most common reason for not voting was being 'too busy and tied up on other things'.

However, a survey carried out by The British Household Panel showed that nearly 30% of 15-17 year olds reported being either 'very' or 'fairly' interested in politics - higher than the equivalent figure for 18-20 year olds.

Notes

Local Democracy Week focuses on how local authorities are promoting democracy and how they are encouraging the public to take a more active role in how they make decisions. It is a chance to showcase to your clients, residents, voluntary groups and businesses, what you do and how you do it. Making the link for people about local services being provided by local government through the local democratic process.

The WLGA, with the Welsh Assembly government and the Electoral Commission will be undertaking a broad public awareness raising campaign to encourage wider participation in next year's Welsh council elections, in particular to encourage more women, young people and people from ethnic minority backgrounds to consider standing as councillors.

The WLGA has called for the voting age to be reduced to 16 and for candidature to 18.

Welsh council events for Local Democracy Week are listed here.

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