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LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEK: St HELENS YOUNGSTERS PUT IN DEMOCRATIC HOT SEAT

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Youngsters from across St Helens have been taking part in their own ...
Youngsters from across St Helens have been taking part in their own

'youth council' debating key issues of the day.

St Helens MBC was one of more than 250 councils listening to 'tomorrow's

voters today' during Local Democracy Week.

This year's focus was on young people and aims to raise awareness of the

key role councils play in communities and to give the public, especially

young people, a better understanding of local government.

Says leader Marie Rimmer: 'It's about ensuring that local people feel they

have a real stake in the democratic process and a real say about the

services provided by their local council. To encourage people to vote

they need to feel that they can make a difference and one way of achieving

this is to make sure they understand how the process works and the vital

role people have to play.'

With the fall in interest in local and national politics and the decline in

turnout for elections the spotlight is being put on the potential young

people have to shape the future of society and help redress this trend.

St Helens MBC invited all secondary schools to take part in a special

Youth Council and visits to London and Brussels are also planned. Dave

Watts MP and Terry Wynn MEP joined Councillor Rimmer in opening the event.

Councillors and officers also took part in debates with subjects ranging

from racism, sex education, bullying, education, housing and

homelessness,

jobs and training, libraries , drugs and alcohol, social services, teenage

pregnancy, transport, vandalism and young peoples' welfare.

Comments from youngsters taking part in the event included 'brilliant' and

'cool' with the majority saying that they had a far better understanding

of how councils worked, and vitally, that they appreciated the role the

community can play in helping to deliver a service to meet the needs of

the people.

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