Rossendale Borough Council celebrates Local Democracy Week 2013
All local high schools were offered the opportunity to have a tailored visit to the Council Chamber to experience a mock committee session where the decision making was put in their hands as they took on the role of local councillors.
Six pupils from Haslingden High School experienced council decision making during the Local Democracy Event for 2013.
Haslingden High School pupils visited Rossendale Borough Council on Wednesday 16 October as part of Local Democracy Week, where they took part in sessions led by officers, in the Council Chamber.
The pupils learnt about what the council does, how decisions are made by officers and councillors and the role a chairperson and the role of the Mayor before they tested themselves on how much they know about the borough and the council.
The pupils then took part in mock committee session scenarios, firstly where they acted to be the council's Development Control Committee and had to decide on a planning application - hearing evidence for and against. In another role play exercise pupils were tasked with making the difficult decision of allocating grant funding for local community groups.
The pupils, who are involved in their school council, took a keen interest in the formal aspects of council meetings and how decisions have to be made.
There was then a chance for the pupils to talk to the Mayor and have a look around the Chamber and the Mayor's Parlour.
Councillor Steve Hughes, Member Champion for Young People said; "It is great to see that Haslingden High are giving pupils the chance to experience and have a taster as to what it is like within local government. This is something I massively support, and look forward to building on this relationship with other schools across Rossendale."
Local democracy is an important part of people's lives and we have a growing issue within the country about getting people more involved in the decisions that councillors take on behalf of their residents, and starting this in schools is a fantastic step forward.
This exercise resulted in the young people gaining a real life experience and setting to explore what is involved in being a local councillor / part of a planning committee making difficult decisions. It provides a platform for growing strong relationships with the schools on increasing participation and interest in, local civic life.
Verbal feedback from some of the teaching staff suggests that they also learned something new about the council and how it works too!
The young people were asked to complete some questions of evaulation following the process:
When asked: `Did the event give you more of an insight into decision making and committees?', all participants said yes.
When asked: 'Do you have an interest in politics?', all participants said yes and that they would all be voting when they are 18.
When asked: 'What issues are there in the area you live?', repsonses were; Litter, Things to do (recreation/leisure), Dog Fouling, Transport, Anti-social behaviour, and Recycling
When asked: 'Have you ever engaged in the democratic process before?', responses were; As part of school council, Internet voting, Pressure Groups, and Signing petitions
When asked: 'What do you think are the most important issues for young people?, responses were; Safety, Education, Health, Jobs, Crime, Places to go, Things to do, and Careers advice.
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