Youth council plans in the pipeline for Dunmow

PUBLISHED: 08:36 05 September 2011

DUNMOW Town Council is looking to inject some youthfulness in to its decision-making by appointing younger counterparts.

The idea of a youth council has been mooted as a way to combat vandalism in Dunmow. Members are hoping to replicate the success of the Young Essex Assembly (YEA) and the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP).

YEA is made up of some 75 11-19-year-olds who are voted in to discuss issues such bullying, crime, education and alcohol. They report to Essex County Council. UKYP meanwhile, has over 600 representatives aged between 11-18-years-old. Each year the parliament run campaigns such as reducing cost of bus travel and tuition fees.

Dunmow’s mayor, Cllr Ron Clover, proposed the idea for the town to get young people involved with local politics.

“The youth council was initially prompted by our own experience of vandalism, particularly on play area equipment,” he said. “I thought ‘how can we engage with the youth of today to try to give them some stake and pride in their community?’

“That’s when I thought of a youth council. Let them have a shadow council to discuss town issues and report to us.”

Cllr Neil Tuttlebury, a youth worker who has experience with youth councils, remained reserved on the idea.

“The main problem with youth councils is getting teenagers involved and keeping them interested. This is where most fail.

“They can not keep teenagers interested so meetings end up in shouting matches and nothing gets done,” he said.

“The other issue is the teenagers who volunteer for youth councils are not the same people you are trying to reach out to. Therefore the teenagers we’re trying to engage are not truly represented.”

Despite his reservations, Cllr Tuttlebury offered to overlook a youth council to make sure it remains focussed on town issues.

Town clerk Caroline Fuller is contacting Billericay Town Council, which has a successful youth council, for advice on how to start and organise one in Dunmow.

If it is decided to proceed with the proposals, councillors will be on the lookout for influential teenagers aged between 13-18-years-old to help connect the town council with a whole new audience.

• WHAT do you think: is a youth council a good idea? E-mail michael.edwards@archant.co.uk with your opinions.

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