Teens give their verdicts on SLDC, politics and democracy

(From left) Students Molly Conway, 16; Rachael Stott, 16; Sarah Fillingham,15; Verity Shaw, 16 and Ritchie Budd, 16,

(From left) Students Molly Conway, 16; Rachael Stott, 16; Sarah Fillingham,15; Verity Shaw, 16 and Ritchie Budd, 16,

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

YOUNG people have been giving their views on politics and politicians in South Lakeland.

The idea is a part of a series of democracy events run by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC).

During this month and next, SLDC is welcoming 84 'National Citizen Service' students into South Lakeland House to take part in democracy workshops.

Two workshops have taken place and two more are planned for Monday August 4 and Monday August 18.

Students from Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale, and Dallam School in Milnthorpe have been giving their views.

Student Jack Smith said: "It’s been insightful to learn about how much the council does, we’ve seen all the different departments and without them there is stuff that just wouldn’t happen."

And Sarah Thompson, 16, said: “I didn’t realise just how many different departments there were, I had a bit of an idea but I have certainly learned a lot more.

"I think people think that the council doesn’t have much to do with their lives, but actually members of the public are able to get involved and have their say. I will definitely be voting when I am old enough.”

Ritchie Budd, 16, said: “I think that the local council is important because it affects every part of your life and everything you do."

And Sarah Fillingham, 15, added: “I think it is important to remember the Suffragettes and that they put their lives on the line so that women could have the vote. If you don’t make the most of it then you are disrespecting their memory."

At the end of the visits the young people have taken part in discussions with councillors about the  democratic process and how politics and local government affects their lives.

Two of South Lakeland District Council's youngest councillors met with the students.

Coun Ben Berry, who represents the Windermere Applethwaite and Troutbeck ward, said: “Often they came in with a preconceived negative expectation of politics and politicians, but I really believe we disarmed that and built up a healthy inquisitiveness for looking past the headlines and how anyone can get involved and make a difference."

And councillor Matt Severn, who was elected to represent Kendal Underley in the May elections, said: “I found it really interesting and valuable to be able to swap ideas and share opinions with some of South Lakeland's young people.

“It was great to hear what they think local politicians are getting right - and to find out what we need to improve!"

The young people have been welcomed to the council by the leader of the council, Coun Peter Thornton as well as deputy leader of the council Coun Janet Willis, chief executive Lawrence Conway, and director of people and places David Sykes.

 

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