ON Friday, as part of the Bright Stars leadership programme, I joined students from Ormsgill Primary School, South Walney Junior School, Victoria Academy, St Mary’s Ulverston, Sir John Barrow Primary, Chetwynde School, and Our Lady of the Rosary School.

As much as I – and I’m sure many of you – are getting very bored of meeting by Zoom, it was great to be able to meet and speak to so many young people in one go about the role of an MP, and how to build a campaign from the ground up.

It’s always fascinating to speak to students and hear their views – often so different to the adults who get in touch with me. They are, after all, the citizens of the future.

As is often the case, issues like the environment and climate change, as well as local environmental issues such as speeding and litter, were very much on their minds.

This made it all the more depressing to see the headline in the Sunday Express that Barrow has the worst rate in the country for recycling rubbish. This is in stark contrast to the aspirations of young people in our community and we must take heed.

If we are serious about the environment then the answer is not just about reducing emissions, but also recycling more, and using less.

The Government’s Environment Bill is designed to do just that – leaving a cleaner, greener and more resilient country for the next generation. The Bill is wide ranging, but on packaging it is proposing to turn up the heat on producers to clean up their act, using the ‘polluter pays’ principle as a spur. I’m delighted that the Government is acting, but our councils – and all of us – must do our part too.

FUNDS: Donating £100 in book tokens to Ramsden Infants in Hindpool.

FUNDS: Donating £100 in book tokens to Ramsden Infants in Hindpool.

I normally try to steer clear of politics in this column, but am making an exception now because we have local elections coming up in Barrow and South Lakes on May 6. These elections offer you an opportunity to vote for change: a change in the way things have been done over the last few decades, and a chance to vote for people with different views, who in turn can represent a different segment of our community.

Local elections are crucial. Councillors determine the bread-and-butter issues that affect our daily lives in more ways than we know – things like bins, roads, street lights, litter, grass verges, council taxes and so much more. Good councillors who look after your everyday interests are vital. So please turn out to vote on Thursday, May 6 (and – because of the virus – remember to bring your own pen or pencil with you in order to do so!).