By Ian Dipple Thursday 17 October 2013 Updated: 18/10 07:46
A NEW project has been launched to encourage young people to vote and explain why politics matters.
The scheme will involve pupils in the borough’s four high schools and NEW College running their own elections and other activities.
Dates and details are still being finalised but one of the ideas being explored is challenging pupils to come up with an idea to improve their community with a cash prize on offer to implement it.
The project has replaced Redditch Borough Council’s annual Local Democracy Week event which would see over 100 pupils brought into the Town Hall and take part in various activities including quizzing councillors, police and other key figures in a Question Time event.
Conservative group leader Coun Juliet Brunner, who started the event in 2005 and ran it for seven years, said while she wasn’t against the new scheme ditching the day itself was a mistake.
“It brought people into the Town Hall, the heart of democracy where all the decisions are made,” she said.
But Coun John Fisher, responsible for democracy on the council, said the changes were based on feedback from schools and major changes being introduced in June next year which means anyone aged 16 or over will have to register themselves to vote rather than relying on the head of their household.
“What we didn’t want is young people dropping off the radar,” he said.
“When you look at why only around a fifth of 18 to 24-year-olds vote, a lot of the feedback is that it’s often a case of simply never being shown what to do or how to do it. It’s our duty to prepare our children for their crucial role in our democracy and we are delighted at the response to our proposals from the high schools.”
St Augustine’s Catholic High School was the first on board with the new project and citizenship co-ordinator Ruth Waite added: “Having elected councillors and elections professionals on hand to support our work with our GCSE and sixth-form students on the citizenship curriculum should be of real benefit. We’re planning to involve the students as much as possible so they really engage with the project.”
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