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Young people step up to debate

group photo of pupils from Springwell Community College and St Mary's Roman Catholic High School

Young people in Chesterfield have been engaging in political debate in Chesterfield Borough Council–run events to mark Local Democracy Week.

The annual event runs from Monday 12 to Sunday 18 October to give young people the opportunity to learn more about democracy.

Pupils from Springwell Community College and St Mary's Roman Catholic High School have taken part in debates chaired by borough councillors.

The young people chose the topics they wanted to debate, putting together arguments for and against the motions put forward followed by a vote.

The debates followed the same format as the debates at council meetings to allow them to understand how they work.

Neely Middleton, 17, from St Mary's Roman Catholic High School, put forward a motion that political education should be compulsory in schools.

She said on taking part in the debate: "By taking part in debates such as this, it is good for democracy because it's a good opportunity to learn more about politics – and an opportunity that we don’t usually have."

Councillor Sharon Blank, Chesterfield Borough Council's cabinet member for governance, added: "Local Democracy Week is all about giving young people experience of how democracy works.

"By giving them the opportunity to meet councillors and take part in debates, it helps break down barriers and gives an understanding of how we are here to help them and to learn about how to take part in politics in the future."

As well as debates with secondary school pupils, Wednesday's council meeting also saw a petition presented to council by local young people on the subject of legal highs.

Groups of primary school children from schools including Barrow Hill Primary School, St Mary's Catholic Primary School and St Peter and St Paul School have visited the mayor's parlour at the Town Hall and had an opportunity to meet Chesterfield's mayor and mayoress.

First published on 16 October 2015 Last updated on 31 October 2016