What a (Local Democracy) Week we had

Tour of our recycling facilities for Local Democracy Week 2015

Posted on: 24 November 2015

Local Democracy Week (LDW) has been wrapped up for North Devon with the final event, “political speed dating”, taking place this month (Thursday 12 November).

The actual LDW kicked off on 12 October and saw a series of events organised to encourage young people to take part in politics and increase awareness of the power they will have in the future to shape their community.

A first for this year were tours of our offices and recycling facilities at Brynsworthy, which took place on the Monday and Wednesday. South Molton Community Infant School, Sticklepath Community School and Lampard School popped in to visit us for a behind the scenes peek of what goes on at the council.

The pupils met our Leader, Councillor Des Brailey, our Chief Executive, Mike Mansell and Council Chair, Councillor Jackie Flynn, for a talk and to have a go at some activities, including ‘guess the weight of the Council Chair’s chain’.

The viewing platform overlooking the recycling area and a talk from our Head of Waste and Recycling, Ricky McCormack, was also very popular with the pupils who were keen to find out what happens to their recycling once it leaves their doorstep.

Councillor Des Brailey says: “It was great to meet the pupils and welcome them to our offices at Brynsworthy – they were all very happy and excited to be here. Local Democracy Week is always well received by our local schools and colleges and is also a favourite of mine. Our Member Services team are always coming up with new ideas for events that we can offer and put a lot of hard work into organising it, so I’m looking forward to next year.”

During the week some of our councillors were also out and about across the district going ‘back to the classroom’, another new event for this year. They met some younger pupils and found out what they get up to during their busy school day. Instow Primary School, Newport Community School, South Molton Community Infant School and North Molton Primary School were the hosts for their local ward members.

“Question Time” took place on the Thursday. This event gave pupils from Braunton Academy and Lampard School the opportunity to quiz representatives from businesses and organisations including the Police and NHS, as well as councilors from across the district, on topics of their choice. Topics covered included the age for learning to drive, bus services and car parking.

West Buckland School signed up for another round of political speed dating, which is becoming an annual event at the school and was the last LDW event. Nine of our councillors went out to the school, along with our Head of Financial Services, Jon Triggs, to be quizzed by groups of two pupils on anything they wished for three minutes. Topics included Westminster, wages, phone masts, development sites in the area and alternative energy sources. Needless to say the pupils took full advantage of the opportunity to quiz them. Peter Brown, a reporter from the North Devon Journal, also joined us for the event acting as compere.

During the event, pupils have the opportunity to rate councillors on their answers, how approachable they are, listening skills and understanding their issues. Councillor David Worden scored the highest, Councillor Dick Jones came in second and Jon Triggs came third.

Councillor David Worden has won the event for the last few years and says: “The questions the pupils asked were very varied. A lot of them were concerned about budget cuts and the affect on services. They also showed a wide range of concerns about issues facing North Devon.”

Ellie-May Turner, a year 13 pupil says: “The councillors were very approachable. It was good to hear their view points on issues.”

LDW will be back next year with more events, as well as being fun for all involved. It’s also part of the council’s commitment to engage with and support young people.

If your local school is interested in joining next year’s Local Democracy Week events, contact Member Services on 01271 388253 or email: memberservices@northdevon.gov.uk

Check out our storify for a round up of tweets and photos from Local Democracy Week.

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Posted in: Democracy