Local Democracy Week 2016 – that’s a wrap

Pupils and councillors ready for the political speed dating event. Photo supplied by West Buckland School

Posted on: 1 December 2016

Political speed dating, the final activity as part of this year’s Local Democracy Week (LDW), took place on Friday 18 November.

Eight of our councillors along with our Chief Executive, Mike Mansell, went over to West Buckland School to be quizzed by pupils from year 11 and the sixth form.

This year the pupils were given four minutes to quiz each person instead of the usual three minutes in the hot seat.

The pupils were allowed to ask anything that wanted with this year’s topics including Brexit, the US election, developments in the area including Seven Brethren, jobs held before joining the council and how the council works. Each person was then scored on their answers to the questions, approachability, listening skills and understanding the pupils’ issues.

Council Leader, Councillor Des Brailey came first, second was Councillor David Luggar with Councillor David Worden coming in third.

Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor Des Brailey, says: “I’m delighted to have won this year’s political speed dating. It’s a great event and opportunity for my fellow councillors and I to go out into a local school, meet the pupils and find out what is important to them. The pupils were very well prepared with questions ready to quiz us for the full four minutes.

“Political speed dating was the final event organised by the council as part of Local Democracy Week which took place in October. We take part in Local Democracy Week every year as part of our commitment to engage with and support young people.”

Claire Rhodes from the school took part in the event and said: “Friday 18 November was West Buckland’s annual council speed-dating meeting, and being fairly new to the school myself, this was my first time experiencing something like this. Initially, I must admit I had fairly low expectations, as I never really understood what a councillor’s job involved, however I was intrigued to find out.

“The speed-dating was very well organised, and involved a room full of individual tables, with two students on each table and one councillor. After four minutes the bell would ring and the councillors would switch tables to ensure they spoke to as many students as they could. After speaking to only a few councillors, I realised how interesting, enthusiastic and friendly they all were. Completely different to how I expected them to be.

“Although we touched on each councillor’s job and what it involved, I spent most of my time debating current affairs with them, such as the US election and Brexit. It was so intriguing to find out their personal views on everything. They were all complete individuals too, each having different interests and their own opinion on matters. As well as this, they all had a brilliant sense of humour which made them really easy to talk to.

“Overall, I am so glad I was given the opportunity to take part in the annual council speed-dating. It has completely changed my opinion on what councillors are like, and I would definitely recommend this experience to other students.”

Elliot Smith, another pupil from the school who also took part, said: “Before I came today I didn’t really know what North Devon Council did and how it all fits together. It was good to meet the councillors today and understand what they do and to know that they are respectable and trustworthy people, who do a good job.”

During LDW in October, pupils and students visited our offices to find out what goes on behind the scenes at the council. They were also given the opportunity to quiz councillors and representatives from businesses and organisations including the NHS and Police as part of our ‘Question Time’ event.

If your school is interested in joining next year’s Local Democracy Week events, contact the council on 01271 388250 or email memberservices@northdevon.gov.uk

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Posted in: Democracy