More than 7,500 Stockton pupils are learning about democracy at first hand this week with the inaugural school elections to elect the Borough’s MP for the UK’s Youth Parliament.
A total of nine secondary schools and colleges have volunteered to run elections which are running this week with the result due to be announced on Friday (1 March).
All of the candidates have had the chance to learn about democracy and the local voting system during a VIP tour of Stockton’s Town Hall. They also met Stockton’s Mayor, Councillor Lynne Apedaile and heard about her year in office which has included Royal visits as well as raising thousands of pounds for local charities.
The Mayor said: “It was a pleasure to show the candidates around the Town Hall and help them understand how democracy works in practice. I think it is really important young people in the Borough realise the value of voting and the need to make a conscious decision where to place their vote. The candidates were all first class and I wish them all well in the election.”
Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for Corporate Management and Finance, Councillor David Harrington, said: "It is vital that young people's views are heard and they are able to actively contribute to their communities.
"I hope that these elections highlight how students can get involved in local democracy and that many take the opportunity to find out how they can make a difference."
Councillor Ann McCoy, Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “I would like to express my support for this process and I am looking forward to working with the successful candidate.”
At the meeting the young candidates, who had to be between 11 - 18 years old, Angelica Andrejczk (St Patrick's), Jessica Belch (Conyers), Daniel Dennis (Egglescliffe), Ethan Jackson-McGlade (North Shore Academy), Henry Lidford (Ian Ramsey), Sam Plant (Red House), Ciaran Poole (Northfield), Laurianne Povey (Bede Sixth Form College) and Matthew Wilson (Stockton Sixth Form College) heard about the role of the Member of the Youth Parliament and what would be expected of them.
Following this election Stockton Council is encouraging young residents to keep up their interest in democracy with its planned Stockton Youth Assembly which will be created in the coming months.