COUNCILLOR Ann McCoy, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, represented the people of the Borough when she spoke at the 32nd session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
Marking the tenth anniversary of European Local Democracy Week, the theme of the meeting was ‘citizen participation, consultation and commitment for a thriving local democracy’.
European Local Democracy Week aims to bring citizens and local elected representatives closer and Councillor McCoy addressed the Congress on the work being done locally on this front.
The costs of Councillor McCoy’s visit to the Council of Europe were met by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.
Councillor McCoy said: “Our Council was already actively involved in promoting democracy at the grassroots level and increasing democratic participation and active citizenship have been a key priority for a long time.
“To achieve this we developed a democratic engagement strategy called ‘Opening the door to democracy’. Voter registration and voting are at the core of this strategy and it is supported by a number of campaigns, activities and events throughout the year that encourage democratic participation from all sections of the community.
“One of the key long term campaigns is to turn little voters into big voters by supporting school council elections, where the children and young people get used to being active citizens and voting in their school community so that it becomes a natural thing to continue into adulthood.”
The meeting also featured guest speakers discussing local democracy from a range of other countries including Estonia, Finland, Iceland and Malta.
Speaking after the event, Councillor McCoy said: “Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council has been partnered with the Council of Europe since 2011, and we were the first UK local authority to achieve their 12 Star City status for promoting local democracy, so it was a real privilege to speak before the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.
“A lot of hard work goes into promoting and supporting the democratic process at a local level here in Stockton Borough so I was very pleased to have the opportunity to highlight this before an audience of representatives from across Europe.”
To view Councillor McCoy’s address in full, visit http://ow.ly/zVOU30aw7yH and track forward to 3 hours and 41 minutes.
Councillor McCoy was also interviewed separately for the Council of Europe’s YouTube Channel and you can view the interview here.