Headlines: August 22nd, 2003

A conference next month will explore ways in which local councils can do more to ensure that young people contribute to democracy at both a national and local level. The event, ‘A Young Voice in Society – Listening To Tomorrow’s Voters Today, takes place in London on Thursday October 16th as part of Local Democracy Week.It is being aimed at the public sector in view of falling interest in local politics and declining turnout for local and national elections. The organisers say it will redress these trends in the long-term by encouraging local authorities to involve young people in service planning and decision-making. Many young people do not tend to engage with their local council or councillors and have little idea about the services provided locally from which they could benefit or how to approach their authority if they need to. Councils too are out of step with young people’s issues and concerns and how to involve them in planning for the future of their districts.

The conference will bring together young people, youth organisations, local authorities, councillors and MPs to explore what they think can be done to enable people between the ages of 13 and 19 to make a valuable contribution to their environment, promoting a more integrated involvement in the wider community. Confirmed speakers include Margaret Hodge MP, Stovin Hayter, the editor of ‘Young People Now’, Ashley Sweetland who is a trustee of the UK Youth Parliament, Councillor Laura Willoughby who heads the Local Government Association Equalities Executive, Harry Wade from the National Youth Agency, Liam Cairns from Durham County Council, and Anthony Bellringer of the Electoral Commission.

Anyone interested in attending should contact the LGA on 020 7 664 3131