Headlines: October 11th, 2006



Only one percent of young people respect politicians according to research by the Local Government Association. The same number chose their dog. The research was carried out in preparation for Local Democracy Week starting on Monday 16th October, when a wide range of people and organisations will seek to get young people involved and invigorated in local and national politics.

The research, carried out by MORI, also found that 34% of young people most respected their friends outside their family. 73% of young people said their family and friends would influence them the most. Three percent said the local council or councillors had a big impact.

Local Democracy Week is designed to stem the tide of disenchantment, disillusionment and disconnection with the political process that so many young people feel. The LGA has called on councillors at grassroots level to work with children and young people to help them grasp how local government can provide solutions to the issues that concern them now and in the future. It wants young people to be inspired to become involved in making their villages, towns and cities places which they can feel proud of and be part of.

Examples of getting young people involved in local government include the appointment by the London Borough of Lewisham of a young mayor who has a 25,000 pounds a year budget. He and his young advisers meet regularly and advise the ‘old’ mayor on issues. They are currently in their third election with turnouts higher than in adult elections.

In Birmingham, the City Council includes two young people on the Education and Lifelong Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Young People undertake scrutiny reviews into services provided to them and they recommend service changes and improvements to the City Council. Up to 25,000 pounds of council budgets are also given each year to a number of youth forums in tackling the issues that they deem most important.