Hertsmere Borough Council runs annual Youth Conference in Borehamwood

Borehamwood Times: Cheryl Hallett with children from Hertswood Academy Cheryl Hallett with children from Hertswood Academy

Voters of tomorrow learned about the workings of local government at an event to teach young people about democracy.

Nearly 100 pupils from eight schools across Hertsmere gathered at the Civic Offices in Elstree Way, Borehamwood for the seventh annual Youth Conference today.

During the full day event, students from schools including Hertswood Academy and Yavneh College learned about democracy and how their parents’ council tax is spent with the help of a theatre company.

It is 40 years since Hertsmere Borough Council was founded, and the actors marked this anniversary by donning 70s costumes and discussing how attitudes towards young people had changed in that time.

The pupils, aged between 11 and 17, were also given the opportunity to quiz borough councillors during a ‘speed-dating’ style event, before voting for their favourite.

The conference, which took place in the council chamber, was organised by the council’s youth and projects officer Fiona Pow.

She said: “It has been a fantastic day. This is the biggest event yet, with 97 students involved, as opposed to 70 odd last year.

“The children here are of all ages and abilities, and it is an opportunity for them to better understand their rights and how council tax is spent.”

Cheryl Hallett, who directs Flip Theatre Company, which uses theatre to inform young people and make them better citizens, carried out workshops with students.

She said: “Politicians are not reaching out to young people, who are portrayed as apathetic in the media. The young people I see are enthusiastic and engaged, but are being denied a voice.

“All councils in the country should be holding events like this to get young people involved.”

Chloe Heapes, 13, who attends Hertswood Academy, said the day had been “really interesting”.

She added: “Before I came today I knew nothing about local politics. I’ve learned a lot about voting and how local government works and I’m now keen to get involved in youth politics myself.”

Councillor Farida Turner said it was important councillors try and engage with young people and urged them to join Hertsmere’s Youth Council.

She said: “Young people are our future as well as being future voters, and it is important they are not ignored.”

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