Brake Makes His Mark On Local Democracy Week

October 18, 2004 12:00 AM

Local MP Tom Brake will be joining councillors, MEPs and MPs across the country who have accepted the Local Democracy Week (18-24 October) challenge to meet the younger members of their wards and constituencies and get to know them on their 'own ground' to find out which issues are important to them both locally and nationally - and see how they can help redress any issues raised.

Some are opting to meet young people away from the school environment in places such as youth clubs, YMCA groups, council offices and even in shopping centres and coffee shops to find out first hand what its like to be a teenager or young person in the 21st century.

Mr Brake will kick off his Local Democracy week by taking part in a patrol with neighbourhood wardens on the morning of Monday 18 October. Mr Brake is also joining councillors and council staff to answer questions from Sutton residents at the Listening Day scheduled for 18 October at Wallington town centre. Listening Days will take place throughout the week in Sutton; other venues include Rosehill shops on 19 October, Sutton High Street on 20 October and Cheam village on 21 October.

Mr Brake said, "Sutton residents know that local democracy is about more than just casting a vote. I look forward to a lively debate with Sutton residents young and old."

The events will help bridge the gap between young people and the politicians that aim to represent their views as they will be getting to know their younger constituents or ward members and their needs better, so they can truly reflect the opinions of all those within the community. During Local Democracy Week they will all be working together - with councils and organisations such as the UK Youth Parliament, British Youth Council and YMCA - to help increase young people's understanding of local democracy and the importance of making their voices heard on the political platform.

Just 39% of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2001 general election compared to 68% in 1997 - a decline nearly three times greater than that of the overall turnout. If this decline continues, young people voting could fall below 25% at future general elections. The message is clear: young people need to be re-engaged in the political process on a national and local level. Local Democracy Week is helping to address this issue by finding out what makes young people tick and where their interests lie.

This year almost every council in England and Wales will be taking part. The Local Government Association is building on this interest and enthusiasm and is already planning future activities throughout 2005. There will be more events across the country; regionally and locally, to help bridge the gap in interest and involvement in local issues and politics.

What would you like to do next?