Young people across Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area participated in an event to mark Local Democracy Week at Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre last week.
32 young people from local post primary schools participated in a mock planning committee on a proposed housing scheme by taking on the roles of Applicant/Agent, Supporter, Objector, Planning Case Officer and Councillor. Councillors and Officers assisted the students to prepare their arguments.
Lord Mayor of Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Mealla Campbell said: “I am delighted to see so many young people attend this event and take such a great interest in local democracy and their Council area.”
“It’s a great way to get our young people engaged with us so they can see how Council works and how we as elected Members work on behalf of the local community. The students have shown great interest and enthusiasm and have really embraced the challenge and the debate has been lively.”
Councillor Sam Nicholson chaired the meeting as the students took up their positions in the Chamber.
Councillors Tim McClelland, Peter Lavery and Darren McNally also joined them.
The students were very convincing in their roles and they certainly did not disappoint! The arguments ranged from environmental matters through to road safety.
In the end, following a vote they agreed to accept the Planning Officer’s recommendation that the application be refused. However, as the chair pointed out the decision could still be appealed!
This event was one of many which took place across Northern Ireland to mark Local Democracy Week, which aims to make councils more relevant to young people, dispel apathy and encourage interest in local politics.