TOWN councillors have given their support to plans to set up a youth council at the Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis.
The proposal to set up a youth council was brought to last week’s Tourism, Community & Publicity Committee by chairman Councillor Cheryl Reynolds.
Members backed the idea, but refused to set aside a budget for the youth council until it had been set up.
Councillor Reynolds said she had been in discussion with the British Youth Council, Dorchester Youth Council and the Woodroffe School, which was willing to set up the youth council after the summer holiday.
The aim of the youth council would be to empower young people aged 18 and under to influence and inform the decision that affect their lives. It would encourage young people to get involved in their community and democracy on a local, national and international level, making a difference as volunteers, campaigners, decision-makers and leaders.
Councillor Reynolds said that every youth council in the country that worked well had an allocated budget, so the students could work on their own projects similar to a town council. But town councillors were concerned they did not know what the money would be spent on.
Councillor Sean Larcombe asked: “Is there a set amount for the budget, what’s it for and who’s accountable for it?”
The Mayor of Lyme Regis, Councillor Michaela Ellis, added: “My concern with this is, how much budget are we thinking? What if they go and do something with this that we don’t like?
“We have to raise own finances from things that we do to have a budget. I’d love to see a youth council but there’s got to be some sort of stipulation on it.
“To me there needs to be a bit more two-way communication. They need to come to us with a project and ask us for a specific amount of money and raise some themselves. That’s more what I would envisage them doing.”
Councillor Reynolds replied: “But they will be coming to us, that’s how a youth council works. In this town, what have we got for the kids?
“We’ve got nothing; we’re taking things away left, right and centre. We need to plug the gap, we need to be seen as a council to be plugging that gap.”
Councillor Patrick Ridley expressed concern that the youth council would only be open to students from the Woodroffe School, and not other young people from Lyme who attended other schools in the area.
Councillor Reynolds said they could set up their own youth councils in other schools.
Councillor Ridley replied: “But it’s not Lyme Regis youth council.”
Councillor Reynolds: “Fine, we’ll just vote on it and forget it then.”
Councillor Ellis replied: “Don’t get like that, we’re trying to have a debate about this and decide the best way forward. To me, there’s no information here that tells me how it’s going to work.”
Councillor Stan Williams said there had been attempts to set up a youth council in the past but there had never been enough interest, as many students from Woodroffe lived out of town or were too busy.
However, he added: “It would be great to show them how this council works for the future.”
Councillor Reynolds added: “The future is our children, without our children we have no future.”
It was agreed to support the setting up of the youth council at the Woodroffe School, and to invite students to come to the council and ask for a specific budget after they had discussed what projects they would like to work on.