The annual Arun Youth Council Civic Debates Event took place at the Civic Centre, council chamber in Littlehampton on Friday 18 November.
The Chairman, Cllr Stephen Haymes welcomed approximately 60 secondary school students from The Angmering School, The Littlehampton Academy, The Regis School Felpham Community College and St Philip Howard School.
A series of topical debates were held on diverse subjects: American gun law; Southern Rail; statutory parks service; affordable housing and grammar schools.
Students became ‘adult’ Councillors for the debates which were chaired and led by members of the Arun Youth Council who formed both a ‘for’ party, proposing a motion relating to the debate topic and an opposition who led the argument against the motion. The rest of those attending added their views to each debate which culminated in a vote for each motion.
The event has been in the planning for the past 9 months with Arun Youth Council members helping to decide the debate topics, researching and familiarising themselves with the for and against arguments. During the day the students were also addressed by Arun District Council’s Chief Executive, Nigel Lynn and the Chairman, Cllr Stephen Haymes.
Cllr Haymes said "It is such an honour to attend this event. Seeing young people engaging in lively and stimulating debate on topics that have been chosen by the Arun Youth Council was inspiring. All the students shared their views in a considered, clear and concise manner. I may have just witnessed future district councillors or maybe a future MP in action!"
Seb Maxted, Chairman of the Arun Youth Council said "The Civic debate day was a great success and all the students that participated really benefited. It is great to be able to use the Chamber at Arun District Council to really experience how Council meetings work and feel. Chairing such a day is a great honour."
The Arun Youth Council Civic Debates coincided with the Junior Youth Council Takeover Day where junior school children from the locality visit the Civic Centre to ‘takeover’ various Council services. This event is always positively supported by areas such as the Call Centre, Cleansing, Wellbeing, Environmental Health, Marketing/Tourism and Engineers. Different children visit different departments and then report back to their peers to share what they have learnt.
Cllr Haymes also spoke to these young people and said ‘Being able to show this future generation some of what their Council does and how it works within their communities is so important. They will grow up understanding the work the Council does and the services it can offer."