STUDENTS from schools across North Devon have been telling the local council what they think North Devon should look like in the future, at a local democracy event in Barnstaple s Civic Centre. North Devon Council hosted a special debate in the council c
STUDENTS from schools across North Devon have been telling the local council what they think North Devon should look like in the future, at a local democracy event in Barnstaple's Civic Centre. North Devon Council hosted a special debate in the council chamber to encourage young people to get involved in politics and local decision-making.Pupils from Chulmleigh, Park and Braunton Schools attended the debate and voiced their opinions on housing, renewable energy and regeneration.As well as the debate, pupils got to vote on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"-style voting pads to answer questions such as where they think new houses should go and what sort of renewable energy schemes should be run in North Devon."The results of the debate and the voting game proved just how much young people understand about the issues we face in North Devon," said council chairman Cllr Roy Lucas, who also chaired the event."They went away knowing what a challenge it is to make decisions about the future of the area, and how important it is for them to get involved in the decision-making process."Cllr Des Brailey, lead member for community and spatial planning, added: "We've been holding this event for three years now. The quality of debate by the students is always excellent, and this year's debate was no exception."Lead member for youth and diversity Cllr Dave Butt - a Braunton teacher - said youngsters found it a worthwhile and informative experience. "It was a great exercise of involving them in local issues and decision-making," he said.Feedback from the debate will be used to help the authority develop the area's Local Development Framework, which will set out what North Devon should look like over the next 19 years.The debate is part of a programme of light-hearted events organised as part of the Local Democracy Campaign, a national initiative aimed at raising awareness of the role of local authorities.Last month, as part of the campaign, councillors took part in three political "speed dating" events held at Braunton and Chulmleigh Community Colleges and Park School. Students were given three minutes to quiz a councillor on anything they wanted. Young people also had a go at setting the council's budget by allocating "Monopoly"-style money to a number of services the authority provides.