PUT the teenagers in committee room three, give them some pop. Maybe some crisps. Let them chat a bit about grown up things and – wahey – we can tick the box to say we’ve got a Youth Council.
Is that what the politicians and Camden Council staff who two years ago helped set up the first kids parliament at the Town Hall thought? Who knows? It would be very sad if it was. If Camden’s Youth Council was not much more than a tick-boxing exercise, something simply to mark as an achievement come election time.
A new British Youth Council report, covered here in the CNJ this week by Charlotte Chambers, effectively says that teenagers who gave up their own time to get involved, to do something positive were effectively left to their own devices. This, even though they had a £100,000 kitty of council cash to spend.
Maybe the people who came up with the whole idea didn’t like what they had created once they got off the ground, a forum where teenagers largely free from partisan poolitics decided what the borough needed most. Maybe the youths who got themselves elected were more astute than the council ever expected them to be, proving more than able to protest and argue like their adult counterparts.
Whatever truth lies behind the last two years of Youth Council politics, when a new one is created in December surely people at the Town Hall who have been round the block a few times could do well to offer more hearty support. Otherwise, the project for all its worthy aims could prove “toothless”, as its former leader, again.