Young residents have called for a reduction in the minimum voting age.
Packed into the debating Chamber of Epping Forest District Council, 54 per cent of the students representing the District Council area secondary schools and Epping Forest District Youth Councillors supported a motion to lower the voting age to 16.
Anti-social behaviour, stereotyping of young people, gangs and a lack of activities were also highlighted as the top areas of concern.
- Link to webcast:
The day was organised by Epping Forest District Youth Council. Delegates were welcomed by Epping Forest District Council Chairman Councillor Penny Smith.
Local MPs Eleanor Laing and Bill Rammell then got down to business with a question and answer session. Youth Councillors Haris Duherich, Yasmin Levy-Miller, Connor Latimer and Trini Philip gave BBC Reporter Ben Bland a taste of the debate to come in an exclusive interview.
The motion that this House calls for the minimum voting age to be lowered to 16 was proposed by Connor and opposed by Yasmin.
Youth Councillor Holly Whitbread chaired the debate and kept order during a lively and robust discussion with many views expressed both for and against the motion.
The debate was webcast live from the Council offices. It was also a chance for Epping Forest District Council to try out its new electronic voting equipment.
The Council`s Electoral Returning Officer Ian Willett gave a talk on his role in the forthcoming General Election.
- Should the voting age be lowered from 18 to 16?
- Yes – 54% – 41 votes
- No – 46% – 35 votes
After the debate and lunch in the Council Members` Room, the young people broke up into smaller discussion groups to identify their top three priorities.
Youth Councillor Yasmin Levy-Miller said: For me it is really important to get young people`s voices heard. We are young people ourselves and we know about the issues we want to change.
Youth Councillor Connor Lattimer added: I was pleased we won the debate although in the back of my mind I thought we might get a bigger majority, maybe 60 or 70 per cent. I think Yasmin argued well against us. We should do something similar next year “ a progress check.
Councillor Di Collins District Council Leader and Chairman of `One`, the Epping Forest Local Strategic Partnership, drew proceedings to a close with thanks to everyone for a fantastic day of debate.