Youth council funding, parking charges, and more were discussed at a meeting of Overview and Scrutiny on 27 November 2012.
£12,000 for Youth Council
The Overview and Scrutiny committee is to recommend Epping Forest District Council continues to fund the Epping Forest Youth Council with a bid of £12,000 for the next financial year.
Councillors approved the recommendation to the full council for the full amount after a lively presentation and debate with Epping Forest Youth Council. Youth councillors took their senior counterparts through a comprehensive presentation of their work since the most recent youth council elections in March. Coordinating their presentation with a PowerPoint display, youth councillors identified a survey of local youth clubs as one of the key projects achieved during the previous 8 months. Youth Plus of Ongar have been awarded and recognised by the Youth Council as the best project evaluated during the survey.
Youth councillors enjoy a wider range of training opportunities and are regularly consulted by the district council when senior councillors are formulating policy. Youth councillors also have the opportunity to meet influential community leaders such as Robert Halfon MP who welcomed them to the House of Commons earlier in the year.
Youth councillor responsibilities go beyond the district council. Youth councillors work hard in their local schools and community, taking issues up on behalf of their peers with whichever organisations are appropriate.
Following the presentation to Overview and Scrutiny, district councillors questioned youth councillors on a range of issues. Tables were then turned as youth councillors asked the district councillors how they would improve the links between young people, older councillors and residents.
Leader of Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Chris Whitbread entered the debate, responding that he would like more links between the youth council and the district. Councillor John Philip wanted to learn lessons from the use of social media by the youth council.
Councillor Richard Morgan, Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny was joined by Councillor Stephen Murray and other councillors in commending the youth council not only for their presentation but also the question and answer session before recommending that the bid for funding go forward as a Continuing Service Budget bid for ongoing funding of the youth council in the future.
Car parking charges
Councillors of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee questioned members of the cabinet on progress towards the council’s key objectives. Among the issues debated was the benefit to local high street businesses of free Saturday parking in the run up to Christmas. Portfolio Holder Councillor Gary Waller informed the committee of research and consultation looking at a range of parking issues including the uniformity of charging in car parks across the district as well as parking for shoppers in town centres.
Police and Crime Commissioner
Reviewing their own work programme, members of Overview and Scrutiny were keen to invite the new Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston to discuss his plans at a future meeting. Councillor Stephen Murray was particularly concerned that the new commissioner find time to visit the district more frequently.
Making it easier for residents and councillors to attend licensing meetings by moving them from daytime to evening schedules will be one of the issues examined by the ‘Review of Licensing Services’ Task and Finish Panel. Members of Overview and Scrutiny approved the terms of reference of the panel which has been asked to report its findings by April 2013.
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