East Sussex youth invited to set Commons debate

Cllr Nick BennettYOUNG people in East Sussex are being urged to play a part in influencing the debates of the UK Youth Parliament at the House of Commons.

The UKYP, the body that represents young people across the country, will head to Westminster for its annual debate in the Commons chamber in November 2014.

East Sussex-based members of the UKYP are encouraging 11 to 18-year-olds to vote in the annual Make Your Mark ballot, the largest consultation of young people in the country.

The ballot, which runs until Friday, October 10 2014, will see young people asked what 10 issues matter to them most, such as votes at 16, improving mental health services, bringing back maths and English resits and access to work experience.

The results of the survey will decide a shortlist of five topics for the UKYP to discuss in the debate, to be chaired by Commons speaker John Bercow MP and televised live by BBC Parliament on Friday, November 14 2014.

Charlotte Thomas, Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) for Hastings, Bexhill and Upper Rother, said: “I promised young people I would get them heard, and if no-one listened, to try harder. If young people in my area vote, national decision-makers have to listen.

“I urge every 11 to 18-year-old to take part in the ballot and grasp this opportunity to be heard.”

Cllr Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council lead member for learning and school effectiveness, said “It’s fantastic that so many young people will have the chance to be part of this large consultation across the country and be involved.

“This is a real opportunity for young people to get politicians and other decision-makers to hear about the issues that are most important to them.”

Last year, nearly 500,000 young people across the country had their say, including 2,432 from East Sussex. This year, members of the UKYP have set themselves a target of getting a million young people to take part.

Voting is open online at https://www.mi-voice.com/mym/ and through ballot papers issued in schools and youth clubs.