Chance to shadow a councillor

BUDDING politicians have the chance to shadow a councillor in a bid to learn more about local government thanks to a new national scheme.

The British Youth Council’s Councillor Shadowing Award will see young people up to the age of 25 follow Hartlepool councillors for 10-hours-a-week over a six-week period.

Senior councillors in town have backed the new initiative and say anything that gives youngsters an insight into the democratic process is a good thing.

The finer details are still being worked out, but there will be at least one shadowing position available.

Representatives from the British Youth Council will work with staff from the town’s Integrated Youth Support Service to identify youngsters that would be interested but it is open to anyone.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee met earlier this week to give their backing to the plans.

A council report said: “The benefits of this programme include an understanding of contributions made by councillors and young people alike to the decision-making process.

“Young people can find out more about their local communities and by shadowing a councillor for 10-hours-a-week over a six-week period, there is opportunity for a sharing of aspirations and concerns in local neighbourhoods.”

Local authorities across the country are being encouraged to take part in the shadowing scheme, which is an ASDAN accredition network programme.

Grange ward Labour councillor Chris Simmons said: “Anything that can be done to include young people in the democratic process is to be welcomed.”

Owton Manor Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves added: “I support this.

“Anything that gives young people accreditation is a good thing.

“The interesting thing is that it will either completely turn the young people off or it may encourage us to be better at what we do.”

Meanwhile, Labour councillor Ged Hall added: “I fully support this agenda and here in Hartlepool we have a good record of including young people.”

Ongoing initiatives in Hartlepool include young people being represented on the children services scrutiny forum.

They have previously carried out their own investigation into social networking as a media for involving young people.

Coun Hall added that he would also like to see the cabinet committee hold a future meeting at a school or college in town, as has been done in the past at venues including Hartlepool College of Further Education.

Mayor Stuart Drummond said he was already in discussions with one school about holding a cabinet meeting there in October.

l Mail view: Page 8

l To find out more about the shadowing scheme visit www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk and select the link at the bottom of the story.