St Hild’s pupils quiz councillors

St Hild's Church of England School pupils who took part in the cabinet meeting and teacher Tom Bissett (right)
St Hild's Church of England School pupils who took part in the cabinet meeting and teacher Tom Bissett (right)

CALLS by pupils to bring the voting age down to 16 have been welcomed by councillors during a public meeting.

Teenagers got the chance to witness democracy in action when St Hild’s Church of England School hosted a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s cabinet committee.

Mayor Stuart Drummond took his cabinet to the school, in King Oswy Drive, to hear the results of different projects carried out by pupils.

As part of their citizenship work, Year 11 students have been looking at reducing the voting age from 18 to 16, parking problems, animal welfare issues and the work being done to promote Hartlepool.

Teenagers presented their findings before asking questions.

The Vote for 16 group, which included Lauren Thomson, Louise Moran, Zak Thornton and Baldeish Kaur, said 88 per cent of pupils they asked wanted to vote at 16 and asked cabinet for their views.

Labour Coun Pam Hargreaves said: “It is important you can challenge us if you don’t like the decisions we make.”

Independent Coun Hilary Thompson said: “We have a tremendous number of adults who don’t vote. There is no reason why young people should not have a vote at 16.”

Meanwhile, Labour Coun Ged Hall added: “The enthusiasm of young people is quite a contrast to the apathy of a lot of older people.”

The King Oswy Drive Road Safety group, which included Toni Austwicke, Ashleigh Lister, Robyn Harrison and Rebecca Robinson, helped provide a car park area for parents to drop-off and pick-up children.

They touched on the council’s controversial camera car, introduced to improve road safety outside schools.

The pupils asked what the money collected from fining drivers is used for.

Dave Stubbs, the director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said a total of £1m is collected from car parking and parking fines which is put towards the council’s budget.

Coun Hargreaves added: “The primary purpose of the car is to ensure safety.”

Youngsters also asked if money from the camera car could be used to reinstate axed bus services.

Councillors said the council cannot afford to pay bus subsidies.

Colin Reid, the school’s headteacher, said: “It was great for the pupils to see democracy in action.”

The Animal Rights project was made up of Megan Joyce, Janine Mitchell and Maddie Murphy and the Promoting Hartlepool group was made up of Bethany Byers, Alex Clark, Sophie Weatherill, Sian Sullivan and Victoria Fidgeon.