SCHOOL pupils had the chance to take high-powered decisions on how to spend Hartlepool Borough Council‘s £91m budget.
Ninety children from 27 of the town’s primary schools took part in the annual Hartlepool Primary School Council Conference at the Borough Hall on Hartlepool’s Headland.
The conference was organised by the West View Project, a not-for-profit organisation which runs activities for young people aged eight to 18 in Hartlepool.
In a key part of the day-long event, the children aged between 6 and 11, worked with Mayor Stuart Drummond and the council’s chief finance officer Chris Little to find out more about the council’s services and give their views on how they would allocate spending.
Earlier in the day they had the chance to hear more about the work of the town’s young inspectors – young people who work with the council to assess its services for children and young people.
They also had a chance to put questions to Denise Ogden, the council’s assistant director of neighbourhood services, about the many services which she manages, ranging from refuse collection and dog wardens to environmental maintenance such as grass cutting.
The event was chaired by councillor Chris Simmons in his role as a director of the West View Project after an opening address by Sally Robinson, the council’s assistant director of child and adult services.
Rebecca Wise, the West View Project’s senior participation worker, who organised the conference, said: “All the children taking part have been elected by their fellow pupils to represent their school at the conference and also in the more regular Primary School Forums which we also organise.
“They take a very real interest in what happens in their town and are passionate about helping to make it a better place in which to live.
“Events such as this play a very important part in their development.
“The conference will give them the chance to meet and question some of the council’s most senior decision-makers and managers and to apply their skills to the challenges of running a big organisation.”
Mayor Drummond added: “The West View Project deserves great credit for organising this exciting event.
“These children are the future of our town and it is important to involve them in how it is run.
“Given the current economic climate, the council faces considerable financial pressures in the years ahead and it will be very interesting to hear the children’s views on how they would tackle them.
“Who knows – there may be a future mayor or councillors among them.”
For more information about the West View Project and its work with schools, call (01429) 272699 or visit www.wvp.org.uk