The youngest elected member on Angus Council has called for the youth of Angus to have their voices heard on the local authority’s children and learning committee.
Addressing a committee meeting in Forfar, Ben Lawrie, Liberal Democrat councillor for Monifieth and Sidlaw, told members while young people don’t have a vote, they are still affected by decisions made in the council chamber.
He was commenting on a report on the Angus youth engagement strategy, which was approved at the meeting.
Launched to coincide with the Year of Young People 2018, it is designed to strengthen Angus Community Planning Partnership’s engagement with young people.
Over 290 pupils from secondary schools and youths from across Angus completed a survey about how they would like to be involved in decisions that affect their lives.
Young people and members of the partnership participated in an event to identify principles and methods for engaging young people.
A working group was established involving pupils from Arbroath, Brechin and Kirriemuir secondary schools and ACPP members.
The working group met three times to fully develop the principles, methods for engagement and design of the strategy.
They sought comment from wider groups and the draft strategy was then discussed at the Integrated Children’s Services Group.
Addressing the meeting, Councillor Lawrie said he thought the year of the young people was a “great initiative.”
He said: “I’m glad we’re making efforts to engage with our young people.
“I particularly like the emphasis that’s been placed on co-designing this strategy with young people.
“It’s important decisions are always made with people and not for them.”
He urged members to not only approve the youth engagement strategy but to reach out to the youth of Angus.
He continued: “There are things we can all be doing to make sure young people feel like they have a stake in their community.”
The Monifieth and Sidlaw councillors, working with local members of the Scottish Youth Parliament, take it in turns to hold a monthly surgery in Monifieth High School, which Mr Lawrie hoped could be replicated in other wards.
He added: “I also think it would be a good idea to appoint youth reps to this committee.
“Young people don’t have a vote but they’re still affected by the decisions we make here.
“I’d like to see their voices brought to the table.
“Young people have a lot to say so I hope we all do our best to embody the principles outlined in this strategy, to make young people feel when they speak up, we’ll listen.”
The youth engagement strategy will be officially launched on June 14.