On Tuesday evening the Mayor welcomed young people participating in the Youth Parliament event and told everyone that he had started his career in the Council Chamber representing a youth club in New Brighton.
The first motion was calling for more sporting provision for young people on the Wirral. A Youth Parliament member called Leah explained that this was to help people with their self-confidence and team building skills. An opposer to the motion called Jessica called for a more diverse range of youth activities instead such as cooking, arts and foreign languages.
Cllr Walter Smith commented that there were more sporting opportunities now than in his youth and referred to his granddaughter at Upton Hall school. Various young people said the existing sporting provision wasn’t advertised enough. Another called Lauren referred to the Wirral Youth Theatre activities. Dylan suggested they use schools left empty during the holidays for sport.
Cllr Jerry Williams referred to the upcoming marathon and said although he was sixty, he had run thirty-six marathons.
A vote was taken and the motion was lost by 14 votes to 38.
The second motion was that all Wirral parks have either an internet cafe or wi-fi cafe so that young people could meet after school. Courtney said that she believed this would increase the number visiting the parks and would be used throughout the day by others. Hannah said that there were already youth clubs and it was pointless spending lots of money on such things.
Ricky said that more young people had internet access on their phones or at the local library and that they were “already a nation of zombies” so he disagreed with the motion.
George said that many families couldn’t afford internet access. Ffion said they could make money from refreshments but didn’t think it was well thought through. Charlotte opposed it and thought it would lead to conflict between rival groups.
Charlotte spoke saying it was a really good idea but with the cuts she couldn’t see it happening. Another young person said they could get half an hour free at their local library. Another two young people spoke against the idea.
Josh agreed with the motion, but said the youth clubs were safer. Alex thought it wouldn’t be safe and would intensify gang culture. Another young person said the wi-fi at Birkenhead Park pavilion was turned off when the cafe shuts at four.
Dylan thought it was a bad motion and Alan thought that people would just use it for playing games. Cllr Steve Williams spoke about the perception that young people had that the park was not a safe place. Cllr Patricia Glasman asked if young people would allow older people to use the internet cafes?
Josh said that older people could use the internet in work. Rosie said that no one goes to her local library and was interrupted by heckling. At the end of the debate there was a vote. Six were for, 52 were against, so the motion was lost.
The next motion was from Oldershaw school and asked for Wirral Council to guarantee employment opportunities for young people by insisting in contracts that a certain % of employment was local and a certain % apprenticeships.
Charles spoke first and thought that colleges should make the request rather than the local Council. Alex referred to young people going to university, getting into debt and coming out without a job.
Lauren thought that people at a private school received a better education than at a comprehensive. Graham talked about how if more people were in work then they would be less reliant on local government and crime would fall.
Ricky talked about how people worked hard to achieve good grades, but due to circumstances couldn’t go to university because of the expense. George spoke about kids in poverty and how youths should be a priority.
More young people spoke about qualifications. Lauren spoke about one to one sessions in her school in Maths and English. Cllr Adrian Jones said as a governor of Oldershaw how impressed he was by Megan Jones’ speech and how he did agree with the thrust of what she said. He also congratulated Charles Keeth on his speech.
Charlotte referred to how although she was hoping to go to university, she would take work in a coffee shop for eight months.
Another young person said that a young person got good grades at GCSE because of the effort that was put in.
Cllr Bernie Mooney congratulated the young people and said she wishes the adult debaters would take lessons from the discussions. She said that they had a duty that the aspirations of young people were upheld, that they had an excellent education department and she agreed that companies coming to Wirral to make their fortune should share it through an obligation to employ adults and young people as apprentices.
Cllr Cox spoke as a previous apprentice himself, he believed apprenticeships were the future, although he had gone on to university later and studied for a degree. He had done an HNC and been paid at the same time.
Ryan said it was important to give young people jobs especially when their parents didn’t have jobs. The motion went to the vote that Council contracts would guarantee 25% youth jobs. It was passed by 36 votes to 20.
The next motion was that areas of low life expectancy were due to lifestyle choices.
This sparked a debate about the differences between the West and East of Wirral and how where you were brought up affected your views, stereotypes and people’s views of poverty. This motion was lost by 8 votes to 42.
On the last motion, Cllr Watt declared a prejudicial interest and left. This motion was that councillors, MPs and officers should have their expenses cut.
Many young people spoke in favour of this. Councillor Les Rowlands spoke against, saying that he was paid less as a councillor than in his self-employed job and that some chose not to claim expenses. This motion was lost by 11 votes to 22. Cllr Blakeley asked for his abstention to be recorded.
The Mayor quipped that if the motion had passed he would’ve bought bicycle clips and a mayoral bicycle.
The last motion was that police officers should be armed with guns. There were a few speakers (mainly against) and that motion was lost by 10 votes to 40. At the end the Mayor invited the three party leaders to speak.
Cllr Tom Harney said that standards had been extremely high and that each year the standard was getting better, but that if people had any suggestions to let him know.
Cllr Wendy Clements said it had been interesting and exciting and that people had listened to each other, which she commented was rare, she congratulated everyone and on the standard of debate.
Cllr Phil Davies said it had been a fantastic evening and said he had been tempted to join in on the debate on councillor’s allowances. He said that many speeches were well researched and had a good evidence base. He thanks the staff for organising the event and said it had been a long day for those who had been there since the morning.
The Mayor thanked Maureen McDaid and the minutes of last year’s meeting were agreed. The meeting then closed.