'Woeful' - decision to scrap Harpenden Youth Town Council criticised

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 July 2017

Harpenden town sign. Picture: DANNY LOO

Harpenden town sign. Picture: DANNY LOO

Archant

A decision to scrap a town's youth council has been criticised.

Harpenden Youth Town Council was disbanded after organisers said it “had very low numbers of young people engaged in it for some time”.

However Anne James, councillor for Harpenden East, said: “This is contrary to my experience of the youth of Harpenden, who I have found are very committed and politically aware.

“They put on a music festival in 2006 called Summer Sounds and they were very proactive.

“The fact that the town council are unwilling to engage with the youth of Harpenden is woeful and shameful. I am disappointed that they won’t put in the time, the effort and the finances to promote local democracy among the youth.”

Harpenden Youth Council used to have between 12 and 20 members, as well as a dedicated secretary.

Carl Cheevers, Harpenden Town Clerk, said: “The town council agreed in January to disband the youth town council, having had very low numbers of young people engaged in it for some time.

“The council is keen to ensure that it engages a broad representation of young people and agreed at the same meeting to get involved in a much wider range of youth activities.”

The youth council was set up in 1994 and was open to anyone aged 11 to 19. It was disbanded in January this year due to having a regular attendance of just four or five people.

To make up for the loss of the youth council, the town council has planned to have greater engagement with the youth centre in Lower High Street, work with Youth Connexions on the National Citizenship Scheme, identify areas that would benefit from detached youth work and become a dragon in the Dragons Apprentice project.

It also plans to have increased engagement with the football Onside project at Porters Hill park and to include a specific theme on young people in its new conservation/education development plan.

There is also talk of the possibility of merging Harpenden Youth Council with St Albans Youth Council, to create a district-wide group with meetings which alternate between St Albans and Harpenden.

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