Youth candidates do battle

AT THE end of this month young people across North Somerset will be voting for who they want to be their representative in the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP).

Aged between 13-18, 12 young people have put themselves forward as candidates and each has produced a statement as to why people should vote for them.

The candidates include Benedickta Fones from Clevedon School, Gordano School pupils Peter Davies, Alex Kraushaar, Alma Rahman, Jonathan Ong and Gregory Stride, Joe Coppin from Nailsea School and St Katherine’s School pupils Sana Ijaz and Brandon Ashford.

The election will take place on January 27 and the ballot boxes will be taken to Nailsea School for the count, which will be carried out by sixth form pupils.

The UKYP has become a nationally-recognised group of young people who actively contribute to the decision-making process on issues that affect them.

North Somerset Council teaching and learning adviser Sue Walker said: “This election has generated a lot of interest among the young people and has stimulated debate on a variety of issues.

“It is a chance for them to really get involved in the democratic process, whether it be as candidates, polling clerks or those counting the votes.”

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Voting will take place between 8am-5pm at North Somerset schools and the count will take place the following day.

The elected member will take part in regional meetings during school holidays.

The candidates statements are as follows:

Brandon Ashford (St Katherine’s School): I feel that I am best for the job as North Somerset’s MYP as I am a superb listener and will always look to others to hear their opinions on all manner of topics, such as iniversity fees. As an MYP it is expected that I be a good listener, and I meet this requirement. Also, I am an excellent speaker and so when Youth Parliament meetings take place I will not fear to stand up for what I and people of this constituency believe in. I will stand up for the decisions we will make and will represent the constituency beyond expectations. If you vote for me I promise to consider everyone’s opinion and will integrate them into speeches and arguments on topics at hand as I feel as MYP if you are going to represent the constituency then it is essential to voice not mine but the people’s opinion.

Joe Coppin (Nailsea School): These are both delicate and crucial times for our country. We are just coming out of a recession and our government is having to make assertive and definite decisions for the future security of our country and its place in the global economy. These decisions will inevitably affect us. Therefore it is my belief that our voices must be heard, it is our right to have a say in the way our country is run and in which direction it is heading. It is my pledge that if you vote for me I shall remind our government and its leaders of its most valuable asset: you. We have the right to be a part of these vital times; after all, we are the future.

Wesley Cox (Churchill Community Foundation School): My name is Wesley Cox I am a keen rugby player and also play the trombone in several bands in and outside of school. I also enjoy team challenges such as the ten tors which I have completed at both 35 mile and 45 mile level. My policies are as follows: all people over the age of sixteen should have the right to vote, setting should be used in schools to separate disruptive students from those who are willing to learn by putting persistently disruptive students in a separate class from those willing to work which they can only leave following an improvement in their behaviour, allow students to learn at their own pace with the opportunity to move between sets, students entering university from the state sector can only be charged university fees up to the current limit of �3,225 a year but students entering from the independent sector can be charged up to the proposed �7,000.

I would strongly support equal places at university for state and independent students

Peter Davies (Gordano School): I am 13, a sports lover and have always lived in North Somerset. I feel strongly about giving young people here a real voice. I will offer originality and creativity to help young people like us. I am particularly interested in transport for young people. Why do we have to pay for a poor, expensive bus service, when young people in London can travel free by bus? This is why I have become involved in FreeBus in Bristol. I will campaign against greatly increased university fees. This debt will be a major problem for young people in the future and will take away the chance of many going to university.

Benny Fones (Clevedon School): I consider myself to be a suitable candidate to represent North Somerset in the Youth Parliament. I am a trained CyberMentor, offering support to young people affected by bullying and am a peer drug educator for North Somerset. I take part in school and community charity events. Last year, our fund-raising group raised �650 for CLIC Sargent and Charlton Farm children’s hospice. My interests include sport, music and languages.

I am a confident speaker, and have given presentations in front of large audiences, for example speaking at the Anti-Bullying Alliance Conference in London. If I were to become a member of UKYP, I would campaign for: stronger anti-bullying support and education, abolishment of university tuition fees, more funding for schools - smaller class sizes and better equipment, more funding for local communities to improve recycling and reduce littering and more acknowledgement and support for young carers.

Kimberley-Ann Gaffney (Wyvern School): I like reading and play hockey when possible. I like to achieve targets. I get along with people and find it easy to talk to anybody. I would speak up for those who do not have a voice. I would also take views from both adults and young people and work on them to really improve the lives of young in North Somerset. I would like to improve the mainly adult perception of young people which is that we are all drug takers and criminals. This is only a minority of young people. The majority want to work and succeed.

Sana Ijaz (St Katherine’s School): I am an ordinary teenage girl who likes going out and spending time with friends and family. I think I am the right candidate because I have a great level of self esteem and confidence, which are important qualities to put forward a clear and debatable argument. In secondary school I attended a debating club and was in debating competitions, which helped me put forward a point of view or views of others with confidence. Also, I would like to stand for UKYP because it is a great opportunity to put your voice forward - “four voices are louder than one”. If I can win this election then you and I together can help make a difference. If I could change anything it would be bus fares. Bus rates are increasing in price and are currently too much for a student under 16 to pay. In London, bus fare for students is free. UKYP and politics has really interested me since 2008, when my mother stood for councillor elections. Working with her and experiencing her experiences really got me thinking maybe this is something that I would like to do in the future. UKYP is something I’d like to be a part of working with you.

Alex Kraushaar (Gordano School): My name is Alex Kraushaar and I hope to represent you and your views in the UK Youth Parliament and also on the North Somerset Youth Council. Perhaps the most important issue for the constituency is transport costs. To travel from London and back can cost as little as a pound, yet why are the young people of this area charged �5+ just to do a journey of a few miles? Why should the youth pay adult rates when in many cases we have no regular wage and certainly incapacity to afford these prices? I plan to try to gain a national bus fare limit for young people and make sure that the price set is one that is fair and affordable. I hope to be representing you soon.

Jon Ong (Gordano School): Hi, I’m Jon and I’m 15. I’m a hard-working team player with a strong interest in history and politics. I can be both a good speaker and an active listener so I can represent people’s views, even if they aren’t mine. Being a rugby player and a cadet, I am a good team player and understand the importance of having peers to work with. There are many problems for today’s youth, like the rise in university fees which will affect our age group massively. I would like to represent North Somerset’s young people as I believe that our voices need to be heard and our views and ideas considered by the authorities.

Alma Rahman (Gordano School): I believe in equality and honesty which is why I will make a fair and reliable candidate. I have had experience working with adults and advising them on how to make decision for young people. From this experience I also gained appropriate presentation and communication skills. My three issues are to work with the elderly to improve relations with teenagers, stamp out bullying and to lower public transport fares, particularly as this is an important issue in the current tackle against climate change.

Alex Ruddock (Worle Community School): I have had the experience of being chairman; I did a year as chairman on the Weston Town Youth Council, and during that year I helped the running of Barcode, and was part of the making of the graffiti project at Hutton Moor skate park. As chairman, I attended remembrance services, mayor’s charity balls, mayor’s dinners and lots more. I recently went to London to attend the 2nd youth parliament meeting in the House of Commons, which gave me an even better insight and experience into the youth parliament. I have knowledge and experience, and can do great things with the youth parliament.

Gregory Stride (Gordano School): If I am elected I will make it my one overriding principle to represent the young people of North Somerset, both through being open to suggestion, and my own strong opinions against the abolition of education maintenance allowance and the raising of tuition fees. I have lived in North Somerset since birth, and know exactly how our opinions can be overlooked, even if it is us that would be most affected. However my own feelings will always take second place to the opinions of those that I represent, and I would make sure that anybody who wants to can have their say.