Youngsters fine-tune survey on Sid Valley life

PUBLISHED: 16:30 14 November 2016

Pupils working on the Neighbourhood Plan surveys aimed at youngsters with Councillor Louise Cole

Pupils working on the Neighbourhood Plan surveys aimed at youngsters with Councillor Louise Cole

Archant

Youngsters got a taste of democracy in action as they fine-tuned a survey about Sid Valley life before it gets sent out to their peers.

Pupils working on the Neighbourhood Plan surveys aimed at youngsters Pupils working on the Neighbourhood Plan surveys aimed at youngsters

Students from Sidmouth and Sidbury primary schools, Sidmouth College and St John’s School were invited to the town council chambers and asked for their input on the Neighbourhood Plan.

Questionnaires will be sent out in the next few weeks and will ask youngsters about their likes and gripes, what they would change – and what would make them want to stay in the valley when they grow up.

Members of the youth advisory panel also got the chance to answer the questions themselves, with some taking the chance to call for a McDonalds, more shops for young people - and even heating up the sea.

Councillor Louise Cole, a member of the Neighbourhood Plan steering group, said: “It’s absolutely critical that young people have their say in this process. We would like to know what they would like to happen in the future.

“Their feedback has been brilliant and they’re learning about politics and local democracy.”

Her steering group colleague, Cllr Michael Earthey, added: “They got to say if they didn’t understand the questions or like how the survey looked, and we can change it before it’s sent out. They can see they are making a difference to it.”

There are two questionnaires – one aimed at primary school pupils and another for those aged 11 to 18 - which will delve into topical issues such as the redevelopment of Port Royal. They will be sent out to schools and respondents will be entered into a prize draw.

The answers will be collated in early December and members of the youth advisory panel will be asked to attend a Sidmouth Town Council meeting to relay the findings.

The youngsters came up with slogans like ‘Don’t dilly dally – help the Sid Valley’ and ‘We all have a part to play, so have your say today’.

Cllr Cole said one youngster named Matilda, aged 10, summed it up best: “Our views matter too – children have ideas that adults can’t think of.”

So far, the Neighbourhood Plan steering group has sent out a survey to residents and another to businesses and special interest groups. Another residents’ survey will be sent out in the spring. The Neighbourhood Plan should be finalised by the end of next year.

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