Boston Borough Council may be going from one extreme to the other by discussing the idea of a Youth Council for the borough and a “Young Mayor” for Boston.The idea is up for discussion at tonight’s meeting of the Corporate and Community Committee.
Preliminary talks saw ten young people attend a meeting and out of all the schools in the borough, Boston College, Boston High School, and Kirton Middlecott showed an interest.
Young Mayor and Youth Council schemes operate successfully in a number of local council areas.
A report tells tonight’s meeting: “They are designed to encourage positive participation in both civic and democratic life and to offer a platform of opportunity for young people’s issues to be raised and considered by decision makers.”
And it seems that locally, groups young and old share the same concerns.
“It was quite clear from what the young people were saying that they have many of the same issues as adults and are keen to promote Boston in a positive way.
“They care about where they live and want to help improve Boston for young people, they want to see it modernised, regenerated and cleaned up.
“They do not feel safe walking through town unless they are in groups which can often lead to misconceptions from others as to their intentions and they are then ultimately seen in a negative light.
“They want to be a part of something which is meaningful and are keen to learn, grow and develop and with our support and commitment we can work together to help them to achieve their aims”
Whilst it all looks good on paper, there are a number of ironies in all of this.
First and foremost, had successive “grown up” councils done their jobs properly, then many of the problems that the younger generation so sorely want addressing might not exist.
Another problem is one of enthusiasm.
The ten youngsters who attended the exploratory meeting were from the local three schools which have expressed a broader interest and a fourth school in Horncastle – which is not quite what one might term an overwhelming response.
Then there is the issue of what sort of council-in-waiting is created.
There is neither funding nor specific staffing to resource such a project.
Yet in these hard pressed times, Boston council remains a big thinker – “If there were an expectation that the Young Mayor be accompanied and chauffeured to events and functions this may impact on the time and cost ...
“There may be a need to develop a civic insignia for a Young Mayor if this scheme goes ahead which would incur costs.”
Given that a fact of modern life is that most people cannot be bothered to cross the street to attend a Mayoral event, we somehow think that it might be better to start at the bottom and work our way up – rather than order a new limo and book a trip to Garrards, the royal jewellers.
The only opportunity of some benefit that might emerge is that a youth council might well show up the existing one.
Many of our present councillors have turned out to be a considerable disappointment.
Some seldom – if ever – show up for meetings, whilst many members of the Tory dominated rump attend merely to vote for what the leaders tell them and never speak or question decisions.
As well as considering a separate youth council, we should be doing more to encourage younger people to stand for the real thing.
Many of our present councillors have been there for too long. Of those, whilst some work hard, there are a number of self-important others whose mantra seems more closely to resemble self-service than public service.
Although elections are still more than two years away, we think that all our councillors should seriously consider whether they ought to step down next time around.
They should then spend the intervening time seeking out suitable, younger potential replacements, and mentoring them between now and the election, and if they are elected, helping them through their first few months in office.
It might also be a step up from the attitude that we highlighted yesterday, where the great and the good seem to think that Boston’s young people are fit for nothing better than a life in the packhouse or the caulie fields.
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