The first meeting of the Bury St Edmunds Youth Forum was an historic and memorable occasion for the young people of Bury St Edmunds in attendance.
The youth forum was devised and spearheaded by Bury St. Edmunds Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) Toby Jeffery, aged 16 from Bury St. Edmunds. Toby joined UKYP in April after winning the election in his constituency and has gone on to make some a significant impact locally through his representation of young people.
When elected Toby’s manifesto included the development of a youth forum and stated that ‘he was looking forward to giving the young people in Bury St. Edmunds who would not normally have a voice, to have a say in how things are run and give them a chance to share their ideas about how the area can be improved’.
On Wednesday 3rd September 2014 at 7pm, 23 people gathered in the Small Hall of Southgate Community Centre in Bury St Edmunds for an evening of debate, community issues and a terrific guest speech, chaired by the Member of Youth Parliament for the constituency of Bury St Edmunds, Toby Jeffery MYP.
After an introduction from the Chair, Lord Norman Tebbit – former Chairman of the Conservative Party – spoke excellently on his life and career. He also took questions from the young people in attendance. Speech and question themes included technology, youth engagement in politics and the IRA bombings that injured both his wife and himself.
A debate on local media coverage of school examination results occurred after the break, as introduced by the 1st Deputy Chair, Toby French. The debate was predominantly focused on the point of whether the town’s newspapers used pupils’ GCSE and A Level results as statistics, rather than celebrating individual successes. Points were contributed for both sides of the argument by members, including councillors on the committee of the youth forum and a journalist.
Following that, the Chair then initiated a conversation on cycling provisions in the town. The three key concerns that were raised included the lack of safety awareness shown from different road users, the few number of safe roads to cycle between towns, and the need for more cycle lanes in and around Bury St Edmunds.
Finally, ballot papers were collected for the national UK Youth Parliament campaign ‘Make Your Mark’. Members chose one key issue from the list of 10 that they would like to see debated by Members of the Youth Parliament in the House of Commons in November 2014. Also, the Chair explained his role as a Member of Youth Parliament in his constituency of Bury St Edmunds.
Suffolk Youth Parliament Support Worker