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Students join forces to vote

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: November 17, 2013

Student debate

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STUDENTS from three countries have joined forces to vote on what they think are the top two issues which should be addressed by European Members of Parliament.

The debate between students from Leek, Este in Italy, and Bad Windsheim in Germany was organised by the Leek Twinning Committee at the Council Offices in Stockwell Street in Leek on Friday.

More than 50 students congregated in the council chambers to hear presentations from their peers about: Immigration: Good or Bad?; Tackling Youth Unemployment; An Equal National Minimum Wage For All; Wind or Nuclear Power?; and Public Transport.

Prior to the debate, the visiting students and students from Leek High and Westwood had worked together that morning to come up with presentations for the event.

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The debate was observed by Baroness Williams of Trafford, as well as Leek Town Mayor John Fisher.

After listening to some interesting, and some rather entertaining, presentations, all the students in the chambers had the opportunity to vote on which two issues should be brought to the attention of MEPs ahead of next year's European Parliament Elections.

The result came out as Public Transport and Youth Unemployment being at the forefront of the youngsters minds.

Leek students will now take these issues to a Question Time Event on November 22 at Westwood College where two MEPs have been invited to attend.

Chairman of the debate Joe Porter told the Post & Times: "Friday's fantastic debate demonstrated that young people in this country and across Europe do care about politics and want to engage in the democratic process. Democracy is a very powerful tool when it is used properly and we proved that it can be used to make a real difference.

"I am so glad that many young people who attended the debate will be first time voters next year and were able to engage in European politics and will now hopefully be inspired to vote in next year's European elections.

"I would like to thank Baroness Susan Williams and councillor John Fisher for making the effort to attend our debate."

Baroness Williams said: "It has been absolutely wonderful to listen to young people with quite informed opinions.

"Quite often there is not enough engagement with young people and politics. This has been an extremely well organised event."

The German and Italian students took part of the debate as part of their visit to Leek which is twinned with their home town of Este. As well as the debate, the youngsters took part in the Remembrance Services in Leek on Sunday, as well as attended a Twinning Social Evening on Sunday at The Foxlowe Arts Centre.

Helen Ratcliffe of the Leek Twinning Committee added: "This weekend has been a tremendous success. We had 14 people from Bad Windsheim and 35 from Este.

"The students worked very hard to pull together the presentations for the debate - and they had only met each other that morning.

"Three of the students, one from each of the three different countries, laid a wreath on behalf of the Leek Twinning Committee at the Nicholson War memorial, which was very poignant because many years ago the three countries were at war."

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