Education

Town Hall Take Over

By Sarah Edwards

Thirteen students from Cheney School took over Oxford Town Hall to learn first-hand about how the Council functions.

Oxford City Council has worked on election projects with schools previously to help them develop an understanding of how local government works, but this is the first time that schools have been invited to “takeover” the Council.

They started in the Council Chamber meeting City Councillors to ask them what they do and why. Councillors Marie Tidball, Colin Cook, Andrew Gant, Liz Wade, Susanna Pressel and Craig Simmons were on hand to answer questions – including ‘what has been your greatest achievement as a councillor?’

The students then took part in “speed-dating” sessions with officers and councillors to discuss issues including housing, the Local Plan, governance and decision making, and the environment. They followed this up with a debate in the Council Chamber on proposal concerning social housing, the Oxford living wage and the environment. At the end of the session there was a discussion about the centenary of women’s suffrage, and why registering to vote – and voting – is so important.

Cllr Marie Tidball, Board Member for Young People, Schools and Public Health, said: “In the year we celebrate a centenary of Universal Suffrage, it’s really important that young people have opportunities to understand more about the way local government and democracy work. I’m really pleased to be one of the City Councillors welcoming young people to explore the Town Hall for our Takeover Day.”