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'Community cohesion and a real awareness' - Local Democracy Week 2018

Local Democracy Week is an annual campaign led locally by the council's democratic services department.

The event aims to engage young people in local politics and provide an opportunity for them to have their say on issues which affect them.

This week Boston Borough Council welcomed more than 110 pupils and students from schools and colleges in the borough to get involved with a series of events aimed at raising their awareness of how democracy works.

The week started at Boston Guildhall on Monday with pupils from Giles Academy, Boston High School and Boston College debating on "the right for women to vote" (100 years since women won the right to vote). The historic Banqueting Hall was transformed into Boston's own 'House of Commons'. Firstly they took part in the debate, and then they were asked to go to the polling station (Council Chamber) to place their vote between "yes women should have the vote" and "no women shouldn't have the vote". The votes were then verified and counted and the final result was announced by the Speaker of the House as 44 voting yes to 13 voting no.

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Students aged 11 to 14 years from Boston High School and Nacro Boston attended a Mock Scrutiny Committee meeting held at Boston Guildhall Museum. At this closed meeting they discussed two mock reports and put forward recommendations with Cllr Paul Gleeson as chairman assisted by Cllr Martin Griggs acting as vice-chairman.

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Primary school pupils aged six to 11 learned about the history of the council, how council meetings are conducted, the value of voting, the role of being Mayor and heard many interesting facts about Boston and the meaning of the Regalia which was delivered by the Mace Bearer. This was followed by a tour around our CCTV suite and a presentation on anti-social behaviour.  Deputy Mayor, Cllr Yvonne Stevens was also present.

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The week finished off with an 'Informal Open House' at Boston Guildhall between 10am and 2pm. A one-off opportunity for everyone to pop along and ask as many questions as they wanted about the Council, in an informal setting. Getting an insight into the service areas of the Council, meeting local ward councilors, the local MP and also many officers from the council.

Tours of the historic Guildhall also took place with visitors viewing the old holding cells, the original council chamber and historic documents. Competitions relating to the service areas were held with prizes for the winners.

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Mrs Ann Bell, Director of Community and Challenge Projects at Boston High School, said: "Our students had not participated in a debate before so Monday was a challenge to them, but it was such a wonderful opportunity and therefore such a delight to see them participate fully.

"It was also a pleasure to see the younger ones get their teeth into the mock scrutiny meeting and really tackle the issues that they were given.

"These events have led to students working closely with other schools and colleges and indeed council employees and councillors - all of whom gave their time and gravitas to such events. Without a doubt I feel that it has been excellent for community cohesion and a real awareness of democracy in action."