Let’s give youth a chance... town to get second mayor?

Darrell Barnard-Jones has spoken about how the town can be improved for young people. ANL-140821-122828009
Darrell Barnard-Jones has spoken about how the town can be improved for young people. ANL-140821-122828009
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Sudbury could have a youth mayor if proposals to improve facilities and opportunities for young people in the town are approved.

Sudbury town councillor Luke Cresswell last week chaired a meeting to discuss these opportunities with town mayor Jack Owen, council officers, youth workers and residents.

Mr Cresswell also met with Ormiston Sudbury Academy head boy Darrell Barnard-Jones, who would like to see young people given a voice to share their concerns and suggest how to improve the town.

Mr Cresswell said: “One particular idea suggested was to introduce a young mayor.

“This person would be an ambassador for young people in the town and help the council and mayor to engage with them and meet their needs.

“I will be proposing that the town council adopt this at the next full council meeting.”

Mr Cresswell had previously been vocal at what he felt was a lack of support from Babergh District and Suffolk County Councils towards youth provision.

However, after meeting Sally Watson, a Suffolk County Council officer, Mr Cresswell said he was more hopeful of positive change taking place.

“Sally Watson was very helpful and has given me hope that the county council has listened.

“I now want it to act and deliver for young people. Sudbury is way behind Haverhill and Stowmarket in what it offers young people and it’s time Sudbury got a fair deal.”

The key problems highlighted included a lack of transport to other major towns and villages from Sudbury, the closure of the BMX park and the whole of Belle Vue Park being closed as early as 4pm in the winter.

Suggested improvements include a youth drop-in centre, possibly at Belle Vue House, a football pitch on Friars Meadow and detached youth workers in and around the town centre.

A need for more apprenticeships roles in local businesses was also highlighted, as was a desire for a cinema and live music venues for local bands.

Mr Barnard-Jones said that young people in the town needed to be involved in any decisions on youth provision.

“In my opinion, Sudbury is missing a productive connection with its young people. There simply isn’t enough youth involvement to link the youth to the town and its activities.

“I think it would be incredibly useful to have some sort of youth ambassador prevalent within the town; a face that can be recognised and relatable to the younger members of our community.

“I also think that it is important to have a wider body of young people to act as representatives in the form of a youth council. This body would have to be a productive one, and not one designed to ‘look’ useful.”