STUDENTS were given a taste of life as a councillor when they took part in a Takeover Challenge at the Civic Offices.
The three Reading College students took on the position of lead councillors during Takeover Day, in which organisations across the country invite young people to take over adult roles.
The young people were given their task for the day before having a session with Councillor Jan Gavin, Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, and Cllr Tony Jones, Lead Councillor for Education, to find out about their roles and responsibilities.
They then met council officers to investigate and receive advice on their task which was a scenario around the proposed construction of a new park and ride scheme on woodland in an imaginary place called Anytown.
The students, Rosemary Walsh, 18; Dip Sherpunja, 17 and Neelam Saghir, 17, had to consider the merits of the proposed scheme against opposition from local residents.
They took part in a role play with council officers playing the parts of an Anytown resident presenting a petition against the park and ride, a planning officer and transport officer.
The acting ‘lead councillors’ then had to prepare their positions and write final statements outlining their positions.
They also ran a ‘councillors surgery’ in the afternoon with officers acting as residents with everyday issues, such as leaves on pathways not being cleared and cars parking on grass verges near their houses.
Cllr Gavin and Cllr Jones then presented the young people with certificates at the end of the day.
Earlier in the morning (Friday 18th November), Rosemary shadowed Cllr Jones as he attended the official opening of new school buildings at Ridgeway Primary, in Whitley.
“It was awesome, I really enjoyed it. It was really surprising how much councillors have to do.”
“We really had to think about how we could solve problems. You have to consider all sides and look at the big picture.”
Cllr Gavin said:
“It was a real pleasure to spend time with the Reading College students and give them an insight into the role of a lead councillor.
“This is the fifth time we have run a Takeover Day at Reading and it demonstrates the importance we place on giving young people a voice in the town.
“I am glad the students found the day interesting and hope it may inspire them to take an interest, or even get involved, in politics in the future.”