The borough’s young people had a chance to air their views last Wednesday, at The Civic Centre, Morden. As part of Merton High Schools’ Citizenship Project, students from private and public schools made presentations to local politicians as to their ideas for solving community problems.

The funding for this project was awarded to Merton by The Independent State School Partnership Scheme that is run by The Department for Education and Employment.

Students from Bishopsford Community School, Wimbledon High School and Rutlish High School addressed the audience, which included Councillor Peter Holt, Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Sam Chaudhry, Deputy Mayor of Merton, Inspector Andy Simons, Borough Liaison Officer and two Cabinet Members for Education.

Topics that were discussed included graffiti, recreational provision for young people in the borough, traffic proposals in Wimbledon and crime prevention.

Councillor Sam Chaudhry, Deputy Mayor of Merton said: “The standards of
presentations were extremely high from all schools and the Citizenship Project is an excellent way of hearing directly from young people what is good for young people.”

This sentiment was shared by Councillor Karl Carter, Cabinet Member for Secondary Education, who said: “The students received certificates and certainly deserved them for putting in so much time and effort into their chosen issues. We were left in no doubt as to how much young people do care about the community.

“Councillors and the local police have gained a valuable insight as to what young people think about improving the quality of life in the borough for young and older residents alike”.

Ideas put forward for solving local problems included increasing youth service provision in the borough to combat crime and under-aged drinking. Other solutions were cleaning-up unsightly graffiti and commissioning graffiti artists to use local talent to produce publicly acceptable graffiti art.

Pupils from Bishopsford Community School also discussed the merits of increased lighting, CCTV and a greater police presence in high crime areas. They explained how, by engaging in dialogue with young people, young people can be part of the solution.

Councillor Peter Holt, Leader of the Council said: “There was agreement from the young people, councillors and the police that this event was of great value to Merton. Commitments to engage in further discussion with young people need to be followed up, with real intent to change policy where appr