Budding child politicians from across Tower Hamlets celebrated National Democracy Week with a raft of activities in and around the council.
Children from Marion Richardson Primary School, Bigland Green Primary School, Blue Gate Field Junior School and English Martyrs Roman Catholic Primary School met Victoria Obaze, Speaker of the Council, to hear about her role. They viewed the robes and maces on display at the speaker’s parlour in the town hall.
Councillor Victoria Obaze, Speaker of the Council, said: “I was most impressed at the interest in democracy and the talent in debating that the children showed. The future political leadership of our borough is in good hands.”
Both schools took part in a mock council debate where they discussed the suffragette movement and the fight for women’s rights and equality as well as issues around air quality and what the council can do to tackle that important issue.
The children were presented with prizes and certificates for their efforts and heard presentations from other Tower Hamlets councillors, hearing first-hand about why they decided to become a politician. Some of the children were joined in the speaker’s parlour by John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Councillor Asma Begum, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Equalities.
They also heard about the prominent role played by pioneering local women including Whitechapel born Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who became the first British woman to train as a doctor and surgeon, as well as a magistrate and an elected mayor.
They heard about the work of the democratic services team at the council who administer meetings and support members doing their jobs and what mechanisms are in place to enable democratic processes to work.
The children learned about how decisions are made and executed and about the role of the committees that scrutinise the work of the council.
Later during the week, Jaami Barry, Young Mayor of Tower Hamlets and his team met with members of the Cabinet after a mayoral meeting.