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Bury St Edmunds: Youngsters share their views at first meeting of town youth forum

14:13 05 September 2014

Lord Norman Tebbit.

Lord Norman Tebbit.

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The first Bury St Edmunds Youth Forum saw Norman Tebbit field questions on changing attitudes to politics and the modern approach to education, while the town’s cycle provision came in for criticism.

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The forum, which met at Southgate Community Centre, on Caie Walk, is hoping to become a platform for the town’s younger voice, bringing in high profile speakers every month.

The youngster behind the idea is 16-year-old Toby Jeffery, the member of youth parliament for the Bury constituency. He said: “The idea is to give the youth in the area a chance to voice their opinions and to hear others.

“By getting people in, like Norman Tebbit, to not only speak but to take questions means their opinions can be heard and taken notice of.

“I know we have a political speaker today, but it won’t always be like that – it is not focused on politics.

“It is about getting young people talking about local issues, problems in the community.”

Talking about setting up the first meeting, the County Upper pupil said: “I have had the help of the planning committee to make today happen, it is great to see people here. I have only done part of the work.”

Speaking after his guest speech, the former Conservative cabinet minister, Lord Tebbit said: “I believe it is very important to get the young involved in politics. I think this forum is a good idea to get young people discussing the issues.”

When it came to the state of education facing the members of the forum, Lord Tebbit believed a lot could be done to change it for the better. He said: “I never went to university, I went straight into work after leaving school. These days there is a focus on getting people degrees often from third rate universities.

“The apprenticeship scheme is a good idea, but it needs to be updated and improved. University is not right for everyone or every profession.

“You need doctors and physicists, you need historians, geographers and even philosophers, but some degrees are completely valueless.”

The next meeting of the Youth Forum will feature guest speaker Baroness Scott of Needham Market and will be held on October 1, at the Southgate Community Centre.

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