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Bringing Democracy to Life

Schoolchildren were immersed into the mythical world of 'Staryland'when Local Democracy Week kicked off in style in South Tyneside this week.

Around 30 youngsters from across ten Borough primary schools visited South Shields Town Hall where they enjoyed an interactive story telling session designed to encourage them to explore the ideas that underpin democracy.

'Staryland' describes a magical island that finds itself in need of a new leader. The children were guided to think about how islanders would overcome the problem, how a new leader could be found and what qualities they should possess. They then heard from two prospective candidates before taking a vote and appointing their new figurehead.

Councillor Alan Kerr, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for democratic renewal, said: "Local Democracy Week aims to get local people more involved with, and aware of, the Council so they can have a better understanding of what democracy really means and how it affects their lives.

"This week-long celebration of democracy is an ideal opportunity for us to engage with people, particularly with our young people, which is important as they are the voters of tomorrow.

"We always try to make learning about local democracy a fun and creative experience and this role play session was designed to introduce some of our younger children to democracy and the democratic process.

"The children showed real enthusiasm in the task and thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the town hall, the stunning Reception Room and Council Chamber where key decisions are made."

'Staryland', managed by South Tyneside Council's Participation Team, is just one of a series of events being held across the Borough to mark Local Democracy Week, running until Sunday 15 October.

The programme of events also includes young people experiencing a committee meeting, shadowing a councillor and a democracy learning event involving South Tyneside's Young People's Parliament. The YYP will also explore the ideas that underpin democracy and begin the process of finding the next Member of the Youth Parliament (MYP) who will represent South Tyneside in Westminster for the next two years.

Other Local Democracy Week highlights include a tour of South Shields Town Hall (Thursday 12 October, 2:30pm), East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum meeting (Thursday 12 October, 6pm, St Gregory's Church Hall) and a 'pop-up' democracy stand at Hebburn Central (Friday 13 October, 1pm to 3.30pm, Hebburn Central).

To book a place on the town hall tours or for further information about how to get involved in local democracy contact South Tyneside Council's Democratic Services Team on (0191) 424 7019 or email


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