The ‘Parliament’ met in the council chamber at the authority’s new offices in Williton and issues surrounding the environment proved to the main topics up for discussion.
The youngsters were welcomed by council chairman Councillor Eddie May before other councillors gave them a tour of the new offices to show them the building’s carbon-reducing and environmentally-friendly features.
The students made presentations to their fellow pupils and to councillors to explain what they were doing in their schools to help the environment, as well as their future plans.
Projects already running included the West Somerset Community College, Minehead, funding schoolchildren in Uganda to fence off an area of their school to grow tea.
The tea is then sent to DJ Miles and Co, in Minehead, which packages it for the college students to sell as Free Trade tea at the college.
Funds raised are returned to Uganda to enable the African students to build new facilities at their school.
Minehead Middle School had been clearing soft wood trees to improve a local habitat for wildlife, while Knights Templar School, in Watchet, had its own vegetable patch.
Danesfield School, Williton, had paper recycling bins, composting facilities, low energy light bulb,s and a school woodland, while Dunster First School recycled its paper and had made a number of bird feeders, helping it to receive an EcoSchool Bronze Award in 2008.
For the future, community college students were to investigate how they could recycle plastic bottles, while St Peter’s First School, Williton, was going to carry out a lunch box survey to find out how healthy the contents were, and then produce a leaflet to provide recycling and food ideas for lunch boxes.
Minehead Middle School was looking at improving its composting site, planting trees in the school grounds, and keeping chickens to help students to learn how to look after animals.
Knights Templar wanted to use rainwater to flush toilets, put up signs to ask students to turn off taps, and to increase the amount it recycled.
Dulverton Middle School was going to refurbish its pond and make it deeper to take fish, while Danesfield School wanted to achieve its EcoSchool Bronze Award, and Old Cleeve School was interested in holding a Fair Trade tasting event and encouraging pupils to use Fair Trade products.
Minehead First School was also organising a healthy eating day on April 1, with smoothies, dips, and soups, and promoting waste-free lunch boxes, while Dunster First School was delivering a campaign to encourage students to walk to school and their parents to car share on the school run.
Ecoschool status was high on the schools’ agenda.
Porlock First School already had its silver award, and other schools were working toward their silver and bronze awards.
They unanimously agreed that every school in West Somerset should aim to achieve a minimum of bronze award before the next ‘Parliament’ session.
Councillor May said: “The pupils were a real inspiration.
“The environmental future of the planet is in their hands and they are taking the matter seriously.
“They are very well-informed, and I think it is fair to say that we learned a lot from them on the day.
“Their knowledge and enthusiasm is very impressive, and they are a real credit to their schools.”
- Our photograph shows Councillor Eddie May with some of the youngsters who attended the Youth Parliament. Photo submitted.