BICESTER’S youth council has been forced to close after “losing its way,” councillors said at a meeting on Monday.
Due to a lack of interest from young people, the council has been forced to disband after old members left the organisation.
The youth council was not run by the town council, but instead was designed to work alongside it to ensure young people’s views got across to town leaders.
However, it was thought that the youth council was becoming more and more focussed on organising events, rather than representing young people in local politics.
Its numbers had also dwindled as those involved moved on in their lives.
Member of Bicester Youth Council and former chairman Jason Slaymaker said he had enjoyed his time at the organisation.
The 22-year-old Bicester resident said: “I don’t think it is a case of decline, I think it had been going from strength to strength.
“But the people involved from day one – they have gone through it and moved on to university of colleges in other places.
“I enjoyed my time there and it gave me lots of opportunities to work with other local organisations, like OYAP, Grassroots Bicester and the town council.”
But he added: “I think it has come to a natural end. Now it will give young people in Bicester the chance to decide how they want their voices to be heard.”
But he said he was not sure how any new incarnation of the youth council would work.
Bicester town councillor Melanie Magee, who has worked with the youth council, said: “I am incredibly disappointed, but it had lost its way.
“The whole group underpinning it had moved on and been replaced by those who only wanted to do events.
“There is only so much we can do, it had lost its sense of purpose.”
Elections for new members could be held later this year, she said.
Councillor Jolanta Lis said there had been no choice but to disband the group.
She said: “They have no members left to continue to run the council.”
She added the money would be given back to the town council to look after until new elections had taken place.
The youth council was made up of volunteers, aged between 11 and 19, living in Bicester and the surrounding villages.
The idea of the group was to give young people a voice and a chance to make a positive impact in the community.
This year they helped organise the town’s Big Lunch event and carnival and met to discuss issues with town councillors.
Councillor James Porter said: “This is a very sad state of affairs. When it was put forward it was the right voice, in the right place at the right time.
“But now teenagers have a plethora of ways to put their views across.”
He said that schools had been reluctant to get involved in the venture because they had their own councils, which worked to improve the schools, but not the town.
For more information or to get involved visit bicesteryouthcouncil.co.uk
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11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
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