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  • The Rother Alliance

Sidley's All Saints School Council visit Rother Town Hall

On Friday 14th July, the school councillors of All Saints Primary School in Sidley had the opportunity to visit Rother District Council Town Hall.

Their visit started off in the reception area where they met Chair of Council Vikki Cook, as well as Vice Chair Richard Thomas, Sidley Councillor Sam Coleman and Cllr Jimmy Stanger, one of the School Governors at All Saints. Cllr Cook informed the students that they would be imagining themselves as elected Rother District Councillors for the morning as she began a tour of the Town Hall building.

All Saints School Council with Sidley Councillor Sam Coleman and Chair of Council Vikki Cook

After walking up the central staircase and looking at all the walls covered in portraits of past Chairs, the students were taken to the Members’ room, where Councillors can do work or prepare before meetings. The school councillors were not short of questions as they discussed the various tiers of government that affect their lives. After checking the Chair’s pigeon hole for any post, the students then made their way to the Council Chamber.

Once seated, a mock meeting began. First on the agenda was questions for the Chair, and the students had lots of interesting, perceptive questions about how the Council operates – anyone would think they’d prepared some in advance. Next on the agenda was a break for fruit squash and biscuits followed by the main debate of the meeting.

On the back of their earlier questions, it was decided that the issue of litter bins and dog waste should be discussed and a hypothetical scenario was created where they could either install more bins around Sidley Recreation Ground or build a skatepark there (imagining that the current skatepark doesn’t exist). Students gave intelligent and considered responses on both sides of the argument with the aid of Cllr Thomas, who argued the case for more bins, and Cllr Coleman, who argued the case for the skatepark. In the end, a compromise was reached whereby the size of the skatepark would be reduced slightly so that the savings could cover the cost of waste bins and their clearances. This motion was then voted through unanimously.

All Saints School Council visiting Rother Council offices

After their lively debate, the second half of the tour began with students visiting the upstairs public gallery and then testing out the Chair’s throne-like chair and gavel. After this, students visited the offices of the Interim Chief Executive and Democratic Services and then ventured down to reception where they met a member of the customer service team who explained to them what their role was and what they do day-to-day. The students were fascinated by the variety of issues and services Rother District Council deals with, from collecting council tax to planning where homes could be built. For the final stop of the tour, students went across to the neighbouring building where Planning, IT and other call centre staff are based, they had to be really quiet here as there were lots of important phone calls going on.

After concluding their tour, the school councillors returned to the Chamber for a final discussion where they discussed why there are political parties, how the Council’s Cabinet structure works and what rules Councillors have to follow. At the end they were asked who might want to be a Councillor or Politician when they were older and nearly all their hands were raised. Given how thoughtful and well behaved they were, it looks like the future of politics will be safe in their hands.


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