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UK YOUTH PARLIAMENT ROUNDUP

June 19, 2012 by  

By Matthew Percy, MYP for Suffolk

Your New MYPs & What is the Youth Parliament?

The UK Youth Parliament is run by young people, who are elected by their peers, and provides opportunities for 11-18 year-olds to use their voice in creative ways to bring about social change. Elections have recently been held for your Suffolk MYPs (Members of the UK Youth Parliament), and your new MYPs for the next 2 years are:

- Kate Reynolds from Ipswich

- Lewis Old from Kesgrave

- Marco Anderson from Ipswich

- Matthew Percy (myself) (re-elected for a 2nd term) from Kesgrave

- Sam Kenward (re-elected for a 2nd term) from Beccles

- Tom Pepper from Ipswich

The MYPs come from right across Suffolk, and have been elected to represent young people across the county, not just their home town. You can find out more about all the Suffolk MYPs, including their manifestos at www.thesource.me.uk/vote as well as by going to the national website www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk You can also contact your Suffolk MYPs on Twitter (@SuffolkUKYP) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/suffolkukyp). It is important to note that the UK Youth Parliament is entirely non-party political (partly for legal reasons as when first setup in 1999 it was a charity in it’s own right.) Today we are supported by the British Youth Council (BYC) which is also a charity. Another reason is that research shows that many young people tend to be put off by party politics. It receives support from all three major political parties, as well as many minor parties, as such every single MYP in the country is totally non-party political. Whilst performing my duties as an elected MYP, including writing these articles, I simply represent the views and opinions of young people on a local, national, and sometimes international level. As an MYP I am not seeking to represent the views of any political party, but in fact work with all the major parties, and minor ones where applicable, to represent young people and work for their interests. Whilst I have my own personal views and party political affiliations these are entirely separate to my role within the UK Youth Parliament.

Suffolk MYPs Lobby the Shadow Transport Secretary for Cheaper Fares for Young People

One of our first priorities as elected MYPs is to campaign for cheaper and more accessible public transport for young people. As part of this campaign we have recently conducted a survey for young people to complete to find out their views on all aspects of public transport. The response received to this survey was fantastic with over 200 of Suffolk’s young people responding in only a week. The survey’s results have now been analysed and a summary report produced. This report has been given to the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Maria Eagle MP, and will be considered as part of Labour’s ongoing transport policy review. We have also submitted our findings to the BYC Select Committee which is currently running an inquiry into public transport across the UK, and will be producing a report for government later this year. We also plan on sharing our findings with public transport operators in Suffolk, Suffolk County Council and the Suffolk MPs, and will work to create a plan of action to help improve public transport for all users, particularly young people.

    If you would like a copy of the full report please email Amber Spearing from JUMP (who support us locally) on amber@jumpuk.org, but here is the report’s summary:

- We called for the minimum age at which you have to pay an adult fare to be raised to 18.

- We called for the introduction of a 24/7 disabled persons’ bus pass, currently this pass only enables disabled people to travel for free between the hours of 9:30am and 11pm.

- We called for a reduction in bus fares for young people and for return tickets to be made available on all journeys. We also called for current available discounts to be more widely publicised, as although discounts are few and far between those which are available often aren’t known about.

- We also called for the reinstatement of the Explore Card, ideally free but with the possibility of a an annual fee (no more than £30).

As part of our campaign for cheaper and more accessible public transport myself, Kate and Lewis attended a meeting (along with other MYPs & Youth Cllrs from across the UK) at Westminster with the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport on the 22nd May where we discussed our findings, and Labour’s proposed youth transport manifesto. At our meeting we lobbied, among other things, for a removal of a funding anomalie which has a major impact on thousands of young people across the UK who go to a further education college. Young people from low income backgrounds who attend a local 6th Form are entitled to claim free school meals and home-to-school transport, however those who go to an FE College aren’t entitled to these benefits which means that they are at a significant disadvantage, and with the removal of EMA this can mean they simply can’t afford to get into college, or if they do go, they can’t afford to have lunch. This is simply unacceptable and I will be lobbying government to change this unfair and ludicrous situation.

New Oyster-type card for Ipswich Young People

I am pleased to see Suffolk County Council are finally taking on board the views of thousands of young people. Thanks, in part, to months of lobbying from your Suffolk MYPs (former & current), including myself, Ipswich’s young people will soon see the return of a travel discount card, similar to that of the Explore Card, but taking the shape of an oyster-type card.     It is, however, important that this will be rolled out across Suffolk shortly afterwards as young people in rural areas are the most dependant on public transport, and are therefore far more vulnerable to the cuts.     I will be contacting the leader of the County Council, Mark Bee, to discuss the proposals and ensure that young people in rural areas aren’t short changed.

In Other News….

I would like to take this opportunity to address a few issues raised in response to my previous article. The first issue raised is that ‘most 16-year-olds… don’t know what they want to do at the weekend with their friends let alone be given the vote to help create the country’s government’. I don’t believe that this is a valid reason to oppose votes at 16 as, lets be frank, there are many adults who don’t know what they are doing at the weekend. Just because you don’t know what you’re doing at the weekend does not mean you are incapable of deciding who you want to represent you in Parliament or on your local council. ‘Sixteen is still too immature to be given the vote, most 16-year-olds don’t have any concept of working life’. I find this point to be invalid as there are many adults who have never worked as well. Even if you don’t work many of the decisions politicians take still affect your everyday life – whether that’s how much benefits you can claim or whether or not your street lights should be kept on all night. Besides, 16 year olds can work, both part time and full time, and if they earn enough will have to pay tax. Why is it that when you have the responsibility to pay tax, which is set by the elected politicians, you don’t have the responsibility to elect your Cllrs and MP. This is just ludicrous.

        A second issue raised is that having an equal minimum wage where 16 year olds would get the same pay as 21 year olds would be an ‘insult’ to 21 year olds as ‘they have been out in the big wide world, had a little of life’s experience, hopefully have a job and should never be compared to 16-year-olds’. The minimum wage isn’t about comparing people. It’s about ensuring that people get fair pay. How can it be fair that a 16 year old who has the same job, and thus the same duties and responsibilities as a 21 year old can get paid less for doing nothing different, other than be slightly younger. As one of our MEPs, Vicky Ford said in an interview with Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk on the 30th May 2012, ‘the minimum wage shouldn’t discriminate against gender’, and isn’t allowed to discriminate against race or religion, so why should it discriminate against your age?

    A third issue raised is on the disabled persons’ bus pass where it has been commented ‘there is no need for 24-hour passes as our buses do not run for 24 hours at a time’. It is, however, impossible to list the hours of every bus in Suffolk as every bus timetable is completely different, and the use of 24 hours is only meant to mean that the pass should be able to be used at whatever hour the bus is running. Just look at Kesgrave the 66 bus runs from about 6am to midnight every day of the week. Why should a disabled person be restricted from travelling outside of the hours of 9:30am and 11pm simply because they can’t afford to travel due to probably earning less (if they can work at all), and probably needing to pay higher living costs becuase of their condition? Not having a bus pass capable of being used outside of the hours between 9:30am and 11pm means many miss out on educational, training, and work opportunities. Besides, this isn’t just a local issue, it’s a national issue. The passes can be used on all buses in England, and in other parts of England, particularly London, buses do run 24 hours at a time. Disabled people should be able to travel on any bus in England at whatever hour they choose, like everyone else, and not be penalised due to their disability.

     If you wish to contact me about the issues raised in this article or about anything else please email me on matthewsuffolkukyp@yahoo.com or contact me on twitter (@mpsuffolkmyp) or facebook (www.facebook.com/matthewsuffolkmyp).

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