First thing Monday morning and despite the recent falls of snow our guests dutifully arrived accompanied by their teacher Mr Pizzoferro and Mrs Jojo Ryan, one of the school governors and who is also a parent. They were all keen to ask questions as one might have expected being representatives of the school council, but the group certainly did their teachers proud in their understanding and knowledge of council chamber procedures, especially the electronic voting system that was for many considered far less transparent than the standard raised hand or use of the long forgotten Ayes and Noes voting doors!
This was an interesting point that I mentioned to our senior management at Government and Democracy level, at the Full Council briefing on Wednesday evening. Their response was most encouraging with the view that they might consider colour coding in order to aid transparency. Should this be the case, then the visit from St Leonard’s School Council will have had a far reaching affect on local government procedures at Lambeth Council. Well done!
With the help of the Mayoral Team were able to give the group nearly an hour of our time with Ms Plummer expertly on hand to arrange some gifts at the end and organise our schedule well ahead of the next engagement and Mr Betts, able to demonstrate the practical significance of the mace, as a protective weapon in defence of the Mayor. Then with the Mayor carefully robed and chained under the watchful eyes of our captive audience, we processed into the Council Chamber with just the right level of respectful dignity in the re-enactment of a civic occasion creating an appropriate environment generally reserved for elected members and the First Citizen when chairing Full Council. On reflection, we found the morning a most useful experience and therefore, I do hope that other local authorities will be able to offer similar groups of young people this early introduction to local government as essential citizenship learning.