Around 60 children from primary and secondary schools in Soho ward, quizzed officers from Birmingham City Council’s Fleet and Waste team during the debate.
The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Raymond Hassall, welcomed the younger delegation before Asharna Spence, of Holyhead School, who was chosen to oversee the discussion, opened the debate.
Other local schools taking part in the debate were Brookfields School, Nishkam Primary School, Oasis Foundry, St Edmund’s Catholic Primary School and St Michael’s Church of England School.
Students from Holyhead Secondary School gave a short presentation on how litter on the streets of Handsworth was blighting the area, and how other cities across the world tackled this problem.
Pupils then raised questions about waste disposal, prosecution of people who drop litter or flytip, and how their schools could help keep their local streets clean.
Asharna, who is also Chair of Holyhead Student Council, said: “I was very excited about this debate. We were very prepared and this was a phenomenal opportunity. We put together a detailed presentation on litter in Handsworth, including shocking statistics encouraging a change in Handsworth.”
At the end of the debate, pupils from each school signed a Charter, vowing to help make Soho Ward a cleaner place to live, play and be educated, by:
• Championing clean streets in Soho Schools Campaign Week
• Doing one litter pick a year around the area by our school grounds
• Joining local councillors on an environmental walkabout once a year
In response to these pledges, Jacqui Kennedy, Acting Strategic Director for Place, promised that the council’s Fleet and Waste team would:
• Give schools in Soho access to litter-picking equipment and collect any bags of rubbish for them;
• To display the winning poster from a schools competition on a Fleet and Waste vehicle used in Soho ward, so its message can be seen across the neighbourhood;
• A refuse collection vehicle to visit one school, to show how it collects rubbish in the area.
Cllr Trickett, Cabinet member for Sustainability, said: “I’m really glad that some of our schools are getting involved and sharing their views on how to make the streets in their local area cleaner. This is a top priority for city residents of all ages.
“Today’s debate shows how passionate children and young people are about ensuring where they live is clean, tidy and loved. I was very impressed by some of the ideas raised during this discussion – and I hope they will continue to contribute their creativity and passion to issues that affect them and where they live.”
Cllr Sharon Thompson, councillor for Soho ward, added: “Litter is the biggest issue in my ward, it affects everybody, and while there’ve been numerous community meetings about this, I felt our schools should become involved, so we can hear children’s views and take those on board.
“Today’s debate is the first step to really engaging with the children and young people in Soho: many of our schools have student councils, and we want to encourage them to get involved, as we are keen to hear what they think.”
Each school received a participation certificate for taking part in the debate, which were presented to pupils by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Raymond.
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