The decision by the council to take up UK Youth Parliament proposals to ban the mosquito device indicates their recognition of the rights of children and young people.
However this example of good, honest, social activism has been turned sour by opportunism. In The Star recently I learnt that the hard work of the Youth Parliament was taking a back seat to the claims of divisions within the Lib Dem group in the council.
It is not the purported split that I have contention with, it is the claims themselves. The proposal to ban the device received cross party support and the Youth Parliament had no intention of letting it become a tool for combatant politics. Due to Sheffield’s forward thinking approach to most issues, this was certainly not an expectation.
Representative politics is obviously pluralist in nature, and so the fact that there is a supposed split within the Lib Dem ranks over this is irrelevant. The issue has now become one of partisan division, rather than a uniting success for young people and for the city as a whole.
The politician in question at the centre of this is Clive Skelton, a hardworking councillor whom I had the pleasure of meeting in a debate about the devices on radio.
He said he was happy the ban was not retrospective, but made it clear that where he thought the devices were being used unnecessarily, he would be the first to campaign against them. He also said he would support a ban if the Cabinet approved the proposal, which they did.
The Youth Parliament fears that rumours of political infighting are eclipsing the real success story. This is a successful youth movement and a success for Sheffield. It can be championed as another example of Sheffield’s progressive, 21st century ethos.
Harrison Carter, Member of UK Youth Parliament Sheffield