Eligible sixth formers in Ilkeston were urged to make their voices heard by voting in the General Election today (May 7).
Students at Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy (OIEA) took part in a Question Time-style debate with the Parliamentary candidates for Erewash: Martin Garnett (Lib Dem), Catherine Atkinson (Lab), Philip Rose (UKIP) and Garry Hickton (Con).
Each candidate introduced themselves and spoke about their work in the community before answering students’ questions.
These covered topics including the difference in the national minimum wage for 17 and 18-year-olds, what incentives there were for young people to vote, lowering the voting age, whether Ilkeston was in danger of becoming a ‘ghost town’ and why politicians felt best equipped to make judgements on what should be included in the school curriculum.
At the end of the debate, all of the candidates urged those students who had turned 18 to vote.
Dave Smith, principal at OIEA, chaired the debate and echoed the candidates’ plea to sixth formers to make their voices heard.
He said: “I believe you are given the right to vote and you should vote.
“I listen to people in pubs and bars discussing what is wrong with this country but if you don’t put a cross in a box then you don’t have the right to complain.
“You have the opportunity to vote and then if things don’t go your way then you have the right to complain.”
Kay Kearton, director of sixth form studies at OIEA, said she was proud of the students and the way in which they conducted themselves at the debate.
She said: “We want to thank everyone for taking part, the candidates and the students who did very well. An event like this builds into our personal development programme in terms of democracy and the importance of voting.”