A vote for youth

Ten young people from across South Ayrshire will stand as candidates in the forthcoming Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) elections, which take place on Friday, March 25.

The candidates – pupils from Ayr, Belmont, Carrick, Girvan, Kyle, Prestwick and Queen Margaret Academies – will battle it out for two Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) seats for the Ayr constituency and one for the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency (which is shared with East Ayrshire).

The Scottish Youth Parliament represents Scotland’s young people aged up to 25 years and aims to ensure young people’s voices are heard on the issues that matter and to involve them in democratic decision-making processes.

Young people aged between 12 and 25 years are eligible to vote in the elections and voting will take place between 9am and 6pm on Friday, March 25 in schools and other designated polling places across South Ayrshire, with polling times varying per location.

In Carrick these are: Z1 Youth Bar, Girvan: 4pm – 6pm; Dailly Community Centre: 4pm - 6pm; Ballantrae Community Centre: 4pm – 6pm; Maybole Library: – 12pm, 1pm – 6pm

The candidates for the 2011 Scottish Youth Parliament elections for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley are: Jamie Candlish, 14, from Girvan; Billy Hendren, 16, from Mossblown; Louise Martin, 15, from Maybole; Erin McLaughlin, 15, from Girvan; Tammy McNeillie, 15, from Mossblown.

Jamie Candlish said: “If elected, I would try and get a wider choice of activities for children to do in our area. There are football and rugby teams, but others have to travel to other areas of the country to do what they love doing. Also, more facilities for young people.

“We are given a bad reputation for hanging about in main streets, but that is due to us having nothing to do. I would try and get a wider range of these facilities to wipe away this bad reputation that we teenagers are given. Also for smaller schools, such as Girvan Academy, let the children have the same opportunities as larger schools such as Belmont.

“These schools are all equal so should have the same opportunities to do things they love doing and to maybe even find a new activity or sport that they can keep on doing and get them off the streets.”

Louise Martin said: “If elected, I want to look at underage drinking and what can be done to stop the casualties of it. It has been a topic of discussion and debate for many years and the reason it is still around is because nobody has come up with any radical new approaches to it.

“It is seen as cool to be drunk and I think that the fact we shouldn’t be drinking in the first place plays a significant role in that. I’m not saying that it should just be made legal for everyone to drink but if the restrictions were relaxed then the draw to rebel would be lessened.

“An option would be to set up places where only underage people can go to hang out with their friends, have a laugh and have responsible amounts of alcohol under subtle supervision. There are not enough places for young people to go and just hang out and if I were elected I would try to rectify this.

Erin McLaughlin said: “The issue presently jumping out to me are the many cuts for the Armed Forces.

“Recently there have been a large number of cuts in each of the Military services which I will address. It is an important issue to me personally as I am a member of the Air Training Corp and hope one day to be a member of the RAF.

“It is believed that by 2015 there will have been roughly 42,000 jobs axed in the armed services. This will undermine our defence capability because the government are discarding so many of our defence mechanisms.

“There are also current debates on closing the air bases RAF Leuchars and Lossiemouth.”