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Schoolchildren take over Gravesend country park and give adults their advice

PUBLISHED: 14:51 22 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:03 22 November 2016

Penny and Samara in the park

Penny and Samara in the park

Archant

The youngsters presented a list of their priorities to KCC

Schoolchildren took over a Gravesend country park last week to advise park mangers how to spend next year’s budget.

Penny Isted and Samara Llewellyn, from Wateringbury Primary School in Maidstone, visited Shorne Woods Country Park on Firday and made a list of their priorities, which was then presented to Kent County Council.

But instead of choosing to buy new play equipment, the children recommended spending next year’s money on creating new habitats for rare wildlife and making the park more accessible.

They suggested buying more Tramper mobility scooters, which are available for hire so that older people and those with disabilities can also go exploring the park.

Afterwards, the girls teamed up with Hannah Allard and Kirsty Bareham from the council’s Waste Management team to design a new social marketing campaign to boost recycling rates, which will appear on billboards in Tonbridge and Malling in the next couple of months.

Samara said: “It was a really interesting day. We had a tour round the park and then we had to decide how to spend £100,000.”

Penny added: “It was hard choosing the best things to spend the money on but good fun too. We learned a lot about what the council does and also about recycling in Kent.”

KCC’s cabinet member for environment and transport Matthew Balfour said: “The children have been very helpful, and I am really impressed that they choose to prioritise habitat creation and mobility scooters for older people, over new play equipment.

“They really understood that being in charge means making important decisions and unfortunately you cannot always do everything you would like to. I can assure them that encouraging more wildlife and supporting people with mobility problems will feature in next year’s budget.

“As for the recycling campaign, it was great to get fresh ideas about how to encourage people to recycle more and I look forward to seeing their ideas come to life.”

The scheme formed part of the national Children’s Takeover Challenge, which enables youngsters to have a say in matters that affect them.

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