Hundreds of children vote for first time in public ballot

Hundreds of children at a High Wycombe school were allowed to vote for the first time last week, during a special public ballot to decide where community cash should be spent.

Different groups of students at The Highcrest Academy were given a presentation by Buckinghamshire County Council staff every day of the week at assembly.

The idea was to tell them about the various options before they cast their vote in the ballot box for the ‘High Wycombe Decides’ scheme.

The simple aim of the County Council – via its Local Area Forum (LAF) – is that residents can choose how £17,500 of public money is allocated between eight worthy causes.

But a key difference to a normal poll is that children aged 11 and upwards can vote alongside adults.

The Council teamed up with Highcrest to spread the word about the process to the younger generation in High Wycombe. Students were given information about the eight projects before being allowed to come to the front and vote.

County councillor Val Letheren, Chairman of the High Wycombe LAF, who attended assembly on Friday to encourage the young voters, said: “I was really impressed at the school’s commitment to this very important piece of local democracy.”

Principal Shena Moynihan told Friday’s assembly: “We are being given a vote in something that matters to our local community. It’s fantastic.”

Student Kyle Wetherell, 12, said: “It’s really good for the young people to get a chance to vote in their own area.”

The ballot, which was launched in High Wycombe at the end of May, lasts until the end of July. Residents of High Wycombe and Downley will be able to vote online and also via forms which will be available in libraries, post offices, village shops and pubs.

The eight organisations/projects bidding for a share of the £17,500 are: ‘Bucks New Usage’ at Bucks New University; Boomerang Toy Library – Bucks Play Association; Be a Ranger for a Day – Chiltern Rangers; Developing Downley Community Library – The Downley Old School Community Association; ‘Cooking for Confidence’ food education workshops – Empower to Cook CIC; Motor Mechanics Course for young people – SKIDZ; Tenancy Support – Wycombe Homeless Connection; Early Identification and Support of Young Carers in School – Young Carers Bucks.

For more information and how to vote, go to