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The biggest annual referendum of teenagers in the UK



Kevin Brennan is backing the Youth Parliament’s ‘Make Your Mark’ campaign which is the UK’s largest survey of young people’s views.

The annual ballot, which has taken place since 2011, contains 10 policies voted for by Members of Youth Parliament including ending period poverty, mental health in schools, tackling homelessness and adapting the curriculum.

The campaign will see Members of Youth Parliament and volunteers across the country, invite young people in schools and youth groups to take this opportunity to have their say and to inform and influence the Government and decision makers in their communities.

This year’s campaign, which is supported by the British Youth Council, is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of young people from across the UK. Last year, a total of 954,766 young people from every corner of the country took part.

Kira Lewis, a member of the Procedures Group, which coordinates the UK Youth Parliament said: “For the eighth time in history, UK Youth Parliament will give young people across the country the chance to declare which issues are a priority for them.

Following the campaign, priority issues will be brought to the attention of Government Ministers including Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society, who is due to attend the UK Youth Parliament’s House of Commons Sitting and will reply on behalf of the Government.

The Commons debate, which will take place on 9th November 2018, will be chaired by Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, who spoke at the UK Youth Parliament’s Annual Conference in Nottingham last month. After the debates, Members of Youth Parliament will walk through the division lobbies to vote on what should become their priority campaigns for 2019. In previous years, mental health, tackling racism and religious discrimination and a lower voting age have been prioritised.

Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “The Make Your Mark ballot is an excellent opportunity for millions of young people across the UK to celebrate the democratic process and make their voices heard.

“Last year, almost a million young people voted for the crucial motions to be debated by Members of Youth Parliament, and this year looks like it will be no different. I look forward to welcoming the Members of the Youth Parliament and presiding over some truly inspiring debates.”

Young people can take part in the consultation by visiting: www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/makeyourmark

Wear it pink for cancer for Breast Cancer Now

Local MP, Kevin Brennan, is wearing pink to promote Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink day which is one of the biggest fundraising events in the UK.

The event is taking place on October 19 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when thousands of amazing people will be wearing pink in their communities, schools or work places for the UK's largest breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Now.

If you would like to join thousands of other Breast Cancer Now supporters across the UK by wearing pink and raising money to make life-saving research happen.

To signup and receive your free fundraising pack., you can visit the link here.

Blog: Never underestimate the importance of a 'staycation' for the economy

As the sun continues to shine, people across the UK are planning day trips, beach days, weekends away, and longer summer getaways. The hot weather reminds us all over again how many brilliant places there are to visit in our local areas, and further afield. It’s due to these destinations and attractions that the UK’s tourism industry is world-beating. This warm weather may not last forever, but the UK’s warm welcome is here all year round.

In recent moths I have been travelling across the UK holding discussions to help develop Labour’s tourism policy. Tourism is at the heart of many of our communities, and we need to make sure those communities are reaping the rewards. Tourism is the fastest growing sector in terms of employment, reaching almost 9.5% of UK jobs in 2016. Just three museums, the Victoria and Albert, the Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum, attract more visitors per year than the entire city of Venice.

But it becomes a problem if visitors are too concentrated in London. We need to make sure that the economic benefits are better shared across the country.

The UK Government should be doing more. Local Authority budgets have been drastically slashed since 2010, so it comes as no surprise that local tourism budgets have suffered. Likewise, as lottery revenue falls there isn’t as much money available for the restoration and maintenance of some of our heritage landmark buildings. The tourism industry is an important economic driver and employer, but all too often politicians and policy makers don’t give it the credit it deserves.

That’s why I decided to invest some time travelling around the country listening to tourism voices on how to develop and deepen Labour’s tourism policy. It’s right that we’re proud of the National Museums and landmarks that attract tourists from all over to London, but with the help and support of the tourism sector, I’ve been looking at how the industry is working outside of the capital, including the hugely important contribution of domestic tourism. Never underestimate the importance of the staycation.

I’ve held roundtable discussions in Scarborough, Manchester, Belfast and Exeter to learn about the work being done in different kinds of destinations, and to see what the next Labour Government could do to help. It has been a pleasure spending some time visiting the waterfronts, cathedrals, theatres, sea-sides and meeting the people that make the UK such a great place to visit.

As expected, each unique location had their own specific issues to raise. Some were concerned about the length of the tourist season, others wanted more power to take decisions on a more local level. As ever Business Rates revaluation is a concern for many. For most, the potential impact of Brexit on staff and skills is a real and pressing worry, and in Belfast there is the added concern about the future border between the UK and EU in Ireland. Of course Belfast has benefitted from the ‘Setjetting’ phenomenon – visitors attracted by film and TV locations (in this case Game of Thrones).

But it was particularly striking how much these very different destinations had in common. Across the country access to funding and finance is a constant concern, and local economies rely on domestic visitors and on people who come to visit family and friends. More needs to be done to support the domestic market, and to promote careers in the tourism and hospitality industry to young people in schools and adults looking for retraining.

Some interesting questions have emerged for Labour. Should we be doing more to support social tourism? This would provide more opportunities for a break for families most in need. Should local areas be free to introduce a tourism levy where business and Local Government agree? Should there be a resilience fund to help areas where visitor numbers are affected by tragic events like terrorism attacks? How should we regulate the new “disrupters” like accommodation providers Airbnb or Booking.com?

It is sometimes said that Labour does not regard careers in tourism and hospitality as “proper” jobs but that is not the case. We want to make sure that workers get quality training, fair pay and rights at work in an industry where that has sometimes been an issue in the past, and that young people can grasp the opportunities for career development. In an era where the future of work will be affected by developments like AI, tourism and hospitality is a sector that will always need great people to support its visitors and guests.

Over the coming period, we will be continuing our discussions and our thinking about what a Labour Government could do to support our tourism sector. The key links in the DCMS brief between tourism, heritage, culture and the arts, and the new Digital platforms are playing a bigger part than before. Labour understands these links, and we will work to spread the opportunities they represent to all parts of the country.

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