Monmouthshire County Council is launching a competition to find the region’s most promising young politicians by offering them a temporary role…as chief executive.
The contest, the first of its kind in Britain, will give youngsters with an interest in local politics the “once-in-a-childhood” opportunity to run one of Wales’ largest authorities for a day.
They will experience “progressive democracy in action” by working alongside councillors, cabinet members and officers at its current HQ in Usk.
The eight winners will also oversee proceedings in both a full council and committee meeting, and participate directly in certain decision-making processes.
Their working day will conclude with a full tour of the County Hall followed by a special winners’ dinner with select members of the cabinet.
The ‘Run MCC For a Day’ competition is being spearheaded by Chief Executive Paul Matthews as part of the council’s drive to engage with – and respond to - its future electorate.
He hopes the contest – which looks set to become an annual event - will also boost election turnouts by tackling “nationwide voter apathy” on a local level.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Matthews said: “This is a fun-filled, once-in-a-childhood opportunity for young people to see progressive democracy in action.
“We are committed to bridging a recognised perception gap by showing how and why local government is relevant to our young people. We hope that ‘Run MCC For a Day’ is one positive step towards doing so.”
The inaugural competition is open to children aged between seven and 18 who live within the administrative boundaries of Monmouthshire County Council.
Eight winners, selected by a panel of judges, will spend a day – between 9am and 3.30pm - in the chief executive’s shoes at the council’s offices in Usk during half-term next February
They will also receive exclusive prizes from Engage to Change (E2C), the popular online hub for young people operated by Monmouthshire Youth Service.
Similar contests, such as those taking place during National Takeover Day, the annual event led by the Children’s Commissioner for England, do exist.
But unlike existing initiatives, which generally involve shadowing council members, Run MCC For a Day is the first annual contest to offer youngsters the chance to experience day-to-day council duties in a chief executive role.
If successful, other authorities across the UK are expected to follow suit.
Council Leader Peter Fox said the winners will glean an “insider’s view” into the mechanics of local government and leadership, and a flavour of what it takes to run a public body of this size.
“The Run MCC For a Day competition is a fantastic way for young people with an interest in their local community to learn more about the practical workings of democracy and the challenges its elected ambassadors face,” he said.
Mr Matthews, who will support the winners in a “personal assistant capacity”, added: “It’s our hope that as many young people as possible will enter. Who knows, the next First Minister of Welsh Government could be in our midst."
The Run MCC For a Day competition opens on Monday, January 20. To enter, answer the following question in a maximum of 100 words: “If I was in charge of MCC I would…” and send it to email@example.com, with the email subject heading “Run MCC For a Day” by the closing date of Friday, February 28.
Visits will take place on Thursday, April 10.
More details, including terms and conditions and a full list of prizes, can be found at www.monmouthshire.gov.uk/run-MCC and on its Facebook page.