Councillor Phil Twiss had just three minutes to answer a range of tough questions put to him by Year 11 students from King's School, Ottery St Mary

District, town and county councillors take part in fast paced political speed dating at King’s School, Ottery St Mary

A group of councillors from East Devon District Council, Devon County Council and Ottery St Mary Town Council were recently put under the spotlight at King’s School in Ottery St Mary, when they were subjected to tough questions fired at them every three minutes by 180 Year 11 pupils during two rounds of political speed dating.

East Devon District Councillor Phil Twiss was voted a clear winner at both events and spoke highly of the well thought out questions he was asked and how happy he was to meet such enthusiastic young people.

Political speed dating is a fast-paced and exciting way for young people to engage with their councillors. Councillors travelled from across the district  to answer 'quick fire' questions put to them by students who then voted for the councillor they would elect, based on how well they answered the questions.

Councillors participating in the speed dating included:

  • East Devon District Council: Councillors Phil Twiss, Iain Chubb, Pauline Stott, Susie Bond, Simon Grundy, Peter Faithfull, Steve Gazzard, Roger Giles, Paul Carter and Tom Wright.
  • Devon County Council: Councillor Claire Wright
  • Ottery St Mary Town Council: Councillors Glyn Dobson and Geoff Pratt

Typical examples of questions put to the councillors by pupils, included:

  • Why did you decide to become a councillor?
  • What has been your biggest achievement as a councillor?
  • If we were able to vote, why should we vote for you?
  • As a councillor do you listen to the views of young people?
  • Do you think the voting age should be lower than 18?
  • What can you do as a councillor that would help young people?
  • What do you think are the main issues of concern to young people today?
  • Do you think that young people should be involved and consulted on the development of policies?
  • What can you do as a councillor to improve public transport and increase community safety?
  • What does the council do to provide better facilities for young people?
  • What does the council do to protect the environment?

Commenting on his Political Speed Dating win, Councillor Phil Twiss said:

It was a great pleasure to meet the students at King’s - they’re a super bunch of people with very sharp minds – I was tremendously impressed by their line of questioning and I am grateful for the confidence they placed in me. I believe it is immensely important to encourage young people to take an interest in politics and the impact it has on all our lives. The council recognises the importance of young people and the role they have to play in the future of East Devon. The political speed dating gives students a taste of what happens at their local council and, who knows, one day they could even be future councillors themselves.

Mrs Jo Elliott, Head of PSHE/Citizenship at The King's School, said:

As part of our lessons on Human Rights, we offered Year 11 students the chance to ‘speed date’ a local councillor. The students found the experience really interesting and enjoyed the opportunity to discuss local topics such as housing issues, transport and lowering the voting age. We would like to extend our thanks to Amanda Coombes and her team from East Devon District Council’s Democratic Services for organising such a stimulating event and thank you to all the councillors and the Mayor of Ottery St Mary for giving up their time to listen to the views of young people. We greatly appreciate the time taken by councillors to visit us and for making this thoroughly enjoyable event happen. The students thought Councillor Twiss was fantastic and wanted him to be Prime Minister. In their opinion, he answered their questions really comprehensively and was a well deserved winner.