#saveourtown has praised Luton Borough Council Leader, Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, for providing a platform for children to have a say in the changing face of their town.

HIllborough Junior School children outside Luton Town Hall

HIllborough Junior School children outside Luton Town Hall

The campaign group has been giving a voice to Lutonians in favour of the long-running planning applications for Power Court and Newlands Park.

In particular, the group has already carried out a number of initiatives to highlight that young people need to be part of the conversations.

Last month, the council gave an historic decision to grant planning permission for Power Court, which will include a 17,500-seat football stadium for Luton Town Football Club, an 1,800-capacity music venue plus other lifestyle, entertainment and leisure facilities in the centre of town, alongside work to open up and feature the River Lea.

But the development is just one half of two major regeneration schemes submitted by 2020 Developments, the property arm of the football club, as well as Newlands Park by junction 10 of the M1 motorway.

The town is awaiting a new decision date to be made after the Hatters deferred the original January 30 date, in order to deal with football matters during a busy transfer window period.

It is hoped the new date will be this month, with a positive decision needed because Newlands Park will contribute financially to the development of Power Court.

In the meantime, #saveourtown teamed up with Hillborough Junior School, not far from Power Court, for a morning at Luton Town Hall and an exclusive audience with Cllr Simmons.

Ten children grilled the council leader about the projects and the issues they think will be important as they grow up in the town.

In a series of short films, to be released on #saveourtown’s social media channels, under their #DoItForTheKids banner, you will get to see the big questions that really concern Luton children.

The series begins with a question from Mickey as he asks Cllr Simmons if Power Court and Newlands Park will make Luton “look a bit brighter and safer, with loads going on?” And whether the developments will mean the town will “be a bit cheaper?”

Watch the video to hear the council leader’s answer and then stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over the coming days for more from this amazing group of young Lutonians.

#saveourtown’s vice chairman, Andy King, said: “Future generations, represented by this passionate and smart group of young people from Hillborough Junior School, are such a major motivation behind our campaign for a bright new future for our town and theirs. It is both humbling and  inspiring to be campaigning on their behalf for these huge changes.

“We thank Cllr Simmons for giving her time so generously. The children were very excited by the chance to have a real say and be part of democracy in action. They’ll undoubtedly remember the experience and it will hopefully inspire them to make a positive contribution to their community through adulthood.

“We believe it’s vital that the children of Luton are given a voice in the discussions about what their town will look like and become in the future. They will have to live with the legacy of either a bright new future for their town, or decades of more decline and stagnation.

“The grown-ups have had their say and talked a lot about Power Court and Newlands Park, but they will do well to not only listen to these children, but to truly take on board what they say. They want change and we’re campaigning to give it to them. All eyes are now focused intently on the planning authority and the wider council. Newlands Park must be approved. We need to do it for the kids.”

Part of #saveourtown’s work also includes delivering school assemblies to talk to young people about the exciting plans in store for their town as they grow up. If your school would like to involve pupils in the conversation, then get in touch at saveourtownluton@hotmail.com 

Children from Hillborough Junior School last year starred in a video, urging Lutonians to sign a petition for Capital and Regional, the owners of The Mall shopping centre, to drop their opposition to Newlands Park and you can still add your signature.