Young people from across Luton will head to council HQ today to take part in an inspirational conference aimed at empowering them to make a difference to their town, which is on the brink of major, positive transformation.
Ahead of Monday’s crucial planning verdict over Newlands Park, community action group #saveourtown has invited all schools to the inaugural Luton High Schools’ Conference at the Town Hall to discuss how they can play a positive role in the future of the borough.
The decision will determine the crucial second part of a once-in-a-lifetime regeneration bid by 2020 Developments Ltd, the property arm of Luton Town Football Club.
The first part, Power Court, was granted planning permission in January and another vote of confidence, in support of the council’s recommendation for approval, would act as a catalyst to kick-start a programme of rejuvenation in Luton.
This would include a 17,500-seat football stadium in the heart of the town centre, an 1,800-capacity music venue and a range of other leisure, entertainment, food and drink and public space developments, all contributing to 10,000 new jobs and a £250million annual boost to the local economy.
#saveourtown, has been working for almost a year to raise awareness of the proposals but, as an apolitical, independent group of volunteers, have focused their attention on encouraging all communities to come together, to help address the serious issues surrounding Luton’s recent sad decline.
With 32 student ambassadors, aged between 11-18 years, representing more than 13,500 of their peers from across the town, the conference will focus on engaging and emboldening young people to contribute to the development of a more prosperous and sustainable society.
The pupils will take part in a programme of discussion led by the #saveourtown committee and supported by keynote speakers Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, the Leader of Luton Borough Council, and Bill Rammell, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Bedfordshire.
Nigel Green, Chairman of #saveourtown, said: “We’re a group of proud Lutonians that have been determined to reflect a positive side to our town that is too often ignored and unfairly stigmatised.
“We have worked to ensure that young people are included in the conversations about plans for change, because the decisions that are being made that will affect them and their families for generations to come. It’s so important that they are given a voice.
“We have seen through our various other events, that Involving young people not only promotes a sense of responsibility and pride in our town but, most of all, encourages them to feel that they can have an impact and make a difference.
“That’s the theme of this conference, which we believe will help to inspire young people to develop closer connections with their town and the wider community.
“We would like to extend our warmest thanks to the town’s high school headteachers for helping to make this happen. Their support for the conference has been fantastic and we hope this will be the first of many similar events planned for the future.”
The #DoItForTheKids campaign has already seen pupils from Hillborough Junior School create powerful videos (see below) and enjoy an audience with Luton Council Leader, Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE.
#saveourtown is also engaging primary school pupils through a series of school assemblies.