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Watton teen wins youth election

PUBLISHED: 10:56 15 May 2010 | UPDATED: 11:44 08 July 2010

WHILE Britain's party leaders haggled over power at Westminster, a teenager from Watton delivered a conclusive campaign to triumph in a European youth election in Romania.

WHILE Britain's party leaders haggled over power at Westminster, a teenager from Watton delivered a conclusive campaign to triumph in a European youth election in Romania.

Lisa Clayton, chairman of Wayland Youth Council, was elected president by the youngsters attending the week-long European Teenagers Summit in the city of Timisoara, which ended on Saturday.

In parallel with the electoral indecision in her homeland, the 17-year-old secured 52pc of the vote - short of the 75pc majority she needed for outright victory.

But the Dereham Sixth Form College student wasted no time in forging an alliance with Polish candidate Filip Winkowski to form a coalition which secured the leadership of the forum.

Lisa, from Vicarage Walk in Watton, was among six Norfolk teenagers, including some from Wayland and Swaffham Youth Councils, to take part in the summit which brought together 68 young people from eight European countries.

The event included a series of debates and workshops to inspire intercultural dialogue, promote citizenship and encourage young people to take part in democratic processes.

The delegates discussed issues including education, discrimination and youth motivation, and presented a manifesto to a Romanian MEP who will take the results of their debates to the European parliament.

Lisa said she was proud to represent her country, and promote her age group. “My view is that young people can get labelled very easily and it is easy to fall into that trap when you are young,” she said. “But if we get a greater involvement, then word gets around that young people don't just do things wrong and don't just do things for themselves. We have done something to prove that young people in England don't just laze around and sit in our bedrooms.”

The new youth president said she found a willing coalition ally when the voting was split.

“We have got a lot of people in our area coming from Poland, and I've found them all to be very nice people, so it was a great alliance,” she said. “I really didn't expect to be elected though. A lot of people went out there to win, but most put in such an effort just to turn up, join in and make friends.”

Ironically, although one of the aims of the event was to encourage youngsters to vote, the British contingent found themselves abroad while the drama of their own country's general election unfolded.

“A couple of us were over 18 and had to use postal votes, said Lisa. “But everyone was constantly following what was happening on their mobile phones.”

Lisa said she hoped to follow journalism as a career rather than politics, but she still wants to “get things moving” in her community.

“Politicians always say they are going to deliver us something, but I want to be the person who delivers something but doesn't have to be recognised for it,” she said. “I want to be much more modest about it and just do my best rather than making promises I can't keep.”

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