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Voice of youth asks for a safer city

Young people in Edinburgh want a cleaner, safer city and a bigger say in decisions that affect them.

In their aspirations for their environment, nearly 6,000 youngsters aged 11 to 21 displayed similar views to their elders.

Questionnaires were answered by 5,728 people in the second Young Edinburgh survey, carried out by Mori Scotland and Edinburgh City Council's youth services department. They showed optimistic signs for those who fear the democratic deficit will leave young people unwilling to participate in local democracy.

Just over half of all young people (51 per cent) supported lowering the voting age to 16.

One in six said they would personally stand for election as a youth representative or sit on a committee that made important decisions. The findings were encouraging for city councillors, who devoted the first half of their full council meeting yesterday to an agenda set by young people.

Among the findings were that:

* Almost nine in 10 young people feel safer in the city centre when in a group;

* More than eight in 10 agree it is important to eat healthy food;

* Young people say they are at least "usually" treated with trust and respect by their parents (88 per cent), doctors (80 per cent), teachers (72 per cent) and staff in cafesandwich shops (71 per cent);

* Three-quarters of young people would like more Edinburgh Young Scot discounts and 76 per cent would like to see more opportunities for work experience;

* Sixty-six per cent support banning smoking in public places and 50 per cent express strong support for the ban, and;

* Seventy-one per cent support having new youth cafes.

Ewan Aitken, executive member for children and families, said the survey was important to the council's 10-year strategy to make Edinburgh the most youth-friendly city in Britain.

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