A TOWN'S teenagers are hoping to influence Government policy on youth issues.

Young people at Stockton went to the polls at the weekend to elect two youngsters to the 400-member UK Youth Parliament, which convenes for the first time next year.

Stockton Borough Council, which opened the doors of its town hall for Stockton's first Youth Parliament elections, claims the young parliamentarians will have influence at the highest level of Government.

The parliament has the support of Britain's three main Party leaders - Prime Minister Tony Blair, Leader of the Opposition William Hague, and Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy.

The Youth Parliament will produce, from its sitting next year, a Young People' Manifesto, based on the hopes, fears and ideas of young people from all walks of life and from all over the country.

This will then be presented to the Government, the major political parties and service providers for young people.

Chris Downie, senior youth officer for the council, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for the young people from Stockton borough to influence policy-makers, locally and nationally, now and in the future.''

Council leader Councillor Bob Gibson said: "The Youth Parliament is an excellent initiative, and I am delighted that the young people of Stockton borough will be represented on it.''