POLICE are setting up a classroom council under an initiative designed to give a town's young people a voice.

Shildon community beat officers PC Clare Addison and PC Martin Slater are recruiting council members from the 628 11 to 16-year-olds at Sunnydale School. They will meet once a week following a launch at Sunnydale Leisure Centre last Thursday.

PC Addison said the students would be asked for their ideas and opinions.

She said: "If they have issues or concerns then we hope they will raise them. And if they want to set up something for young people then we will see what we can do to help them in that.

PC Slater said: "We recognise that there are not many facilities in Shildon compared with Aycliffe where there are leisure centres and a swimming pool.

"The youth council will be an opportunity for young people to say to us 'This is what we'd like to do, this is what we want, can you help.'

"We will work with bodies such as local councils, social services and the probation service to see what can be done. There is expertise available that is not being tapped at the moment.

"We feel we can be used as a tool for the kids. The main thing is to build up relationships.

"We hope it will break down barriers between ourselves and the town's teenagers."

Headteacher Peter Rogerson said: "I'm delighted to be involved with the scheme which will give our pupils a chance to influence their future. It is an opportunity which I hope they will grasp with both hands."