We fully support the young people’s concerns about climate change and their wish to demonstrate.
But we can, in no way, endorse their actions in leaving school without permission to strike.
As a council we would be failing in our duty of care if we endorsed this action.
Parents have a right to be confident that their children are safe at school but, when they are leaving without permission, as they did earlier in the year, it becomes a serious safety issue.
I am confident that most of these young people care seriously about the problems of climate change. My granddaughter was one of them.
But I have been told that many just thought it was a good way of getting out of school and having a fun afternoon.
Young people are at school for very good reasons and one of the duties of a council is to ensure that they are attending.
Parents can be fined for taking their children out of school for a holiday and yet some councillors are encouraging children to take unauthorised leave of absence.
There are many other ways of showing their concerns about climate change. They can encourage people to use less fossil fuels, conserve energy, buy electric cars, eat less meat, plant trees, etc, etc.
They can also write letters, lobby and demonstrate in their own time – after 4pm, at weekends or during the holidays – which would really show their commitment.
Good examples recently of young people caring in a responsible way are those who joined the Great British Spring Clean to improve the environment.
Also a young boy knocked on my door a little while back with a note saying he was very concerned about the 20,000 tonnes of batteries that go to landfill sites each year and asked if he could come back and collect any we had to recycle them.
These are the kind of positive and practical actions that young people should be encouraged to do.
As a council, we declared a “climate emergency” so we should be doing more as a council. Camden Council, for example, brought together more than 50 residents and a team of climate experts and they came up with 17 practical proposals to tackle the crisis and reduce the borough’s carbon footprint.
We are pleased and supportive of the fact that our young people care about climate change.
But we should not, as a council, endorse them striking during the school day. That would be totally irresponsible.
Councillor Vanessa Brown speaks for the Conservatives on children, young people and skills on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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