SUSPENSE lingered in the air during the climactic crunch results of a vital election campaign at Arun’s council offices on Friday (November 21).
However, it was not district councillors who were taking part in the ballot but children from primary schools from Arundel, Climping, Littlehampton, Lyminster, Rustington and Wick.
More than 20 youngsters united at Phoenix House, beside the Arun Civic Centre, in Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, to vote for the chairman and vice-chairman of the area’s Junior Youth Council.
A determined band of eight pupils stood up and gave impassioned speeches about why they were the best candidates for the role.
And there was certainly plenty of competition, with each youngster having a different set of manifesto promises.
However, after a secret vote between the remaining councillors, India Craddock, ten, a pupil at the Arundel CE Primary School, was judged to be the clear winner.
This will be her second year as chairman. Speaking of her success, she said: “I’m really happy that I was elected again. I was quite surprised by it but it’s great.”
India won over her fellow councillors with her speech, which focused on how she would like to tackle problems such as bullying, road safety and the environment, as well as campaigns to brighten the lives of terminally-ill children and the elderly.
“I am really going to focus on bullying first, because that’s quite a serious problem in schools,” she added.
India will be supported by her second in command, the newly elected vice-chairman, Oliver Horne, nine.
Oliver, a pupil at St Philip’s Catholic Primary School, Arundel, said: “I was really scared giving my speech. I had my script but it was hard to remember it. I was shaking. But I’m really happy to have been elected.”
The election was the conclusion of a special ‘take over’ morning at Arun District Council.
The youngsters had the chance to answer phone calls as well as learning about the plethora of responsibilities officers, councillors and staff deal with on a daily basis.
Sue Bingham, who helped organise the day, said: “The whole point of it is to introduce children to the idea that they can make a difference. They get a chance to see how councils work and that there really is a lot more going on behind the scenes.”