After winning more than 17,000 votes from young people across the county, newly-elected members of the Young Essex Assembly (YEA) have met for the first time.
The inaugural meeting, which took place at County Hall, was the first of 12 which will go ahead while the 75 new members are in office.
They will serve for a period of two years, January 2017 to January 2019, representing their peers and tackling issues they feel will benefit their lives, with subjects discussed previously including waste, mental health, transport and discrimination.
The successful candidates, who are all aged between 11 and 19, won their seats last month following a campaign that lasted several weeks.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “It was fantastic to meet the new members of the Young Essex Assembly, who have shown fantastic commitment to their local areas by campaigning to represent them.
“The Young Essex Assembly not only offers the young people of Essex a voice, but it plays a vital part in the Council’s decision-making process. I look forward to working with them over the coming months.”
Cllr Stephen Canning, Essex County Council Cabinet Member and former YEA representative, said: “As a Council we are always keen to listen to the ideas of young people and engage their thoughts on local issues – and the Young Essex Assembly allows us to do just that.
“I have fond memories of serving as a YEA representative. It was one of the first steps I took in my political career and gave me valuable experience - I’m sure someone within this Assembly has a very bright future ahead of them too.”