Thousands of York youngsters will have the chance to vote on who will be their next children and young people's champion during the coming weeks. Education reporter Haydn Lewis takes a look at what it means to be the city's children's champion and who can apply.

FOR the last two years York has had a dedicated children's champion on the city council.

The role had just been created when Coun David Scott was elected to the post two years ago.

He says it is an important job - helping to give youngsters a say in the democratic process.

Coun Scott said anyone putting themselves forward for the role must be passionate about working on behalf of children and young people in the city.

The role must be filled by a councillor, one who is preferably not a member of the executive or shadow executive.

Coun Scott said: "Nominations have now opened, which commences the process to elect my successor, so my period of office as children and young people's champion is drawing to a close.

"It has been a real honour to serve in this role, and to be able to listen to and speak with children and young people all over the city.

"They are a credit to their communities, from the volunteering they do to the excellent examination results they achieve year on year.

"I have raised their concerns and made their voices heard.

"Positive changes have been made, from safety on school buses to ensuring a mechanism is in place so their views can be represented right at the heart of this council.

"I am deeply proud to have been the first elected children and young people's champion for the city of York, and I thank the young residents of York for that honour.

"I would urge the young people of this city to participate in the forthcoming election, help organise the election and to vote."

Nominations for the next champion close on Monday, after which polls will open for all children and young people to vote for their favoured candidate.

The new post holder will take up their role in April.

Coun Scott said: "I will continue to serve in the role until April but will also continue to represent the interests of children and young people as long as I remain an elected representative."

As part of the election process youngsters from across the city will attend a hustings event on Friday, February 8, at 2 pm in the Guildhall. An invited audience of children and young people will attend and will question all the candidates.

This event will be filmed and the resulting DVD will be sent to all schools in the city to support the election process.

All children and young people registered at City of York Council primary, secondary and special schools are eligible to vote, as are young people under 18 who live in the city and attend York College.

Every effort will be made to ensure participation is as widespread as possible.

The role

The Children and Young People's Champion will:* Act as a figurehead to promote children and young people's view on issues that concern them within the city of York* Represent children's and young people's views and ideas, identify their concerns and raise awareness about their opinions and successes at appropriate strategic decision making bodies within the city and seek to address these* Liaise with the young people's working group and relevant organisations within the city council in order to have an overview of all involvement work that is taking place and the messages and required actions that are emerging* Actively listen to the desires of children and young people who want to play an active role in life in York.

* Work with elected members to support them in engaging with the children and young people they represent and be responsive to their needs.