News Date: Wednesday 29th April 2009
PARLIAMENT SHINES THE SPOTLIGHT ON YOUNG MAYORS
Cross-party support for more directly elected youth representatives lead by Tim Loughton MP
More than 150 young people representing over 50 local authorities today met in parliament to call for more Young Mayors and directly elected youth representatives. The parliamentary forum provided an opportunity to share the experience of young mayors and representatives from youth parliaments and youth councils from across the country. Local councillors, officers and Members of Parliament heard first hand where young mayors are established and to impress upon the politicians what more can be achieved.
Organised by The National Youth Agency, Chief Executive Fiona Blacke said:
"Backed by youth parliaments and youth councils, Young Mayors are an exciting development that provides a direct democratic link to local decision-makers for those who cannot or often do not vote in the local government or national elections."
Supporting the event, Zuhayb Ahmed, Young Mayor Network co-ordinator, said:
"The fact that young people do not generally engage in formal political processes should not be confused with lack of intelligence or indeed interest. Young Mayors are proving a success, because they are real democracy in action. Today's event shows the strength of interest in and backing for young mayors, supported by other forms of elected representation in youth parliaments and youth councils."
Speaking at the event, Local Government Minister John Healey said:
"Young people can make a massive contribution to their communities but too often this is forgotten. They feel ignored and excluded, and just see negative headlines about youth crime and anti-social behaviour. "Young mayors can change that. Already, over 100,000 young people have taken part in young mayoral elections across the country, and in places like Lewisham, Newham and North Tyneside voter turnout can be higher than in adult elections. That's why our extra £2million funding for at least 20 new young mayors around the country is so important. This will give young people real opportunities to have their say, get involved and contribute to stronger local democracy."
The Young Mayor initiative has cross-party support, hosted by Tim Loughton MP, Annette Brooke MP and David Kidney MP. It follows the announcement £2m will be made available from government for as many as 20 new young mayor schemes.
Co-hosting the event, Tim Loughton MP, Shadow Minister for children and young people, said:
"With the participation of young people in the political process and turnout out by first time voters at elections worryingly low, young mayors can be an important way to re-engage with young citizens."
Co-host Liberal Democrat spokesperson Annette Brooke MP said:
"In some town halls the young mayor and youth cabinet members shadow and engage with elected adult councillors, control their own budgets and are regularly consulted. However, in too many areas, there is much more to be done."
Young Mayors are directly elected by young people (11-18 years old) within their area, in a one year term of office. Supported by a Deputy and a team of young people, the Young Mayor's role is to represent and be the figurehead for young people in their area. Young Mayors usually have a budget of their own to spend (after consultation with other young people) and in conjunction with their adult counterparts.