It is easy to latch onto the argument that, in an attractive democracy, our elected representatives ought to come from all walks of life. In fact, the demographic make-up of political institutions is arguably one of the most important indicators of a healthy social order. As such, with the average age of councillors currently standing at 59, it is particularly important to encourage and celebrate the contributions and achievements of younger council members.
Nevertheless, the aim of the Young Councillor of the Year category at this year’s LGiU and CCLA C’llr Achievement Awards goes beyond simply encouraging diversity for the sake of diversity. Rather, it looks to highlight and praise the unique contribution to community life that young councillors are able to make specifically because they are able to approach problems from a radically fresh perspective.
Take the example of Becky Brunskill, the 2011 Young Councillor of the Year. It is hard to imagine a seasoned councillor of riper years adopting the campaign slogan that successfully propelled her to a seat on Durham County Council at the age of 20: ‘no party politics, no promises, no spin’. Yet it is clear from Councillor Brunskill’s interview in a recent edition of C’llr Magazine that this mindset – capturing the unique marriage of hope and frustration that marks the blossoming of a new political generation – not only got her elected, but allowed her to be a particularly effective instigator of local projects.
The criteria for entry into this category are straightforward. The councillor who wins will:
- be a councillor who was 30 or under when last elected
- demonstrate a commitment to working for the community.
However, it is important not to mistake the minimalism of these criteria for an attempt to finesse the rich variety of contributions that young councillors make to their local communities. When younger people get involved with their councils, it is a prime example of real people stepping-up to tackle what they see as the most important issues. And as the arrow of time dictates, the younger generation has the largest stake in tackling the issues of tomorrow, whatever they may be.
So if you feel that a specific young councillor deserves to be recognised for their contribution to their local community, then please show your appreciation by nominating them for this year’s Young Councillor of the Year award. Anybody can do this by simply completing one of our new, streamlined nomination forms, which can be downloaded, along with further instructions, here.
The closing date for entries in this category is 30th December, 2011.