There are only a handful of young councillors in the UK, with the average age of our local representatives currently standing at 59. The cards are stacked against young people becoming councillors: amongst other reasons, sitting councillors will tend to keep their seat, and with the decline in party membership, fewer and fewer young people will take the party route to power.
Nonetheless, the representation of young people in local government is vital. Not only do we need councillors representing young people in the midst of a recession which has hit the young hard, but we also need the energy, new ideas and talent that young people have to offer local authorities.
With this in mind, the Young Councillor of the Year award will recognise a councillor who was 30 or under when last elected and who has contributed significantly to their community.
In 2013, the Young Councillor of the Year award was scooped by a trio of councillors from Oldham: Cllr Amanda Chadderton, Cllr Sean Fielding and Cllr Arooj Shah. Judges commented on the “incredible” work they have done together and the real impact that they have had on the lives of their community. Cllr Sean Fielding, for instance, led the ‘Fares fair’ campaign. Oldham used to have some of the highest bus fares in the country but, as a result of the campaign, a new fare structure was negotiated, resulting in significant discounts. Cllr Amanda Chadderton led on a groundbreaking initiative to promote affordable local credit and Cllr Arooj Shah led on the most successful energy switching campaign in the country. The campaign has helped over 8,000 homes with average savings of £180. As newly elected councillors, they were determined to overcome the barriers and perception that local politics achieves little and have demonstrated that politics is a “team sport”. Read more about past winners of this award here.
If you know a young councillor who deserves recognition for their work, make sure you nominate them for the Young Councillor of the Year Award 2014. The awards are open now! Find out how to nominate a councillor here.