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LGA CALLS FOR YOUNGEST AGE OF COUNCILLORS TO BE LOWERED TO 18

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LGA leaders have called for a reduction in the age a person can stand for council from 21 to 18 in a bid to get you...
LGA leaders have called for a reduction in the age a person can stand for council from 21 to 18 in a bid to get younger people represented in town halls.

With the average age of councillors currently 56 years old, the association's four political group leaders have urged the government to change the law to allow more youngsters to play a role in their community.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, LGA Labour group leader said: 'Young people's involvement in local democracy is vital for the well-being of our communities.

'Not only does the LGA want to see more young people voting but we want more youngsters taking seats on councils and working to improve their own neighbourhoods.'

Lord Hanningfield, LGA Conservative group vice-chair, said: 'Already many young people take an active role in local projects - in youth and sports clubs, mentoring schemes and voluntary organisations.

'It is important for older and more experienced councillors to encourage their enthusiasm and innovation for the benefit of all the community.'

David Williams, LGA Liberal Democrat group leader, said: 'However well middle aged councillors might think they represent young people there is no substitute for younger councillors doing the job themselves.

'Although youngsters can vote aged 18, there is no direct opportunity for people in their late teens and 20s to have a voice in the town hall. We need to put that right.'

Milner Whiteman, LGA Independent group leader, said: 'As councillors, we must encourage young people to become the next great political thinkers. We must nurture their fresh ideas and help sow the seeds for future community leaders.

Cllr Whiteman added: 'I became a councillor while still in my 20s, having always been interested in politics.

'Looking back over 30 years I feel a real sense of achievement for what I have been able to accomplish for my community, especially when projects I supported come to fruition.'

The call for a reduction in the age limit comes as part of the LGA's manifesto 'Opportunity to Prosper' which outlines 48 key proposals to improve communities. The LGA will lobby politicians to adopt the proposals in their own general election manifestos.

NOTES

Statistics on the age of councillors taken from the '1999 Survey of Newly Elected Councillors in England and Wales' published by the IDeA in March 2000.

The 4,405 newly elected councillors in 1999 were found to be on average 53 years old compared to the 4,253 councillors leaving their seats who were on average 59 years old. The average age for the 21,498 councillors in England and Wales is 56 years old.

'Opportunity to Prosper' was launched on Monday September 11 2000. It is available on the LGA website

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