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We should be able to vote aged 16, say Youth Cabinet

Published on Tuesday, 11th July 2017 in Council news news

Council leaders in Rotherham are being urged to back plans to lower the voting age to 16, following a plea from local teenagers

Members of Rotherham Council are being asked to support a motion by the town’s Youth Cabinet at this week’s Full Council.

If they back it then this will help enable the national Youth Parliament to lobby the Government to reduce the age when people can vote from the current age of 18 to the age of 16.

The Youth Cabinet - a national representation of elected young people at local level - has already had an indication from a pre-meeting with members that this vote will be backed. They want to gain support for voting rights for 16 and 17 year olds in public elections and referendums in the UK.

Thomas Jackson, aged 17, who is a member of Youth Parliament representing Rotherham, said: “Rotherham is moving forward as a child-friendly borough with particular focus on children and young people.

“People my age and many others already have jobs and contribute to the local economy. At 16, you can get married legally, have a national insurance number, and be paid national minimum wage. We have strong views and ideas on how the town should develop for the future, and if young people my age can do all this, then it only makes sense that we should be able to elect those who represent us, and decide our future, on a national level.”

The UK Youth Parliament, established in the late 1990s, is a non-political representation of 364 elected members aged 11-18 across the UK, who aim to increase political awareness in younger people. This is by providing a platform for discussion at a national level and by encouraging schools to teach a ‘curriculum of life’, involving learning about mortgages, taxes and neutral political education.

Rotherham Council Leader Cllr Chris Read added: “There is a strong movement of young people getting engaged with politics which can only be a good thing as politics should be for everyone.

“The Youth Cabinet is showing that young people here in Rotherham are absolutely in tune with this changing political landscape, and there is a real appetite for inclusion amongst younger people.

"Rotherham is transforming into a child-friendly borough, and supporting 16 and 17 year olds with their right to vote will fall in line with our vision for the town and its future.”

Youth Cabinet will present their proposal at Full Council on Wednesday (12 July).

Meanwhile Rotherham’s Youth Cabinet is also pushing the Make Your Mark national Youth Parliament campaign.

Since 2000, the UK Youth Parliament has provided a voice for young people to be involved in decision making. Make Your Mark gives young people aged 11-18 the chance to decide what Members of Youth Parliament should debate and vote on during their sitting in the House of Commons November 10.

The town’s Youth Cabinet and the Council are encouraging as many children as possible to sign up to this chance to have their voices and issues heard on a national platform.

Last year over 975,000 pupils took part in the Make Your Mark nationally and this year the hope is to surpass the one million mark.

Schools and colleges interested in this need to register by July 23 this year and take part on the consultation, which runs from August 12 to October 6 2017. To register, go to the UK Youth Parliament Website

The school or college with the highest percentage turnout will win five tickets to the House of Commons viewing gallery of the event on November 10.

Visit the UK Youth Parliament website

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