Search is on for new youth mayor

 By Heloise Wood, Reporter

The Lambeth youth mayor has urged young people to get involved in local politics as the deadline to find his successor approaches.

Anyone aged 11-19 who would like to stand as his successor must apply by next Friday (27 January).

At a time when many teenagers are seen as apathetic about politics, the current young mayor, Brixton-based David Oyedele, is looking forward to passing on his duties to another young hopeful.

Oyedele said: “I wanted to be mayor so I could make a difference and improve opportunities for young people and I’ve achieved that.

“Young people want to be involved in local democracy and the youth mayor and youth parliament.”

He added that the scheme is the “perfect” way for his peers to get involved, by either standing as a cadidate or casting their vote in the election.

As mayor for a year, Oyedele’s replacement will be responsible for allocating £25,000 worth of funding to local projects.

As well as choosing which schemes to allocate the cash to, the current mayor met Labour leader Ed Milliband to discuss solutions to the summer’s riots and led a community summit in October discussing youth crime.

In Lambeth, the youth mayor and the youth parliament members work together. Many Liberal Democrat councillors criticised the concept when it began in 2007, saying it was a ‘gimmick’ and that the money could be better spent elsewhere on longer term projects.

At the time cllr Roger Geiss said he would be “interested to see how many people turned up to vote.” Over 10,000 young people voted in the 2010 youth elections.

The first UK youth mayor was elected in Middlesborough in 2002 but the scheme folded due to financial difficulties. The next borough to have a youth mayor was Lewisham in 2005 and then Newham and Tower Hamlets elected theirs in 2006.


Brixton’s political heritage

Four more political heavyweights from Brixton:

  • Harold Macmillan, former prime minister
  • John Major, former prime minister and one-time Lambeth councillor
  • Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone grew up and lived in Brixton
  • Baron Briginshaw, trade union leader and politician