Two million pounds is being invested in encouraging the creation of more Young Mayors around the country, who will not only have a voice in local decision making but their own budget. The Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, said the move would open up politics to young people.
The ten current Mayors have been elected to represent young people aged from 11 to 18. They can influence decisions made by their local councils and they have a budget to spend on initiatives which benefit young people in their areas. Hazel Blears said creating more Young Mayors was a way of giving young people experience of voting and decision-making as well as ensuring they had a greater say over council policies such as increasing community cohesion, and the provision of youth centres, gyms and open spaces.
Ms Blears said the current Mayors had captured the imagination of young people and their elections had involved more than 100,000 voters. In Lewisham, turnout for the election was nearly 50 per cent, compared to 43 per cent turnout in Lewisham and Greenwich in the election for Mayor of London. There was evidence, she said, that they were making a difference. In Tower Hamlets, for example, the young mayor successfully applied for funding to develop local youth centres, focusing on improving accessibility. In Newham successive Young Mayors were helping shape the Olympic legacy and had been involved in the design and accessibility to young people of the Aquatics Centre and leisure pool.
In addition to the Mayors in Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Lambeth, Worthing, Eastbourne, Mansfield, Melton, Wyre Forest and North East Lincolnshire a similar role is being created in North Tyneside.