Young councillors change the political map

This Is Local London: Richard Butler Richard Butler

WHEN 18-year-old hospital care worker Jake Morrison took a seat in Liverpool from a councillor with almost 40 years experience on election night it signaled a change.

It highlighted the desire of the voting public to get away from stuffy, out-of-touch older politicians and search for something new.

Switch to Borehamwood and three young councillors celebrated their wins, with the youngest at 18, and a fortnight into their terms they are all eager to solve the problems of the voting public.

The first win for Labour in Hertsmere since 1996, Richard Butler, 25, gained a borough council seat on the Kenilworth ward having been a dedicated Labour party member since the age of 15.

He said: “There were mixed opinions on the doorsteps when I campaigned. It was a boost to think that young people can get on the council but people had their views on politicians with experience.

“I was part of the youth council and joined my dad (Councillor Ernie Butler) at meetings with the political figures of that time including Brian Stanley, Eileen Stanley and Frank Ward and I have to admit those meetings were very boring.

“The atmosphere in the Labour Party has changed now. We’re introducing new people in all the time and we do have a lot of younger people.”

One of those new people is 18-year-old Kerri Prince who got a seat on Elstree & Borehamwood Town Council on the Kenilworth ward.

She campaigned while studying for her A-levels and will go on to do a politics and society degree at Brunel University later on this year.

She said: “It’s funny as I was part of a mock election at school and my teacher asked for someone to be a Conservative candidate so I did it but looking into it I realised I was more leaning towards the Labour Party.

“I worked really hard to get my face known in the area and did receive some criticism from people who thought I was too young to do the job.

“It’s important to remember that it’s not like older MPs have set a good example and I think being younger has many advantages. I am ready for people to come to me with their problems and I will do my best to solve them.”

Sam Dobin, 23, joined the Conservative Party in August last year and won a borough seat in Borehamwood Brookmeadow. After gaining a degree in economics at Cambridge he started teaching the subject at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, in Butterfly Lane, Elstree.

He said: “I was really pleased and surprised when I found out I had won. It was strange campaigning as usually when you’re working towards something you know what the outcome will be and here I had no idea how I would come across.

“I was out every night for four weeks prior the elections and I knocked on about 800 doors during that time and leaflet-dropped 2,000 houses.

“It certainly dominated a lot of my time. I got into this to see how to solve problems for residents.

“The average age of councillors is over 60 and people are disaffected with politicians at the moment as many people feel they can’t relate to them.

“I think young councillors have a lot to give and it’s good to see a few in the area now.”

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