Britain’s youngest deputy mayor: ‘All I can do is my best’

Terence Smith: ‘I was very happy to become deputy mayor, and I feel that it is going to allow me to be a voice for young people.’ Photograph: Guardian

Terence Smith: ‘I was very happy to become deputy mayor, and I feel that it is going to allow me to be a voice for young people.’ Photograph: Guardian

Britain’s youngest deputy mayor: ‘All I can do is my best’

Terence Smith, 18, newly-elected Labour councillor for Goole town council – and the UK’s youngest deputy mayor – explains what motivated him

I became interested in politics in 2010, around the time of the last general election, partly because of the rise in tuition fees, and also after realising that decisions were being made that affected me. But it wasn’t until I started doing my A-levels at York College that I became very politically aware, because I knew that by the end of my college time I’d be able to vote.

I started campaigning for our local Labour parliamentary candidate in September last year. My first day canvassing it was chucking it down with rain – and I absolutely loved it. It rolled on from there and it became every weekend. Every second I wasn’t at college I was doing something on the campaign. I joined the Labour party in November, having been a supporter for years.

In January, I went through the selection process to become a candidate for the council. I’ve always been heavily involved in the community – through the Scouts, for example – and I just wanted to show the younger generation that if you want something from it, and you put the effort in, you can get it. I thought a young voice on the council would be really able to push issues in Goole and move them forward.

My friends have been very supportive, which was brilliant. And campaigning on the doorstep, most of the people I talked to were very glad that somebody my age was getting involved. You can be young and have more life experience than somebody older – it’s just how much effort you put in.

After the election, I was nominated as deputy mayor by a fellow council member and then seconded, and then there was a vote in the council. It was really humbling because it was a bit of a shock. I was very happy to take it on, and I feel that it is going to allow me to be a voice for young people. I’ll be in post for a year. The role of the deputy mayor involves going to any ceremonies the mayor can’t attend and chairing meetings if he can’t attend. It shows when these ceremonies take place that there is a young person there and that they are engaged.

All I can do is my best for Goole over the next four years. I’m going to get out there and ask people what they want. There’s a lot of fly tipping I want to get cleared up and make sure that is done properly, because it’s not nice for anybody to have rubbish on their doorstep. We’ve had a surprise increase over the last couple of weeks in graffiti in the area, so obviously we need to go and get that cleaned up and see what we can do to reduce it.

I’m doing A-levels in film, drama and media studies. I’ll be going to university in a year, hopefully, but I won’t be going far, probably Hull or York. I’ll still be able to attend council meetings. I’ll never let it affect my council work, because I’ve been elected for four years, and I’ve got to serve the community. I’m going to stay local because I love Goole – it’s a lovely place.

I’d love to have a career in politics, either at a local or national level, but I’ll see what happens. I think my main focus is going to be the next four years.

Read at: http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2015/may/29/terence-smith-youngest-deputy-mayor-politics-goole

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