Croydon's youngest candidates want more young people to vote
Croydon’s youngest election candidates - including a teenager who is still at school - are hoping they can inspire the town’s younger voters in the lead up to this year’s council elections.
Both the Labour and Conservative parties have a number of young hopefuls aiming to inject a little bit youth into the council chamber.
For many students and young adults the last thing on their minds is politics but Croydon’s young candidates are hoping to buck that trend.
Conservative candidate Ben Flook is the youngest of all the potential councillors at 18 years of age with Matt O'Flynn, also of the Conservatives, a close second at 19.
The 18-year-old is still studying at Wilson’s School in Sutton having attended Hayes Primary School in Kenley.
Mr Flook, who first became involved in politics during the 2010 election when he was just 14 years old, faces a tough challenge as he contests for Norbury in council elections.
But the keen cricketer is not put off by the prospect of trying to dent a safe Labour seat in his first ever election.
He said: "I became involved in politics as I want to make a positive change in Croydon.
"It is imperative that more young people participate in the political process but ultimately a lot of young people feel apathetic towards the political scene both locally and nationally.
"I think younger candidates are an essential mechanism to engage younger people in politics. I also think we can add a new dimension to the council chamber."
Stephen Mann, who is standing for his home ward of Ashburton, is Labour’s youngest candidate at 22-years-old, said more young people are needed in politics to address the balance of the young and old divide.
The former Wallington Grammar school pupil and Salford University graduate added: "The UK average age for a councillor is now 60 and this is not right.
"Our town is radically changing and the views of the people who will be the towns long term future need to also be heard."
"I have already spoken to a number of young people in Longheath Gardenss, Ashburton about making their voice heard as we want to be accountable to them not just the older generation."
The young hopefuls go head to head outside the town hall.
Rosina St James who is standing for the Conservatives, said it is vital more young people get involved in politics.
Miss James, who is standing for South Norwood and previously went to Addington High Shcool, said young people's voices can be forgotten.
She said: "Young people must get involved in politics. If we do not speak up or take action, our concerns , our issues and our needs will get forgotten about and will not be addressed in policy.
"We must encourage young people that politics is relevant and things can change if you get engaged and vote."
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