Tom Hollis guest column: More young people should enter politics

editorial image

They say a week is a long time in politics.

It’s just over a year since I was elected as the youngest County Councillor in England and let me tell you not even a year is a long time in politics. Time has flown by and it’s scary to think I’m already a quarter of my way through the four year term.

I was 20 when I got elected to Nottinghamshire County Council, one of the proudest days of my life, to be elected to represent an area of Ashfield I care so much about. Now I’m 21, looking back at this first year; would I recommend other young people getting into politics?

It’s true that you sacrifice lots of the normal things young people do. Giving up time with friends to be in evening meetings or visiting residents, but for me doing the job makes it all worthwhile.

I think as a young person I bring more energy to the role. Ashfield is not the place where people should put their feet up as councillors. Our area deserves elected representatives who give their all to try to improve things.

So yes, more young people should get involved, for two main reasons. Firstly our councils are still mostly made up of middle aged people and I know from the many debates we have, that better decisions would be made if the councillors were more representative of our local communities.

Secondly new councillors ask more questions. We have not been jaded by the officers saying over many years “that’s how it is”. We ask “why?” and “why not?” and “isn’t there another way?”. Pressing for answers and looking at things with a fresh pair of eyes means we often get new things done that have been neglected or parked on the self for years.

It makes me proud when you achieve change. Getting a road resurfaced or resolving a longstanding issue for a resident, these are the things that make the long hours and sacrifices worthwhile.

If you’re a young person interested in making a difference, building a better place for your friends and neighbours, then have a look at local politics. As Ghandi said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We are the next generation, we have a chance to fight for a fairer and better place for us to work, shop and live. You really can be part of shaping the Ashfield of the future.