Adult voters have to wait until May 7, but Cheshire East’s young people have elected two of their own to join the UK Youth Parliament.
Seven candidates went to the electorate of 11 to 18-year-olds with campaigns on tackling mental health, the living wage, votes for 16-year-olds, youth provision and homophobia.
Nearly 6,400 voted in the annual ballot and the two successful candidates were Joe McBride,15, from Wilmslow and Callum Coleman, 17, from Crewe.
The other candidates: William Bloor, Libby Frobisher, Jack Karimi, Amber Sparks and Hannah Wallace become their deputies.
Voters judged domestic abuse, employment including apprenticeships and the minimum wage, mental health and transport to be their top priorities.
Speaking after the results were announced at Sandbach Town Hall, Callum Coleman said: “I'm proud of being part of what Cheshire East Youth Council has achieved over the last year, the elections were a great example of our progress. I'm now excited to continue and improve on this work as a Member of Youth Parliament.”
Joe McBride said: “I’m really looking forward and working with a collection of lovely young people and adults and making a difference to the lives of young people and taking every opportunity I’m given.”
Tony Crane, Director of Children’s Services at Cheshire East Council said: “I’d like to congratulate the incredible achievement of all the young candidates.
“We, as a local authority, are working closer with more young people than ever before so we can better understand what services they need.
“We now have a fantastic set of young people who will help us these deliver these services. Well done and I look forward to continuing to hear their views in the future.”
The UK Youth Parliament has 600 Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) who are elected annually. In the past two years, one million young people have voted.
MYPs organise events and projects, run campaigns and influence decision makers on the issues which matter most to young people.
They meet once a year at the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting and are the only group besides MPs to sit in the main House of Commons chamber.
Joe and Callum will replace outgoing Cheshire East MYPs, Victoria Gower, from Haslington near Crewe, and Zainab Tejan-Cole from Macclesfield.
Joe and Callum are also members of the Cheshire East Youth Council (CEYC), which was established in April 2014 with the aim of giving a voice to the young people in the area.
The Youth Council currently has hundreds of members. It is run by young people and supported by national charity The Children’s Society.
Hazel Mayamba-Kasongo, participation worker at The Children’s Society, said: “I want to congratulate Joe and Callum on their superb achievement in being elected to the Youth Parliament by their peers – and I know they will be fantastic ambassadors for Cheshire East nationally.
“But I also want to congratulate the other candidates who will become their deputies and thank our outgoing MYPs, Victoria Gower and Zainab Tejan-Cole, for all their hard work.
“We often hear stories nationally about how people are switched off from the democratic process and sceptical about the ability of elected representatives to make a difference to their lives.
“The amazing turnout of well over 6,000 11 to 18-year-olds in this election proves that is not the case among our young people.”
Anyone aged 11-21 who would like to join Cheshire East Youth Council should email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook and search for Cheshire East Youth Council.