The final six candidates have been out campaigning for votes over the past few months and voting has been taking place up and down the borough in schools, youth centres and online.
The eagerly anticipated election result to find out who would be the next member of youth parliament (MYP) for the borough was held in the council chamber at Rochdale Town Hall on Thursday 22 February with the Mayor and Mayoress of Rochdale amongst the excited friends and families of the candidates.
To a drumroll from the enthusiastic attendees, it was announced that 8,885 votes were cast in the election and that Anita Okunde was elected the new deputy member of youth parliament and that Louis Tweedale, with 2,092 votes, was duly elected the new member of youth parliament for the borough.
Speaking on his victory Louis said: “I’ve had a great year as deputy and I’m looking forward to this new role. I want to give all candidates a role as I am passionate about helping young people as much as I can, and we all want to tackle important issues.”
Louis’ manifesto points are getting young people mental health support early, developing more activities for young people to do and more work experience/apprenticeship opportunities.
Councillor Donna Martin, deputy cabinet member for children’s services said: “All the candidates should be really proud of their achievements. I’m pleased to see so many schools supporting this election, and I encourage them all the get involved and provide young people with the chance to get involved in democracy. Sarah has been wonderful this past year and Louis was a very supportive deputy so he will take some great skills and passion into his term and I wish him all the best.”
In the past year, Louis has also taken an instrumental lead on championing votes for 16-year-olds, a motion which was passed at the last full council meeting (14 February 2018) that the council supports the campaign.
An outgoing member of youth parliament Sarah Mahmood reflected on her year in office at the start of the election ceremony and said; “I think about the number of young people that put their trust in me and voted for me 12 months ago; I hope I’ve done them justice. I’ve worked hard on my three priorities and really enjoyed all the events and working with other MYP’s across the North West. We have an active borough and a council that listens to its young people and believes in article 12 of the UN convention on the rights of a child; the right to have an opinion and for it to be listened to and taken seriously.”
Sarah’s three manifesto priorities were reducing the stigma around mental health, supporting those who have to do GCSE resits due to unforeseen circumstances and improving transport for younger people.
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Heather Mellalieu, a youth worker at Rochdale Council, said: “Sarah has done all that has been asked of her, she has always been willing to speak and attend events. She has impeccable manners, a desire to bring good to her community and is committed to making a real difference for young people; she is a credit to her family.”
Gail Hopper, director of children’s services at Rochdale Council, presented at the event and said: “A great benefit of the MYP elections is seeing our young people grow and develop their confidence. Under Sarah’s leadership, we have, for the first time, seen a youth cabinet that has successfully challenged the council to commission services that meet their manifesto. They have worked with the council cabinet to share their financial priorities and seek additional funding. The cabinet was so impressed that they are at the final decision-making stage to commit resources to meet those priorities.”
“I’d like to thank Sarah personally, and on behalf of all the children and young people in the borough, for the difference, she has made. Moving forward, we believe that our young people will have services in place they didn’t have before, so Sarah and her youth cabinet should be very proud of achieving that.”
For more information on our youth service and the work of the youth cabinet please visit our website rochdale.gov.uk/youthservice