AHEAD of the Stroud District elections on Thursday, the SNJ speaks to two of the youngest candidates in the election to discover what issues matter to them.
Ashley Smith (Labour), aged 21, and 19-year-old Lewis McQueer (Conservative) both want to give young people more of a say in decision-making in the district.
Ashley Smith, from Woodchester, who turned 21 on April 7, is standing for the Labour party in the Amberley and Woodchester ward in the local election on May 6.
He currently studying politics and international relations at Bath University and has served as a councillor on Minchinhampton Parish Council for two years.
He believes it’s really important for young people to get involved in politics.
“I think it’s absolutely fundamental,” he said.
“Young people do have an awful lot to offer.
“There’s the criticism that with age comes wisdom, but equally I think that there’s an extent to which young people have their own wisdom and are able to look into the future, to look at current trends, to see how things are going, and invest in their own future.”
If elected, Ashley said that he would like to work towards the restoration of bus services to and from Amberley. And across the district he believes “the environment should be at the core of all decision making”.
“The National Trust has launched a project, to try and establish nature corridors connecting some of our big wildlife sites, such as Woodchester Park and the Commons, allowing plants and animals to move. That’s something I’d be really keen to get involved in, but I’m interested in anything green.”
19-year-old Lewis McQueer from Bussage is standing for the Conservatives in the Chalford constituency.
Lewis is in his first year of a politics degree at Cardiff University.
“I’ve been studying politics ever since GCSE and became actively interested following a week’s work experience in Parliament,” he said.
Lewis said it is important that young people young people have a say in decisions that will affect them.
“Why should young people get involved in politics? Well, why not?” he said.
“All decisions made are going to affect our age group.
“And having young and energetic people in local politics will help give a breath of fresh air.
“Young people are often underrepresented in politics at all levels, be it district, county or nationally, and I am hoping that by putting my self forward I will be able to change that.”
Lewis said if elected he would be interested in working on environmental issues, affordable housing and road safety.
“Locally, I care particularly about the environment. I do not want the whole of Chalford to turn into a giant housing estate,” he said.
“And I, being 19, feel very strongly about affordable housing, so I will champion for more of this in our area. Whilst it sounds like a paradox wanting to keep Chalford green and have more affordable housing, I believe both can be done.
“I’m also a keen cyclist and I think more can be done to make our roads safer.
“Finally, I will advocate for more job opportunities for young people in particular. In short, the Conservative budget looks very promising, but I want to direct some of the money towards us young people so that we may benefit – we have been hardest hit by the pandemic.”
For details on all candidates see: