Council says it is time to give our 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote

Olivia Rowley
Olivia Rowley

Wakefield Council will call on the government to give youngsters aged 16 and 17 the right to vote in UK elections.

Coun Olivia Rowley, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people, submitted a motion for the issue to be discussed at a meeting of the full council on Wednesday.

She said that children aged 16 and 17 can pay taxes, join the armed forces, give legal consent to medical treatment, set up and manage companies, get married and raise a family.

They have also been allowed to vote in Scottish elections since May 2016.

Coun Rowley added that she “believes that 16 and 17-year-olds should be given the ability to influence decisions that will define their futures through engagement and participation in the democratic system”.

The motion gained enough support from councillors that the authority will now call on the government to give the youngsters a voice.

Coun Rowley said Wakefield’s UK Youth Parliament representatives had been discussing the issue.

And she said recent election results pointed to an “increasing number of young people taking an interest in politics.”

Coun Rowley said: “Our 16 and 17-year-olds have strong opinions.

“I think it would be really exciting to get them enthused and involved and we have got to appreciate that many of the decisions made affect their futures.”

Council representatives will hold a series of meetings with young people to listen to their views.