In minority but making a difference

Jack BreretonYoung people are often seen as disengaged in politics. However Jack Brereton is different. Rochelle Owusu-Antwi speaks to one of the only two Conservative councillors on the city council, and he is the youngest at just 20 years old

Stoke-on-Trent’s youngest ever councillor Jack Brereton is encouraging more young people across the city to get involved in politics.

The 20-year-old politician believes the council should be a diverse mix of younger and older generations working together to form a more representative and democratic body. Some of the 44 councillors Jack works alongside are three times his age.

He said

I’d urge anybody who’s young, enthusiastic and interested in how we make decisions to get involved. Politics affects everybody and how they function in their lives.

I would enthuse them to really get involved and stand for office and be able to influence the decisions made at local and national level.

Having been naturally inquisitive about government processes, Jack has always been involved in politics from a young age. Growing up in Stoke-on-Trent he decided he wanted to make a change to his local community.

He sees his age as a positive providing him with both ambition and vision to achieve a better future and regeneration for the city. He now represents the Baddeley, Milton and North ward.

He said

I think it’s up to all of us who are actually within politics to try and reach out to young people

It’s important for all the political parties to be inclusive to ensure we get a broad range of different people coming forward within politics. Young people need to be involved in politics as we are the future of the city.

One way he suggests is to organise debates on local issues to increase youth engagement.

He said

It’s important to provide the right situations and attractiveness to engage young people because we need to be ensuring that political parties aren’t just for a certain group within society.

Studying Politics and International Relations at Keele University and working as a councillor means Jack has to juggle all his different commitments.

Sometimes it is tricky balancing everything but if you manage your time well and ensure you get everything done there isn’t really a problem,

he said.

Being one of two Tory councillors in Stoke-on-Trent – the other is Abi Brown of Meir Park – Jack feels that sometimes the party’s ability to make the decisions that they would want to make can be restricted.

He said

I think we do punch above our weight and make sure the administration that is currently in power is held to account.

For the time being Jack wants to keep his feet rooted firmly on Stoke ground and has no imminent plans to change policy beyond Stoke.

He said there is a massive range of issues in the city ranging from anti-social behaviour to litter all of which he is dedicated to tackling.

I’ve been focusing on my local area obviously to ensure the very limited funds that we do have are spent on the areas that can have the greatest impact within the local community.

After a national reform in May 2007, under-21s were able to stand for election to their local councils for the first time.

Three years later in 2010, Jack went for a councillor seat, losing by 200 votes.

However in May last year he was elected to his present ward and is now looking to make a positive difference within the area he represents.

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