Liam Islam became the eleventh directly elected Young Mayor of Lewisham in a special ceremony at Catford’s Civic Suite last night.
Islam, 14, who attends Deptford Green School, won with 1,210 votes as 28 candidates campaigned to become the voice of the borough’s youth.
Speaking to EastLondonLines, he said: “My campaign focused on publicising youth facilities, equality and above all listening to Lewisham’s young people. The Young Mayor needs to work with young people because it’s their budget, not mine. It’s the young people’s budget: that’s my ethos.”
Islam added: “I’m delighted to be able to stand by and represent Lewisham’s young people. I’ve made some promises that I’m definitely going to keep.”
He will be responsible for a budget of £30,000 to spend on priorities identified by the younger generation.
Mayor of Lewisham Steve Bullock, who founded the scheme and has worked with all ten young mayors, said: “Taking part in an election process is one of the most important things any of us do. For all candidates, this is the beginning of a process of getting engaged and involved in politics. The whole council are incredibly excited every year when this event comes around.”
“Young people sometimes get a bad press,” he added. “I think that’s very unfair. Those involved make me very proud of the young people of Lewisham, who are putting something back into their community.”
Oneisha Palmer, who attends Sedgehill School, was elected Deputy Young Mayor with 992 votes.
Almost 9000 young people voted, representing a turnout of 49.3 per cent. The competition is the longest running Young Mayor’s programme nationally.
Last year’s victorious candidate was 15-year-old Emmanuel Olaniyan. He won after a landslide victory of a record 3,687 votes, over 40% of the 9,400 counted.
Polling stations were erected at schools and colleges, and all those aged between eleven and seventeen who live or study in Lewisham were encouraged to vote.
So-called “young advisers“, members of the local community and youth groups, will support the Young Mayor in their role.