Teen councillor Ellie Emberson to tackle issues affecting young people

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Media captionLabour’s Ellie Emberson was elected as councillor in Reading aged just 19

At 19, Ellie Emberson is one of the youngest councillors in England after Thursday’s local election results.

The teenager won her seat on Reading Borough Council, representing Labour in the town’s Minster Ward for the next four years.

She will dramatically alter the average age of councillors in the borough, which is around 65.

Teen councillor Ellie Emberson to tackle issues affecting young people
Teen councillor Ellie Emberson to tackle issues affecting young people

She also has high ambitions to be the voice for a generation traditionally underrepresented in politics.

“Young people deserve to be represented,” she said. “Young people are in the community so someone has to step up and represent their thoughts and opinions.

“So I thought, ‘I’ll step up and do it myself’.

“I think the average age of a councillor is 65, so I looked at the council and thought ‘you’re all great but we need to get some new blood in here and someone that can stand up and actually say what it’s like to be a young person, because they make assumptions and don’t know’.”

Image copyrightEllie Emberson
Image caption Ellie Emberson spent six months campaigning to be elected

Ms Emberson added: “Hopefully I’ll work with the council to look at initiatives for young people, and work with the Labour Party in general to come up with policies that support young people in areas such as housing.”

Housing is certainly a big issue for a town where the average price for a terraced house is just shy of £323k – far beyond a young person’s starting salary.

Even a flat in Reading will put you back by £244k on average.

“We are definitely the rent generation and it’s just so unfortunate,” she said.

“But I think as well as looking at ownership we need to look at renting, because ultimately young people are going to have to rent for longer than previous generations, which is not great, but if we are going to have to do that we need to make sure tenants aren’t being ripped off by landlords and that there is security for young people.”

Other teenage councillors

Image caption Two 18 year olds, Jake Cooper (left) and Joe Roberts won seats for the Conservatives at the Dudley election

In the Dudley local election, Jake Cooper, 18, won Belle Vale for the Tories taking it from Labour. He said: “The Conservatives are giving young people a chance to stand up for their communities.”

Joe Roberts, also 18, won Halesowen North and said “it’s been a fantastic night.”

Ms Emberson is Reading born and bred, growing up in the Minster ward that she now represents.

She started out in Reading politics as chair of the Reading Youth Cabinet in 2014, becoming the Member of Youth Parliament for Reading a year later.

Despite these years of experience, she does inevitably come across views based on her teenager status, but her career has set her up to be thick-skinned.

“It is difficult when people say ‘you’re too young'”, she says, “but then other people are saying it’s amazing that young people are getting involved.

“There’s a complete mix of opinions on the doorstep and it’s just about making sure you listen to everyone.”

Ms Emberson has taken over the Labour Minster seat from a councillor who was retiring and won 1,308 votes, beating candidates for the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

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