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Community News & Views | Debate lowering the voting age to 16

Members of West Sussex Youth Cabinet, some are pictured, shared a platform with senior county councillors and MPs to debate lowering the voting age to 16.


A lively discussion ensued in the council chambers of County Hall, Chichester, with passionate and well-informed speeches put forward on both sides.


Votes at 16 is one of two key campaigns for the youth cabinet, which is made up of 11-18 year olds who were elected by their peers to represent all young people in West Sussex. During an hour-long debate, arguments for included the fact that 16 year olds can vote in Scotland and Wales but not in England and the frustration of being denied a voice in the EU referendum.


Those arguing against questioned if 16 year olds had enough life experience and said 18 was the correct cut-off point.


A number of senior county councillors said they had been swayed in favour on the strength of the arguments.


Speaking in favour of the motion, Cllr Paul Marshall, the cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We should be promoting good governance of our country and we can only do this by encouraging young people to participate in the important issues that shape our services.”


Gillian Keegan, the MP for Chichester, and Sir Peter Bottomley, the MP for Worthing West, attended and joined in.


A vote was then taken, with a resounding victory in favour of the motion to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote – 24 for, eight against and three abstentions.


Caroline Nicholls, the High Sherriff for West Sussex, told the young contributors that 15,000 people had elected them and their challenge was to ‘go out and make a difference now’.


From here, the youth cabinet will propose a formal motion for their senior counterparts to debate at a full council meeting later this year.

Posted in Letters.