'Youth mayor could engage young people'
AN elected mayor hopeful has thrown his weight behind the idea of a 'Youth Mayor' in Bristol.
Marvin Rees, who is seeking the Labour nomination, told the Post: "It's a great idea."
The idea has received backing from campaigners who believe the role would encourage political engagement among young people.
But critics have argued it could distract the council from its youth policies.
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Mr Rees said: "Bristol needs to set out to create leaders in young people who can shape the future of our city.
"We need to start creating leaders for Bristol which will give the city the recognition it deserves."
Mr Rees, a 40-year-old Labour activist, has recently launched the Bristol Leadership Programme. The two-week course will take a dozen people each year from poor backgrounds and help them develop their aspirations.
Mr Rees hopes the project will give "experience to future government ministers, World Bank economists and judges."
He added: "Bristol can send leaders to positions across the country and the world which would be fantastic for the city."
The idea of a youth mayor also caught the attention of Karl Belizaire, development manager of an organisation which offers grants to entrepreneurs.
He said: "It could be a way of making the youth part of the decisions which affect them in their city."
But there has been opposition to the idea of a 'youth mayor' from Sophie Collins, who ran a political engagement project for schoolchildren called 'I'm a councillor get me out of here', at Bristol City Council.
She told the Post a youth mayor could distract resources and draw the focus away from much needed youth engagement projects in the city.
She said: "A youth mayor will be a very atypical young person – it's only certain kinds of kids who put their name forward."