Politics of the playground: Newham Young Mayor battle begins

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and Young Mayor Yaseen Bux

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales and Young Mayor Yaseen Bux - Credit: Andrew Baker

It’s time for young people to exercise their democratic right and vote for who they want to be the next mayor.

Not the successor to Boris Johnson or Robin Wales, but rather the equally important boy or girl who will replace Yaseen Bux as the Young Mayor of Newham.

On October 20, 11- to 18-year-olds across the borough must pick from a pack of 22 stellar candidates.

One hopeful, Royal Docks Community School’s Aisha Balhweesal, is committed to providing a variety of afterschool activities for students, including sport and music.

She also promises to fight racism and encourage togetherness.

Louis Baxter, meanwhile, is devoted to promoting diversity in the borough – and celebrating its young people.

“We should all be proud of Newham,” the Little Ilford School pupil said.

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For current chief Yaseen Bux, the mayoralty has been an exciting – if slightly frustrating – experience.

“It took a lot of commitment to win,” the former Langdon Academy student, 16, said. “I had to speak to everyone – including the younger pupils that I didn’t know.

“But once I became mayor, I was very impressed. I helped with a business project where young people with ideas pitched to me and I judged who should get funding. The teamwork was amazing.”

His only disappointment was that he couldn’t implement everything in his manifesto.

“My advice to the next mayor is plan ahead – you really have to manage your time,” he said.

Adult mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “It is heartening to know in a borough as young as ours young people have a real passion for politics. Our scheme is amongst the best in the country and we have the highest number of schools and colleges in the borough taking part.

“I would also like to congratulate Yaseen and the Youth Council on all they’ve achieved this year and wish the contenders all the best.”