A campaign to encourage young people to register to vote takes place this week across Nottingham and the rest of the country.

A youth takeover event at Nottingham’s Old Market Square Council House allowed 16-21 year olds to decide how the council’s budget should be spent working with executive councillors and the Lord Mayor.

The event is part of the National Voter Registration Drive (NVRD) organised by the campaign Bite the Ballot (BTB) to dispel the myth that young people are not interested in politics.

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Image: Students taking part in a discussion at the Council House Ballroom, Old Market Square

The students were asked to decide how they would allocate £100 of the council budget to different sectors, from public transport, to open parks and spaces. Most groups gave the majority of their money to creating jobs and protecting the elderly.

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Image: Councillor Leslie Ayoola and Nottingham City Council’s engagement officer, Jon Rea listening to feedback from the students. 

City councillors then took on board the feedback and explained how the budget is actually spent. Cllr David Mellen told the students that the budget for this year had not been finalised yet, hinting for them to come forward with suggestions and opinions.

  • Bite The Ballot’s NVRD saw 50,000 people registering to vote in 2014, and 441,696 people during NVRD 2015.
  • Half of 18-24 year olds claimed that they had not registered to vote by March 2015.
  • 43% of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2015 General Election; the lowest turnout of all demographics.

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Image: Jackie Morris, Lord Mayor of Nottingham.

“How dare we not vote. I think it’s appalling”
Jackie Morris, The Lord Mayor of Nottingham

The Lord Mayor of Nottingham was at the event. Watch the video below to hear her address the issue of not voting.

Cllr Sam Webster, portfolio holder for schools, was also at the event and he thinks the problem needs to be tackled from an early age:

“The world of politics and how it interacts with every day life is really important. I’d like to see more of it happening in schools, embedded in the curriculum. So many young people say they don’t feel they know enough about politics, how it affects everyday life and how they can get involved,” he said.

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image: Councillor David Mellen at the event

Cllr David Mellen, portfolio holder for early years and intervention, spoke to the young adults about the importance of voting.

“Who’s the government going to listen to most? People over 65 or people between the ages of 16 and 24?  It’s going to be the people that vote the most,” he told them.

Sixteen-year-old Bluecoats student, Elspbeth Oakley, is already heavily involved in politics and regularly attends Labour party meetings. Listen below to her opinion on what needs to be done to break down the barrier between young people and politics.

Audio: Elspbeth Oakley, student

Despite having a record breaking number of people registered to vote in last year’s general election, young people still have the lowest representation out of all age groups.

Bite the Ballot’s engagement officer, Rachel Armitage, thinks there are many reasons young people are against voting.

Audio: Rachel Armitage, BTB engagement officer

Bite the Ballot has produced a campaign video (watch below) to help generate more awareness on social media.

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Image: Bite the Ballot campaign poster

  • For more information about how to register to vote click here
  • For more information about the Youth Takeover in Nottingham click here
  • To contact a city Councillor click here
  • To read the BBC Newsbeat 18-24 year old political survey, click here