Ollie becomes town councillor at the age of 18
- Credit: Ollie Tucker
One of the youngest people ever to serve as a councillor in Axminster has been welcomed onto the town council.
Ollie Tucker, an 18-year-old student, was co-opted onto the authority at its latest meeting, along with well-known community champion Steve Holt.
Ollie, who is studying at home in Axminster for a geography degree, volunteers at foodbanks in the town and works part-time in an Indian restaurant. He is also a lifeguard at the town’s Flamingo Pool but is furloughed at present.
He can’t wait to get started in his new role – and the town council is delighted to have him on board.
Ollie said this week: “Local government at parish, town and district level is so often overlooked but it is very important.
“A lot has been made of the fact that the average age of local councillors is around 60. Having a more diverse range of people is a good thing on local councils so I’m glad to be getting involved. I’m looking forward to working with everyone on the town council.”
Ollie joined Axminster Town Council days after news broke of the ill-tempered Handforth Parish Council Zoom meeting, cited last week by Herald columnist Paul Arnott as he advocated improving the way councils are run so that more young people might become involved.
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Ollie is determined to play his part and is taking his new role seriously.
He said: “My first priority is getting my head round standing orders and understanding how the council works.
“After that, I want to do my bit to ensure that after the pandemic, our local businesses can come back and do well again. The hospitality sector and the High Street are at risk at the moment. We need the High Street to thrive. Happy communities with good High Streets will always be good places to live.
“Small businesses have been overlooked in the pandemic. It has been harder for them but local councils have economic leverage. Council tenders can go to local businesses to make sure local money is kept within the local business bubble.”
Town mayor Jill Farrow said both Ollie and fellow new councillor, Steve Holt, were “warmly welcomed”.
She said it was good to have young blood on the council.
“I worked with Steve on Axminster Community Emergency Response last year and know him to be a man who is a dedicated servant of the community in many ways.”
Councillor Farrow worked with him more recently too, providing marshalling services at Seaton Hospital, which was being used by Axminster’s GP surgery to provide covid-19 vaccinations.
Steve and Ollie will fill two vacancies in the Weycroft ward on the town council.
Ollie is among the tiny 0.6 per cent of councillors nationally who are under the age of 25.
The town council still has four vacancies to be filled.
On its website it encouraged anyone “in an under-represented group interested in reading more about becoming a councillor” to study a report by the BBC about young people running to be councillors in 2018.
The BBC report refers to a Local Government Association document that says it is crucial to encourage more people to become councillors.
It says: “While the world of local government is ever changing, what remains at its heart is the group of strong and dedicated leaders who put themselves forward to help improve quality of life locally, influence government and stand up for their communities.
“Up against severe financial pressures and an ever-growing reliability on services, ensuring local authorities remain at the core of change is paramount. Encouraging people to think about becoming a councillor and becoming part of the challenge of reshaping service delivery is crucial if we are to continue with the momentum.
“Local government is a vibrant sector in which to be involved. By having councillors who are passionate, energetic and committed, and who listen to residents, we are not only fully dedicated to the local people we serve, but residents understand our work, gain interest in what we do and why we are doing it.”