Teenage Deputy Provost for Aberdeen stirs comment

The news that Aberdeen is to have a teenager as deputy Lord Provost and that two other councillors in their early 20s will take control of powerful committees on Aberdeen City Council has produced a froth of coverage in the media.

Given that one of the intentions of the shake up of Scotland's councils was to get new, younger councillors, then Aberdeen's planned appointments are surely spot on proof that the intention has been achieved. Long serving councillors were offered golden handshakes to make way for the new ward structures and a new proportional representation system of elections.

Aberdeen Town House
Ushering in a new era for Aberdeen City Council?

The young man who is to deputise for the Lord Provost is Aberdeen law student John West who is 18 years old. The councillor for Hazlehead, Ashley and Queens Cross will deputise, when necessary, for the city's new Lord Provost Peter Stephen.

His sister Kirsty, who is just three years his senior, is the council's education spokesperson while Councillor Callum McCaig (22) takes up the convenership of the Licensing Committee.

These appointments certainly breathe new life into a council which, like so many around Scotland, has tended to be dominated by older people who have reached a position in life where they are able to give take time away from their employment to serve on the council.

I hope it also brings a fresh approach and some much needed dynamism. Our local councils are good at 'talking the talk' about the future development of our city (remember Aberdeen Futures, the Urban Realm and now the Bon Accord Quarter), but many of these drift into history leaving no trace.

Now is the time for action and with the added energy, fresh thinking and challenging of established ways, from our younger eager councillors perhaps we will see some action?
• How are we going to extend Aberdeen's role as the oil capital or Europe?
• How are we going to turn Aberdeen into a wider energy centre of excellence?
• How are we going to make Aberdeen a more enjoyable and competitive place to live and do business?

In doing so we need fresh thinking to sweep aside tired political dogma and plan for the real world and real people. One classic example is transport and how to encourage people to come back into our city centre.

I know it's asking a lot of our new younger local politicians, but I hope they can stay away from the attitudes of "that is how we do things, because that is how they have always been done".

Let's see some novel, ambitious and enterprising civic leadership that will shape the Aberdeen of the 21st (and 22nd) century.
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