SHETLAND’S newly elected youth parliamentarians have cited transport and housing as being among the most pressing issues for young people in the islands.
Kelvin Anderson and Kaylee Mouat were confirmed as the successful candidates to serve as MSYPs in the Scottish Youth Parliament until 2017 at a declaration in Lerwick Town Hall on Monday morning.
Five candidates had thrown their hats into the ring and they were all praised by SIC convener Malcolm Bell, MSP Tavish Scott and returning officer Jan Riise for their courage in standing for election.
The result follows an online election in which young people aged from 12 to 26 were eligible to vote. There were also a number of voting stations in Shetland including all secondary schools, the Bridges Project, NAFC, Shetland College and Shetland Library.
Results showed that 1,015 young people participated, with 18 spoilt votes. That is a 14.3 per cent increase since the 2013 election and 93.3 per cent more than in the first online election held in Shetland during 2008.
Sixteen year old Anderson, who attends the Anderson High School, said he felt bus timetables could be improved upon: “I don’t think there’s enough buses to fit in with a lot of things,” he said, while he will be speaking to young people to find out what other changes they would like to see.
He also feels there is a “barrier with politics” in the islands and, while it was good that five people put their names forward, he doesn’t feel MSYPs get enough recognition at present: when he decided to stand, some of his friends asked “what even is an MSYP?”
Anderson added that he was strongly in favour of extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds in all elections throughout the UK after the strong level of engagement in last year’s independence referendum.
After winning re-election, Mouat said serving as an MSYP for the past two years had given her “a lot more confidence in public speaking”. She has relished the opportunity to give young islanders a voice in a national forum.
She said the biggest issue for islanders between the age of 16 and 25 was affordable housing, and welcomed last week’s progress on plans for a major housing development in the Staney Hill area of Lerwick.
Mouat added that bus services were particularly important for those under the age of 17 who cannot yet learn to drive, while she also wants to ensure sponsorship is available for sports groups because it is “becoming more difficult to travel south and compete at a higher level”.
Bell commended all the young candidates for getting involved, saying standing for election was “one of the most terrifying things I did in my life”, and congratulated the election victors.
“The council fully supports the work of these young parliamentarians who work hard to raise the profile of issues affecting young people, both locally and nationally,” he said afterwards. “We have already had a positive working relationship with Kaylee, as one of the current MSYPs, and we look forward to working with Kelvin now too.”
Scott, meanwhile, said Q&A sessions he and the convener had held along with the MYSPs in Shetland’s schools were an important opportunity for young people to ask elected politicians “anything under the sun, and long may it continue”.
Returning officer Riise cited the “big contribution of the young vote in the referendum” and said it was important to harness young people’s enthusiasm and lower the voting again across all elections.