Kingston’s youngest councillor is pushing for 16 and 17-year-olds to be given the right to vote.

Cllr Sam Foulder-Hughes, 22, is presenting a motion to council seconded by one of the oldest councillors in the borough to make it the authority’s policy to support extending voting rights.

He first got involved in politics in Somerset where he grew up, when he became a member of Youth Parliament aged 16.

He said: “Coming from a rural area, most people had to get a bus to college. It took an hour and a half for some people, and was costing families £650 per child.

“I was campaigning on that small issue, and that’s what got me into politics.

“That’s the reason I think votes at 16 are important. At that age, you can get people to understand that these things aren’t just minor gripes – they’re political issues. You can take them to politicians and maybe they can be sorted out.”

The motion is being put to the full council meeting on Tuesday, July 17, to be passed to the relevant committee – likely the resident engagement committee in September.

It states allowing over-16s to vote would be a “natural and just equalisation of voting rights to match personal responsibilities”, and calls for a programme of “civic democratic education” in schools.

Cllr Foulder-Hughes said: “I think for me it’s about getting people engaged. People are more likely to become engaged when they are allowed to get involved earlier.

“For a lot of people, once they’re 18 maybe they’re working and they’re not surrounded by people who care about the same issues as them. That can lead to them just not voting.”

He pointed to evidence in Scotland, where since 2015 16-year-olds can vote at local and Scottish Parliamentary elections, that shows 16-year-olds have a higher turnout than 18 to 24-year-olds.

He said: “It’s about building that culture of political education.

“When you’re surrounded by your peers, having politics involved at school, young people can really be encouraged and given the opportunity to get involved in the democratic process.”

If the committee in the autumn passes this as council policy, the leader will write to campaign groups outlining the authority’s support, and write to the Prime Minister and cabinet members asking them to look at the campaign.

The council would then work more closely with Kingston Youth Council, to find ways young people can become more involved in decision-making that affects them locally.