Council welcomes new local government bill, allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote

Bridgend County Borough Council has welcomed news that a range of local government reforms are to be introduced over the next 18 months after the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill was passed by the Senedd.

As well as providing councils with greater operational flexibility, one of the areas where the new bill will have the biggest impact is on lowering the voting age and encouraging more democratic participation.

Teenagers who are 16 and 17 will be able to vote in local government and Senedd elections for the first time, while councillors will benefit from more flexible meeting arrangements, family absence support, job-sharing opportunities and more in order to deliver greater diversity in democratic representation.

Qualifying foreign citizens who are legally resident in Wales will also be able to vote and have a greater say in how their communities are run.

Cllr Dhanisha Patel, Cabinet Member for Well-Being and Future Generations, said: “This landmark piece of legislation is designed to re-energise local democracy within Wales and equip local councils with new, improved ways of supporting local communities.

“In addition to encouraging younger people to have their say and to cast their vote, it also aims to make it easier for more people to come forward and stand for election.

“The Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill is going to have a significant beneficial impact upon local democracy, and I am delighted that it is now in effect.”