A teenage UKIP campaigner has been reprimanded for sharing his political views while standing as a youth councillor.
Joshua Gilroy, 16, has been told by North Tyneside Council officials that he cannot promote the right-wing political party while sitting on their young persons’ forum.
Yet the farming student claims his political views are a private matter and have never impaired his ability to be neutral when representing residents in the borough.
The row broke out after the Northumberland College pupil printed a statement in the party’s newsletter alongside a picture of himself asking for people to join UKIP’s youth wing. A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said that in his piece he deliberately described himself as a “youth councillor and cabinet member” which triggered an investigation into the future of his position with the youth team.
A spokesperson for North Tyneside Council said: “Youth councillors are bound by a code of conduct and make a commitment to be politically neutral in their role.
“We recognise in their private lives they may wish to support or belong to a political party, however, in their position as a youth councillor they must not combine the two, and on this occasion the youth councillor did with his statement in a political leaflet.”
However, Joshua claims he has never been asked to sign anything relating to political neutrality and believes North Tyneside Council’s Labour administration is fearful of UKIP’s increasing popularity.
He said their neutrality guidelines should also be called into question considering youth council members are currently being asked to consider issues such as lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.
Joshua, from Camperdown near Newcastle, said: “I’m endorsing UKIP but it’s got nothing to do with the council – this is to do with my personal life. I’ve said what my title is in the newsletter but I’m not using it as propaganda.
“This is supposed to be about giving young people a say in the local council and now I feel that this isn’t the case.”
Joshua, who studies animal management and hopes to become a dairy farmer, joined UKIP in November 2013 alongside his mum and stepfather when all three decided to make a switch from Labour.
> Joshua, who studies animal management and hopes to become a dairy farmer – who would then no doubt be very happy to pocket his share of the European Union subsidies paid to farmers…
A spokesperson from the council added: “In the first instance, the youth councillor is issued with a reminder that as a youth councillor they must not use their role to promote a political party.”
Source – Newcastle Journal 05 April 2014