Chairman’s youth appeal

Councillor Luke Ives, chairman of Ryedale District Council, the youngest local authority chairman in the country

Councillor Luke Ives, chairman of Ryedale District Council, the youngest local authority chairman in the country

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While the country’s leading politicians wrestle with the fallout of the Euro Elections, the new chairman of Ryedale District Council is basking in the limelight after making national history by becoming the youngest chairman of a senior local authority in Britain.

And 22-year-old Luke Ives wants to see more young people step into the local government scene with elections on the horizon next May.

His mum, Louise, who is his consort during his term of office, was baffled when as a young teenager he partially sidelined the usual social life of drinking and night life, in favour of studying politics, especially at Norton College where he was active on the sixth form council.

Politicians, says the trainee accountant, should be encouraged to go into schools to interest the younger generation in politics and civic life.

“They could have a significant impact, so long as they don’t seek to influence students in any particular direction politically,” said Cllr Ives.

From his early teens, a determination to succeed has been his mantra.

He first set his heart on having his own dog and landed himself a job at 14, collecting glasses in a local pub to save enough money. Today he is the proud owner of a West Highland terrier called Flossy.

Five years on, he bought his own home in his own home town of Norton after saving hard for two years to raise the deposit.

Then just three years after winning a seat on RDC – he was elected as the authority’s new chairman.

Cllr Ives, who represents the Norton West Ward of RDC as a Conservative, has a new aspiration – to attract new businesses and help create more employment especially for Ryedale’s younger generation.

“While the district has high employment rates, its wage rates are the lowest in the country. Because of that our young people are leaving the area.”

And, he says, the problem is further compounded by Ryedale’s house prices being among the highest in the country. At the other end of the age spectrum, the picturesque market towns and villages attract many older people to retire to Ryedale – the largest local authority area geographically in the country - which in turn puts pressure on such facilities as social services.

Cllr Ives is determined to see the new Ryedale Economic Plan’s vision become a reality, and says its apprenticeship campaign through such organisations as the Derwent Training Association, is already paying dividends.

And of his own longer term future? One day, he could seek a seat in Parliament. “But I’ll probably wait until I’m nearer 40.”

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