Youngest ever councillor in Gateshead elected aged just 19

Jamie Park
Young councillor Jamie Park, 19 -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

A teenager has become Gateshead's youngest ever councillor following the local elections last week.

Jamie Joe Park, who is just 19, was elected as a Labour councillor for the ward of Chopwell and Rowlands Gill, securing the largest majority from the local election on May 2, at 1,497 with a turnout of 40.3%. Coun Park credits the victory as a result of his mentorship by fellow councillors Lynne Caffrey and Michael McNestry.

The teenager has already gained some political experience before his election, working as an intern for Blaydon MP Liz Twist. The former Consett Academy head boy also saw how Gateshead Council works through his apprenticeship with the authority’s educational services wing, ‘Learning and Skills’.

Coun Park said: “I am proud of my result and I am grateful to the people who put me there, it is a great majority. Labour gets a lot of votes in Chopwell, we have always, but we work for them and my colleagues are well respected in the area.”

The authority’s youngest councillor hopes his election will help younger people get more involved in politics and make them see they have a voice. The Chopwell and Rowlands Gill representative also wants to help Gateshead Council reach its carbon neutrality targets, and improve local bus services.

Coun Park said: “It is certainly important that young people feel listened to and represented, often older people think young people aren’t engaged but I think they are, particularly with regards to the climate and politics."

Jamie Park, 19
Young councillor Jamie Park, 19 -Credit:Newcastle Chronicle

Coun Park continued: “After speaking to people, bus services are a major factor. Go North East are the only operator, they have a monopoly in Gateshead, no Stagecoach or Arriva. There is not much choice and if they are not reliable, people stop using them and which can lead to bus companies cutting services, they should run wherever people need them.

“Locally, the council and Nexus subsidise services, we have the R5 and R6 that run through Chopwell where you can link up but this is not sustainable. It was particularly important to me when I was at school, trying to get to Consett and back, it was a big thing to make the timings work and often you were left waiting at either end.”

A focus for the new councillor also includes helping with the council’s Thrive Agenda which aims to tackle inequality and support families in need.

Coun Park added: “I think Gateshead’s Thrive Agenda is really important, It is not just about Gateshead Council doing everything, it’s supporting local groups and making sustainable communities. It is in the name and it is working.

“There is a long way to go but we are committed.”

Coun Park has taken the mantle of youngest councillor from Coun George Kasfikis, who was just 22 when elected to represent the people of Felling in 2023.