Voting has now opened as young people across Darlington are invited to have their say on who should be the borough’s next Youth MP.

Five budding politicians have come forward as candidates in a bid to represent the borough in the UK Youth Parliament – they are:

Jack Houghton, 17, from Darlington College – who will be campaigning for improved sex/relationship education and access to sexual health services; to remove the stigma around teenage mental illness and create more opportunities for students to find places to undertake work experience.

Htet Wunna, 16, from Hummersknott Academy – who will be campaigning to give young people the best chance by protecting schools budgets; right to vote for 16 and 17 year olds and to reduce the negative reputation around mental health and make counselling more accessible in schools.

Dylan Wilson, 14, from Carmel College – who will be campaigning for discount cards for secondary school students; affordable sports facilities for young people across Darlington and affordable and easy ways to get music lessons via schools.

David Wilson, 15, from Hummersknott Academy – who will be campaigning for improvements in physical and mental health facilities and support; giving students the chance to get the best  grades they deserve allowing them to re-take exams and provide support for victims and make sure offenders are fairly punished.

Francis Humble, 13, from Carmel College – who will be campaigning for an increase in the minimum wage for under-18s and an under-16 minimum wage; a free school breakfast for every pupil at every school and a discount card for leisure facilities in Darlington.

The election opens today – Monday 26 February and runs until 2 March. Anyone aged 11-18-years-old who either lives or is educated in the borough of Darlington can vote and ballot boxes will be located in secondary schools, colleges and other education providers.

The role will include meeting MPs and Local Councillors, holding events and running campaigns.

The current MYP, Millie Tezcan, said:

“The last election for Darlington’s Youth MP saw a record turn out and I really hope we can encourage even more to take part this time round. This is your chance to have your say on the issues that matter to you, so please do take the time to vote.”

Councillor Cyndi Hughes, Darlington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, added:

“Voting is open for just one week so there’s no time to lose. The candidates have been campaigning hard over the last month or so since they launched their manifestos and I do hope there will be plenty of support from the young people of the borough by casting their vote to choose their representative in the UK Youth Parliament.”

Results of the election will be announced on 6 March in the Council Chambers by the Mayor, Councillor Jan Taylor. For more information log onto the website at Darlington Youth Partnership or contact Andy Whittam on 07949 518506 or email andy.whittam@darlington.gov.uk. You can also follow them on Facebook at /Darlington-youth-Partnership-DYP