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I hope to help young people stay local

Column by leader of South Kesteven District Council Coun Kelham Cooke

Little did I think that nine years after being elected a councillor, not only would I still be proudly representing the residents of Casewick [Stamford], but that I would also be the new leader of South Kesteven District Council.

A combination of events have led to me doing a job I love right here in the district where I grew up, close to my family and many of my friends, playing an active role in the place I call home.

Coun Kelham Cooke (17790662)
Coun Kelham Cooke (17790662)

I know just how lucky that makes me. Stories of young people who can’t afford to buy homes in South Kesteven, in the towns and villages where they spent their childhoods and want to eventually raise their own families, are all too common.

And I often hear from local businesses crying out for people with the right skills for the modern workplace, who can help their companies flourish, compete and grow.

At the age of 29, I’m not the youngest councillor or council leader in the country, but I am probably a few years younger than the norm. My longer-standing colleagues have, and continue to, provide a wealth of support, guidance and counsel, for which I remain extremely grateful. But I hope I can add my own style, a slightly different perspective, to enable us to do more to address the issues facing our young people.

That means we need to create opportunities for young people to acquire the skills they need, and the skills employers want.

We have some fantastic schools, and great further education provision. And, with the newly formed links with Lincoln University, we will shortly have a higher education hub right here in Grantham.

For me, enabling young people to live and to work in the district where they grew up is a priority. If we don’t harness their talents and energy our towns and villages can’t be thriving communities that create opportunities, weather all storms, and enable generations to live and work together.

I hope that, with the support of my fellow councillors, my leadership might lead to more young people who want to stay local being able to do so. Our communities will be all the richer for it.

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