Teen campaigner sidelined in debate

A young student campaigning for ‘Votes at 16’ missed out on delivering her speech after she was sidelined by councillors for three hours.

Kayla Villamil Martinez, who is a member of MK Youth Cabinet, was then forced to pay for a taxi home after missing one of the last buses on Wednesday evening.

Kayla Villamil Martinez

Kayla Villamil Martinez

“I was really disappointed”, said the 16-year-old, who stayed out late on a school-night in the hope of convincing all 54 councillors to support the campaign at a meeting at the civic offices.

“I didn’t understand why they could not move me to the start so we didn’t have to sit through their entire meeting.

“The councillors stay there all night anyway, but everyone in the public gallery was there to talk about one issue.”

Votes at 16 was finally discussed at 10.45pm, with councillors voting to support the motion and urge the government to change the law.

Councillor Sam Crooks, who has been a staunch supporter of the youth cabinet’s campaign, said: “I was delighted it was passed. It puts MK Council ahead of the government.

“But it was a shame for Kayla and I do think it highlights the need for the council to consider having meetings start earlier, or move items forward if the public are speaking.”

Kayla added: “I’m really pleased I can go to the youth cabinet and tell them we have the support of the council.

“I’m very passionate about younger people being able to vote, because you can marry your MP, you can have kids with your MP, but you cannot vote for your MP.”