Future lies in the Wests

18th May 2007 at 01:00
John and Kirsty West are keeping politics in the family - both are newly-elected SNP councillors

TWO KEY posts in the new Aberdeen City Council will be occupied by a brother and sister barely out of school.

John West, elected as an SNP councillor in this month's elections, took up the post of deputy provost this week - at the age of 18. He will work alongside a Lord Provost 51 years his senior, Lib Dem Peter Stephen. The newly created role includes chairing council meetings in the absence of the Lord Provost, and attending civic functions as well as representing the city on visits abroad.

Mr West's 21-year-old sister Kirsty, also a new SNP councillor, has become education spokeswoman for the city's SNP-Lib Dem coalition. There is no education convener - the council has no education committee - but Miss West will be the administration's voice on educational matters.

Both attended one of Aberdeen's private schools, Robert Gordon's College.

Mr West is a first-year law student at Aberdeen University, while Miss West studied medicine for a year before deciding that her interests lay elsewhere. She is no stranger to the council, having worked in an administrative post in the planning department before taking up a job working for Aberdeen North MSP Brian Adam.

The Wests were not the only youthful councillors elected in Aberdeen, having been joined by the SNP's new licensing convener Callum McCaig, 22, and Mark McDonald, 26. It is a trend Mr West puts down to the SNP being a political party that is more of a "movement", and one that is attractive to young people.

Mr West said he would bring the "vigour of youth" to his role and make politics more attractive to young people. He said it was im-portant for the council to represent all age groups. When questioned about his lack of experience, he said he was in a no more disadvantageous position than another newly elected city councillor, aged 72.

Miss West said that she and John had always been interested in politics. A priority in her brief would be to take forward the so-called "3Rs"

(reorganise, renovate, rebuild) schools' redevelopment programme.

There was mixed reaction from fellow city councillors to Mr West's appointment as deputy provost. Council leader Kate Dean, a Lib Dem, welcomed him as "a breath of fresh air".

But Conservative leader John Porter said: "This is no reflection on the ability of the young man but, by promoting him so early, you are putting a great deal of pressure on him. I fear he might find that pressure too much."

And young Mr West's reaction? "Mr Porter has yet to see Mr West in action."

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