Youth mayor plans alcohol-free pub

TEENAGER Adam Gallagher is the country's first mayor for young people - with a budget of more than pound;30,000 and a team of council advisers.

The 15-year-old swept to power in the same week as controversial former police chief Ray Mallon and Stuart Drummond, the man in the monkey suit.

All 9,000 secondary pupils in Middlesbrough, Teesside, were invited to vote in the youth election. Turnout was 32 per cent compared to 41 per cent in the town's adult mayoral contest which saw Mr Mallon elected.

Adam now has control of a budget of more than pound;30,000, and is starting work on his manifesto pledges to establish an alcohol-free pub for teenagers and a youth newsletter. Legally, councillors have to approve his spending plans, but are expected to nod through Adam's budget. He can draw on the expertise of any of the council's officers and has his own team of a dozen to help him.

The young mayor has been taking extra lessons from his teachers at Newlands Roman Catholic school to catch up on classes missed during the campaign. "It's been busy," he said, "I mean, bloomin' heck, it has been meetings every day. But the young mayor is a brilliant idea, and everyone should have one.

"The support I have had from teachers has been great. My job will take a lot of time but school will always come first."

Adam's headteacher, Christine Wright, fully intends him to get top grades in his 10 GCSE subjects.

She added: "We are delighted one of our pupils was elected because we think it says a lot about how they are educated. We try to teach them about responsibilities as well as rights."

Adam has been in contact with Mayor Mallon, and will shortly be selecting his own teenage cabinet, drawn from members of the city's youth parliament. But he is well aware of the limits of his powers.

"I would love to get rid of national tests," he said, "every kid would - but you can't have everything you want."

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