New youth MSPs set out their priorities

Sanna Aziz has been elected as MSYP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Tanya Thomson and Georgia Pritchard both won seats for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.
Sanna Aziz has been elected as MSYP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, Tanya Thomson and Georgia Pritchard both won seats for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire.

Education, health and lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender rights will be priorities for a Galashiels Academy pupil now she has been elected as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, she says.

Sanna Aziz, 16, won the seat for the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency with 665 votes.

The fifth-year pupil beat second-year Stirling University law student Emma Dickson by 136 points and Callum Barclay, an Earlston High School fifth-year pupil, by 113 points.

After more than 1,850 votes were cast, the results of the latest youth parliament elections were announced last Friday at Scottish Borders Council’s Newtown headquarters.

Donna Manson, the council’s service director for children and young people, declared the winners.

Voting was open from Monday, March 6, to Wednesday, March 15, for young people aged between 12 and 25 across the country at polling stations at secondary schools, the Borders College campus in Galashiels and the council headquarters.

Mrs Manson congratulated the successful candidates, saying: “Being elected as a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament is a unique and privileged position which affords successful candidates a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness about the issues affecting both their own lives and those of the people they represent.

“I have no doubt that our newly-elected members are more than up for the challenge and wish them well as they take up their new roles. I look forward to working with them and seeing the contribution they make as MSYPs, both at local and national level.”

During her campaign, commenced last August, Sanna vowed to “help the voices of young people get heard” and to “take away the stigma of the youth in Scotland and to portray us as the good, decent people that we are”.

The two seats for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire were won in an uncontested election by Tanya Thomson, a fifth-year pupil at Hawick High School, and Georgia Pritchard, a third-year Jedburgh Grammar School pupil.

Tanya has vowed to prioritise support for those suffering mental health issues, tackling bullying and addressing the reputation teenagers have in the community.

Georgia has promised to focus on education, rights and health and wellbeing.

Vicky Davidson, the council’s executive member for culture, sport, youth and communities, said: “Our outgoing members of the youth parliament did a tremendous job highlighting a range of issues like the need for better mental health services for young people, public transport and access to wi-fi in schools.

“While they are a hard act to follow, I know our three new MSYPs will be equally determined to make a difference, and I wish them every success.”

All three Borders representatives will now commit five hours a week to campaigning.

Kevin Ryalls, headteacher at Galashiels Academy, said: “We are thrilled that Sanna has been elected to the Scottish Youth Parliament. Sanna is a fantastic young person who will be an outstanding MYSP. She is thoughtful, confident and articulate and is popular and respected around the school as well as in the community. Sanna does a lot of work in the school in the areas of pupil voice and equality and plays a leading role in championing the rights of individuals and minority groups. We are very proud of Sanna, and the whole Galashiels Academy community is looking forward to supporting her in her work in the school and as MSYP.”