Aleena Aditya, the Bradley Stoke teenager becomes one of the 'youngest town councillors in the UK'
BSTC - 12th May 2023
Miss Aleena Aditya, a Bradley Stoke sixth form student has become one of the country’s youngest town councillors – after winning a seat on the Bradley Stoke Town Council in the first elections, she was eligible to vote in. Aleena, who turned 18 was elected to one of three seats representing Primrose Bridge Ward, in the poll earlier this month.
Aleena, contested against two former mayors from the panel of contestants for the 3 members Primrose Bridge Ward and became the only Conservative to win there. The contestants included three Conservative candidates, one Green Party, one Labour and one Independent.
Driven by a passion for her home town, Aleena said she would push for improved youth services and better support for local businesses and community groups. She also campaigns for more parking spaces in the town. She supports a Youth Council for Bradley Stoke and better school funding campaigns and appreciates the new budget provisions to enhance school services. She added “I want to ensure that facilities such as our local buses remain helpful and enjoyable for everyone. I feel so lucky to grow up in a safe, calming area, and wish to help future generations maintain these close bonds with the community and keep a positive outlook on Bradley Stoke”.
Aleena is hoping to bring a fresh perspective to the town council chamber and said she wanted to make sure ‘young people are represented’. “I feel like young people don’t get involved that often and I thought it was a good idea for me to show that young people can get involved”, she said. The teenager, who hopes to go to university in September to study architecture, said she was surprised but happy to be elected and pledged to be a strong voice for the town’s young people on the council.
Aleena Aditya, born and bred in Bristol and Bradley Stoke, was driven by her passion to listen to the diverse views of the residents and find ways to innovate and ensure quality services for the community. Aleena feels grateful to live in a beautiful area like Bradley Stoke, with such a kind community. She recalled that as a child, she was involved in 2011 decorating the congratulations card for the royal wedding of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton, sent on behalf of the Bradley Stoke community, which was appreciated by officials at the St James Palace as a marvellous piece of work. Recently, she was part of the King’s coronation street parties, locally.
Since childhood, Aleena was engaged in litter-picking campaign groups and regularly takes walks through the Three-Brooks Nature Reserve. She has been involved in the NHS Blood and Organ donation campaign under the auspices of the Bristol Multi-Faith Forum. She was one of the few community members enthusiastic to hoist the St George’s Flag at the Jubilee Centre to commemorate England’s National Day on the 23rd of April and also the Ukrainian flag to express solidarity with the suffering Ukrainian brethren on their National Day.
Aleena expressed thanks to all those who encouraged her to stand and supported her during the election. “A lot of marginalised groups or people often need that encouragement and support, I think, to be able to take that next step.” This kind of encouragement is also needed to get younger people into politics, in Aleena’s opinion.
Aleena is one of six Conservative candidates to win seats on the town council, with the Labour Party topping with seven seats, whilst the Green and Liberal Democrats bagged one seat each in the 15-member Town Council. She hopes the councillors will work together for the benefit of Bradley Stoke, regardless of politics.
Aleena observed, “For me personally, I was part of the local youth arts group, and want to focus on youth services – it would be great for more young people to have stuff to do. It is interesting to learn that Politics affects all our lives and our futures," she said.
“While walking to and from school, I used to think about what could I do to make Bradley Stoke a better place to live. As a small child, I greeted everyone with a smile or a handwave to bring more kindness to the community, and I felt there has been some change in people’s perspective. Why sit and complain about stuff that’s happening or not happening, when I can be part of the change?'”
“I appreciate the experience and wisdom of our elderly, yet young people could bring so many fresh ideas and creativity that maybe elders won’t have thought about. At the moment I’m attending meetings and learning the basics from people. There's a lot to learn and digest so I’m grateful for the expertise of the other councillors”. While she is still learning the ropes, Aleena is passionate about increasing the engagement and involvement of the community.
Aleena’s dad Tom Aditya is an ex-mayor and a sitting councillor of Bradley Stoke, who also serves as the Chairman of the South Glos Council’s Community Engagement Forums Chairs Network, Chairman of the Bristol Multi-Faith Forum, and part of the Avon and Somerset Police Scrutiny Panel and the Bristol University Court. Aleena’s mother Liny said “We are just really proud of her to step up and become a councillor and have her voice heard for the people of Bradley Stoke. I hope it gets some new, fresh ideas which I think is good.” Aleena’s siblings Abishek, Albert, Adona and Alphons are also happy to support her in her new commitment.
Aleena said that the council is “coming more into the 21st century” with a significant online presence. She hopes that this greater accessibility will help to raise awareness of the councillor’s work. Aleena never imagined she would be in politics when she was growing up as a timid child who was afraid of public speaking.
One of the barriers to bringing young people in can be the conflicting time commitments of work, study, young families and financial pressures. “It can feel like a delicate, sophisticated juggling act”, she said jokingly about her studies and council work. Aleena hopes that her presence in the Town Council can help the council to be more cohesive, younger, and stronger.
Closely following Aleena in youthfulness is the new councillor for the Green Party Mr James Nelson, who will be nineteen next week. He topped the poll in the three-seat Primrose Bridge ward, finishing ahead of three Conservatives, one Labour and one Independent.
James is a Law student at the University of Bristol Law School and an acting treasurer for the Green Party in South Gloucestershire. Mr Nelson also lives locally. He studied at the nearby schools and wishes to see a change for the better in Bradley Stoke. He wishes to push for the council to engage in consistent and visible action on the climate crisis and defend transparency, decency and trust in politics. He assures that he will always stand up for our community all the time.
The Local Government Information Unit has found that the average age of councillors is currently 59, meaning that Aleena and James bring a much-needed younger voice to the team. It brings much joy that two teenage councillors are now on the council.
On the 17th of May, at the Annual Town Council Meeting, a total of nine new councillors and one councillor re-elected after a gap of 12 years, will also be sworn in following their election on May 4th. Most of the newly elected councillors attended the Annual Town Meeting on the 10th of May and exchanged each other their greetings, looking forward to a fresh civic year ahead, with new perspectives and priorities.