Meeting Sheffield's youngest councillor - the first Conservative one in the city in over 15 years
Sheffield’s first Conservative councillor in over a decade says he plans on ‘bringing something different’ to the council after winning a seat in Stocksbridge and Upper Don.
At just 21, Lewis Chinchen is the youngest councillor in Sheffield after displacing the sitting Independent councillor Jack Clarkson with a majority of 497 on May 6.
Elected in Stocksbridge and Upper Don to represent the Conservatives, he is the first Tory councillor in Sheffield since 2004 and wants to offer a ‘different perspective on the council'.
But why did someone want to get involved with politics at such a young age?
Lewis said: “I became a member of the Conservative party when I was 16, and been active in the community through my teenage years – through voluntary work, and then became a more active party member, door-knocking and leafletting, so just became more involved that way.
"I then decided to stand for election this time round and try and deliver what residents were telling me.”
He arrived in Sheffield at the age of 13, and despite living in the South West of the city, says he will be taking the responsibility of representing Stocksbridge and Upper Don ‘incredibly seriously’.
The councillor works as a legal apprentice at a law firm alongside his duties, but says he will be able to ‘offer something different’ on the council.
"I wanted to get involved with local politics because I thought there was a real opportunity to provide fresh ideas and a different perspective on the council, and that means working with fellow councillors, but it means being able to offer something different, thinking outside the box, and try and catch up with our competitors elsewhere in the country.
"I don’t live within the ward but spend a lot of time in the area and have spoken to hundreds of residents there and try to make myself as approachable as possible, and find out what the issues are.”
Lewis also spent time with Miriam Cates MP, the MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, and the first Conservative to win the seat.
As part of the Towns Deal, the Stocksbridge area received £24 million of investment, which Lewis says will be invested into issues that matter in the community.
"We ran a really positive campaign in Stocksbridge and Upper Don, I listened as much as possible to what residents were telling me an then built our campaign around that, focusing on improving public transport, investing in the community, and tacking crime through better neighbourhood policing.
"That really resonated with people and I have regular discussions with Miriam Cates, the MP in Stocksbridge, so I think the coordinated approach is really important.
"Things are changing a lot and have been doing so for some time, and we have seen that move in to Sheffield now, we saw it in the general election in other parts of South Yorkshire, but now we are seeing it in the local elections.
"We saw a massive swing towards the Conservatives. The Conservatives picked up nearly 26,000 votes, that’s only around 3,000 fewer than Lib Dems, so the Conservatives are a real political force in Sheffield.”