Councillor Chris Burden, who represents Fallings Park, said this week how proud he was to not only be representing the city – but also its prominent LGBT and young people’s communities.
The 25-year-old, who is openly gay, said: “You don’t get too many young, working class or gay people involved in local politics – nationally perhaps yes – but on a local level no, so this is a real honour for me and I feel incredibly proud.
“I’ve always had a huge interest in politics and got into it at quite a young age, spending several years firstly as the LGBT officer for my local Labour group and then as LGBT spokesman for the city’s Labour Party.
“I’m thrilled to be not only representing Wolverhampton but also the LGBT community and all the young people in our city. I’m also looking forward to continuing to support Fallings Park residents going forward,” he added.
A qualified teacher, Councillor Burden has been shortlisted for Young Councillor of the Year in the annual LGIU (Local Government Information Unit) awards. He is currently studying for a PhD in politics at Aston University.
“As a councillor, I’ve found out over the last few months that you don’t always get the thanks for the hard work you put in from some people who approach you with a problem, but when you can get something fixed for a member of the local community it really makes it worthwhile,” he said.
“I’ve still not got over winning the election, but to be nominated for a national award in my first year is overwhelming.”
Councillor Burden follows in the footsteps of fellow Wolverhampton councillor Beverley Momenabadi (Lab. Ettingshall) who won the same title last year.
“The competition from up and down the country is immense so it’s a privilege to even be considered in the first year of my term – and to be nominated in the year following Councillor Beverley Momenabadi’s win in the 2020 awards.
“I found out that I’d been shortlisted at the end of last week and I was both shocked and delighted,” he added.
“I’d like to thank anyone who nominated me and the whole Wolverhampton Labour family for their continued support since May.”
An LGIU spokesman added: “These awards are the only national ceremony to celebrate the vital contributions of councillors that so often go unrecognised.
“With the average age of councillors currently standing at 59, young people can face a particularly difficult task in overcoming barriers to becoming elected.
“The young councillor award will recognise a councillor who was 30 or under when last elected, and who has contributed significantly to their community and council during their time in office.”
Other categories include Resilience and Recovery (new for 2021), Community Champion and Leader of the Year.
The winners will be decided by a panel of judges composed of senior councillors and officers as well as leading stakeholders. The winners will be revealed at a ceremony on December 1 at Camden Council, London, which will also be broadcast live on YouTube.
This year’s 12th annual awards ceremony is again being held in conjunction with founding partners CCLA.
The LGIU is a membership body for over 300 councils and works to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. CCLA is a leading specialist fund manager for local authorities and charities.