Local Abergavenny resident Kyle Eldridge has recently been elected to Abergavenny’s Town Council, representing Park Wark alongside Councillors Philip Bowyer and Tony Konieczny.

Kyle, who is 25 years old and has been living in Abergavenny since 2015, has an autistic spectrum disorder as well as an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In running in the recent Local Government Elections, Kyle said “It was a bit odd in standing, knowing that this was it, knowing that I had a position of responsibility if elected”.

Kyle is the youngest councillor elected for this term to serve on Abergavenny Town Council.

Furthermore, it is also understood that Kyle won the greatest number of votes in Park Ward with a count of 486 votes translating in 24 per cent of the vote respectively.

“Of course it is great to be elected as a young councillor, providing a fresh perspective to matters concerning the town.

‘‘Moreover, I was even more humbled at the mandate I received by the public, of which I am extremely grateful for,” said Kyle.

In recently becoming a councillor who is autistic and has an obsessive-compulsive disorder, Kyle shares the challenges he goes through daily in his new role;

“I get extremely frustrated when things are not put to me clearly and that instils in me a fear that I am failing in my role as a councillor.

‘’I get extremely distressed when my natural order of things is disrupted and that makes me feel threatened acutely.

‘‘All in all, I would say that I walk with my shadow daily and I have just learned to live with it over the years.”

Kyle was diagnosed with autism back in 2011 and even before that, he always knew that he was different; having meltdowns at the age of three while in nursery school in Kettering, Northamptonshire where he was raised.

Furthermore, Kyle shared with us that his experience of politics was much more recent, with him doing a quiz on what political manifesto he belonged to after asking a political lecturer at his local college in the wake of the Brexit Referendum in 2016.

On both points as a single entity, Kyle shared with us that “You could say that from a really early age, I understood politics in a personal sense given my disabled background and I always felt that there was something calling me to find an outlet to channel my frustrations into effective action and politics completed that cycle with my autism being my prime mover after many trials and errors. My autism on the flip side has made me ultra-aware in a sense of how society is engineered towards the modern world, the positive and negative forces of power, wealth, distribution of wealth, and conquering the past and the present, in order to realise the future in a governing sense.”

It is quite something that a young autistic man becomes a councillor, even more so when this is his first time in standing in a local election.

On this point, Kyle said “I wanted to further my experience in politics and let my autism be an asset to the community I wish to serve.”.

Outside the political arena, Kyle is a student at the University of South Wales studying Business & Management at the City of Newport Campus.

Furthermore, Kyle keeps himself busy and undertakes volunteering with the Leonard Cheshire Disability Charity, as well as getting involved with extracurricular activities on the back of his university course such as with his Students Union and being a university ambassador.

In looking to the future, now that Abergavenny Town Council have an autistic young councillor in their ranks, Kyle outlines what a person of his background can bring to the organisation and to the town as a whole.

“I intend to bring a laser-like focus to the many things I will discuss with my colleagues and from that, I will be obsessed with the tasks at hand concerning the town council.

‘’From that, the challenges facing the town will be well looked at and be smartly dealt with thanks to an autism that is a friend rather than an enemy.”

Finally, Kyle shares that “I am extremely grateful to be able to share my story and I am looking forward to getting down to business and being my better self”.

“The Town Council should represent the diversity of the community it serves” says Cllr Tony Konieczny, Mayor of Abergavenny.

“We do need young people to stand for the Council especially as, here in Wales, 16-year-olds have been given a vote.

‘‘I’m sure Kyle will be an excellent role model and will encourage other young people to engage actively in the decisions that Abergavenny Town Council makes on behalf of all of the community.”