COUNCIL elections may be almost three weeks away but people in Hedge End already have the youngest councillor in the country.

Liberal Democrat Nathan Khan, 18, was elected unopposed to Hedge End Town Council.

His success comes after the government lowered the age for candidates to stand in local or national elections in England and Welsh Assembly elections to 18.

Nathan, who will represent Shamblehurst ward, is about to start an accountancy course at Eastleigh College.

"I'm really pleased to have been elected and I look forward to doing what I can to represent all the voters of Shamblehurst, but I also hope to bring a young voice to the town council. A lot of local young people do not feel that they have any influence over the community's decisions." said Nathan.

Eastleigh Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne said: "I hope Nathan applies for his place in Guinness World Records. At this rate, he will be Prime Minister before he is 30."

The youngest candidate elsewhere in Hampshire is Tory hopeful Vince Capozzoli.

The 20-year-old is gunning for the Portswood seat of Southampton City Council's Cabinet member for leisure and culture Steve Sollitt.

Mr Capozzoli, a third-year history and politics student and at Southampton University, said he has fallen in love with the city which he wants to make his home.

"The youth voice hasn't had much expression around here and I want it to be heard," he said.

He said he particularly wanted to smooth out some recent tensions between students and residents.

A recent survey revealed 96 per cent of councillors are white and have an average age of 58.

More than half are over 60 and fewer than three in ten councillors are women.

Democracy minister Bridget Prentice said the government wanted to see more young people represented in politics at all levels.

"Young people take on a number of rights and responsibilities at 18 - including being eligible for jury service - and there is no reason why they should not also be able to stand as candidates in elections," she said.

The new age for candidates was introduced in the Electoral Administration (2006) Act.