The Conservative Government has “waged a class war” since being elected, according to a former young mayor of Lewisham.  

Adam Abdullah, 16, who last week passed the torch to Femi Komolafe, 15, said youth violence was “one of the greatest issues of our time” during his speech before the new young mayor was officially appointed.  

Adam said over the past year there were times when he felt “entirely overwhelmed” by the news. 

He said: “There were points where you would hear things in the media and you couldn’t sleep. 

“What I want to highlight now is one of the greatest issues of our time for young people in Lewisham – and we cannot and we must not allow it to become […] just another headline – is youth violence.  

“I remember one day coming home from work experience and I picked up the Evening Standard. 

“There was a headline ‘15-year-old boy critical after five stabbings in the capital’. 

“This isn’t normal – there are things every day where we see the headline and think ‘it’s just another day, it’s just another day’. 

“This is not another day and we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent as a council.” 

Adam said youth violence was “a scourge born in poverty”.  

He said: “Austerity has had profound impacts upon us – more than 50 per cent of the budget cut in real terms since 2010 but it’s not enough to say that.  

“We need to be bold, we need to be radical and we must take the initiative. 

“We need to remind ourselves, this is London, one of the richest cities in one of the richest countries in the world. 

“This Government has waged class war and we must make sure our policy counters it.” 

The young mayor role was officially introduced to the council’s constitution last week.  

Adam campaigned for free sanitary products in schools, more youth representation in the media for campaigns and protests, question times in schools, creating closer links between schools and colleges, and easier access to contraception. 

Mayor Damien Egan thanked him for his “friendship, support and deep integrity”.  

He said: “We’ve had some fantastic young mayors over the years but every now and again we get someone who is very special – Adam it’s been a pleasure working with you over the past year. 

“You’ve really done Lewisham and the council proud. You’ve been an inspirational role model for young people of this borough.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office said he couldn't comment because of purdah but said to look at the Government's youth violence strategy. 

According to the Government's website: “Law enforcement is a very important part of the Serious Violence Strategy, but it also looks at the root causes of the problem and how to support young people to lead productive lives away from violence.

“Action in the strategy is centred on four main themes; tackling county lines and misuse of drugs, early intervention and prevention, supporting communities and local partnership, law enforcement and the criminal justice response.

“The strategy describes a range of initiatives including a new £11 million Early Intervention Youth Fund to support communities for early intervention and prevention with young people for 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020, the development of a new National County Lines Co-ordination Centre to tackle violent and exploitative criminal activity associated with county lines, funding to help deliver a new round of heroin and crack action areas, more rounds of the anti-knife crime Community Fund of up to £1 million for 2018 to 2019 and 2019 to 2020, and more funding for young people’s advocates working with gang-affected young women and girls

“The strategy focuses on early intervention and prevention which can help catch young people before they go down the wrong path, encouraging them to make positive choices.”