TO many 18 and 20-year-olds, local government remains something of a mystery, but to a pair of young Welwyn Hatfield Tories, the allure of the council debating chamber proved too strong to resist.

In a surprising election night twist, 18-year-old Hannah Berry and 20-year-old Paul Smith were both elected to serve as councillors - the youngest in the borough's history.

After taking advantage of a change in the law that reduced the minimum candidate age from 21, they will now both attempt to combine their university studies with the interests of their constituents.

Hannah - daughter of councillor Clare and fellow candidate Doug -- was elected to serve in the Howlands ward after comfortably seeing off the challenge of incumbent Green Jill Weston.

A dance teacher and Open University student, Hannah says she cannot wait to get started.

She said: "I'm just really pleased that I got in and I'm really thankful to all the people who voted for me - I look forward to serving them all in future."

Asked about her political views, she added: "This party is the only party which believes in giving real power to the people who know how to use it; so that managers can run their own hospitals and teachers can run their own schools.

"We are also strong on environmental issues. I will continue to campaign on the future of the QEII and on parking improvements in my area."

After two recounts Paul Smith, a politics student at the University of Westminster, took his seat in Hatfield South by just two votes, defeating his Labour rival in the race to succeed veteran councillor Alf Appleby.

Mr Smith, who lives with friends in a shared house in Hatfield, told the Review: "The Conservatives have always appealed to my sense of meritocracy and fair play so it made sense that I stood for this party.

"I want to be as active in the community as I can be. I want to tackle issues like parking which affect the community and am keen to just get things done.

"The count was unbelievably close but I got there in the end. In the first recount I lost one vote but gained it back in the second so I think it was a fair result."