Oxford gears up for local elections

first_imgtudent political societies have been vigorously campaigning in preparation for the upcoming local elections. On Thursday, those eligible to vote will choose two local councillors and one member of the European Parliament. All British, EU and Commonwealth students can vote. With heavily contested seats in the centre of the city, the student turnout can make a significant difference in the outcome. Oxford University Liberal Democrats president Mark Mills argued that central Oxford constituencies will be a battleground between the Lib Dems and Labour. He emphasized the activism of the society. It has been knocking on doors, pidging leaflets and held street stalls. He himself will be standing for re-election in the Hollywell ward. Oxford University Conservative Association has held three campaigns this term. Anthony Boutall, the society’s president said, “We are proud to be supporting the party whose record on value for money at a local level is unrivaled across the country – something maybe that University students don’t care too much about, but that the hardworking people of Oxfordshire do and should care about, especially given the financial hardship that many of them are facing at the moment.”Jamie Susskind, the co-chair of Oxford University Labour Club stressed the continuous political activity taken by the club: “What makes us unique is that we have members out canvassing every single week of the academic year, not just at election time – listening to people’s concerns and feeding them back to the local party.”The last election in 2005 saw the majority of seats taken up by the Conservatives, following by the Liberal Democrats. The Green party representation also increased dramatically. BNP and UKIP were not represented at all, although they are currently parting with the Greens for 4th place in European Parliament elections. In a city where 26% of the population are students, the local vote bears huge significance. In 2005, approximately 50,000 people voted in the Oxford area, but university students were vastly under-represented. Most Council seats were separated by a few hundred votes so higher student turnout could sway results. In their manifestos, all candidates unanimously support pedestrianising the city centre and improving biking facilities. Both Labour and the Conservatives have stressed the improvement of Oxford’s academic ability as high on their list of priorities. The Liberal Democrats aim to increase representation and diversity in the University. Labour Candidate Susanna Pressel reminds that at the local level personal ability is everything. “Try to meet the candidates first, rather than simply voting for a party.” Current Green County Councillor Sushila Dahl urges, “vote to leave a legacy for future students”.last_img read more