Lancaster City Council By-Election

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Image Courtesy Robin Madge via geograph.org.uk

The date of the by-election to elect new councillors for the University and Scotforth Rural ward has been announced and will take place on Thursday 17 May.

What is a by-election?

A councillor by-election is held if a seat becomes vacant during the lifetime of a Council. Reasons for vacancy can include a councillor resignation or because a councillor has passed away.

Local by-elections can be held at any time of year and your local council will be able to tell you if there are any by-elections in your area.

Why are we having one?

Two vacancies have been created on Lancaster City Council following the resignation of two councillors. Lucy Atkinson and Sam Armstrong, who both represented the University and Scotforth Rural Ward, have resigned from their seats.

Both were elected to the city council in the 2015 district elections.

Local councillors are elected for 4-year terms by the local community to represent its views. The closing date for nominations was on Thursday 19 April.

Who can vote and how?

As a student you can vote in your home town and university. All students are advised to vote in these elections and new applications to register need to be made by midnight on Monday 30 April.

To register to vote, visit the site www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Completing the application takes no more than a few minutes.

If voting by post, new applications must be made by 5pm on Tuesday 1 May to vote in this by-election. For details regarding postal voting, please contact the elections office on 01524 582905.

In the University and Scotforth Rural ward election only people living in the ward can vote.

Who is running?

The Conservatives, Greens, Labour and Liberal Democrats are fielding candidates in this election.

SCAN asked the candidates about their plans if elected.

Conservatives: Callum Furner and Guy Watts

Conservative candidates Callum Furner and Guy Watts have a 5-point plan which they aim to deliver: 1) “protect and enhance night-time economy” including the threat of building new accommodation near The Sugarhouse, 2) aim to improve bus services, with “extra buses at high pressure times” 3) oppose The Bailrigg Garden Village plans which could cause a disruption to the university and surrounding area 4) support building greener and affordable housing in Lancaster city centre and 5) improve mental health services at Lancaster, ensuring students feel fully supported and improve awareness.

Green Party: Jan Maskell and Martin Paley

Green Party candidate Jan Maskell is a part-time staff member in LUMS and plans to continue building links between the university and city, “work for a sustainable arts and cultural quarter around the canal in town”, “tackle affordable housing” and focus locally on big issues such as climate change. Fellow candidate for the Greens, Martin Paley aims to “tackle food poverty”, “support refugees and asylum seekers” and support sustainable food and travel. Paley wants to push the University to become “a single-use plastic-free campus implementing Precious Plastic (a student-led recycling team)”.

Labour: Amara Betts-Patel and Oliver Robinson

Labour candidates, Amara Betts-Patel and Oliver Robinson say they will “improve the quality of student life in Lancaster by ensuring upcoming developments are geared towards the interests of both students and local people”. Both candidates want to focus on making the city a greener and safer place to live in, continue The Labour Council’s work, which approved the building of water fountains in Williamson Park, with plans to expand them through town. Other issues the candidates would like to focus on are mental health, provision of religious spaces and minimalizing future disruption from university development projects.

Liberal Democrats: Jade Sullivan and Ian Embery

For the Liberal Democrats, candidate Jade Sullivan would use her position to check and ensure accountability on the current Labour majority in the Lancaster City Council. Sullivan would like to reduce waiting time when booking appointments at the GP on campus, pressure the Council to reduce the cost of buses between campus and the university and create a study-space in town. Ian Embery, also Lib Dem, wants to “bridge the rift between `the university’ and `the community’ – on a bottom-up people-first level”, connecting students with local businesses and introducing a campus park-run.