Meet the candidates for Lancaster City Council’s election

Lancs students who live on campus will be able to vote in a by election for Lancaster City Council

A by-election in the University and Scotforth Rural Ward will take place this Thursday as the previous councillor Jack O’Dwyer-Henry resigned from the post after he graduated from Lancaster University.

Students who live on campus will be eligible to vote at their local polling station.

The Tab Lancaster spoke to all four candidates and asked them about the upcoming election.

Zanna Ashton

Zanna, a second year Politics and IR student, is the Liberal Democrat candidate for University and Scotforth Rural ward. She is running for election because she’s passionate about Lancaster. Being a student, she has heard that student struggles were ignored by previous councillors and feels that she would be someone to resolve issues.

Zanna said: “There is no denying the prevalent and terrifying issue of spiking that students face across the country and it’s time local authorities take responsibility.”

For Zanna, this is the most important issue facing students today and as a woman, she understands how scary these threats are. She plans to work with the council to ensure actions are taken to make nightlife safe. The issue she found within City Council was a lack of female representation with only 36 per cent of councillors being women. Consequently, policy is unable to represent the needs of its people. Zanna aims to work with the council to improve this to ensure that we have council policies that work for all.

She added: “If elected I will dedicate all my efforts into ensuring Lancaster can become a safer and better place for all, and that includes remaining in Lancaster while in position”. She believes that she can see the necessary changes that are needed and is determined to see these happen. It is with this passion that Zanna will do her best to stand by the students of Lancaster, hear their voices and act to make a change.

She said: “The time for talking is over, it’s time the council create policy that improves the lives of students. That is why you should vote for me.”

Fabiha Askari

The Labour Party candidate , Fabiha, is a third year History and Politics student. Fabiha has lived in Lancaster for over 10 years and wants to bring a real, positive change by amplifying the voices of residents. She believes the City Council has so much potential to bring change and it would be a privilege for her to assist.

Fabiha said: “I will try my absolute best to bring about real change in how the issue of student safety is treated”. She will lobby for a reporting system that provides tangible results for students, paired with support throughout the reporting process.

She said that for her, the climate emergency is the most important issue of our time and she ensures these will be worked for with the City Council and residents. For students, Fabiha added she aims to provide better mental health services in the wake of the pandemic and will lobby for increased funding to these.

Fabiha said: “The lack of diversity within the City Council is very unfortunate, especially considering how diverse Lancaster really is”. She was shocked that Lancaster University was named “International University of the Year” in 2020 even though the council lacks diversity. She would encourage the council to consult a wider diversity of residents in their decisions.

Fabiha plans to stay in Lancaster after graduation and hopes to fulfil a full term in office. She expressed how welcoming the people are and that the diversity of groups, such as Lancaster Black History group and East meets West, makes Lancaster a place full of loving and kind people. While at Lancaster, she has committed to many causes including being an undergraduate representative of FASS students, and the head of the ‘‘Why Is My Curriculum White?” campaign, showing a genuine commitment to Lancaster.

She said: “I am wholeheartedly devoted to bringing about positive change”.

Matthew Maxwell-Scott

Matthew is the Conservative Party candidate. He runs a trade association representing consumer interests in the civil justice system and has previously worked as a speechwriter. Currently, he sits as Lancashire County Councillor for Lancaster Rural East Division, located near to the University campus. He is the director of a charity, has been a governor at multiple schools, as well as having run for parliament twice.

Matthew said: “The council needs people with experience and common sense to make sure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and that we can work together to make our great city even better”. He told us that the council contains factions and splinter groups which limits their ability to carry out public services, and he aims to help the council to improve this.

He said: “What I am most determined to do is work with the council and local businesses to improve Lancaster’s city centre”. Matthew will make Lancaster the best place to live, work, study, shop and enjoy, including improving the nightlife. For students, he plans to work with the council to enhance job fairs, employability sessions and anything else students would find valuable. He finds it important that students take advantage of their time at university, academically and socially, and aims to restore the Sugarbus to keep students safe.

Matthew said the council needs to provide a united front to encourage investment, which he can achieve due to his commitment to the city. He said: “I very much hope whoever is victorious will make a long-term commitment to Lancaster. It’s a commitment I’ve already made and by running in this by-election I’m doubling down”.

He said: “I hope students will vote for me because I have the experience, skills and determination to represent their interests properly and to make Lancaster even better”.

Jamie Payne

Jamie is a third year Politics and IR student at Lancaster University and is standing for the Green Party. Jamie is the co-president of the new Lancaster University Green Party and a musician who conducts the university big band.

He said: “I’m standing for City Council because I want to represent the needs of students on campus and build on the fantastic work the Green Party are already doing in Lancaster”. He believes he’s the right person to support the needs of students and stand up for social and climate justice.

Many local developments are already being pushed by the Greens, including improved bus services and more foot and cycle routes, and he states his presence on the council would help these come into effect. Jamie promises to be accountable, accessible, and plans to pressure University management and the SU to address any issues with the university.

When asked about the issues facing students today, Jamie mentioned student debt and the climate emergency for which the Green Party have national policies to address. Locally, he talked about the increase in drink spiking that is disproportionately affecting women. He plans to pressure the university and the SU into reintroducing the Sugarbus and drink covers. He would also address issues including congestion and lack of independent businesses.

Jamie said: “The Lancaster City Council needs less talk and more action to combat the climate emergency”. He told us the Green Party didn’t vote to support the Conservative County Council’s plans for new roads and motorway access in South Lancaster, which would blow the whole district’s carbon budget in just a few years. In addition, Green Party Councillors don’t follow a party whip when voting, so can put the needs of students first. Jamie also plans to remain in Lancaster for the full term.

He said: “I’d be a truly independent voice in the City Council standing up for the needs of students”.

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