Students running in council elections

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Locals beware! While AV referendum fever sweeps the country, some Oxford students have their sights set on victory in local council elections across the UK next week.

Second year St John’s student Alex Harvey is standing for Labour in Grove ward, part of Vale of White Horse District Council. He hopes to improve communication between constituents and councillors, as well as protecting local services.

Harvey said: “I have three main campaign trusts. I think listening to people is extremely important, and this is something other councillors haven’t always done very well. Grove ward has been held by the Liberal Democrats since 1987. I want to help save local services, such as the ward’s library and to make cuts in wasteful expenditure. The council is spending enormous amounts of money on vanity projects at the moment, such as a local magazine. It costs over £53,000 to produce – but it would cost us only £30,000 to save the library! I’d much rather protect that than maintain a pointless glossy.”

Harvey’s Liberal Democrat opponent Sue Marchant was not available to comment.

First year LMH student Jonathan Smith is standing for the Conservatives in Binley and Willenhall, Coventry.

He said: “The biggest ongoing debate in my constituency is about hospital parking charges. Visitors have to pay large amounts, and of course people object to this. It’s unreasonable that they should be paying so much money.”

He added: “I want a career in politics. There is a certain hierarchy when you stand as a first time candidate in this kind of election; I’m standing in an area where it’s more of a challenge to win. Binley and Willenhall has been a strong Labour area for some time now.”

One Oxford tutor was optimistic about student councillors: “Local politics is mostly just big boys’ games for the under-stimulated, sanctimonious and overly self-enamoured, so it’d make a nice change to have it done by fresh-faced youths whose convictions have yet to be vitiated by the creeping intransigence of old age.”

Juggling a degree with a council seat could be a tough challenge for both candidates: “I’m working and revising all day, before going out to canvass in the evening,” Smith said.

St Catz student Jade Ferrari planned to stand as a local candidate last year. She said: “I found that there was a perception, amongst all the parties, of local government as being full of busy-bodied megalomaniacs…I don’t think the time commitment would be too much [for a student]. You only need to commit around 25 hours a week, which a Geography student like myself certainly has to spare.”

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