Oxford student wins University Parks County council division

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Image Description: University Parks

Michael O’Connor, a 1st year BPhil student at Balliol College, has been elected as Labour Councillor for the University Parks ward in the Oxfordshire County Council elections that took place on 6th May 2021.

University Parks is a central Oxford division, covering the majority of Oxford University Colleges and some residential areas in North Oxford. The seat was previously held by Emma Turnbull (Labour), who did not stand again. Labour has held the seat for two consecutive terms; before that, the seat was held by the Green Party.

The vote count for the Oxfordshire County Council elections began on Sunday, 9th May 2021; county councillors serve four year terms before facing reelection.

The full vote breakdown is as follows: 

Michael O’Connor (Labour): 728 votes – ELECTED

Dianne Claudia Regisford (Green Party): 459 votes

James Edward Maitland Cox (Liberal Democrat): 269 votes

Madeleine Ross (Conservative): 145 votes

Rejected ballot papers: 15 votes

Michael O’Connor told the Oxford Student: “I’m delighted that Labour has won in University parks and that I’m now a councillor. Now I guess I just have to learn exactly how to be a councillor… Labour has also won across the city and, even more excitingly, the Tories will no longer be able to form an administration on the County Council as they’ve lost seats across Oxfordshire.”

“I will do my best to remain connected to students by keeping up an active presence on Facebook and by remaining in contact with JCRs and OULC. I also want to retain and build connections with Oxford’s student activist groups and campaigns.

In terms of policy, I hope to join the City Council in taking action on the climate emergency. I’ll also work with my Labour group colleagues to protect and improve public services. Some of Labour’s serving councillors have been in opposition for literally decades. They care passionately about our public realm and will put everything they have into making it better. I also hope to to focus on expanding democracy on a local level by exploring the use of Citizen’s Assemblies and Citizen’s Juries as well as supporting co-operatives, social enterprises and community energy generation. But I don’t make policy on my own so we’ll have to see!”

Madeleine Ross, the Conservative candidate who came fourth in the ballot, told the Oxford Student: “I warmly congratulate Michael on his victory, and I am sure he will do a magnificent job. I’ve learnt a lot about the electoral process standing in this election, and I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to run.” 

The turnout was roughly 37% of the 4295 strong electorate.   

The final results for the Oxfordshire County Council are as follows:

Conservative 22 (-7)

Labour 15 (+1)

Lib Dems 21 (+7)

Green 3 (+3)

Indy 1 (-3)

Henley Residents Group 1

However, Labour are mounting a legal challenge to the Banbury Ruscote result, where the party unexpectedly lost a seat to the Conservatives. If successful, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems would hold the same number of seats on the County Council. 

The Oxford City Council elections also took place on 6th May 2021, with the vote count also taking place on the Saturday. There were 48 seats up for election, with two city councillors elected for each of the 24 wards. 

Labour retained control of the City Council, winning Holywell, Carfax and Jericho, and Walton Manor, which all overlap with the University Parks division.

May be an image of 1 person and standing

Michael O’Connor at the town hall.

The final results for the Oxford City Council are as follows:

Labour 34 (-2)

Lib Dems 9 (No change)

Green 3 (+1)

Indy 2 (+1)

Thursday’s election returned strong results overall for the Tories as the party gained control of 12 councils; an unusual result as local election results are often negative for the incumbent government. 

This has led to recriminations within the Labour Party which lost control of eight councils; Angela Rayner, deputy party leader, has been removed as party chair by Keir Starmer who created a new post for her as he seeks to reshuffle the cabinet.

Anneliese Dodds, Labour MP for Oxford East, has also been removed as shadow chancellor and made Party Chair.

City Council normally elects half the council every two years (one councillor in each ward). Following a ward boundary review carried out by the Local Government Boundary Commission, all seats were up for election this time.

The election results mean there remains no Conservative councillor on Oxford City council.

Image Credit: Chen Chen


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