On Thursday the 2nd of May (during the end of the Easter Holidays for us), Bath has its local elections to decide which individuals are going to make up Bath and North East Somerset’s (BANES) Council.
I know, it’s not sexy, it doesn’t give us butterflies in our stomachs, it doesn’t instill visions of great hope and prosperity. But, for you as students, it’s still important. Let me explain why using everybody’s FAVOURITE topic of conversation: Buses.
First Bus run the bus company. They are a private commercial company, and they have a monopoly in Bath. They are the ones we’ve been lobbying against due to their pretty awful provision this year.
So what if I told you, that buses are a reason to vote in our local elections?
Well, some bus routes in Bath are subsidized by BANES council. Where the council are linked into bus routes in this way, they hold far more power and influence in the way that bus service is run. Even with routes that aren’t technically anything to do with them, they have conversations with First Bus, are notified of potential bus route changes (aka the ones that screwed us over earlier in the year), operate the live tracking information, have the power to permit particular roadworks (aka the ones that also screwed us over earlier in the year) and so on.
Whether we like it or not, BANES and buses go hand in hand. When everything was kicking off at the start of semester 1, I met with the highways team, and community engagement team to try and put pressure on the Council to do something about the bus issues we were facing.
The issue though, is that currently students don’t usually vote in local elections. Therefore, elected representatives in the Council *technically* don’t have to really listen to student concerns, because their elections aren’t at all dependent on student votes.
BUT, what would happen if 18,000 students decided to vote in the elections on May 2nd? Whether that’s in person in a voting booth in Bath, or postal voting in the weeks preceding. What if the student population of Bath fundamentally altered the way the council views students? What if students elected student-friendly councilors with student-friendly policies?
What if BANES councilors saw our issues with buses, and decided they’d help subsidise the route? What if they saw our need for more accurate live tracking information, and responded by working with first to get live tracking app functionality? What if they were able to help us get cheaper bus travel and more reliable bus services? WHAT IF.
So, with that in mind, make sure you register to vote: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote! If you’re not going to be in Bath on the 2nd of May, apply for a postal vote here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote. You never know…. You might even see some students standing to be local councillors……
Make a difference, vote in the local elections, and pressure BANES to support us in our fight against terrible buses.