Recently, you might have seen the SU Officers giving out snacks, trying to make sure you ‘donut’ forget to vote in the local elections, happening on Thursday 2nd May. Now, whether you were registered already, signed up just to get free food (I’d have been in this category) or ignored it entirely, the thought might have crossed your mind…
“How do local elections affect me?”
I’m going to try and answer that question, by letting you know some ways that the people sitting on the local council are able to make decisions that impact on the student experience, specifically, for those people who may be interested in sport.
On-campus planning and building
One of the biggest issues across sport – facilities. The local council provide planning permission construction work that happens on and off campus, *cough* 3G pitch *cough*.
If we want to develop large scale projects which will massively benefit the student experience, then we need a council that understands the benefits of this.
Maintenance of parks and green spaces
If you spend time off campus in the outdoors or at leisure facilities, the chances are that they’re maintained by the local council. If you feel strongly about Bath’s green spaces, then you should definitely consider how candidates view them and what emphasis they place on recreational activity.
Permitted use of outdoor spaces
Further to the point abut green spaces, the local council also set restrictions on our parks. They can decide whether or not to let people consume alcohol, or have BBQs in these areas, two things that are likely to impact students and sports clubs wanting to socialize in the city- when the weather is nice at least!
An example of this was in 2017, when, after public consultation, the local council introduced a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) which restricted the consumption of alcohol in public areas in the City of Bath. This is up for renewal in 2020, so whether you are for or against it, it might be worth voting for a candidate that supports your view.
Sport, health and wellbeing
The local council oversees the city’s leisure centres and sports facilities, including Bath Leisure Centre, Pavilion and Bath Approach Gold Course. They run initiatives around health and wellbeing and also decide where cycle lanes/paths are and oversee cycling infrastructure.
If you’re interested in this kind of thing, maybe consider candidates’ views towards sport and leisure when looking at who to vote for.
Overall, students don’t tend to vote in local elections. Maybe we don’t see ourselves as members of the local community, or maybe we don’t think it matters. Hopefully, this blog has shown that there are issues that impact on the student experience, which the local council has the power to change. With the best part of 20,000 students, we can therefore create massive change ourselves, by ensuring that local councilors present student-friendly policies – something they haven’t had to previously with the lack of student voters.
Make sure you register to vote in the local elections, or, if you’re not going to be in Bath on 2nd May, apply for a postal vote and look out for fellow students running as councilors!