Aitchison resignation sparks by-election in University ward

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A by-election has been called in the University ward following the resignation of Paul Aitchison. The election, which will determine who will represent Lancaster University on Lancaster City Council, will take place on Thursday Week 4, along with European Parliamentary Elections.

Aitchison has served on Lancaster City Council since May 2011 but has had decided to step down due to work commitments.  He was initially elected alongside Councillor Jonathon Dixon, who will continue to represent University ward.

Speaking to SCAN, Aitchison, who represented the Labour Party, said “It has been a privilege to serve on the Council over the past three years, representing students and voting for measures that would be beneficial to their experience at Lancaster.”

He also said “a key success has been the approval to redevelop Lancaster city centre which will result in an improved retail offer in the city. This will also present more opportunities for students to gain part-time employment whilst studying. This success, which benefits students, shows the importance of the University ward councillors to students’ interests in Lancaster. Furthermore, it is incredibly beneficial that the University councillors are students or recent graduates who understand what students want from their city and can easily contact them. I wish my successor, whomever that may be, all the best in the coming year.”

VP (Education) Joe O’Neill, thanked Aitchison for his role in representing Lancaster University: “Paul has been a long-time friend and an excellent councillor and representative for University ward. He has stood up time and again for young people, a group I have repeatedly said are easily and consistently overlooked.”

O’Neill also said “the upcoming by-election is very important. Getting the right candidate elected to represent us on the City Council will ensure that we have a passionate advocate for the members of this University who can otherwise be easily forgotten and ignored.”

The election will fall on the same day as the European Parliamentary Elections in which the North West region will elect eight Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

O’Neill stressed the importance of also voting in the European Parliamentary Elections, particularly as one of the current North West MEPs is leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin. “Currently Lancaster is represented by the racist, fascist British National Party’s leader Nick Griffin in Europe. This is something we absolutely must get to the ballot box and put a stop to. I personally think it is disgraceful that Mr Griffin is our representative and only in voting can we say quite firmly that the BNP is not now and never will be welcome in Lancaster”, he said.

The Labour Party have selected James Leyshon as their candidate to succeed Aitchison. Leyshon currently studies History and Politics at Lancaster University and has been a member of Labour since he was 16. The full list of University ward candidates will be announced closer to the date of the election.

Lancaster University students can register to vote for the City Council and European elections, or check if they are already registered, by contacting Lancaster City Council or visiting www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.

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