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Green Party candidate Jack Filmore said that he was “elated” after being elected to represent the University Ward on Lancaster City Council, following a by-election – held concurrently with the elections to the European Parliament – on Thursday Week 5. Filmore narrowly beat Labour candidate James Leyshon to become the University Ward’s representative on the City Council.
Results of the election state that Filmore gained 273 votes, only 36 ahead of Leyshon, who received 237. Conservative Party candidate Daniel Aldred received 128 votes, followed by Liberal Democrat candidate Oliver Mountjoy on 33 votes and Independent candidate Stuart Langhorn on 24 votes. Filmore will occupy the University Ward’s seat on the Council – left vacant following the resignation of Paul Aitchison – until it goes up for re-election next year, likely to be at the same time as the 2015 General Election.
After his election, Filmore told SCAN that he was “elated.” “I knew it was going to be close, I knew that there was a good chance of winning, but I think it was the kind of election where it was difficult to know what to expect,” Filmore said.
When asked why he believed he had the edge over the other candidates, Filmore cited both short-term and national factors. “I’d like to think the victory was due to all the work we put in campaigning, but it’s also no doubt due to national issues as well,” Filmore said. “I think voters on campus are much more likely to vote along national issues.
“The Greens have become quite popular – particularly among students – recently due to the collapse in the LibDem support. I think that popularity of the Green Party among students is what gave us such a good chance in these elections.
“But at the end of the day we won by 36 votes, so I like to think that giving out all of those leaflets and going around talking to people made that difference.”
Filmore told SCAN that his decision to run was a rather sudden one. “I’ve been a supporter of the Green Party for a very long time; I joined when I was 16. So it’s always been something I would like to do: get elected and work for the Green Party,” Filmore said. “But the decision to stand was fairly short-term. The local party asked me if I was interested – I’d stood before in non-target seats, where there was no chance of getting elected – and I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I would quite like to do that.”
Filmore said that his focus over the next year would be on buses, cycle routes and rent accommodation, though his immediate concern was consulting with students. “In the coming weeks and months I want to be listening to students, finding out what the issues are that students care about,” Filmore said. “The City Council can’t do that much, particularly on campus, but there are areas that we can focus on.
“Buses between campus and the city are going to be a big priority for me; I know many students aren’t happy with the bus service currently. Provision of cycle routes and cycling in the city is something else I want to look at. Also, rented accommodation in the city is something that the Council has quite a large say in, so I think improving the quality of accommodation in town is something we can make progress on.”
In response to the election outcome, Andrew Grieke, the Chair of the Lancaster University Labour Club, said: “Firstly, we’d like to congratulate Jack Filmore on becoming councillor. He ran a strong campaign and clearly put a lot of work into it.
“We’ll be back to fight the council elections next year, and in the meantime our Labour Councillor, Jonathon Dixon, will be working hard for students across Lancaster by cracking down on rogue landlords and encouraging the development of a science park to provide jobs for when we graduate.”