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Two Labour party councillors for the University and Scotforth Rural ward have today resigned, meaning that by-elections to the Lancaster City Council will be taking place within months.
Councillors Lucy Atkinson and Sam Armstrong, first elected in the 2015 local elections, have announced that they will be stepping down, having served three years out of their four year terms.
Lucy Atkinson stated in a social media post that she was stepping down due to health reasons. She added: “Considering both of us were freshers when we ran who are now in our fourth years, the majority of our electorate have either left or are about to. Therefore democratically we believe it’s important that current students have a say.”
Sam Armstrong said: “Unfortunately Lancaster does not provide career opportunities in my field. Both me and Lucy have been proud to represent the residents of University and Scotforth Rural and are sure that Nathan Burns and our other successors will continue to stand up for the ward as the city transforms.”
The by-elections will be the fifth time campus inhabitants will go to the polls in four years, after the 2015 general election, 2016 EU referendum, the 2016 council by-election, and the 2017 general election.
The University Conservative society paid tribute to one of the departing councillors:
“Lancaster University Conservative Society thank Cllr Lucy Atkinson for her dedicated service to Lancaster City Council. She has been a strong voice for the university, and a moderate, approachable voice in the Labour movement. We wish her well for the future.”
The Liberal Democrats society did the same:
The 2016 council by-election saw a very small turnout at 7%. The winning candidate, Nathan Burns of the Labour party, took 98 votes, out of close to four thousand registered voters.
That by-election saw four candidates stand, from the Labour party, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Green party. Political party insiders say they hope to see an increased turnout this time around.
The Labour party currently holds all three council seats on the University ward. On Lancaster City Council the Labour party holds exactly half of the 60 seats, meaning that the loss of either seat will cause a loss of control of the council, though Labour would likely still form a minority administration.
The winners of the forthcoming by-elections will only serve one year, as every seat on the council is up for re-election in the May 2019 local elections.