Get involved with the mayoral elections
Those who track the movements of the different London-based political elections will know that next year London has the opportunity to elect a new – or possibly the same – Mayor and new members of the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Although most people will be aware that London has a Mayor, far fewer people will know what the Mayor and the GLA have control over.
The answer is a large list of things, but broadly speaking they deal with four main areas:
Transport for London (TfL)
This is the public transport system that operates in London. The Mayor gets to decide things like how much you pay on your Oyster-card to get around the city.
London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA)
The LFEPA consider and make decisions on key London Fire Brigade matters such as strategy, policy and budget.
Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA)
Broadly speaking the Mayor gets to have a say on how crime is dealt with in London and any changes in police operations and tactics.
London Development Agency (LDA)
The London Development Agency is the Mayor of London’s agency responsible for driving London’s sustainable economic growth. It’s their job to ensure that London remains a global economic success.
What do students need?
The Mayor and GLA in someway or another have a say in: How much it costs for you to travel around the city; how your safety is dealt with in the capital; the creation of jobs and sustaining the economy; and the provision of housing and other essential services.
Having scrutinised the available information on what the Mayor and GLA currently do we can find no mention of student-related issues in any of the Mayoral and GLA documentation.
On closer inspection we discovered that London has a disproportionately high number of students in comparison with the rest of the country. It is clear that student issues need to be put on the agenda.
SUARTS has been working in close partnership with London School of Economics Students Union (LSESU) to lead the way in the creation of a campaign that will pressure the Mayoral candidates to make sure London students are listened to.
So far, we have contacted other London based Students Unions, organised mass meetings and are now working in partnership across London and across unions to create a manifesto for London Mayoral candidates to sign up to.
We believe the main areas that need to be improved are:
Students still suffer from being penalised by landlords for the sheer fact they are students. Although the Mayor cannot tell landlords how they should operate, he can however put schemes in place. Some landlord accreditation schemes already exist in London boroughs, these are the ideas that help to prevent bad practice and reveal what quality landlords look like.
After all the student action that has happened across the country, the police and student movement have become disconnected.
With students becoming stereotyped as rioters and the police being stereotyped as brutes, more work needs to be done to bridge the gap and remove these misconceptions.
The police need to make it a clear priority to make sure students are protected.
The cost of transport affects students on a daily basis.
Although TfL have a discount in place for students, it is only effective if students buy travelcards.
We believe that the same discounts should be applied to pay-as-you-go rates.
A student’s week can change drastically from one week to another due to the amount of travel that students on multiple campuses have to negotiate.
We believe that students should not be forced to pay peak travel costs; these charges are designed to penalise those who travel home from work in rush hour, not students who are
Many London students choose to cycle around the city, and the Mayor and GLA need to make a clear effort to improve cycle lanes and cycle safety, especially on roads that are frequented by students as they travel to and from university.
Fears about employment after university, in a difficult economic climate, is a key concern for all students.
The Mayor needs to do more to advocate for student graduates.
More needs to be done to improve the widening participation agenda, as unpaid internships allow those who are London based, or come from more affluent backgrounds, to be advantaged above those who have to pay for their own rent.
How to get involved with the Mayoral election!
As with any campaign of this nature, for it to be a success we need as many students as possible from all London universities to get involved.
Tell us what you think the Mayor and GLA should be focusing on in terms of important student issues.
The Students Union can then use the suggestions to put together a manifesto for candidates to sign up to.
Email: email@example.com and have your say!
Spread the word!
This can only work if candidates feel the pressure from many thousands of student voters.
If we become a strong voting force and mayoral candidates want our votes to help them win, they will sign up to our promises.
Register to vote; then vote for the right person come May 2012!