Brad Baines: Oxford County Council Candidate Profile

Hi! My name is Brad and I’m standing to be your next Labour County Councillor for Isis Division next May. The Isis County Division gets its name from an alternative name for the Thames and stretches from New Hinksey and Iffley Village in the south to the City Centre south of the High Street in the north. It covers colleges between the High Street and St. Aldates including Christ Church, Corpus, Merton, Oriel and Univ.

Like many of you reading, I am a member of the Austerity Generation. A Generation shaped by over a decade of savage cuts to education, children’s services, and local government, and inaction on the big issues facing our communities and planet.

Like those that grew up under the Thatcher and Major Governments of the 80s and 90s, I could not just sit by while the investments and services hard won by previous Labour Governments were slashed and more and more people were pushed into poverty. That is why I joined the Labour Party six years ago. That is why I became a community and political activist – to demand better.

Whilst a student, I campaigned vigorously against Brexit and for a better deal for staff and students on and off campus. After that, I went on to help organise across the county to protect UK Aid and supporting the most vulnerable around the world. Then during lockdown, I volunteered with Oxford Together helping those in need of support. Now I intend to bring this same passion for a fairer society, where all regardless of background can live a fulfilled life, to the County Council.

If elected, my main priorities will be championing youth and family services as well as tackling the climate crisis head on. The current Conservative County Council has done little but slash support and opportunities for young people and families – rejecting Labour proposals for a reinvigorated Oxfordshire Youth Service, hollowing out support for those with Special Educational Needs and now threatening to ship children in care out of the County. Their record on the environment is not much better – scrapped funding for cycling and walking plans, delayed action on their Climate Action Plan and a screeching U-turn on tackling congestion in our City Centre.

I continue to contrast this failure with the pioneering work being done by our elected Labour Councillors, such as Oxford’s pioneering Citizens Assembly on Climate Change and Zero-Emissions Zone, Cllr John Sanders’ push for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to clean up our streets and the Labour City Council’s investment in supporting homeless people off the streets and into long-term housing.

It is clear we need new leadership for our County and Labour is ready to provide it.

I am proud to be one of several young Labour candidates standing for the County Council in May. Councils across the UK, including our County Council in Oxfordshire, simply do not reflect the populations they serve. This needs to change and I am proud that Labour is leading the way.

The average age of a councillor in the UK is 59 years, with almost half (43%) aged over the age of 65%. Similarly, just 26% of councillors are in full or part-time work. Those aged 18-29 make up 17% of Oxfordshire’s population and a whopping 32% of Oxford’s population, yet only one County Councillor is currently aged 30 or under.

One of my most prominent early political memories is watching the 2010 Election debates with my parents and like far too many being taken in by deceptive Cleggmania. Looking back, it just goes to remind us that after a decade of austerity at the behest of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, elections really do have consequences.

This can be seen no clearer than in local Government, where Councils have seen their budgets slashed by as much as 60% since 2010. What has this meant: closed youth centres, nurseries shut and reduced mental health support. Notice a pattern?

Of course, you do – children and young people’s services have been disproportionately hit hard by local cuts. This has been a conscious choice of previous Conservative County Council administrations over the last decade. Rather than protecting the most vulnerable and investing in future generations – they slashed vital frontline services and the basic building blocks of our communities.

Choices have consequences and so does the choice not to vote.

Tens of races across the County, including those here in Oxford will be decided by mere handfuls of votes come election time. Every vote will matter.

Next May we have a once in a generation opportunity to unseat this disastrous Conservative-controlled County Council, that has been asleep at the wheel for far too long, but that means students and young people turning out and voting Labour. The road to a Labour-led County Council runs through seats like Isis and neighbouring University Parks.

Our generation has amongst the most to lose from more years of Tory rule in Oxfordshire. That is why it is so important we as young people make our voices heard – the best way of doing so is voting early by post.

Labour in May will be offering new leadership for our County. Putting young people and the most vulnerable first. Tackling the climate crisis locally and investing in frontline services.

I hope we can count on your support to make the change we all need happen.

Brad

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