Batley & Spen by-election 2016: Live Blog

by-electionHello and welcome to T’HUD Magazine’s live blog on the by-election in the constituency of Batley & Spen – the parliamentary seat left vacant by the murder of Jo Cox earlier this year. I’m Callum Griffin and I’ll be attending the count in Huddersfield tonight, and providing a bit of commentary on the goings on.

As well as Batley & Spen, tonight is the election of the MP to replace David Cameron’s seat in Witney, Oxfordshire. We’ll talk about that as well just a little, but our main focus is on Batley & Spen. Many of our students live in the constituency or are from there – and the death of Jo Cox was particularly felt around Kirklees. Batley & Spen consists of Batley (duh), Birstall, Cleckheaton and Birkenshaw.

So thanks for joining us, and we’ll bring you the highlights as we can. Polls close at 10pm so make sure you’ve voted if you’re eligible!


18.45

And that concludes the AGM. Everyone’s rushing up to get their pizza, and as much as I love you all I’m not staying typing here while everyone chows down!

Thanks for reading, and good night!

18.43

Students are voting on the appointment of the new External Trustee. Only problem is, students don’t seem particularly well informed on what any of that means, and the vote is now taking an “I don’t know” option!

Most students are chatting amongst themselves, and nobody really seems to know what’s going on.

But apparently it was approved.

18.40

Constitutional Amendment: Proposes that there should be two student trustees to the Board of Trustees and that they should be able to represent students in the running of the SU.

Afzal is making his speech in support of the amendment. He says “sorry me again!”.

He says Sheffield’s Student Union has added 4 student trustees and has a great response. He wants a “fair democratic process” by secret ballot to have more influence from the students on the organisation.

The motion needs 75% for a constitutional amendment. It passes with more than 99% as far as I can tell, only one person raised their hand and there are >100 people present.

18.36

Motion for NUS National Conference: Better support for Care Leavers.

Dilara makes a short speech, pointing out that the NUS doesn’t make enough support for those leaving care.

The motion readily passes, with applause!

18.35

The motion (impartiality of the NUS regarding political parties) passes and will be submitted to the NUS conference.

18.33

Motion for NUS National Conference: For the NUS to be impartial to any political party.

Afzal is making his speech to support the motion.

“The NUS is moving away from its impartiality.” He states that SU officers are ardent Labour Party members and no personal political views should be found within the NUS. He claims that there is a “socialist ideology” throughout the NUS.

Sabrina is speaking against the motion. She says that Afzal’s motion does not apply as the NUS articles already state that party politics are not part of the NUS. She says that the shares on a social media platforms do not mean endorsement by the NUS. “Don’t attack free speech.”

This one actually needs counting, which is being done now.

18.27

Motion for NUS National Conference: For lobbying the government to ensure students are able to register with more than one GP at the same time (for home and Uni address).

Lianne is making her speech to support the motion.

80% of students experience mental health issues in one year. She says that the repetitive forwards-and-backwards of registering with different GPs makes it worse and stops the students from getting support. “Nothing seems to be getting done – lobby the government.”

 

Motion passes with huge majority.

18.19

The SU are now showing up the income, expenditures, and balance sheet for the SU.

If you’re really really super interested in all the numbers then, uhh, you could probably ask them for it. I definitely won’t be asking.

18.14

Questions from the Students!

A report says that a referendum took place recently but only ~300 students voted (minimum number for a vote to take place is 1000 votes)

“Are there reasons why people aren’t voting?”

Sabrina: It was promoted on all the channels, unfortunately not enough people with

“As a student I also feel there’s not enough information. Could we add updates to email and UniLearn, as students check them more often? Nobody knows what the SU is doing.”

S: I agree with your idea, there is more we can do like sending out emails, the update did go out in Dilara’s email to clubs and societies however.

“What’s being done now to improve engagement?”

S: We’re doing a various number of things to improve engagement. We’re putting on more diverse events, we’re looking into the area of people that don’t usually turn up to our events. We changed our structure to increase engagement to students that don’t get involved. Please pop up and talk to me if anyone has any further ideas on how to change things!

“Are those events not suffering by people not knowing they exist, the same problem you’ve tried to solve with adding more events?”

S: We’re putting it out to students as “what do you want to do, what are you doing right?” In the next couple of weeks I’ll get a focus groups together and hold a meeting to discuss this and see how we can improve engagement.

“Loads of sports clubs that need outdoor sports pitches have to go elsewhere, can we build facilities here?”

D: I understand what you’re going through, we are trying to work closely with the University to improve facilities, but it does take a long time.

18.04

Now the results for the Accountability Panels – you may have read about them in our latest edition.

We’ll just report December’s for now, which weren’t in the last edition.

Sabrina – 10/13 – Outstanding

Dilara – 9/13 – Effective

Lianne – 8/13 – Effective

Charlotte 9/13 – Effective

Emma – 12/13 – Outstanding

18.02

Some questions are being taken from the audience. All for Dilara it seems.

“How is Societies Week different from Give It A Go week? What support is the SU giving in regards to that?”

Dilara: We give all our attention to sports clubs, so this week is about showcasing the great work that our societies do, and how to get people involved with other societies.”

“The Frisbee Society currently only gets funding for the male team, even though we have female players too. Anything we can do about that?”

D: Yes, please have a chat with me at the end there is definitely something we can do about that.

17.59

Activities Officer, Dilara, up next.

He has created a voucher for poorer background students to be able to get involved with the sports clubs on campus (which can be pretty expensive to be in). He created Societies Week to promote the societies on campus, saying “they don’t get enough credit”.

He announces that there are 10 new societies and 4 new sports clubs this year.

17.58

Lianne’s update next, for Wellbeing & Equalities.

She’s been really pushing the Mental Health Awareness on campus as well as training for staff in Mental Health First Aid. Lianne has also continued the work on We’ve Got Your Back to train all the bars in Huddersfield to be ready for situations that harm our students while on the town. She has also done lots of work with our students with dependents.

17.55

Charlotte (Education) is now making her update.

Among her achievements have been free print credits offered and the extra work for students with dependents in regards to education.

17.54

Sabrina (President) is giving her update. She made a small reference to the departure of Emma (VP Comms and Engagement) at the beginning of the month, we all wish her well.

  • Sabrina has been working closely with the International Office and ensuring that the International voice is heard. This also involved Police registration for students on campus for the first time.
  • She also made reference to her changes on campus food with extra deals added.

17.47

Quayside is rammed with students ready to hear the debates and business of the SU for this year. There are three motions to be debated for NUS National Conference:

  • For the NUS to be impartial to any political party (Afzal Perez)

This one is to do with the impartiality of NUS officers, with the motion suggesting the officers are left-wing and should stop endorsing parties such as Labour.

  • Better support for care leavers (Dilara Changis, Activities Officer)

Suggests the NUS should establish a care leavers section, provide opportunities for care leavers to network, and provide training for its staff and SU staff to better understand the needs of this group.

  • Addition of two student trustees to the Board of Trustees

Proposes that there should be two student trustees to the Board of Trustees (duh) and that they should be able to represent students in the running of the SU.

There’s also a record petition attempt – to get a good amount of signatures for the petition on UniLearn assignment reminders.

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