As a politics student in her final year at the university, Chloe Campbell is juggling dissertations and council elections as she hopes to represent the Scottish Greens in the Stirling North ward.
Having been a student for the last four years, Chloe is arguably equipped with the inside knowledge on how to deal with the issues faced by the large proportion of students in the area.
She said: “I think, certainly with the ward I am standing in, we’ve got Causewayhead, Raploch and Riverside which are areas with lots of students and normally with housing the council goes straight to the university.
“The council seems to have this false perception that the university represents its students, they’ve never been to the Students’ Union, and no one goes on campus and speaks to students, and I think that is something we would do well.
“I have a pretty good perception on what it’s like to live in quite bad accommodation in town, and I understand where students are disadvantaged.”
Chloe discussed the importance of engaging directly with students in order to better represent them. She said: “I’d be happy to do a surgery on campus – maybe once every month or every couple of months – and people could make an appointment and come and speak to me”.
When discussing housing, Chloe’s passion is unmistakable as she talked about the Greens plan to introduce a Private Renters Forum to give tenants “more rights over how your landlord treats you and who gets to be a landlord, as there is obviously a huge private sector in Stirling and it is really pushed.
“There’s more students than there are house,s and that means we’re not in a position to bargain at all. So I think that every extra right we can give students to make their lives easier is important.”
It was time to quiz Chloe on transport and she assured me the Greens are committed to public transport, and in particular relieving the pressure of travelling to university.
“The Labour Party have been speaking a lot about trying to bring buses back into the public sector and I think this is something that the Greens would be getting on board with,” she explained.
“The buses are terrible to the university, no one can deny that and I’ve sat on that bus a lot and never made it in on time to my 9am class.
“We could look into certainly putting a lot more funding into public transport and pull it a bit further into the public sphere and it makes it more accountable to students as well.
“It shouldn’t be running off of a profit basis because people rely on that to get to where they need to go.
“We also want to make it part of the budget that you have to fund cycling, you have to fund better walking routes because that puts a lot of strain on the bus as well as people are maybe reluctant to cycle in.
“There’s cycle routes in Stirling but they don’t really match up very well because it’s very dangerous to go through.”
Chloe links this idea up with another Green pledge which aims to introduce 20mph as the default speed limit in most of Stirling’s built up areas as doing so could reduce the fears of cyclists and in turn, lift stress from the bus services.
Since the snap general election has been called for June 8, around just six weeks after the Scottish council elections ends, Brig is asking local council candidates for their thoughts on the prime ministers timing.
Chloe says that the decision was “disrespectful” to the council elections. She adds: “The decision was obviously made by the Conservatives because it is of benefit to their party but we’ve seen council elections perhaps being overshadowed by national issues.
“The Conservatives’ leaflets promote it to be about the referendum and to others it is about party relations and how those parties relate to each other and issues like Brexit and that isn’t really what [council elections] are about.
“As a councillor, I won’t get to vote on issues like independence or Brexit; my place is on housing, transport and to overshadow that denies the public the knowledge of what they’re voting for.”
Typically in political campaigning, it can appear that candidates are more concerned with squabbling among rival parties and tarnishing the others reputations, but this, as Chloe pointed out, is something she and the Green Party are strongly against, instead taking a more refreshing stance by focusing solely on their strengths.
She said: “We made a decision in our local branch and that is to always do positive campaigning. Our leaflets only says what we have done.
“When people ask us about issues like housing, they don’t want to hear about how bad everyone else is but what we’re doing for housing and how we’re going to get more.”
To conclude with the interview I gave Chloe the opportunity to speak about a particular issue that stands out among all of the others.
For Chloe, this is the Greens pledge to protect the Green Belt across Stirling. She said: “We are the only party to have always campaigned against developments on the Airthrey Kerse and on the Park Keir.”
“They [Graham’s Dairy] wanted to put 600 houses on Airthrey Kerse and we worked with local communities to say that this is not a party issue, it’s about what the public want and the protection of the environment.”
Featured image credit: Chloe Campbell for Stirling North/Facebook