Cosmo Lupton, running for the Liberal Democrats in Petersfield, drew attention to housing issuesLucas Maddalena

Cambridge residents are preparing to vote in several local elections next month, after the UK government postponed the local elections last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With elections taking place in 143 councils across England and approximately 28 million people voting for around 4,650 positions of power across the country, Varsity takes a closer look at the candidates for Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Mayoral Election, elections for which will take place on Thursday 6 May.

City Council

The elections for Cambridge City Council will take place across all 14 of the city’s wards, with all 42 council seats up for election due to changes in ward boundaries.

Each ward is represented by three councillors. The candidate earning the most votes serves a three-year term, the candidate with the second-highest number of votes serves a two-year term, and the candidate with the third-highest number serves for a year. The terms of office have been reduced by a year due to the postponement of these elections from last May.

The council, which is responsible for conducting local public services such as schools and libraries, has tended to return a Labour majority with the Liberal Democrats closely behind in recent years. For instance, Labour won eight seats in the last Cambridge City Council election in 2019, achieving 34% of the vote share, while the Lib Dems won seven seats, but enjoyed a higher proportion of the vote at 35%. Meanwhile Labour and Co-operative won one seat (3%), with the Greens on 15% and the Conservatives on 9%.

This year, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Conservative Party are fielding candidates in all wards.

The Labour manifesto calls for ‘One Cambridge Fair for All’, and is centred on four pledges: tackling poverty, inequality and promoting food justice, a net-zero council and addressing climate/biodiversity emergencies, building a new generation of council homes to reduce homelessness, and delivering essential services “in the face of Tory Government cuts”.

Cambridge University Labour Club (CULC) told Varsity that Labour is “the party most serious about achieving net zero carbon emissions, reducing poverty, funding our public services and tackling homelessness”.

For instance, Alice Gilderdale, a student running for Labour in Market Ward, told Varsity that her “priority is supporting Cambridge’s aim to be a carbon net 0 city, while pushing for further environmental protections targets and commitments.” Similarly, Arran Parry-Davies, who is running in Trumpington, emphasised that his “priority is reducing levels of child poverty in Cambridge and supporting families navigating to the new system of Universal Credit.”

The Liberal Democrats are promoting nine policy areas “for a greener and fairer Cambridge”. Policies include a “commitment to ’roadmap carbon emissions to zero, a focus on future house-building at North East Cambridge and Marshalls Airfield, a multi-disciplinary task force to address addictions and mental ill-health and a new rough sleeping charter to engage city-wide support and understanding”.

Cosmo Lupton, a student running for the Liberal Democrats in Petersfield Ward, drew attention to government figures from last year which suggested that one in nine council homes in Cambridge is considered unfit to live in. Lupton told Varsity that this is “a disgrace and stain on our city”, and that he is running because he believes “this moment, as we emerge from the pandemic, offers an opportunity for a fresh start for Cambridge.”

The importance of student engagement was echoed by a range of Liberal Democrat and Green student candidates contacted by Varsity. Laura Ryan, Chair of Cambridge University Liberals and candidate for Romsey Ward, stressed the importance of student engagement, underlining the “huge potential for a real shake up” with every city council seat in contention. She adding that she “want[s] students to make the most of this opportunity to shape their city.” 

Eddie Wilkinson, a student representing the Green Party, is also running for a seat in Petersfield. Speaking to Varsity, he argued: “Local and national government are dragging their feet on [climate and biodiversity emergencies]”. Wilkinson explained that he is standing to “give people an opportunity to vote against politics as usual”, and to “have progressive and environmentally-conscious officials in all decision-making positions to help make the best decisions for our collective future.”

In 2019, the Liberal Democrats came second and the Green Party third in Petersfield, both behind Labour.

Phoebe Pickering, former Chair of the Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA), is standing in Market Ward, where the Conservatives earned just 6% of the vote share in 2019. Pickering told Varsity that she wishes “to protect the good people of Market Ward from the double-pronged scourge of socialism and pot holes”, adding that she will “of course, day 1 in office [...] dismantle the King’s Parade barriers with [her] bare hands.”

CUCA additionally told Varsity that Conservative councillors can “send a clear message that chaotic two-party politics on the city council is failing our community”, adding that while “it’s easy as students to feel like local elections aren’t about us [...] Local government plays an important role [...] in ensuring students of all backgrounds feel safe in our city at night.”

Varsity estimates that at least fifteen Liberal Democrats running in the city council elections, as well as three Labour candidates, two Green candidates and one Conservative, are current students at the University.

County Council

While students make up a sizeable proportion of the City Council election candidates, only one student, Phoebe Pickering, is aiming to hold a seat on the County Council, again representing the Conservative party in the Market Ward. Pickering will run against three other candidates: Nichola Elliot, Nick Gay, and Yemi Anofokhai, representing the Greens, Labour, and Liberal Democrats respectively. The seat has been held by Liberal Democrat Councillor Nichola Harrison since 2017.

Unlike the City Council, which is dominated by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors, the political make-up of the County Council is strongly Conservative, with 34 of 60 Councillors aligning themselves with the Conservatives, 16 with the Liberal Democrats and six with Labour since the 2017 elections.

Police Commissioner

Four candidates are running for Cambridgeshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC): Nicky Massey (Labour), Susan Melancy Morris (Reform UK - formerly the Brexit Party), Rupert William George Moss-Eccardt (Liberal Democrat), and Darry Andrew Preston (Conservative). Due to the postponement of last year’s election, the winner will serve a three-year rather than a four-year term.

In responses recently given to the Cambridge Independent, Preston explained he would make it his priority to reduce crime by recruiting “many more police officers”, provide safer roads by “crack[ing] down on speeding to reduce accidents” and fight organised crime by “catching the very worst criminals”. Meanwhile Massey would also prioritise road safety, while also committing to “supporting a real link between all survivors [of domestic abuse] and support services, including support for male survivors.”

Moss-Eccardt summarised his priorities as cutting crime “through liberal approaches that work”, establishing local police priorities, and policing with “integrity, consent and without discrimination.” Morris outlines her manifesto priorities as tackling “crime against the self employed and small local business”, getting “constables back on the beat” and clarifying “the relations and boundaries within the justice system to establish accountability.”

The incumbent Commissioner for Cambridgeshire is Ray Bisby (Conservative), with the Conservatives gaining a first preference majority of 9,188 votes in 2016.


Meanwhile, there are three hopefuls in the Mayoral elections, one of whom will oversee the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Labour representative Nik Johnson, previously district councillor for St Neots East, worked as a children’s doctor for 14 years. Liberal Democrat Aidan Van de Weyer is the outgoing deputy leader of the South Cambridgeshire District Council. Meanwhile Conservative James Palmer, elected Mayor in 2017, is hoping to be elected for a second term in the role.