by Rob Telford
Bristol West: 10 minutes with each of your local Green candidates in May 2015
Number 3: Dani Glazzard (Cotham)
Dani Glazzard is the Green Party candidate for Cotham ward. Dani works as Democracy, Representation and Welfare Manager at Bath Spa University Students’ Union.
Why are you standing to be the councillor in Cotham ward?
I’m standing because of the work that Green councillors have done. I joined the Green Party two years ago and wasn’t expecting to get involved nearly as much as I have done, but it seems like the Green councillors have been repeatedly, in my view, the people standing up for Bristol.
It’s not necessarily something that a lot of people put themselves forward for. I think for various reasons there are barriers to becoming a councillor. The Green Party were saying “we really need people to do this” and so I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is. I want to be part of doing things like protecting children’s centres, protecting the homelessness prevention fund, standing up against austerity. I want to put those sorts of things on the agenda.
What are the local issues that come up a lot and what will you be prioritising?
Talking to people on the doorstep and those I know locally as well, one of the big concerns is housing – which you wouldn’t necessarily expect in Cotham, but I guess it’s a concern across the city. It’s about the rented sector, the number of HMOs and those HMOs being badly managed. So for most of the tenants and those living around them there are frustrations around properly managing waste and things like damp and cold. Cotham is one of the more affluent areas of the city and yet if you look at deprivation indexing, in terms of the environmental standards and the housing standards you’ll see a surprising amount of poverty.
People may have voted locally for the Green Party, but why should people vote for a Green MP?
I think this is just our moment, isn’t it? From what I can see, I think Bristol West is the place to do it and now is the year. People have been frustrated and let down by Labour and the Lib Dems and the Green Party are offering an alternative. People in the past have been nervous about going for that because they have felt trapped by the first past the post system and strategic voting.
But now a Green can win in Bristol West. You see the difference that Caroline Lucas has made to her constituency as one MP. I think having more Green MPs in Parliament would make a difference to the country but also it would create a voice that genuinely represents Bristol West and can put Bristol West issues on the agenda in Westminster and reflect our concerns in a strong way.
What’s your background? What are the passions that drive you?
I’m 26. When I graduated in 2011, I was really interested in working in equality and diversity and I started working for the National Union of Students (NUS) in their equality department on women’s campaigns and LGBT students’ campaigns. I now work for a university and have a much broader role than that. I’ve become interested in youth engagement. I’m completing a research masters and my research interest is about widening participation at universities – it’s about how we can make universities and education accessible to all.
Youth representation and youth engagement – especially in this election – is really important to me. I think that young people will be massively affected by the outcome of it and they’re not engaging and being part of the decision-making. I think they should do more than vote – I think they should be standing as candidates. They’re not seeing the relevance of the election.
There’s a thing there about equality and I think that’s why I started working for students’ unions. It’s about social justice – people from different backgrounds being able to come to university. Also women’s equality, racial equality and so on. And it’s exciting – some of the stuff that’s going on in Bristol, with the Women’s Commission that Daniella Radice, one of the Green councillors, has been working on – aiming to get a 50:50 council. I think those things are all exciting things to be part of and help push.
What do you like about living in Cotham?
The trees! That sounds so terribly stereotypical for a green person! I’ve lived all over Bristol – I grew up here – and walking around Cotham, it’s just so leafy and dreamy and you can hear birdsong and it’s great! [laughs at what she’s saying] It makes you feel very different about walking around your neighbourhood.
I also love all the independent businesses. I love the fact you’re equidistant from the Gloucester Road and Whiteladies Road & Cotham Hill. I like Sustainable Redland and the campaigns they’re doing and how empowered local people feel to be part of local decision-making. I hope that the students and young people living in Cotham could be brought into that a little bit more. I hope that’s something that I can help contribute to.
What other challenges are there locally and nationally?
The thing for me that is repeatedly a challenge is the discourse around the economy and austerity. This idea that we’re all in it together…but we’re not. The idea that it’s right to be cutting public services. Nobody is going to say “we should cut youth services” but there’s this idea that it’s a necessity so everyday people, from Cotham to Lawrence Hill, are having essential services cut when there are people that are extremely wealthy who aren’t necessarily paying into the system. For me that is the big challenge – to redistribute wealth in order that everyone is benefitting from the country’s wealth.
If you were Mayor for the day, what single thing would you do?
I’d set a citizens’ budget, that allows people to be served by local government, not harmed by it.