Chris Witt, candidate for Blackbird Leys
I joined the Green Party because of its focus on social equality and environmental issues. Back then, I saw the Green Party as a small, idealist think-tank with little prospect of political impact. Since then, I have learned that the Greens are absolutely vital to democracy in the United Kingdom system through their relentless opposition work, but also as part of the newly created Progressive Alliance.
I am a computer scientist and artificial intelligence (AI) researcher. People are, understandably, worried that digital automation will replace their jobs. But I believe that opens up great opportunities for Blackbird Leys. Investing in IT and AI skills will ensure that young people are on the right side of the economy – particularly after Brexit.
To achieve this, I will aim to partner with institutions, such as the University of Oxford, to set up coding and entrepreneurship workshops for people of all ages across the ward. Together with industry partners, we will set up a local start-up accelerator that students can apply to even before they leave school. This will provide young people with the opportunity to invest in their future careers during their leisure time. From computer games to website/app development to machine learning applications, the community of Blackbird Leys has a great potential of turning into a breeding ground for tech founders. My strong ties with the European start-up scene, as well as with Oxford's universities, will help to make it a reality.
I have a lot of experience with NGOs in social work and education. This has taught me the importance of consolidating local communities in the age of austerity and government cuts. As a city councilor for Blackbird Leys, I will work closely with existing community associations, such as the Leys Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG), Catalyst and GreenSquare, in order to optimally local issues. For example, NAG identified recently that domestic violence and disrespectful attitudes to women are a matter of concern to the community. I will tackle these issues through raising community awareness, working closely with the law enforcement and youth groups and campaigning to increase funding for safe houses.
Health is of central importance to everyone, and the Green party is committed to protecting the NHS from further budget cuts. I will work to increase preventive measures in Blackbird Leys, particularly among young people. Regular physical activity, adequate nutrition, and emotional well-being are vital to reducing childhood obesity.
As a first step, I will fight to reverse the recent increase in leisure concession fees recently implemented by the Labour-led City Council, so that everyone can continue to take part in swimming lessons and the like. As a second step, I will work with our party's network of experts and local schools to provide extra-curricular nutritional and psychological training to students and introduce communal cooking and ecology courses for children.
Seniors play a crucial role in the Blackbird Leys community: They help to raise future generations, and they often dedicate their free time to volunteering. In return, I want to improve mobile care and mobility services to get old people out of their homes even more. Also, I want to create more opportunities for developing inter-generational projects, as well as supporting existing ones, such as the Clockhouse Project.
By voting for me you will be voting for someone who will work tirelessly to make Blackbird Leys a greener, safer and healthier place and to put it on the map as a natural place for tech founders.
I would love to hear from you about any issues or questions: