THE GREEN Party is today celebrating steady progress across the country in county and unitary elections, with the party having a new presence on six councils (Warwickshire, 2 councillors; Essex, 2; Surrey 1, Cornwall 1, Devon 1, Kent 1) and numbers doubling on Worcestershire County Council (to two) and Bristol Council (to four).
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said: “I would like to thank all those who worked tirelessly on the campaign with huge amounts of energy and commitment. We were encouraged all through the campaign to receive such a good response. We started this campaign with the aim of spreading much more widely across the country, winning seats on councils on which we had not previously been represented, and we’ve achieved that aim.”
The Green Party now has 141 principal authority councillors, with a net gain of five councillors from yesterday’s poll.
Natalie added: “One thing that stands out is our strong results in the West Midlands. With our four county councillors, two each on Warwickshire and Worcester, the number of elected Greens in the region has in just three years gone from three councillors on three councils to 19 on seven.
“In Nuneaton (Warwickshire) Cllr Keith Kondakor defeated the Tory council leader, while Cllr Jonathan Chilvers in Leamington Spa took the seat off Labour, and in Bristol Cllr Daniella Radice took a seat from the Lib Dems, demonstrating the breadth of Green Party appeal.
“These were local elections, so there were in many cases local issues that played a big part in our gains. But across the country strong campaigning on the need to make the minimum wage a living wage, to abolish zero-hours contracts and to build strong local economies centred on small businesses and cooperatives that provides jobs workers can build a life on have played a big part.
“Communities increasingly realise that out-of-town supermarkets and large chain stores are not profitable additions to town, but instead carve the heart out of town centres and destroy more jobs than they create, providing largely insecure, casualised, low-paid work.”
Natalie added: “Energy and waste policies were also major issues. The need to start a major energy conservation drive – particularly to insulate homes to cut fuel poverty, provide jobs and cut carbon emissions – is obvious, as is the need to provide a secure investment environment for renewable energy, on and off-shore wind and solar, and eventually tidal.
“And Green campaigns against incinerators – a potential millstone around councils’ necks for decades, as well as a waste of valuable resources and destroyer of potential jobs – also won us many votes.
Natalie concluded: “The Green victories across the country are the product of years of hard work and community campaigning. Our new councillors are embedded in their communities, supported by strong local parties, with a track record of achievement. They will ask the hard questions of council administrations, scrutinise their activities and spending; I know communities beyond their divisions will be glad they elected them.”