Local elections 2019: Greens winning here

The Green Party is standing 2,595 candidates across England and Wales in this year’s round of local elections – the highest number ever put forward by the party – as it looks to add to its 178 councillors across 68 different local authorities. Green World takes a closer look at three key councils ahead of polling day on Thursday 2 May.

Green World

Brighton and Hove City Council

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Brighton and Hove

 

Current Green councillors: 11

Key policies:

  • Revisit waste and recycling PFI contract with Veolia to increase recycling levels

  • Invest in joined-up infrastructure for walking, cycling and electric vehicles

  • Spend unused resources to build 600 new council houses

  • Resist NHS cuts and invest in better mental health provision for under-25s

  • Protect funding for local youth services

  • Boost protection of species, habitats, biodiversity and ecosystems in the city

  • Change the way the council outsources services to support local suppliers and support the local economy

Candidate profile: Amy Heley, Preston Park

Amy Heley
Amy Heley

I decided to stand to be a councillor because I want more young people to be involved in politics and when somebody suggested that I became a candidate in my home ward it seemed like I could be that change that I wanted to see. Local politics needs reinvigorating with energy and new ideas that invest in the future and I know that young people can definitely bring a more ambitious approach to local councils.

I joined the Greens because of the fundamental recognition of the fact that environmental and social justice are intrinsically linked and, because of this understanding, the Green Party is best placed to act on the major issues that we currently face as a city and as a country.

Although issues such as climate change and Brexit are national problems, there is so much that we can do in local politics to combat them. Things like making sure Brighton and Hove is carbon neutral by 2030, opposing Brexit and building genuinely affordable housing and eliminating homelessness would help to restore people’s faith in politics and encourage more democratic engagement. Greens don’t compromise on equality for all and are united in our vision of a better and more sustainable society.

The reaction on the doorstep in Preston Park has reflected this desire for genuine change and for councillors who don’t put political games above the needs of the city. Most residents want the basic things sorted, such as recycling to more affordable public transport, so that as a country and city we can start tackling the bigger problems that we face and start planning for the future of the city.

Brighton and Hove Green Party have been really supportive in terms of helping with materials, volunteer recruitment and general support. Being a candidate is challenging and time consuming, but the conversations on the doorstep make it worth it, as it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to hear people’s views and ideas about what they want from their local representatives.


 

Lewes District Council

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Lewes

 

Current Green councillors: 3

Key policies:

  • Purchase the North Street and Phoenix Estate to speed up community development of the North Street Quarter

  • Ensuring there is enough affordable housing for local people

  • Declare a Climate Emergency

  • Set ambitious recycling targets of 70-80 per cent

  • Improve the council’s planning system

Candidate profile: Jonny Denis, Ouse Valley and Ringmer

Johnny Denis
Johnny Denis

I have been standing as a Green Party candidate since the 1980s and was finally elected to Lewes District Council in September 2017 in a by-election for the Ouse Valley and Ringmer ward following an excellent Target to Win campaign. I am known as a hardworking local campaigner and I am a parish councillor in two separate parishes in the area.

Since my election I have continued to be hardworking as a district councillor, ensuring that the work I do is very visible and informing people of the work done by myself and other Green councillors and campaigners. We are a large, three-member ward – it’s around 12 miles long and six to seven miles wide – and we are working to convert it into a solid Green ward. Four fifths of the population live in Ringmer, the largest village, and so while we have to work for the whole ward, naturally our efforts have focused on Ringmer.

In terms of Lewes as a whole, the Green group is currently three councillors and we are hoping to build on this. The Conservatives are the largest party in the council with 20 councillors, but currently run a minority administration and as such the 21 other councillors are able to consistently outvote the Conservative administration. We want a bigger Green group to allow us to do much more and advance our plans and policies.

We have had very positive feedback on the doorstep and we are hoping to convert our high recognition into votes for all three Green candidates in our ward. We’re using all the Target to Win tools available to us to focus what we do and we are certainly visibly doing on the ground what other parties are not.

There are a number of issues that we are keen to tackle. We managed to get a Climate Plan agreed at council level, though this does not yet have emergency status. We want to escalate work around this in the context of the Climate Emergency.

We also want to change the council’s approach to internal council democracy. Currently, the cabinet does not recognise the voices in the rest of the council, despite the fact it is a minority administration.

The setting of ambitious recycling targets is also a key policy of ours – while Lewes has made improvements to its recycling rate in recent times, we need to be targeting a recycling rate of 70-80 per cent and implement the necessary infrastructure to achieve this.

Finally, the district council’s planning and housing approach is in a mess. With regard to planning, the council’s website often has the wrong planning documents available and these often can’t be downloaded, while notifications are often not sent out to relevant stakeholders, and this needs to be vastly improved.

In terms of housing, although the council has a progressive affordable housing policy, it is not being delivered upon fast enough. We want to deliver on these promises by working with community land trusts in order to provide the people of Lewes District with the affordable housing they need.


 

Lancaster City Council

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Lancaster


Current Green councillors: 7

Key policies:

  • Continue to campaign for fracking to be banned

  • Improve existing parks, play areas and open spaces and ensure all new developments have high-quality green spaces

  • Provide more spaces for young people

  • Build more social rented housing

  • Push for a phased, mixed use development for the Canal Quarter

  • Improve planning for sustainable transport infrastructure and enforce 20mph speed limits in residential areas

  • Tackle air pollution

Candidate profile: Paul Stubbins, Castle

Paul Stubbins
Paul Stubbins

Campaigning on important local issues has been highly frustrating and I quickly discovered that only the Green team on council showed interest. We have one of the most dangerous roads in the country for pedestrians and cyclists running through our city but even when, after a persistent campaign, we managed to get accident points on the A6 properly investigated, most of the remedies remain undone.

Similarly, a huge campaign for an important off-road cycle route linking Heysham and Lancaster achieved its inclusion in local plans, but it hasn’t yet moved forward in the three years since.  Unsurprisingly, there are areas of terrible air quality in our city centre due to congestion of road traffic. There comes the question… do you give up, carry on the same or look for new ways to get involved? So I’m working hard to join Lancaster’s Green Councillor team.

The local Green team brings a wide range of skills and the hardest working of people to look after the interests of our town, and to make it greener! I’m keen to ensure that the community feel supported and that their voice is heard. I intend to bring the best of my work experiences in project management and leadership – I have led many local campaigns as part of cycle campaign group Dynamo – and my tenacity to finding creative solutions and to holding the council to account.

If you believe as I do that the Green Party captures the right values to improve the lives of local people, whilst working towards a more sustainable long-term future for all, then I would encourage you to get involved. The reaction on the doorstep, canvassing in a ward that has been Green for some time, is testament to the contribution to community life that Greens can bring.

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