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The Green Party yesterday launched their national campaign for the local elections in May.

Jean Lambert MEP chaired a press conference at which Green Party principal speakers Caroline Lucas MEP and Cllr Keith Taylor spoke alongside Darren Johnson AM and Jenny Jones AM, discussing the party's themes for the local elections:

- A healthy local environment

- Decent local services

- A strong local voice

Principal speaker Keith Taylor commented:

'The Green party are committed to tackling climate change at every level with renewable energy and energy efficiency, not nuclear power. We want to see massive investment in these methods of dealing with the looming energy crisis and climate change, not more wasted money on nuclear power.

Darren Johnson AM pledged a clampdown on more new supermarkets, in favour of supporting local shops.

'The Green Party wants to see vital local services within walking distance for everyone - all over the country our cllrs are working hard to protect schools, libraries and other local services from cuts, closures and privatisation. We are already standing up for the local community, providing proper value for money and listening to local people not big business. Electing more Greens means voting to protect our vital public services.'

Jenny Jones AM spoke of the powerful role local councils can play in ensuring that local communities have access to good and affordable food.

'As chair of the London Food commission I have been looking at how to ensure the capital has access to quality, locally sourced and affordable food. I have also been looking into expansion of the fair trade movement. Even before Jamie Oliver, the Green Party were interested in food as vital to the health of our communities. Across the country, we are already fighting for provision of healthy school meals - switching to organic food, local produce and fresh ingredients where possible.

Principal speaker Caroline Lucas MEP commented:

'Greens are already working at a local level to make a real difference. Three Green councillors on Kirklees council have ensured that there are renewable energy requirements in all new public buildings, with at least 30% of energy consumption from renewable sources such as solar panels and wind turbines by 2011.

'Oxford's 7-strong Green group, who hold the balance of power on Oxford City Council, managed to secure£1m of new environmental and social initiatives during the 2006/07 budget negotiations.

In response to questions about the apparent 'greening' of the Tory Party, Ms Lucas dismissed the environmental 'window dressing' of the other parties.

'Every time David Cameron is asked to discuss a specific policy proposal you see him ducking and diving, slipping and sliding.... At the moment there is a completely blank page.'

Greens are fielding 1,294 candidates on these elections including 567 in London. We currently hold 70 council seats and our aim is to increase this to a 100. Gains are expected in Norwich, Watford, Manchester, Oxford, Bristol, Stroud, Kirklees, Sheffield, Camden, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham and Merton.

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