The Green Party have won seats on 15 councils for the first time in a result partly attributed to the recent Extinction Rebellion protests.
With the election results still coming in, the Greens have at the time of writing gained 121 seats, and now have 150 councillors across the country.
Councils where they have won seats for the first time include Sunderland City Council, Cotswolds DC and South Tyneside Council. The party also now has seats on every district in Suffolk except Ipswich BC and gained five seats on South Oxfordshire DC for the first time.
While the Green Party had been expecting to do well, Amelia Womack, Green Party deputy leader told LGC she was ”absolutely thrilled” with the way it’s gone.
”There is no doubt that the work of Extinction Rebellion has resulted in climate change being higher up the national agenda, which has helped us,” she said.
She said that her party is now ”hoping to now call for a climate emergency in those areas where we have gained seats.”
Last November after a Green Party motion, Bristol City Council was the first council in the UK to declare a climate emergency, setting targets aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030 and 2038.
Since then, Ms Womack says the Green Party has been “building that up” across the country, and has helped almost 50 councils so far to do the same. ”But where we’ve done that, it’s been watered down by members of the Labour party and parts have been taken out,” she said. ”We want it to be embedded in council policy.”
The party’s former leader, and MP for Brighton & Hove Caroline Lucas described the election as “a brilliant launchpad for European elections”. But the Green Party is facing the prospect of a split vote, with newcomers Change UK standing in the European Polls on a ‘remain’ stance too.
But Ms Womack believes her party will benefit from the fact they already have three MEPS working in Europe on their green agenda, while the Liberal Democrats only have one.
“We have strong foundations already in place which we are building from, our MEPs have been working hard in Europe and so I expect us to do well in that election too.”