'Collective Green scrutiny of the council is needed more than ever'

Cllr Anna Wright (Lab) and Cllr Sian Berry (Green) joyous after winning seats in Highgate with more than 1,800 votes each

Cllr Sian Berry (right) celebrates after holding on to Highgate - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

The Green Party has another fantastic set of gains to celebrate across the country after this year’s council elections, and I want to thank everyone in Highgate ward who put me back in the town hall this week. 

Very sadly this will be without the excellent colleague I gained when deputy mayor Lorna Jane Russell joined our party last year, or David Stansell, our hard-working third team member in the ward, but our work together for local residents will continue, as will collective Green scrutiny of the council as a whole, which is needed more than ever. 

As a team over the next four years, Camden Greens will work with the wider community to make sure the dominant Labour administration hears other points of view and releases the data and evidence we need to fully hold them to account. This is how we will keep our borough on track. 

Across the country, the rapid growth in councillors, which I was first able to celebrate as co-leader in 2019, continues at pace. The fact that Green gains in England exceeded Labour’s was noted by every commentator. Our party won seats from all the other major parties and enjoyed the largest proportional growth in councillors of any party.

Sian Berry AM asks why the half a billion pounds waiting to be spent on housing is not being used now.

Cllr Sian Berry is pleased that in the local elections, the Green party gains exceeded Labour - Credit: Archant

And in London we have broken through in places that desperately needed alternative voices. My attic flat looks east over London from the edge of Camden and now my lovely view has Green councillors as far as the eye can see. 

In Islington the sole opposition Green group now has three elected councillors, and in Hackney we have new seats for the first time in Dalston and Hackney Downs, along with a clear second place in the mayor election for Zoe Garbett, one of my favourite Greens who led on preparing our London-wide manifesto last year.

Further east in Tower Hamlets, Greens broke through with our first seat in Bow West, and history was truly made in Newham, where an extraordinary effort by our youngest campaign team in Stratford Olympic Park ward saw two elected Greens ending 16 long years of only Labour councillors being elected across the whole borough. 

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One-party states are not healthy. They lead to bad decisions and entrenched policies that aren’t changed in a timely way. After Camden Labour even removed some of its own dissenting voices in the selection process for this election, its increased majority under our unrepresentative first-past-the-post system makes this risk even greater. The job of constructive opposition is more important than ever before. 

Sian Berry (Green Party) is a London Assembly member and a Highgate councillor.