Sian Berry on her fight to keep Green influence in Camden’s Highgate ward
PUBLISHED: 17:25 24 April 2018 | UPDATED: 17:47 24 April 2018
The metallurgy graduate hopes she will have the steel to keep her Highgate seat, and the Green Party’s representation on Camden Council in next month’s election.
Sian Berry follows in a tradition of Green Party councillors in Highgate, and was elected onto the council in 2014.
While their numbers aren’t at the heady heights of 2006, when two Greens were elected to the ward, the 43-year-old believes the party plays an important role on the council.
She said: “I make more difference as a Green party councillor than I would as one more Labour councillor.
“We will always try and involve the community in decisions, in a way that other top-down parties don’t.
“That means we listen to the grass roots more.”
Cllr Berry grew up in Cheltenham in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister.
The daughter of two teachers, her family spent time on benefits when she was growing up, which was one of the things that shaped her politics.
“Under Thatcher, we had to live on benefits for a while through a run of bad luck, and we did not survive all that well.”
“I became more politicised around the time of the world trade organisation protests. I was starting to question whether the system we had was right, and how it was going to serve us.”
Cllr Berry and Camden were prominent in the Green party’s national party political broadcast. As well as being a councillor for Camden, she is the leader of the Green Party on the London Assembly, and unsuccessfully stood for the city’s mayoralty in 2016.
She was praised after the evacuation for her scrutiny of the council’s handling, and went to the Information Commissioner to get Camden Council to release their fire risk assessments.
However her ability to scrutinise the council from inside the chamber after May 3 seems under threat, with Highgate being one of Camden Labour Party’s target seats.
While voters have traditionally split their ballots on polling day, to keep a Green councillor on the council, it’s a threat which worries her.
“It would be awful to lose Highgate. On a wider, less personal, level it would be awful if Labour were to have an even-bigger majority.
“It wouldn’t be healthy. Other councils have one opposition councillor, but there’s no way she can keep an eye on what they’re doing. You need to have a strong opposition.”