The Greens have a “real mandate” in Bristol

The Green Party will seek a “cultural change” at City Hall after becoming the largest party on Bristol City Council, its group leader told LGC.

Bristol is not yet in overall control, with the Greens two short of the threshold to form a majority administration. But with 34 seats, the Greens are the largest party, while Labor has 21, the Liberal Democrats have eight and the Conservatives have seven.

This year’s election was the first in the city since a referendum to switch from a mayoral model to a committee in 2022, Marvin Rees (Lab) served as mayor from 2016 to 2024.

Emma Edwards (Green) told the LGC that having 34 councilors on the authority “exceeded” the party’s expectations and that she was looking for a change from the “tribal” nature of politics under the previous system.

She said: “We are delighted with the results, we always felt we would do well and grow numbers but I think getting 34 councilors has exceeded our expectations. It gives us a real mandate.

“We were clear that we wanted a cultural change in the City Hall, we have had a mayor and cabinet system for some time and we were in opposition. And I think people have seen how that has constrained us, but also how politics has become a little bit unpleasant in recent years, being so tribal.”

Cllr Edwards added that negotiations on the make-up of the council were ongoing but confirmed that the Greens would seek council leader and deputy positions, but stressed that policy and committee chair roles would be discussed with the other parties.

She added: “We are looking to foster good relations between the parties in these committees so that we can implement the policies.”

Nationally, the Green Party secured the highest number of elected councillors, increasing its presence locally to 812 elected members after winning 74 seats in the local elections.

Cllr Edwards added that the party’s success was due to an increase in the understatement of its policies and that more people saw the Greens as a “viable alternative to the bigger parties”.

She said: “People are looking for a change, we hear that a lot. We hear a lot across the country, people either feel disenchanted with the two main parties, or maybe they find them the same, and we’re offering something different.

“With the general election coming up, people might look at the post first and say, ‘I have to vote Labor or I have to vote Tory to keep the other party.’ When it comes to local elections, people feel they have a little more freedom to vote with their heart.”

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