Notts voters are ready to back the Green Party, says its leader
VOTERS in Notts are ready to look outside the main parties in the forthcoming elections, says Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.
More than 450 party members have descended on Nottingham over the past few days as the Greens hold their spring conference at the East Midlands Conference Centre, University Park.
As well as serving as a get-together for the party's 40th birthday, the conference has seen the party look to future elections.
Ms Bennett, who became leader of the party in September last year, said: "People can see the difference that the Green Party has made in Brighton and Hove City Council – with policies like a living wage, 20mph speed limits and protecting the voluntary sector. These are policies that are popular – Brighton has shown that Green councils can work well, and I believe that people across Nottinghamshire are ready for what we have to offer.
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"We already have two great Green councillors in the county and people can see their influence. We are hoping to increase the number of councillors at the county elections in May and treble our number of MEPs at the European elections in 2014.
"After that, we'll have a good platform for the next General Election and nowhere will be considered off limits."
The Green Party has one MP, two MEPs and more than 140 local councillors, including Richard and Sue Mallender, who represent Lady Bay on Rushcliffe Borough Council.
Ms Bennett said that her party provided an alternative to Government austerity and focused on environmental issues which, she said, Labour was ignoring.
She added: "We need more balance in investment across the country, looking at what we can do for the East Midlands and encouraging business here, not financing projects that will benefit London.
"We are the only party that has said we are opposed to High Speed 2 trains; the real question which people are asking is, what is happening to all the 'low speed 1' services?
"We support public transport, but they are building a new service in London – Crossrail 2 – to deal with all the people coming into London.
"There are a lot of things about Nottingham that I am glad to see – the train station getting investment is important. But equally there are things that are not so good – the number of empty shops appears to be a problem which suggests that rents may be an issue.
"But growth needs to be sustainable – we need to stop living as if we have three planets because we only have one.
"Our policies, which are built around developing strong local economies of small businesses and co-operatives, have that at its heart."
The conference started on Friday and ends today at 3pm.