Leading members of the Green Party have travelled to Norwich in support of the party's campaign to become the main party on a UK local authority for the first time ever. Jenny Jones, Member of the Greater London Assembly and former Deputy Mayor of London, could be seen on the campaign trail this week.
The so-called “mega-by-election” has been scheduled as a result of a court decision earlier this year.
The elections of 9 September could see Norwich Greens become the biggest party on the city council. In 2008, they became the first ever Green council group to form the official opposition, with more Green councillors than Tories and Liberal Democrats combined.
Norwich Greens are focusing on their support for local small businesses. Jenny Jones met members of the "Buy Local" network, who together are opposing a mini-supermarket development which they say will harm existing smaller shops.
“Greens across the country are playing a leading role in supporting the local economy during the recession,” said a party spokesperson.
Greens point to the example of Lancaster’s indoor market, which was saved through a campaign involving local Green councillors. Their motion to the council won the support of Labour and other councillors to ensure that tenants' leases were renewed.
“The decision meant that local jobs, tourism and food production were saved, and proved popular with local shoppers who enjoyed the choice and healthy goods provided by the market,” said the Greens.
Greens in Camden, north London, carry out an annual survey of local shopping streets to measure how many vacant shops there are, how many have recently closed, and how many are soon to close. They say this helps the party to understand the particular problem areas, and most effectively campaign to protect local businesses.
Greens have also campaigned against the construction of a new Asda store in Shipley, Bradford, supported campaigns for “local business zones” in St Albans and produced a guide on local shopping in York. In Ladywell, south London, Green councillor Sue Luxton organised a competition at a local primary school to design a logo for fairly-traded, organic cotton carriers which bear slogans encouraging residents to shop locally.