Green Party co-leader Lucas backs Amber Valley branch

Caroline Lucas MP speaks at Ecclesbourne School Duffield
Caroline Lucas MP speaks at Ecclesbourne School Duffield

In May this year people across Amber Valley will go to the polls to elect representatives for their area.

And Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party was in Duffield last week to underline that for those who are fed-up with the same old arguments from the same old parties there is now an alternative in Amber Valley.

After addressing meeting pupils at Ecclesbourne School Ms Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, told journalists and party members at a meeting at Duffield’s Weston Centre that it took just one Green candidate to be elected for the ‘credibility barrier’ to be broken and real Green Party policies to start making changes.

Sue MacFarlane, Amber Valley Green Party candidate for Belper South and Duffield, said: “Green councillors really could make a difference here.

“Labour have said that we are an irrelevance but at borough council level we are definitely not an irrelevance.

“We are talking about a tightly-tied council and to have a couple of Green councillors there could make a real difference at county council level.”

She said that because at present Amber Valley Borough Council was tied with 22 Labour councillors and 23 Conservative councillors political deadlocks were not uncommon.

“Around here we have the Conservatives but people are railing against Conservative policies at the planning level,” said Sue.

“We still do not have a local (housebuilding) plan in place and that is not just due to Labour but the Tories as well.

“And now we are at the mercy of developers putting speculative plans in place for greenfield developments but the meetings are so close that everybody has to turn up to them to vote - it’s a game of politics.”

Amber Valley Borough Council was forced to withdraw its local plan - which sets out appropriate sites in the area for building to meet housing demand - in December 2015 due to doubts that developers could deliver the previously predicted number of houses within the next five years on the sites it had proposed.

Many in the borough say the lack of a plan setting out suitable sites has left its green field areas vulnerable to planning applications from developers for whom brownfield sites which have been built on before are a more expensive option.

Ms Lucas told the meeting: “We should be building on brownfield sites and I think there is also the issue of so many developers having land banks which they do not use because it might not be profitable. There should be incentives for developers to use land they already have planning permission for.

“Planning permission should give priority to providing affordable homes for people rather than in-filling with executive housing which means local people are priced out of the market.”

Ms Lucas said she believed Amber Valley Greens were going from ‘strength-to-strength’.

She added: “We are a party with huge ambitions but we know that the key to making them work is targeting seats and winning them then demonstrating green policies in action.

“What we see time and time again is that once a green party candidate is elected people like what they see and elect more.”