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Carla Denyer: 'We're the only party being honest about the level of investment that is needed for our public services.'

We caught up with Carla Denyer to discuss all the issues affecting students including mental health services, housing, and calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

By Amaan Ali and Annie McNameeCo-Editors-in-Chief

It was a sunny afternoon in Bristol when we met up with Carla Denyer while she was canvassing.

Carla, who is the co-leader of the Green Party and the party's parliamentary candidate for Bristol Central, wore her bright green badge proudly upon her white striped top, and greeted us with a smile. As politicians go she doesn't take herself too seriously, although still carries herself with all the steadfast hardiness you would expect from an ex-engineer.

Denyer's campaign focuses on creating what she describes as a greener, fairer future. She supports renewable energy sources, improved public transport, and social justice. With a background in engineering and experience as a city councillor, her ability to combine technical expertise with a passion for grassroots activism came across in her answers to our questions; concise but compassionate.

Over the course of an hour we were able to chat with Carla about all the topics that you care about most, as well as see her interact with potential voters on the streets and in their homes.

Here's everything we learned about Carla as we explored the backstreets of Redland with her.

Youth turnout 

Young people, despite being opinionated, aren't the best at actually getting out to the polls. On top of this, students tend to head home for the summer, meaning that most of Bristol's student population won't actually be in the city this Thursday.

'We have people voting for us across all different ages.'

This could be a problem for the Green Party, whose voter base usually swings younger. Carla, however, isn't worried about youth turnout at all.

'It's a shame [that students will be at home], and it’s a shame for democracy because it will probably result in a lower turnout among students... but our vote doesn’t rely on students in this constituency.'

'We have people voting for us across all different ages, particularly millennials and older Gen Zs.'

She's also not worried about Labour or the Tories taking Green votes in Bristol, saying that the Greens have made significant inroads with younger voters.

'There are certainly very few young people voting Conservative. In fact, the Greens are more popular than the Tories in all age groups under 40.' she noted.

Addressing Housing Misconceptions 

Wandering from door to door, it was impossible not to consider Bristol's ongoing housing crisis. Students know this struggle all too well, with the Bristol SU's annual housing report finding that this year 20% of students had a 'very negative' experience with their housing.

The recent SU Housing Report highlighted a catalogue of shortcomings in student rentals/ Bristol SU

The Green party have been criticised for not committing to building more houses to address this crisis head-on, not matching Labour's policy of building 1.5 million new homes in their first five years in parliament.

When we asked why the Greens were falling short of Labour's housing commitments, Carla said, 'I don’t think that’s true.'

'I think what you might be doing is comparing the number of social homes, which are council and housing association homes, that the Greens would create, with Labour's number for all homes, including in the private sector,' she clarified.

'Austerity isn’t working.'

She emphasised the Green Party’s focus on building social housing and empowering local councils to influence the private housing market to ensure affordability and essential services. 'If it’s a big luxury housing development without all those services, then it’s not really meeting local needs.'

Affordable Housing, Rent Controls, and the Cost of Living

According to Carla, the Green Party is focusing on getting people into affordable, reliable housing, rather than simply promising to build new homes.'

The party's approach to this includes giving councils the power to buy properties on the market. 'We would give councils the first right of refusal on certain properties, such as former council homes sold off into the private sector,' she explained. This means that councils will be able to sweep up properties before the private market can get their hands on them, and aims to increase the proportion of council-owned housing without relying solely on new construction. 

Additionally, Denyer explained the need for local rent controls, recounting a conversation with two women living in substandard housing: 'the boiler hasn’t been working for 2 months and the mould is so bad that it is affecting their health, and they have a woodlice infestation. One of them said to me that they are really worried that it will get worse when she moves into the mainstream private sector because she knows how much rents are going up and she isn’t sure what she will be able to afford.' she then reaffirmed 'We would give councils the power to keep rents under control.'

She also highlighted the party's commitment to addressing the cost-of-living crisis specifically for students. 'The Green Party would scrap tuition fees and return to a publicly funded model of higher education because we think that education is a public good and should be funded properly,' Carla said as we walked in between houses and potential voters.

Mental Health Services  

As well as housing, mental health and wellbeing is often cited as one of the issues that young people care about most.


We discussed the pressing issue of mental health services, particularly for young people, as we walked through the sunny streets of Bristol.

Carla agreed that there is a mental health epidemic in Britain, describing how, upon finding out that one in five children have a probable mental health disorder, she 'was shocked. And yet speaking to 1 of our youngest Green Party volunteers on this campaign, who's 19 or 20, he said that he wasn't surprised at all, and he felt like from the people he went to school with it's more like 1 in 2.'

'That's appalling.'

As a solution, she advocates for treating mental health with the same priority as physical health and ensuring access to mental health treatment within 28 days through the NHS.

'We also support a dedicated school counsellor in every school and sixth form' she explained, recognising the importance of early intervention in treating mental health issues. 


Students at the University of Bristol have been protesting for the uni to cut its ties with Israeli arms manufacturers since last October, with one group creating an encampment which has been active for over two months now. Clearly this is an issue which many students care deeply about.

University of Bristol 'Solidarity with Palestine' encampment - Photograph: Annie McNamee

Denyer reiterated the Green Party's call for a ceasefire in Gaza, and for the suspension of arms sales to Israel. 'We’ve been consistently calling for a ceasefire and for the UK to take a more proactive role in pushing for it,' she stated. She also supported the right to protest, emphasising that it is a crucial part of a healthy democracy. 

Another constituent raised concerns about single-sex spaces and trans rights, and Denyer emphasised the importance of addressing these issues on a case-by-case basis to ensure safety and fairness.  

Investment in Public Services 

Like most, Denyer was very critical of the current state of public services, particularly the NHS. Anyone who has used the NHS recently, or knows someone who has, will know that it is currently struggling, with huge waiting lists that only ever seem to get longer.

'The NHS is not doing its job.'

The Green Party say they would improve this. Carla outlined their plan for transformative investment, including £30 billion per year for the NHS, £20 billion for social care, and a one-off £20 billion capital investment for NHS infrastructure.

'The NHS is not really doing its job. It’s incredibly hard to get an NHS dentist or mental health support,' she said, stressing the urgent need for substantial funding to improve these services. 

Speaking to a constituent about recycling services, she doubled down on her support for increasing spending, saying: 'austerity isn’t working, and Labour and the Tories have said there will be no further funding for local councils.'

Economic Transformation and Job Creation 

Denyer also addressed the Green Party's economic policies, which aim to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs through initiatives like a nationwide home insulation program and investments in renewable energy. 'Our policies would create a lot more secure, well-paid jobs and geographically distributed jobs,' she said, highlighting the potential for economic growth and job opportunities in various sectors. 

A Unique Campaign

Anyone who chats with Carla for any length of time will be able to tell three things: that she thinks the country should be run very differently, she always puts the cream first on her scone, and that she truly loves Bristol. From rejecting austerity to advocating for proportional representation, her vision for the country certainly offers a departure from the current Conservative leadership.

Despite the challenges of running against established parties, she remains optimistic about the Green Party's prospects.

'We are focusing our campaigning efforts on the constituencies where we have the biggest chances of getting an MP elected,' she explained, highlighting the potential impact of having multiple Green MPs in Parliament.  

The Greens primary concerns are grassroots democracy, environmental sustainability, and social justice. Throughout her campaign, and potentially her time as an MP, Denyer hopes to prove her commitment to her belief in the power of collective action to bring about meaningful change, while actively engaging with the public and promoting the Green Party's vision for a fairer and more sustainable future.

Still unsure? Labour candidate Thangam Debbonaire's interview with Epigram will be out tomorrow (July 2).