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The upcoming local election that will shape Bristol’s City Council, and how the Young Greens intend to win

Bristol’s City Council could be about to see the largest number of Green Councillors it has ever had, in what could be a pivotal election for the party

By Olivia Hamilton, Second Year Politics and International Relations

Bristol’s City Council could be about to see the largest number of Green Councillors it has ever had, in what could be a pivotal election for the party.

Young Green Patrick McAllister is hoping to make history on the 2nd of February. In the ward of Hotwells and Harbourside, a local council by-election has been called after the resignation of their Liberal Democrat Councillor. If McAllister wins the election, the Green Party will become a plurality in Bristol City Council for the first time ever.

Both the Green Party and the Labour Party have 24 sitting Councillors each, but the Liberal Democrats are the Greens’ real competition in the Hotwells and Harbourside area. The seat was handed to the Lib-Dems in 2021, when they beat the Green Party by just 26 votes.

The by-election precedes party co-leader Carla Denyer’s run to become the UK’s second Green MP at the next general election. Denyer would be joining Caroline Lucas (the Party’s previous leader and MP for Brighton) in the House of Commons.

In almost a decade as a Bristol Councillor (initially for Clifton East, and later for Clifton Down after the 2016 boundary change), Denyer has made some notable changes. Her work has not gone unrecognised; Vogue named her one of Britain’s most influential women, alongside Queen Elizabeth II.

She played a leading role in the movement for the University of Bristol’s divestment from fossil fuels, as well as successfully campaigning for the scrapping of Bristol’s Mayoral model in the 2022 referendum. She also proposed a successful motion that brought about Bristol City Council’s declaration of a climate emergency.

In conversation with Epigram, Denyer explained that a green vote is much more than an act of protest. ‘If you want Green, you can vote Green, and increasingly you get Green!’, she said. The next stage of her political agenda is to become the first Green MP in the seat of Bristol West, raising her to national significance.

On a local level, the party are hoping that Patrick McAllister will support Denyer and her Green colleagues by securing the Hotwells and Harbourside seat. His youth and dedication provide scope to revolutionise the City Council’s approach to social, environmental, economic and racial justice.

At 24 years old, Patrick is fighting the stereotype of Councillors being retired and out of touch with younger generations. The average age for a Councillor in England is 60. With tens of thousands of students across the city, the Green Party are gaining popularity through their focus on young voices.

January 28th will see Young Green Action Day, the party’s last attempt to push Patrick over the line and make the Green party the largest in Bristol City Council. Part of a long and diligent campaign, Young Green Action Day will involve Young Greens from all over the city speaking to members of the public about the work of the existing 24 Green Councillors, and the impact that another could make.

Bristol is a city known for its activist voices standing up for people and the planet, and this election is set to be no different. Young people are increasingly being recognised for their ability to shape politics. This reflects the current difficulties faced by younger generations, as it is harder than ever to get on the property ladder, pay off student debt and afford general living expenses.

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Issues at the forefront of the Green Party’s multi-faceted agenda include combatting environmental disaster and providing efficient and reliable public transport. ‘The Green Party is clear that public transport should be under public control, run in the public interest, not for the benefit of shareholders,’ said Denyer.

This by-election could mark a huge pay-off for the Greens after years of rigorous campaigning and engagement with the public. It is now up to the constituents of Hotwells and Harbourside to decide if they want Bristol City Council to reflect the city’s young green voices on the 2nd of February.

Featured Image: Bristol Green Soc / Kat Driscoll

Will you be voting in the by-election?