‘Every voter should have a chance to vote for a Green candidate’ – Lib Dems bid for deal with Greens falls flat!

Everyone in Hastings should have the chance to vote for Green candidate at May’s borough council elections.

That’s the message from Hastings Green party after it rebuffed advances from local Liberal Democrats to form an electoral pact that would have seen each party only fight eight of the 16 wards where elections will be held this year.

“There are good examples of co-operative alliances working well locally, including in both Rother and Lewes. But in both these cases, the agreements were only made once councillors had been elected – no party stood down for another party prior to the elections.

“We want everyone in Hastings to have the opportunity to vote Green, and will be standing a full slate of candidates in the upcoming local elections,” a spokesman told Hastings In Focus.

“Hastings Green Party shares with the Liberal Democrats a wish to see greater political diversity, and better scrutiny of decision-making, on Hastings Borough Council (HBC). However, the electoral pact as envisaged by the Liberal Democrats would have meant us denying voters in half the wards in Hastings the opportunity to vote Green, and this was not acceptable to us,” they said.

Lib Dems had hoped to break what they described as the ‘stale old two party politics’ of Hastings Borough Council (HBC) when last July they wrote to Hastings Green Party Secretary Julia Hilton with an audacious offer that would have seen each party stand aside for the other in selected wards across the borough

“I think that voters like the idea of different parties working together…”

Yesterday Katy Hunter-Burbridge, on behalf of the local Lib Dem Executive said: “We are disappointed that our parties have been unable to build on the Liberal Democrat initiative last July to work together to offer voters an effective opposition to the Labour Council.”

Bob Lloyd, the local party chairman added: “We stood down for the Greens in Old Hastings in the last borough elections as a practical expression of goodwill and we are disappointed that the parties have been unable to take that goodwill forward, the Greens being unable to go further than a limited non-aggression pact with no mutual endorsements.”

Last July’s letter to the local Greens from former parliamentary, council and euro candidate Nick Perry and campaign group member Paul Hunt said: “We met in advance of the 2018 elections and, while your membership did not give agreement to any form of political compact, you expressed public gratitude for our willingness to stand aside in Old Hastings because of our joint commitment to a more diverse Council…

Local Liberal Democrats hoped to form an electoral pact with the Greens ahead of May’s borough council elections.

“Since those elections, our parties have worked alongside each other in the People’s Vote campaign and in support of climate crisis action. We agree on much, including the need for voting reform and a more participatory local and national democracy. To that end, and in order to inform imminent decisions about the selection of Liberal Democrat Borough Council candidates, we now make a bold, public offer to you – to work together in the 2020 elections, to agree wards where we will stand aside for you and endorse your candidate, and wards where you will do the same for us.”

At the time Julia Hilton from the Hastings Green Party said: “All our decisions are made by our local members… We share the Lib Dems wish to bring a greater diversity of voices to our local council. Elected Green councillors across the country have shown how even one or two Greens on the council can make a huge impact in their communities, particularly in cross party work.”

Local Liberal Democrats point to other constituencies in which Liberal Democrats and Greens work very closely together to the mutual benefit of both parties, notably in Mid-Sussex, South-West London and Oxfordshire. Locally, the solitary Green on Rother Council sits in the Liberal Democrat group by invitation, even though there was no electoral arrangement. 

Liberal Democrats in Hastings had been hoping that the two parties would agree to fight eight wards each: “I think that voters like the idea of different parties working together,” said Ms Hunter-Burbridge, “and the Liberal Democrats will always seek to co-operate on a positive cross-party basis to build an open, engaged and green council.”

At last year’s General Election, and after a meeting when the Labour Parliamentary candidate Peter Chowney went to speak to members of Hastings Green Party, the Greens opted not to stand a candidate in the Hastings and Rye constituency. Although the party refused to endorse either Mr Chowney or any other candidate, the fact the Greens did not contest the seat was seen by many to hand the Labour Party an electoral advantage.

We’ve asked the Hastings Green party for a comment.

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