Growing party hope for Green revolution

WH 100215 James Doyle (Green councillor) spoke out at planning meeting about council helping struggling B&Bs before they come to planning for change of use applications. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-151002-143542001
WH 100215 James Doyle (Green councillor) spoke out at planning meeting about council helping struggling B&Bs before they come to planning for change of use applications. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-151002-143542001

GREEN Party supporters believe they can win at least six seats on Worthing Borough Council within five years as membership soars.

The party doubled and trebled the votes it polled in Worthing West and East Worthing and Shoreham parliamentary elections this month and more than quadrupled its membership in the past year.

Also gaining around a tenth of the votes in the local elections, its sole councillor James Doyle, elected last year, is hopeful of a future Green revolution.

He said: “In 2013, I told the local Greens that I thought that with luck we’d win a council seat sometime in the second electoral cycle, between 2018 and 2020. Winning in 2014 was well ahead of schedule.

“I can see another four wards that, with resources, could be won in a relatively short time frame, so in five years I’d hope to have around six councillors and in ten years, nine to 12, and not ruling out more.”

The party had just 40 members locally in September 2014, a number which has risen to 168 today.

In his post-election count speech, Mr Doyle, who stood in East Worthing and Shoreham, said 80 per cent of the new members were new to politics.

He attributed the rise to a combination of increased presence in his Central ward, the general election campaign and result and a demographic shift, with many younger people supporting the party.

Referring to the general election result, he said: “Never underestimate the power of anger and disappointment to get people working.

“It’s certainly what got me started, post-1992, and I think it’s definitely something that we’re seeing over the past few weeks.

The town’s other political groups will be working hard to reduce the strong Tory majority at next year’s council elections.

Lib Dem membership increased nationwide after May 8, with 36 signing up locally.

Leader Keith Sunderland said he felt ‘more optimistic’ than he had for a long time, with the hope more members would allow the party to invest more resources into targeting seats across Worthing.

He said: “A lot depends on what happens nationally. We will fight for Worthing as far as we can.” Mr Sunderland declined to target a number of victories and believed the Green target was ambitious.