Greens become biggest party in Bristol after poll

The Greens have become the biggest party on Bristol City Council but fell narrowly short of an overall majority, despite gaining 10 seats.

The party now has 34 of the 70 seats, with Labour on 21 after losing three, the Liberal Democrats on eight with no change and the Conservatives on seven after losing seven.

This was the city's first poll since the position of mayor was abolished following a referendum.

The council is now switching to a committee-led model of local government.

The Labour Party had been in power in the city since 2016 when Marvin Rees was elected.

The Green Party will now begin talks to try to form an administration on what will be its largest council.

Councillor Tony Dyer, who was returned in Green-held Southville, is likely to become the council leader, as he is the Green nominee for that new role, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said.

After the final ward’s declaration, he told LDRS: “My reaction is one of pride in what we’ve done and the message we have given out, pride in sticking to our values.

“It has been a hell of a lot of work by a lot of people."

Green Party react to the first results in from the count
Green Party celebrated when the first results came in [BBC]

Carla Denyer, who leads the party jointly with Adrian Ramsay, said the voters in Bristol had chosen pluralism.

“The Greens campaigned for a switch from the mayoral system to a committee because we believe no one party has a monopoly on good ideas, and we want to work cross-party,” she said.

"The Labour Party still have a reasonable amount of councillors on Bristol City Council, they still have support, and we will be very much prepared to work with them on areas where we agree."

Emma Edwards (left) and Lorraine Francis (right)
The Green Party will now begin talks to try to form an administration on what will be its largest council [BBC]

ANALYSIS: Pete Simson, BBC Bristol Political reporter

After a slow start, the results came rolling in throughout the afternoon, with Green Party cheers echoing around the school Hall in Brislington.

The political map of Bristol looks almost unrecognisable from a decade ago, with the Greens now dominating from the centre outwards.

What this means in practice is somewhat unclear however - despite their historic success, the party were two shy of an overall majority.

As the city moves to a committee system, compromise and negotiation will be necessary in order to enact policy.

For now though, as the rest of the Country focus on the battle between the red and the blue, Bristol City Council, for the next four years at least, is Green.

Greens celebrating
All 14 councillors in the Bristol Central constituency are now Green [BBC]

During this year's local election, the highest turnout in the city came in from Bishopsworth with 52.3%.

The lowest came in from Filwood with 21.4%.

Ms Denyer has stepped down as a Bristol councillor to focus on her parliamentary campaign to become MP for Bristol Central.

She said she is now focusing on unseating Labour's shadow culture secretary Thangam Debbonaire in the newly created Bristol Central constituency.

"Sooner or later we will have a general election campaign and we now have all 14 councillors in the Bristol Central constituency are Green," she added.

Karin Smyth
Labour MP Ms Karin Smyth said she was "disappointed" [PA Media]

Speaking after the count, Labour MP for Bristol South, Karin Smyth, said she was “disappointed” her party is not running the council, but added that winning the Police Crime Commissioner vote was "a great result".

“We want to surge forward to attack the Tories to make a change in government and we are totally ready for the next general election,” she added.

Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire added that the Labour party managed to “stop the greens short” despite their expectations that they would “win a majority”.

“Whilst I’m disappointed to lose some outstanding Labour councillors, I’m heartened by the energy of our hardworking candidates and legendary Bristol Labour members,” she said.

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