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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 21:03 GMT 22:03 UK
Greens lead minor parties' gains
Green party
The Green party has almost doubled its number of councillors
The Green Party has strengthened its ranks after successes in local elections in England and Wales.

The Greens now have 24 councillors in seats contested this week - with the biggest gains coming in Oxford.

Green MEP Jean Lambert says this was not a mid-term protest vote against the government, but a "serious vote for serious politicians".

The party has held all but one of its seats - and so far gained another 10 councillors.

The Greens' success in Oxford in winning an extra four seats meant that Labour lost the council to no overall control.

'Sensible'

Green councillor in Oxford, Craig Simmons, says the gains were not a protest over Iraq, but a reflection on their local efforts.

"We didn't put out leaflets saying 'vote green, we're anti-war'. We put out leaflets tackling the council on its record," said Mr Simmons.

In seats contested by the Greens across the country, the party has averaged about 10% - up by 2% from last year.

Jean Lambert said the Green vote was advancing in areas where they were already represented on councils - and that it reflected the fact voters approved of their "sensible, common sense" policies.

The strongest region for the Greens remains Yorkshire. They have held seats in Leeds and Kirklees, increased their strength in Bradford and taken their first seat in Sheffield.

In a BBC survey of 229 wards, the Greens' share of the vote averaged 11%, up 2.5% on their 2003 performance.

The UK Independence Party won 14% of the vote in 148 wards where it stood. The British National Party won an average 16% in 80 wards they fought, although it was down 5% on the average in wards they fought last year and this year.




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