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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Greens launch local election bid
Caroline Lucas
Ms Lucas is one of the Green Party's principal speakers
The Green Party hopes to have more than 100 councillors after the local elections in England on 4 May.

The party is calling for good local services within walking distance and protection for local businesses.

The Greens already have 70 council seats including six in Oxford, where they hold the balance of power.

The party's Caroline Lucas told the BBC they did not expect to win overall control in any council but were hopeful of boosting numbers of councillors.

At the local election campaign launch Ms Lucas, the party's co-principal speaker, said she welcomed David Cameron's focus on the environment in his first few months as Conservative leader.

But she said that while he had helped push the issue up the agenda, his proposals were "vacuous" and he "ducked and dived" when asked for substance.

More than 4,000 council seats are up for grabs across England in the elections on 4 May. The Green Party is fielding 1,294 candidates, including 567 in London.

Bolt-on environmentalism?

Ms Lucas said the current electoral system left the Greens little chance of taking overall control of a full council, but said "If you look at Oxford we have made some big differences because we hold the balance of power."

"If you want action on climate change and not spin and rhetoric only the Greens can deliver," said Ms Lucas, who is a Euro MP.

"The electorate is not going to be taken in by any johnny-come-lately bolt-on environmentalism."

London Assembly member Darren Johnson meanwhile said voters were not just fed up with rows between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, they were "fed up with the Labour Party top to bottom" adding that it was "no longer a party with any socialist principles at all".

Co-principal speaker Keith Taylor added: "People are fed up with the sell-offs and the clone towns. They are fed up with the same old story from the town hall."

The Greens also said they wanted to see urgent reform of the council tax with more bands reflecting ability to pay and its eventual replacement with "a form of land value taxation".

Asked if it was time they got one leader instead of the current system of principle speakers, Ms Lucas said: "There is a genuine debate in the party [on this issue] but our main aim at the moment is to win seats on 4 May."

London Assembly member Jenny Jones meanwhile said: "Getting a leader is not the answer."



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