Caroline Lucas believes the time is ripe for change on South Tyneside.
The Green Party co-leader was in South Shields yesterday to campaign ahead of the local council elections which will take place on Thursday, May 3.
We are feeling pretty upbeat and excited - all the signs are that we can win here, which is very exciting.Caroline Lucas
She met with local party activists and took to the streets to talk to voters about the issues which will matter at the ballot box.
The party is particularly optimistic about the chances of local organiser David Francis, who is standing in the Beacon and Bents Ward, to break Labour’s stranglehold on power in the borough.
Mr Francis has led the party’s campaigning over the future of South Tyneside Hospital .
“I am here to support the local party in the upcoming local elections,” said Ms Lucas.
“We are feeling pretty upbeat and excited - all the signs are that we can win here, which is very exciting.”
She believes local issues will be at the forefront of voters’ minds when they place their X.
“The hospital is set to be the biggest issue as far as what I have been hearing,” she said.
“There is real concern that Labour just have not stepped up to the plate in terms of the proposed changes to key services.
“It has taken ages for Labour to come round to where the constituents are.
“When you go round the doors, what people are saying is that they really want these services in the borough.”
It was important to change the make-up of the council, said Ms Lucas.
At the moment, Labour holds 53 of the authority’s 54 seats, with just one Indepenedent member, Coun Lee Hughes, sitting in the Bede ward.
“It is not healthy for democracy to be living in a one-party state,” said Caroline Lucas.
“South Tyneside does not need another Labour councillor - what it needs is a councillor who will make sure they can hold the other councillors to account.
“I think if anybody wants to shake the council up a bit, if they want to hold the Labour Party’s feet to the fire somewhat, then the best way to do that is to vote for us.
“You have already got 53 Labour councillors - another one won’t make any difference.”
David Francis said voters were aware of his work on the hospital campaign.
“One thing we have seen on the doorstep is that people recognise me now, they know who I am before I introduce myself,” he said.
The Green Party is hoping to field a full list of candidates and contest every ward in the borough.