South Tyneside Green Party sets out ambitions following gains at 2024 local elections

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The Green Party in South Tyneside has set out its ambitions following the 2024 local elections.

South Tyneside’s Green Party has set out ambitions for the future after making gains and taking full control of Cleadon and East Boldon in the latest round of local elections.

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Despite Labour maintaining overall control of the council, the local authority’s political make-up saw a massive shift overnight, with almost half of the council now being either Green or independents.

South Tyneside’s Green Group made gains in Biddick and All Saints and Cleadon and East Boldon in the local elections, and comfortably held council seats in West Park and Beacon and Bents.

The new Green Group on South Tyneside Council following the 2024 local elections.The new Green Group on South Tyneside Council following the 2024 local elections.
The new Green Group on South Tyneside Council following the 2024 local elections.

Following South Tyneside Council’s annual meeting on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, it was confirmed that the Green Group had lost its status as ‘official opposition’ to a larger group, an alliance of independent councillors.

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Despite this, the Green Group fully controls the Beacon and Bents, West Park and Cleadon and East Boldon wards, with three councillors serving each area, as well as Greens controlling two out of three council seats in the Biddick and All Saints ward.

After taking a seat from the Conservative Party in Cleadon and East Boldon this year, the Green Party now controls all three seats in the council ward.

In addition, individual Green candidates received the highest and second-highest number of votes in the entire borough when looking at the full 2024 election results.

This included Sue Stonehouse who defended her seat in Beacon and Bents with 1,762 votes and Rhiannon Curtis who took the Cleadon and East Boldon seat from the Conservative Party with 1,520 votes.

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Cllr Curtis said it was a “huge privilege” to be elected and that she would continue the work of Green colleagues around “ill-considered development, protecting the Green Belt, and being a strong advocate for residents’ concerns”.

At a local level in Cleadon and East Boldon, she added her priorities would also involve addressing issues around anti-social behaviour, illegal and inconsiderate parking, inadequate road maintenance and dangerous driving.

Councillor David Francis, Green Group leader, said the election results were a vote of confidence in the Green Party and that he was “delighted” with the support.

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“This simply wouldn’t have happened if people didn’t like what they got when they voted Green,” he said.

“In wards where Greens get elected, residents then go on to elect a second and third Green councillor.

“Residents know that our councillors are working hard for their communities all year round, taking action on the things that matter most to them”.

The local election results in South Tyneside mirrored the electoral success the Green Party saw nationally, with more than 70 new councillors elected across England on May 2, 2024.

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This included success at Newcastle City Council, where the Green Party scooped a double election win to get its first city councillors.

For the established Green Group in South Tyneside, local party figures say councillors have a proven track record of action, and holding Labour to account.

It was claimed that the increase in votes and shift away from Labour locally is linked to some people and communities feeling left behind, and the Green Party’s commitment to listening to, and engaging with, communities.

According to the South Tyneside Green Party, the recent local election results also fall against the backdrop of controversial local issues.

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This includes the ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating for the council’s children’s services department revealed in 2023, the ongoing industrial dispute causing disruption to bin collections, and the results of investigations into former Labour council leader Iain Malcolm around the use of a corporate credit card and bullying allegations.

Since Green councillors have been elected in South Tyneside, the party said they have worked to put issues on the agenda and have helped to influence policies and council commitments in several areas.

Cllr David Francis, the leader of the South Tyneside Green Group.Cllr David Francis, the leader of the South Tyneside Green Group.
Cllr David Francis, the leader of the South Tyneside Green Group.

Achievements have included the council’s climate emergency and ecological emergency motions, campaigns around fair tax and warm spaces, and bringing a debate forward around the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Looking forward, the Green Party said its priorities are informed by communities, with recent alternative budget proposals presented to full council earlier this year reflecting some of these priorities.

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This includes increased investment in tackling anti-social behaviour, cleaner public spaces, more energy-efficient homes, better active travel and public transport, protecting the Green Belt from development and pushing for “ethical and sustainable investment policy”.

Several new independent councillors joining the South Tyneside Alliance Group after the 2024 local elections means the Green Party are no longer the main opposition on the council.

However, Green Group leader David Francis said councillors will continue to work for residents in coming years, by acting on local issues and providing opposition and scrutiny in the council chamber.

Cllr Francis added: “The Green Group in South Tyneside continues to grow in size, influence and impact and is now the largest Green Group on any council in the North East.

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“I’m excited to welcome our new councillors into our group, working with residents for a fairer, greener South Tyneside.”

South Tyneside Council’s Green Group will continue to be led by councillor David Francis with councillor Andrew Guy as deputy leader.

This year, the group have also announced a range of spokesperson positions representing different areas of council policy.

According to the South Tyneside Green Party, the positions aim to offer a “diverse blend of experience and fresh perspectives, poised to both challenge the ruling administration’s actions and propose constructive alternatives to benefit South Tyneside residents”.

The South Tyneside Green Group spokesperson positions are: 

  • Group leader/culture, leisure and the visitor economy – David Francis 
  • Deputy leader/economic growth and transport – Andrew Guy
  • Adults, health and independence – Rhiannon Curtis 
  • Children’s families and social care- Nicky Gynn 
  • Education and skills – Sarah McKeown 
  • Governance, finance and corporate services – Jim Yare 
  • Housing, neighbourhoods and community safety – Sue Stonehouse 
  • Climate change – Dave Herbert 
  • Ecology – Rachael Milne  
  • Voluntary sector, partnerships and equalities – Shirley Ford.

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