This weekend the Green Party are holding their annual conference in Brighton & Hove. It is an event that will largely be overshadowed in the national media by the slightly larger conference being held in Glasgow by the Liberal Democrats. However there are some important local issues that should not get overlooked. Brighton and Hove is the first city in the UK to have a Green led Council, and following a Summer of crisis within the leadership of the group, they have dusted themselves off and produced a document for the conference that outlines the achievements of the group at their half way point. The context and link to the document which is entitled “Achievement and challenge: making a difference in two years” is available from their website here. The report details 98 key achievements by the first Green administration in the UK. Having had a quick look at these, there are several that would probably raise a smile or grimace amongst many residents of the city, and some others that could be argued to have not been fully Green in their historic context. However rather than attempt to analyse 98 claims and pretend to be an expert on their history or efficacy I reflected on the fact that 98 was an odd number. I would have thought that a more helpful number would have been 100 or perhaps if one was to retain the humorous theme 101 (101 things the Green Party have done for us!). I have two suggestions for issues that one might have hoped to see in this list and which with a little bit of application and involvement could have easily been included.
The first is the involvement of Green Councillors in the Fairtrade Group in the City. The Group was reformed with significant help from Local Government Officers long before the election which gave us a Green Council. The previous Conservative administration were happy to take part in the group with the involvement of one Councillor which has extended in this administration to two members of the group. It would have been an easy win for the Green group to have taken even more of a lead in this and it is disappointing that in the first Fairtrade city in the UK, the first Green administration has not turned this historic accolade into a contemporary jewel in an environmentally responsible crown.
The second is the hard work by Grassroots Suicide Prevention, a small charity in the city that has been a location for large numbers of people commiting suicide for over a century. As I wrote a few days ago, this small charity is working hard to make Brighton & Hove the first Suicide-Safer city in the UK. Whilst this is not something that the Greens could take credit for, they could certainly have got behind this charity and worked with them, in the same way that they have with the Fairtrade Group and their commitment to this issue would have been a good one to make their total up to 100. Perhaps they could have got all the party members and Councillors to sign up to #TellMe. At the event a few days ago reference was made to the support that Caroline Lucas had given to the charity.
Both of these would have been at least as credible as claiming credit for the large number of tourists visiting the city in 2012, and perhaps would have spoken more of values that I hope are embedded in the Green Party.