Over 100 people attended the official launch of the Kenilworth branch of the Green Party on Saturday February 6 by its national leader Natalie Bennett.
135 people were present at St Francis of Assisi Church Hall to hear Bennett speak on a variety of issues such as the refugee crisis and the EU referendum.
Pippa Austin, a Kenilworth resident who has been a member of the Green Party for over 30 years, thought the town was overdue in getting its own branch of the party and was pleased with the turnout.
She said: “We were absolutely overjoyed to see so many people there. We had no idea, particularly with the weather, that so many would turn up.
“I thought Natalie Bennett spoke extremely well and covered a lot of different topics. It was, in effect, a party political broadcast.”
Janet Alty, a Green Leamington town councillor, said Bennett’s presence was a significant reason for the higher than expected turnout.
We were absolutely overjoyed to see so many people there.Pippa Austin
She said: “Natalie Bennett was a big draw. I don’t think we anticipated more than 100 people to come - the room was absolutely full.
“There was still 65 people who stayed for lunch after she left and 26 stayed for the AGM - we had a major turnout.”
During the launch, Kenilworth Green member George Martin also gave a speech on the need to address to levels of air pollution on Warwick Road, policies on housing and the green belt, energy conversation and HS2.
Following the launch, the newly-formed party is anticipating to put up candidates in Abbey, St John’s and Park Hill wards at the next Warwickshire County Council election in May 2017 pending the result of a mini-survey sent to households in all three wards across the town.
Generally, the Green Party does not try to win in every ward and tends to target places with a better chance of victory as part of its nationwide ‘Target to Win’ strategy.
County Councillor for Park Hill, David Shilton (Con), was perfectly happy the Greens were putting candidates forward. He said: “If that’s what they want to do then that’s up to them. Anyone can put their name forward to be a councillor - it’s what they do that matters. It’s up to the electorate to decide.”
The Green Party experienced a large increase in support during the last general election, which came to be known as ‘the Green Surge’ after the party collected four times as many votes as the party’s previous best result in an election.
An informal meeting is taking place at the Earl of Clarendon on Wednesday February 17 at 8pm for those who wish to discuss the launch.