GREEN Party leader Natalie Bennett visited Kidderminster today (Sunday, August 2) to meet supporters from across the district.

She was the keynote speaker at the Wyre Forest Green Party’s Summer Gathering event at Blakedown Parish Rooms this afternoon and urged local activists to build on what they had achieved so far.

In the General and district elections in May, the Greens fielded candidates in Wyre Forest for the first time with leader Natalie McVey polling more than 1,000 votes in the parliamentary poll.

Miss Bennett said she would continue to push for electoral reform with the Greens arguing they could have secured as many as three seats on Wyre Forest District Council under proportional representation.

And she added that addressing economic, social and environmental issues people in the district face would be high on the agenda.

Miss Bennett told The Shuttle: “The Green Party has had a very successful year, seeing membership swell to more than 67,000 and polling 1.1 million votes in the election, and places like Wyre Forest have helped play a huge part in that.

“I think people are starting to see us as the solutions party to the host of economic, social and environmental crises we face.

“One of the key things in Wyre Forest is the effect of austerity. Soon, local governments are only going to be able to provide statutory services and nothing else. People are not having their needs met in terms of social care, libraries and green spaces.

“We are also very much against the proposed trade union reforms. Unions are essential to ensuring ensuring workers get appropriate wage levels and employment rights.

“Another major issue here is transport. We are seeing cutbacks to bus services and infrequent train services which are forcing people into their cars so this needs to improve.

“We also need to resist green belt development for building new homes in areas like Worcestershire. Local Governments are finding it hard to stand up to developers who want that land.

“I visit many places and see empty, boarded up homes that could be brought back into use. Building new houses on green belt land is not the answer - these properties are exclusive to people who can afford them and will be built in areas with poor transport links meaning more cars.”

While Miss Bennett said she was confident her party will continue to grow, electoral reform remains a priority.

“We have a party in Wyre Forest led by Natalie McVey who will be working to get on to the council next May. But we could already have been talking about Green Party councillors in this district.

“It’s not just us - Labour had 40 per cent of the vote in Scotland and ended up with just one MP while central government polled only 24 per cent of eligible voters - that’s no mandate.

“I met a group of students from China after the election who told me ‘your democratic structures are failing’. That says it all.”