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POLITICAL Viewpoint by Richard Longstaff Green Party Councillor for Leigh Ward.

POLITICAL Viewpoint by Richard Longstaff Green Party Councillor for Leigh Ward.

POLITICAL Viewpoint by Richard Longstaff Green Party Councillor for Leigh Ward.

POLITICAL Viewpoint by Richard Longstaff Green Party Councillor for Leigh Ward.

We’ve only gone and done it!!  Southend’s first Green voted onto Southend City Council by Leigh residents!

Many didn’t think it possible and it’s the reason I first got involved with our local Southeast Essex Green Party in 2019!

Much like you, I was frustrated by what I could see was a stagnated political situation and I wanted to see democracy in action and a Green on the council. Since making history the feedback I’m receiving is one of overwhelming positivity and celebration!! Thank you for all the congratulatory messages and support.

Leigh residents have spoken at the ballot box and are genuinely ecstatic that their Green vote wasn’t wasted after much scaremongering. Conversely, our emphatic victory put Leigh and Southend on the map for a fairer and more environmentally conscious future.

The results speak for themselves, together we achieved 1,043 votes, over 200 more than the runners up, as Leigh residents sent a clear signal as to where their priorities “really” lie.

With the young, and a future that prioritises fairness, environmental and social justice at a local level.

There are many issues Leigh residents have highlighted over the past few weeks that me and my Green Team will be working on in the coming weeks months and years.

I am beyond grateful to those of you who voted Green and so visibly supported our campaign with over 120+ posters and some 15 sign boards displayed around town, you were tremendous, thank you.

I’d also like to wholeheartedly thank my dedicated Southeast Essex Green Party team; they saw the potential in both myself and the residents of central Leigh. We will be sure to organise a celebratory event where we can meet and discuss further, how to take our visions forward.

On the evening of the count it soon became apparent that we had won by quite a margin, I hadn’t prepared a speech and quickly darted off to a quiet corner to prepare something.  My first thoughts and opening remarks were dedicated to the spirit of the late Jo cox MP:  “there’s more that unites us than divides us”.

In this spirit, I want to remain united in finding common ground with fellow progressive councillors, so that I can best promote our Green Party ethos and pledges that residents of Leigh so desperately want.

Whilst optimistic, I am not naïve. I realise that there is no catch-all silver bullet, and know that residents will understand this. Nevertheless, we will be working hard to demonstrate where there are greener alternatives and our first task has been to join negotiations with councillors, as (at the time of writing) currently there is no overall administration.

Whatever the outcome, my main aim will be to affect change by incremental steps over time and to continue to support the election of more Green councillors next year and beyond.

In 2023 the Green Party continues to grow, gaining over 200 seats across the country and has seen the Greens greatest growth in our 50 year history.

Greens now have overall control of East Hearts and Mid Suffolk councils. Green councillors in England and Wales rose to a record 738, on a record 166 councils. Now is a great time to join the Green Party, we are the community voice for environmental and social change!

When councillors come to me and say: “Richard, we are Green too you know”, my answer to them is simple: “If you are Green, then become Green and join us.”  You can join us now at: and locally at

I myself have always been a keen environmentalist for decades since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. I am passionate about sustainable architecture and decarbonising the built environment.

In 2006 my architecture studio won the Southend Business Awards for Environmental Sustainability for an Eco House I’d designed some years earlier.

My students (at Anglia Ruskin University) today are regularly shortlisted and commended for their zero-carbon, low impact environmental architecture.

Following the UN COP 21 Paris Agreement in 2015 I realised the climate and ecological emergency were the most pressing issue of our times, that same year I joined the Green party. It makes me tremendously proud that our community has reacted collectively to reflect our core values and priorities.

Yet, for many this had been a pipe dream for years. The message is clear, when the people across Southend hear what has happened here in Leigh and the wider region, confidence will be sure to grow as people begin to realise the Green wave is rising and that change is possible when we work together. The symbolism of Leigh voting a Green onto Southend City Council can’t be underestimated.

I knew if anywhere could do it Leigh could, and I’m immensely honoured to be serving as Leigh’s newest councillor.

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