Scotland politics

Scottish Greens launch council election manifesto

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Media captionScottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie says his party will strengthen local democracy

The Scottish Greens have launched their national manifesto for May's local authority elections.

Voters go to the polls on 4 May to elect local councils, and the Greens are fielding a record 218 candidates.

Party co-conveners Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman set out their priorities for the elections at a launch event in Glasgow.

These centre on the protection of public services such as schools and social care.

In the last council elections in 2012, the Greens put forward 80 candidates, securing 14 council seats.

They are aiming to build on this total and the six MSPs won in the 2016 Holyrood elections with their largest-ever local election campaign.

Party groups in local authority areas will have their own local manifestos, but over-arching national priorities in the manifesto include keeping class sizes down, cheaper and more frequent bus services, affordable low-carbon housing and better wages for social care workers.

Image caption Green co-convener Patrick Harvie launched the party's council election manifesto in Glasgow

The party is also crowdfunding to raise money for a television election broadcast.

Launching the manifesto, Kim Long, the Green candidate for Dennistoun in Glasgow, said the party's candidates were "all dedicated local campaigners".

She said: "Our councils need more Green voices. We will speak up to protect public services, give our schools the resources they need, support our care staff and tackle the housing crisis.

"Green councillors are renowned for their hard work. Now we need more Green councillors elected in towns and cities across Scotland, working with local residents and putting power back in communities where it belongs.

'Fantastic start'

The Green spring conference in March focused on "renewed local democracy in Scotland", where Mr Harvie said the "constitutional obsession" of other parties should not distract from local services.

He said: "Our job is simple - to build on the fantastic start that our former and existing councillors have achieved, building strong local economies that are healthy to live in, making the opportunities from the new greener industries into something everyone can access a reality for everyone, and renewing real local democracy."

Green MSP Andy Wightman said "genuine political and fiscal power should be in the hands of local communities".

He said: "Greens at council level are fighting hard to revitalise local democracy, pushing for every community to have a say in council budgets and for councils to have the powers other European towns and cities take for granted.

"While some other parties are shamefully treating the council elections as a proxy for constitutional issues, Greens are clear that local services matter, communities should be trusted to decide their future, and that local democracy is worth fighting for."

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