Elections 2019: The Green Question… how the environment influenced Salford’s polls

The Green Party may not have gained a seat at the Salford elections last night but the environmental issue was nonetheless central to the way the results panned out.

The biggest indication of this came in the ward of Irlam where CO:RE (Community Revolution Party) independent candidate Darren John Goulden unseated Labour’s Peter Taylor with a majority 125.

The new independent group CO:RE was launched primarily in the wards of Irlam and Cadishead in response to the backlash against green belt development proposed in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework plan.

Cadishead hopeful and fellow member of CO:RE, Dave Pike, was pipped to the post by Labour’s Lewis Eric Nelson by a majority of just 64, the closest margin of the night.

“As individuals we started things off in 2016 when the initial GM Spatial Framework was published. It was looking to re-designate literally the whole of Chat Moss, so we challenged it,” Pike said.

“Salford was facing the biggest grab of green belt and yes, they have come back with a revised plan and it is a lot less but still, for us, it’s too much.”

Pike explained that CO:RE planned to look at using brownfield spaces better by develop abandoned buildings in Irlam and Cadishead before looking at green land.

“To allow developers onto the green belt straight away is just wrong,” he said.

Labour MP for Salford and Eccles, and Shadow Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rebecca Long-Bailey made her worries about the Irlam and Cadishead wards clear early on.

“The independent candidates are campaigning against the development of green land and in favour of green open spaces and that’s becoming quite an issue.”

Elsewhere, the Green Party made improvements in their standing but failed to gain a seat. Closest was in the Irwell Riverside ward where Wendy Olsen impressively came in second place after Labour’s Ray Walker.

The Green Party’s Bryan Blears, who was contesting the Claremont seat, said that the recent media attention to climate change has helped the party’s efforts.

“We have David Attenborough talking about the climate, Greta Thunberg at the protests in London and that’s all going to benefit us because people are starting to wake up to the issues of climate change.”

“That’s obviously our bread and butter,” he said.

“We are the only party that has consistently been campaigning on the environment and history has proven us right.”

Undoubtedly, a loss of faith in the Conservatives and the Labour Party has been central to this election, but the emergence of a local-level environmental conscience is already making its mark.

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