Green Councillors Kevin Frea, Faye Penny, Alistair Sinclair

Three left-wing Councillors in Lancaster have joined the Green Party. Kevin Frea, Faye Penny and Alistair Sinclair have all joined the Greens, having previously sat as party of the eco-socialist independent group on Lancaster City Council.

Since 2019, the Greens have been involved in the administration in Lancaster. Initially this was a Labour-led coalition, involving the Greens and a range of independents. Since the 2021 local elections, the Greens now lead the council, again in coalition with independents.

All three of the Councillors who joined the Greens from the eco-socialist independents were previously members of the Labour Party, but left following Keir Starmer’s election as Labour leader and the party’s drift to the right.

As a result of the defections, there are now 14 Greens on Lancaster City Council, just two behind Labour.

Kevin Frea has been Lancaster’s cabinet member for climate action for three years, and currently serves as deputy leader of the Council. Speaking on his decision to join the Greens, Frea said,

The climate emergency is the main reason that I decided to get involved with local politics. The Green Party has been leading on this issue both nationally and on the council for over 20 years, and I have always admired how hard-working and well-informed Green councillors are. We have been working closely together with the Greens and I decided the best course of action for my remaining time as a councillor was to join them, considering our shared values and vision.

Faye Penny said that joining the Greens felt like a “formality” given the political alignment between herself and the party. Penny said, “I have worked with Green councillors since I was first elected, and have recently supported them in several election efforts. It has become increasingly clear that few if any issues separate us, so joining the party feels like a formality at this point. I’m looking forward to continuing to work hard for the residents I represent, now with the formal support of the Green Party.”

Alistair Sinclair has said his decision was based on the urgency of tackling the climate crisis. He said,

The past couple of weeks have demonstrated the extremely urgent need to tackle the climate crisis. Local councils certainly can’t solve all the problems we face, but I’m proud of the efforts that our Eco-Socialist group has made alongside the Greens over the last twenty months. The next few years are absolutely crucial in doing what we can to tackle global heating, and mitigate the effects of the climate breakdown we are now experiencing. We can’t do it alone, and we need everyone working together to push for the changes we need to see.

Frea has stated that he plans to stand down as a Councillor in the 2023 local elections. But Penny and Sinclair will both be seeking re-election under the Green Party banner.

Caroline Jackson, leader of Lancaster City Council welcomed the three Councillors to the Green group. She said, “I’m delighted to welcome Kevin, Faye and Alistair to the Green group. We are all focused on the priorities of achieving a just transition to a zero-carbon economy, supporting our independent businesses and serving our residents.”

These defections are simply the latest in a long list of defections of left wing Councillors to the Greens. Earlier in July Manchester City Councillor Ekua Bayunu joined the Green Party from Labour. In December, a Labour Councillor in Hastings defected to the Green Party. Jo Bird – once a high profile figure on the Labour left, and a Councillor in the Wirral – joined the Green Party in March and recently wrote in Bright Green that the Labour Party “is no longer a vehicle for social nor environmental justice.”

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