The Darlington Green party has pledged to build safer and affordable housing and to give voters more power over council decisions as it launched its local election campaign. 

Up to 50 candidates representing the party will battle it out for votes on May 4 but four wards in the north and west of the town - College, Hummersknott, Harrowgate Hill, and Whinfield - have been prioritised. 

One of its most radical proposals is to reshape the structure of the council by introducing a new leader and committee model, which it hopes will help give voters more of a voice.

In his bid to change the current system, local party leader Councillor Matthew Snedker said: “There are very few mechanisms by which members outside the ruling group can influence the decision-making process and the ability to influence decisions by all councillors is really limited.” 

There is a pledge to invest in greener industries, away from the carbon past and towards the renewable future. Members say new technologies, along with huge expansions in renewable energy, will create thousands of new, good quality, well-paid, secure jobs in the borough, with training for these new jobs funded by regional and national government. 

“We will encourage the better sharing of wealth in the borough through Fair Tax accreditation, fairer pay ratios and promoting the benefits of the Real Living Wage,” the party’s manifesto reads. 

Bus prices will be lowered under a Green council and social housing will be vastly improved through a series of new reforms, the manifesto says.

The party has outlined the need to introduce a landlord accreditation and registration scheme to ensure that tenants can feel safe and secure in a well maintained home. 

Cllr Snedker said: “There’s an understanding that one of the best ways to improve the quality of life among residents is better housing.

People are faced with very stark decisions currently when living at home, and there’s currently very little that owners and tenants can do to reduce their fuel bills.”

Hoping to build on the success of the recent Skerningham Woodland and Blackwell Parkland campaigns, Green members say they will ensure planning decisions make space for nature, with policies to restore habitats in urban, suburban and countryside settings.

“People value their green spaces very much when the council had taken them for granted and didn’t understand people’s passion for them,” Cllr Snedker added.

“That was a wake up call and we want to highlight the benefits of accessible, high-value green spaces.” 

The last local election was a landmark moment for the Darlington Green Party as it saw its first two councillors elected in the College ward, and now members want to build upon that success with further gains after receiving even more support on the doorstep.

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Carla Denyer, the party’s national co-Leader visited Darlington earlier this week to boost the campaign and encourage voters to trust the Greens.

“The idea that a Green vote is a wasted vote is dead. The old Labour-Tory establishment is now so distrusted that their old supporters are crying out for change,” she said. 

Cllr Snedker said: “We know that our form of activism in local communities is incredibly popular and well received. I’ve been really heartened to see that people are reacting the same way in our target wards compared to 2019. Our engagement in the community and willingness to listen means our priorities are the voters priorities. 

“We’re not trying to fit our manifesto to what people say; our manifesto matters closely to what people are wanting from their councillors, so i’ve got every confidence that our party’s ambition and size is continuing to grow and I don’t see any reason why the voters won’t come to the same conclusion in other parts of the town.”