Greens storm to victory in the Bristol City Council local elections

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The party ended with 34 councillors, two shy of the magic figure of 36

The Greens stormed to a stunning victory in the Bristol City Council local elections but fell agonisingly short of an overall majority.

The party ended with 34 councillors, two shy of the magic figure of 36 required to be bigger than all the other groups combined.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats made gains over the Conservatives, but Labour, which ran the council for the last eight years under outgoing mayor Marvin Rees, whose role has been scrapped following a referendum to move to a committee system, ended with a net loss of two councillors, leaving them on 21.

The Greens gained an extra 10 seats. The Lib Dems have eight members in the chamber, an increase of three, while the Tories lost half of their 14 seats and now have just seven.

Both Knowle Community Party councillors – who defected from the Lib Dems after the 2021 local elections to form their own party – were voted out, including veteran Cllr Gary Hopkins, and were replaced by Greens.

There were some notable scalps, including a shocking result in Westbury-on-Trym & Henleaze which saw a gigantic swing from Conservative to Liberal Democrat.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

All three Tories lost their seats to the three Lib Dems, who include former Lib Dem MP and government minister Stephen Williams.

City council Labour cabinet member Marley Bennett lost his seat in Eastville.

Cllr Tony Dyer, who was returned in Green-held Southville, is likely to become the council leader, as he is the Green nominee for that new role.

After the final ward’s declaration on Friday evening (May 3) he said: “My reaction is one of pride in what we’ve done and the message we have given out, pride in sticking to our values.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It has been a hell of a lot of work by a lot of people, not just the people here but all the volunteers across the city, the people who helped to knock on doors.

“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.

“We want to work with others – other parties but also community groups and organisations within the city and beyond.”

Asked for his thoughts on becoming the new leader of the council, Cllr Dyer said: “I don’t want to be presumptuous about that, but it would be a massive challenge and would require a lot of work.

“The position of leader of the council is very different from the mayoral position.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The responsibilities for decisions will not be just for the leader but also in the chairs of the policy committees.

“It will be a lot of work but I have every confidence that everyone elected today, no matter what the colour of their rosette, will make the city a better place.”

After ousting the Tories in Avonmouth & Lawrence Weston, Cllr Stephen Williams said: “This is possibly national significant, because this was a huge Tory-held ward. In the whole of the south-west of England we think it’s the biggest ward they did hold, until today. We flipped all three seats.

“There were three incumbent councillors who are very well regarded by the voters, and this result is a repudiation of their national party. We’re looking forward to making a positive contribution to the running of our city.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“When I was first elected 31 years ago, it was a balanced council. So it’s going back to where I started when I was much younger.”

The results indicate the Greens have a strong chance of winning the Bristol Central MP seat in the upcoming general election.

Carla Denyer, co-leader of the national party who has stood down as a Bristol councillor, is the parliamentary candidate trying to beat Labour and become the second Green MP.

She said all councillors in every ward within the constituency were now Greens, with Labour losing out.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Labour group leader Cllr Tom Renhard said the party had some very good results, including ousting a Conservative in Frome Vale.

He said: “We also won the police and crime commissioner election, which is an absolutely fantastic result and shows there is strong support for Labour across the city. 

“We’ll take stock over the weekend and see what it means for how the committee system will work. We’ve been picking up seats off of the Conservatives, as we’ve seen nationally. We’ve seen that swing away from the Conservatives to Labour.”

Housing and transport played key roles in the run-up to the elections. Labour often criticised the Greens for opposing some new housing developments, while the Greens say they were pushing for more affordable housing and better quality plans.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Labour’s main transport promise was on bringing buses back into public ownership, although this would first need the government to change the law. The Greens pledged a workplace parking levy, raising money from city centre employers with staff car parks to pay for upgrades to public transport and bike lanes. The Greens also did not rule out expanding the Clean Air Zone.

As no party won a majority in the council — 36 seats or more — political leaders are now expected to start negotiating power-sharing deals. This means it’s still unclear who will actually take charge of the council, and talks between the parties could last the next couple of weeks. 

But because the Greens have 34 councillors, it is likely they will be in control as all three other parties would have to combine to prevent this.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.