In a first for Exeter, the Greens and Liberal Democrats have agreed to work cooperatively in this May's city council elections in a bid to make the Progressive Group the official opposition on Exeter City Council. The two parties have worked together over the last year in the council under the progressive banner, together with independent councillor Jemima Moore.
The agreement will mean in each Exeter ward up for election in May a Green or Lib Dem candidate will stand, but not both. Greens and Lib Dems agree cooperative arrangement in bid to make Progressive Group official opposition. The two parties are strong advocates of electoral reform and say that under the current system of first-past-the-post, only cooperation can end the 'Labour one party state' and ensure both parties win enough seats to ensure the range of views in our community are fairly represented on the council.
Last May Labour won nine of the fourteen seats up for election but received just over a third of the vote in the city while parties and individuals within the Progressive Group received only three seats based on slightly under a third of the vote .
The progressive group point to their successes in challenging Labour and bringing about positive changes in Exeter, including saving the Clifton Hill green space, uncovering the Community Infrastructure Levy injustice and challenging excessive luxury student accommodation developments.
The Leader of the Progressive Group, Kevin Mitchell, who is a Liberal Democrat councillor in Duryard and St James, said:
"The Lib Dems and Greens have a proven record of working very closely within the Council and our actions since the formation of the Progressive Group have proved we are the effective opposition to Labour. However, we want to achieve far more for our City and with an increased presence we will be able to do so. We recognise our current broken electoral system has favoured Labour locally so only by working together electorally will we be able to enable the council to better represent the city and its residents."
Green Party councillor, Diana Moore, who achieved the largest majority of any councillor elected in last year’s local elections, said:
"We know people are tired of politics as usual. The residents of Exeter deserve an effective opposition to hold Labour to account and bring forward positive solutions to the many challenges the city faces. The Tories have demonstrated they aren’t up to that task, but both the Greens and Lib Dems are ready and willing to take up the baton. We know both parties can win in Exeter and by cooperating in this way for this election we will improve our chances of returning more councillors to challenge Labour’s one-party state and show how politicians from different parties and none can be committed to cooperation."
Independent Councillor Jemima Moore, for whom the Lib Dems and Greens stood aside in 2019, said:
"I stood as an independent last year because I wanted to make a difference to my community and since being elected I have seen first-hand the benefit of working cross-party for the sake of Exeter. Being part of the Progressive Group with the Lib Dems and Greens has played a key role in saving the green space at Clifton Hill and I am delighted that the two parties are putting party politics to one side and are working together for our City. Their agreement has my full support and I look forward to joining them on the campaign trail."
The Lib Dems will stand in the following seats: Duryard & St James, Newtown & St Leonards, Pennsylvania, Pinhoe, St Loyes, St Thomas and Topsham
The Green Party will stand in the following seats: Alphington, Exwick, Heavitree, Mincinglake & Whipton, Priory and St David’s
Note  In the 2019 Exeter local elections, the Labour Party received 37% of the vote, Progressive Group parties 31% and the Conservatives 27% and others 5%.