One of the success stories for the Green Party has been its rapid growth in the Park Ward area of Reading. Every one of the three seats is represented by a Green councillor.
As well as this representation, roughly 8.5 people in 10 from the electorate in Park will vote for a left-leaning party.
In the 2014 elections, Rob White was returned with 53.5% of the vote on a turnout of 43%. Few other wards in Reading see a candidate receive more than half of the votes (Norcot, Battle and Whitley are the others this year). But Park is unlike any other ward in the Borough.
It hasn’t always been like this. Rob White, the Green Party leader in Reading, was only elected in 2010. Go back to 2004, and you’ll see he was polling 14.7%.
Interestingly the Labour vote has held up – in other Reading wards they would be romping to victory with the number of votes they receive. But because the Green vote is increasing, it seems that Park has become that rarest of rare things: a safe ward for the Green party. There are very few wards in the country where this is the case.
Two parties have been in decline as the Green party has risen to power in Park. Back in 2007, the Conservatives won a seat here, but that was the high tide for them. Their share of the vote has been shrinking and it looks like there is little chance of that changing soon with 85% of voters going to the left.
The Liberal Democrat’s decline is even more stunning. In 2005 they were second in the ward and publishing their beloved ‘Two Horse Race’ election leaflets. But just three years later they were down to the wooden spoon and things haven’t improved since. Their share of the vote has slumped to the extent that in this year’s local elections they were beaten by Ukip who had a largely invisible campaign in Park. They polled just 89 votes compared to Ukip’s 119.
While the Greens may be delighted with their impressive vote share in Park, history has a word of warning for them. In 2002, it was Labour who were polling more than 50% of the vote. Fortunes can change – and with this being a key battleground for the left, you can be sure that Labour will want to win the seat back again.
Edited to correct: Park Ward is not the only ward in Reading to see a winner received more than 50% of the vote in 2014. Apologies for this error.
Last modified on Monday, 26 May 2014 22:42