'We've been living in a one party state and that's been damaging for local people'

Neil Doolin, Green Party Councillor for Waterloo and Seaforth.
-Credit: (Image: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo)


Neil Doolin made history earlier this month when he became the Green Party's first ever councillor in Seton.

Newly elected councillor Doolin beat Labour heavyweight Paul Cummins to the Church ward seat with 50% of the vote. It was one of many high profile victories for the Green Party across the country as they increased their seats by 74 in May's local elections - taking their total to 181.

Although Labour increased their overall control over Sefton Council, the loss of one of the more high profile seats would have been a surprise to many. South Sefton has been a Labour stronghold for the last 18 years with each ward seat being represented by Labour councillors.

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The reasons for Labour's defeat in Church ward are certainly worth investigating but Cllr Doolin would also like to focus on the achievements of the Green Party. He joked: "Labour can do their own soul-searching.

"What we've [The Greens] found out from campaigning around the country is we can have a better impact if we're part of the decision making processes within local authorities.

"We made a decision to change our strategy with the aim of getting elected and have decision-making power at a local level. It's great to see the plan come to fruition."

Neil has worked in the NHS for over twenty years and joined the Greens five years ago. He had never been a member of a political party and becoming a councillor was never something he saw on the horizon.

Like so many people, Neil became politically activated by the problems which emerged after the Conservatives took power in the 2010 General Election. Cllr Doolin saw failing and underfunded public services, an ongoing housing crisis and continuous scandals such as Windrush, Partygate and the Post Office which left many voters looking for change.

In terms of addressing Neil's victory, the performance of the tory government tells only one part of the story. He said: "I looked at the present day Labour party and saw no place for me. Especially the right wing turn Labour has made since Kier Starmer took over the leadership.

"They seem to have vacated the policy spaces I consider to be important such reducing poverty, supporting families better and advocating for social and climate justice."

It is well accepted across all political parties that national issues will come up (and also shape) local election campaigns. However, this does not imply local concerns were not the key driver in the May elections and this is a point shared by Cllr Doolin. He said: "People were very receptive to the Green party message. Our newsletters were informing people of issues the local Labour party wasn't telling residents about such as them planning to demolish the local library and move it out to Formby.

"Then there's the point of how poor they are around managing flytipping and the rates of enforcement.

"There was also a sense Labour had become a clique and, as a consequence, there was a lack of scrutiny in local politics in Sefton. What we heard on the doorstep was that this was a council who didn't listen and didn't represent their views.

"We've been living in a one party state and that's been damaging for local people. So, we're very excited to have made a breakthrough."

The Greens have accused the local Sefton Labour group of underestimating the strength of feeling about certain issues relating to climate justice and also international affairs such as the war in Gaza. Cllr Doolin also thinks the party underestimated the Greens appeal and the growth in their support.

In 2021, the Greens received 20% of the votes in Church ward. In 2022 and 2023, it was 30% and 40% respectively before they won the seat in 2024 with 50% of the vote. The Greens are also an ambitious group and they've now turned their attention to becoming the official opposition in Sefton and already see themselves as the second party.

Asked what residents can expect to see from Cllr Doolin's first term, he said: "I will be following my principles and advocating for the things I've campaigned on including climate and social justice.

"I'll also be very open and honest about what's working and what's not's working. I am happy to support things, but I will be providing a critical voice."

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