NEXT month’s local elections will be central to our pandemic recovery. We are asking you to think global and act local and vote for the Scottish Greens on May 5.

It is less than three weeks until Scotland goes to the polls. It will be an important day for our democracy, with everyone over 16 being able to vote for their local councillor. Local elections may not get as much attention as national ones, but they are no less important, and are key to delivering the services that we all rely on and will be vital in shaping our future direction.

This election comes at a time when people are suffering. The cost-of-living crisis that Westminster has inflicted is only getting worse, with many having seen their energy bills skyrocketing over recent weeks. At the same time, we are facing a climate catastrophe that is being fuelled by the same reliance on fossil fuels and energy company greed.

Tackling poverty and pollution is right at the heart of our vision for local government. We want to build fairer, greener and cleaner communities.

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This is our biggest local election campaign to date. We are standing 238 Green candidates across the country, giving more people than ever before the chance to vote Green. Our councils are the frontline of our services, and they should look like the people they represent. That is why we are standing more candidates from underrepresented backgrounds: including women, LGBTQ+ people, young people and disabled people.

Every single one of them will work tirelessly to champion their communities and deliver local solutions to the challenges that we face. That is why we are asking you to think globally and act locally. Even a small number of Green councillors can begin to change the conversation and put people and the planet at the top of the agenda.

That has been the case in Orkney, where Steve Sankey, our only Green councillor on the island, managed to secure £5.5 million worth of funding for local ferries, while protecting recycling services and ensuring more ethical investment policies with public money.

Likewise, in the Highland region, the sole Green councillor, Pippa Hadley, was instrumental in the Council declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency and the aim to be carbon neutral by 2025. Since then, the council has really ramped up its carbon reduction and cut its emissions by 42%.

In Edinburgh, where I live, we secured a record eight Green councillors in 2017. They got stuck in and have pushed for action on unregulated holiday lets, protected services, ensured a target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 – with interim targets and a bold action plan and secured agreement for proper recycling facilities – and reduced single-use plastics across schools and other public buildings. They have also worked to ensure that all external contractors for care work were paid at least the living wage.

In Glasgow we have six green councillors who have reversed cuts to citizens advice services and played a key role in securing a £10m Climate Action Fund and divestment from fossil fuels. Green councillors secured the funding to fully re-open all the city’s libraries, created a new fund for residents to improve their back lanes, and promote food growing.

This is an excellent track record of success, and one that our party is very proud of. It shows the difference that Green voices around the table can make. Our Green councillors have shown that they will act with principle and work positively and constructively to get the change that is so badly needed. With more Green councillors we can get even more done.

For the first time ever, we have Greens in our Scottish Government, where we are delivering free bus travel for young people, record investment in active travel, nature recovery and recycling. We have secured the biggest teacher recruitment drive since 2007, and so much more. In the months ahead we will be introducing new rights for tenants, including rent controls.

The reality is that there is a fine line between national politics and local politics. All of these improvements may have been brought by Greens in government, but they will be delivered by Greens in councils.

Over the past eight months we have shown the transformative impact that Greens can have in Holyrood. The co-operation agreement that we negotiated and are delivering with the Scottish Government is a bold, ambitious and positive vision for our country. We are changing Scotland for the better. Let us do the same in your community.

Being a councillor is not glamorous. It can involve long and often antisocial hours. Nobody stands to be a Green councillor because they think it will be easy, they do it because they care about their neighbourhoods and about our common future.

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These next five years will be vital to shaping Scotland’s future. They will determine how we rebuild and recover from the pandemic and how we respond to the climate crisis. Green councillors can play a big role in empowering our communities and putting local government and local decision making at the heart of our response.

This week we published our local election manifesto. It presents a positive and ambitious vision of a fairer, greener and better Scotland. It is a picture of a Green Scotland with localism at its core.

These elections are conducted via the single transferable vote electoral system. This means that every vote counts. You should rank the candidates in order of your preference. By giving your first vote to the Scottish Greens you can help us to secure a record number of Green councillors and make a big difference.

Scotland will change a lot in the next five years, and so will the world around us. The challenges we face need far reaching action from every level of government. That is why my Green colleagues and I are asking you to think global, act local and vote for the Scottish Greens on May 5.