Green councillor flees 'mud hut' to join Labour group
An unexpected splash of red has appeared in the blue-tinted Conservative heartland of rural Devon after the county's only Green councillor defected to Labour.
Paula Black, a primary school teacher from Totnes, partly blamed extremists who wanted to "live in mud huts" for the switch to the Opposition group.
Ms Black, who stood to become an MP in Exeter and won 792 votes at the last general election, claimed her move was part of a bigger drift towards Labour by Green members who are tired of being unable to affect policy.
She told the Western Morning News: "The Green party is a very small party and doesn't really have the ability to serve the community in the way it should.
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"Labour is on a massive surge and I am not the only member who has joined the party
"It will mean as a councillor I will have the support of a bigger structure whose views are akin to mine.
"Some people in the Green party have quite extreme views – we cannot go and live in mud huts."
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw welcomed Ms Black to the fold, claiming the "excellent, hard-working" Totnes councillor had impressed him during the general election campaign.
He added: "Paula has recognised what many Greens and Liberal Democrats are doing throughout the country – that the Labour Party represents our best hope for a better, greener future for Britain and the Westcountry."
The Green Party said it "applauded" the hard work Ms Black had done in advancing the Green agenda while on Devon County Council.
Spokesman Emma Pruen said people needed only to look at Caroline Lucas, the party's first elected MP, to see how powerful an individual Green politician could be.
"We are sorry to see her go as we don't believe she will be able to offer the same attention to detail in her work if she is part of the Labour Party," she added.
"South Hams Green Party have selected Robert Vint, a sitting town, district and locally popular councillor to stand for election as Green candidate at the end of Paula's term of office."
The defection brings Labour's council tally to six, against 41 Tories and 13 Liberal Democrats.
Labour group leader Saxon Spence said: "We have always found that our views and Paula's are very similar, and we are very pleased that she will bring her considerable talents to the Labour group."