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“It feels like a green city” - new leader of Green Party on her election hopes for Norwich

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett with party members outside the Asda store on Drayton High Road, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett with party members outside the Asda store on Drayton High Road, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

The new Green Party leader has visited Norwich - pledging to grow support in the city and fight for a living wage.

Norwich is the party’s second biggest support base after Brighton, and Natalie Bennett said she was confident the party would increase its vote at the next general election.

“It feels like a green city,” she said. “There is a real preservation of history and a focus on walking and cycling here.”

Ms Bennett told the Norwich Evening News yesterday the Greens were hopeful of a seat in the east of England at the next European Parliament elections in 2014.

But the party has hit the headlines in the last month over its decision to reject a planning application for an Asda store and the departure of a recently-elected councillor.

When quizzed over councillor David Rodgers, who quit the party over its “undemocratic methods”, she said all political groups had some characters who did not get along, adding: “David found the decision-making in the party quite difficult.”

She was meeting supporters outside Asda in Hellesdon in the wake of the rejection by Green councillors of an Asda planning application for a store off Hall Road.

The Australian-born politician said: “The Greens want to go with the plan which exists for the site which would create more jobs. Giant superstores make claims about how many jobs they create rather than how many they destroy.”

Asda’s plans, which the supermarket chain says would create 300 jobs, have now been re-submitted.

The former Guardian journalist also called on supermarkets to pay staff a living wage of £7.20 an hour rather than the minimum wage of £6.19.

“Supermarkets are making huge profits,” she said. “There is no reason why they shouldn’t pay staff enough to live on.”

An Asda spokesman said the hourly rate was “well above” the minimum wage and included staff benefits.

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