Greens announce candidate for Kingswood by-election

THE Green Party has chosen its candidate to contest the Kingswood by-election.

Eastville ward city councillor Lorraine Francis will represent the party in the poll on February 15, which is being held after former Conservative energy minister Chris Skidmore resigned on January 5 in protest at the government’s Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, which he said would “cause future harm” through the promotion of new oil and gas production.

The Kingswood constituency is being abolished at the next general election as part of boundary changes, and Lorraine was selected last year to be the Green candidate for Bristol North East, one of the new seats which will cover part of the area.

Announcing her candidacy, the party said: “We are delighted that Lorraine Francis will be representing the Green Party in this election. Lorraine is Bristol born and bred and works as a social worker in Kingswood.”

Lorraine was elected as a city councillor in 2021 and previously stood as the party’s parliamentary candidate in Bristol East in 2015 and 2017.

Lorraine was born in Bristol and attended Baptist Mills Primary School then Lockleaze School.

Originally from St Paul’s before moving to Easton, she has worked in social care since the age of 24 and is also a qualified therapist.

Lorraine is the Greens’ shadow cabinet lead for health and social care, chairs the council’s HR committee and sits on the Committee Model Working group working on a successor to the mayoral system. 

She said: “I am standing as I feel that politics must change. Too many of our MP’s have changed the way that Great Britain is being managed, this includes how our taxes are spent and our involvement in international affairs.

“I care deeply about many things, Health and Social care, keeping the NHS as a public and accessible service and I am passionate about equality and fairness.

“In the Kingswood constituency, there are a variety of different issues which affect residents. You want to protect your green spaces and improve air quality as well as maintaining your heritage including buildings.

“If you want a hard-working MP, who understands the area, then this is your opportunity to elect someone different who will work alongside residents and listen and support your range of community needs.”

At the last general election the Greens came fourth in the Kingswood constituency, with 2.4% of the vote, behind the Liberal Democrats in third.

Mr Skidmore’s majority at the last general election was 11,220 over Labour’s Nicola Bowden-Jones.

Addressing the reason for Mr Skidmore’s resignation, Lorraine said: “The Conservative Government, under the present regime has issued licences for deep sea oil contracts which we as a country subsidise but where we as British people will not benefit, as the oil and gas produced will simply be sold on the global market. This does not mean that we will financially benefit. The increase in the use of fossil fuel, will not allow the UK to meet its target of 1.5* C.”

Labour has already announced that Damien Egan, who grew up in Kingswood and was recently selected for the Bristol North East seat in the general election, will be its candidate for the by-election.

A former Downend & Bromley Heath parish councillor, he was elected as the Mayor of Lewisham in London in 2018 but has resigned the post to fight the by-election.

The Conservatives have picked Sam Bromiley, their group leader on South Gloucestershire Council, to defend the seat.

A former member of Mr Skidmore’s staff, he currently who works for the support organisation the Helplines Partnership.

The Liberal Democrats today announced that their candidate will be Bristol city councillor Andrew Brown.

Reform UK, the successor to the Brexit Party, initially refused to stand a candidate, with party leader Richard Tice branding the election a “grotesque abuse of taxpayers’ cash”.

However, the party’s business spokesman and former Southampton FC chairman Rupert Lowe has now been selected and promised that, if elected, his “entire net MP salary will be donated to local Kingswood charities”