NEWPORT City Council now has its first Green Party councillor following the council elections earlier this month,

Cllr Lauren James, who now represents Shaftesbury, said: “I’m not in politics for a career, I’m in it because I’m angry.”

When going through a difficult time, Cllr James joined the Green Party because she said they were the only party talking about Universal Basic Income (UBI) – she has now been a member for seven years.

Cllr James said her experiences of being a young mother – having her first child at 15 years old – and being homeless three times in her life, is what drew her to politics.

She added: “There wasn’t a lifeline, we were just getting through it. My situation is definitely what made me political, because it was much harder than it should have been to come back from that place.

“We were so hungry, and I just thought there is a solution to this.”

The 31-year-old said her past has prepared her to be a good councillor. She added: “Knowing what it’s like to be at rock bottom, it’s given me empathy and I can tell those struggling that they can come back from it – but it is hard work.”

Despite the difficult times, Cllr James said that Newport has been a “safe haven” for her.

Cllr James received 475 votes in the council elections and was elected to represent Shaftesbury alongside Labour councillor Paul Cockeram.

When asked how it felt to be elected, Cllr James said: “I was so happy, I just kept telling myself ‘I did this’ – no one can take that away from me.”

In her new role she intends to lobby the ruling Labour group to put more effort into “getting the bus service up to scratch”.

Cllr James said the lack of a regular bus service in areas of Shaftesbury has left some residents in her ward feeling isolated, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable.

Other areas of concern for Cllr James is the anti-social behaviour in Shaftesbury and fly-tipping.

More bins have been placed in Shaftesbury after Cllr James complained to the council about overflowing bins.

In addition to her role as a councillor, Cllr James works as a communications officer for the national Green Party and is a mother of three children.

She hopes her presence in the chamber will challenge the other parties to consider the environment more.