Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said at the party’s annual conference today that the greatest achievement of her time as party leader was seeing the dawn of the country’s first Green council .

Dr Lucas gave a speech handing over the reins of the party to new leader Natalie Bennett, saying she now intends to focus on “the great responsibility and huge honour of representing the people of Brighton Pavilion”.

In her speech Dr Lucas said: “It has been a huge privilege to have held the position of Green Party leader for the past four years.

“In that time, we’ve really grown as a party – doubling our membership, founding new local parties and gaining more councillors to represent more communities than ever before.

“But perhaps the greatest change – the sign of a coming of age – has been to take control of Brighton and Hove City Council.

“This wasn’t about a protest or a niche vote. It was about a whole community trusting the Greens to look after the schools where they send their children, to provide meals on wheels, and to help create much needed local jobs.

“The other political parties want people to believe that lies and betrayal are just the way that politics has to be. But more and more people prefer the Greens’ optimism and our honesty to the dirty world of traditional politics.”

Brighton and Hove City Council leader Jason Kitcat is also due to give a speech during the conference in Bristol tomorrow (September 8).

Dr Lucas will also give a talk on the future of the NHS alongside a former NHS doctor who resigned in protest against recent reforms. This will take place on Sunday.

In a report to the conference the Green Party’s external communications coordinator’s Penny Kemp will complain that Brighton and Hove’s political opposition have been “making mischief”.