Yesterday’s proposal by the Brighton & Hove Green minority administration for a citywide council tax referendum was rejected by the Brighton & Hove Labour Party within fifteen minutes of the announcement.
The response was described as ‘deeply disappointing’ by the Leader of the Council, who yesterday called for other parties to ‘trust the people of Brighton and Hove to make this decision’. Both the GMB and Unison – the council’s recognised unions – have expressed support for the proposals.
The Greens’ proposals would see a citywide vote held on the same day as the forthcoming European elections to reduce costs. Funds raised would protect services for vulnerable adults across Brighton and Hove, and funding for voluntary organisations providing services in the city – both currently threatened by cuts imposed by Westminster.
The Conservative Minister for local government, Brandon Lewis MP, yesterday supported the principle of a referendum, saying “we should trust the people”.
The majority of households in the city would pay an extra £5.30 or less a month if the proposals are passed. An extensive discount scheme is in place to help households on low incomes.
Labour have also promised to bring a motion of no confidence in the Greens and set up an all-party coalition for Brighton & Hove, a move which would bring the Conservatives back into power locally. This idea would also leave the city council without effective leadership or direction, or even any opposition to hold such an administration to account.
Council Leader Jason Kitcat said:
“It’s deeply disappointing to see the Labour Party locally reject our proposals out of hand so quickly. Clearly little proper consideration or consultation or can be done in fifteen minutes – but Councillor Morgan now has another six weeks to think again, discuss these issues with his colleagues and the unions, and with those vulnerable residents we are seeking to protect with this change.”
“These are responsible, carefully costed budget proposals which we have legitimately proposed as the largest party and the council administration. They deserve thoughtful consideration by opposition councillors.”
Jason continued: “If as their motion suggests, the Labour Party simply wants to work with the Conservatives, Councillor Morgan is of course free to form a new red-blue administration for Brighton & Hove. We on the other hand have no intention of entering into a coalition with the Conservatives under any circumstances.
“Even the Tory Minister for local government took a more considered position, saying yesterday that ‘we should trust the people’. That’s our position too, and we’ve received a lot of support for it locally from service users, trade union members and other residents.
“There’s a lot of heat in the current exchanges, but not much light. I invite Councillor Morgan to come and meet with me, to look at the specific services which this measure would protect and the way the sums work. I would also encourage Labour members who think it might be more constructive for Greens and Labour to work together on this to make representations to the leadership locally. I’m sure there will be many in the local Labour Party who would support the idea of giving local residents the choice between protecting our public services or Westminster’s austerity agenda.”
The Brighton & Hove Green administration have also released data comparing council tax records of previous Labour administrations and the current Green one: http://bit.ly/1jb0XAK.
Also released is data comparing total inflation and total increases in council tax in Brighton & Hove since the election in 2011:http://bit.ly/1dBKtxT