Following a non-binding motion of no confidence passed by Labour and Conservatives, Green councillors last night faced down calls from the Labour Group to form a cross-party coalition with the Tories, describing this as unthinkable.
Council Leader Jason Kitcat said:
“As all Labour councillors know, Councillor Morgan’s motion is an utterly meaningless gesture.
“If Councillor Morgan is so keen to work with the Tories, they do have the power to form an administration together whenever they want to.
“This was just a transparent attempt to distract from the real debate – the crisis in social care that is set to worsen as both Labour and the Tories are committed to yet more drastic cuts for many years to come.
Jason vowed that the Green-led administration would push forward with the proposal for a referendum on a 4.75% council tax increase this year to protect services to elderly and disabled citizens:
“We listened to the feedback in the budget consultation and have put forward a practical, principled way to address the acute funding pressures that social care is under.
“Labour’s only alternative is this petty move, rushed out without consulting their party membership. Our citizens deserve a greater level of deliberation and consideration than this.”
Speaking for the Conservatives at Full Council, Councillor Geoffrey Theobald initially welcomed the approach from Councillor Morgan to work with the Tories to run the city, saying “Perhaps this is an indication that they have come over to our way of thinking”.
However one of his colleagues, Councillor Anthony Janio, described Labour’s motion as “despicable” and “cynical” while Councillor Graham Cox derided the Labour group for their negativity and lack of policies: “I have not heard one single positive idea from Labour in the three years since I was elected.”
Green Deputy Convenor Lizzie Deane challenged the Labour Leader to say which Green policies Labour would reverse:
“Would they undo the living wage, for example, and push the poorest back into poverty? Would they undo the fair and transparent system of employee allowances? Would they bulldoze the cycle lanes? Would they create a free-for-all on our roads, allowing dangerous speeds and a free-for-all in parking?
“Keeping children’s centres and the libraries open, maintaining the criteria for elderly and disabled care – this is what we continue to fight for.”
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty condemned the Labour Party’s failure to challenge the Coalition’s agenda:
“This no confidence motion was an attempt by Councillor Morgan to draw a smokescreen over his own party’s failures, repeated failures, to fight austerity.
“It is clear that Councillor Morgan would prefer to work with the Tories rather than fight their policies.”
Key elements of the revised budget proposals, which will be published in full for the Policy & Resources Committee meeting of 13th February, include:
• Protecting service delivery for key adult social care services, including home care, residential community care, day services, learning disabilities employment support and restoring subsidy to Able & Willing service;
• Protecting full amount of funds to third sector grants programme and sports grants programme;
• 4.75% council tax increase which would raise £2.75m more than December’s draft budget which assumed 2% tax increase;
• Referendum to be held on 22nd May alongside European Parliamentary Elections.
See referendum leaflet for further details: http://s.coop/bhref
For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.