Brighton & Hove’s Green city councillors have condemned an attempt by Labour and Tory councillors to implement additional cuts to the council’s budget without giving city residents an opportunity to vote on the topic.
Green councillors plan to take a proposal for a 4.75% increase in council tax – the funds from which would pay for social care services and grants to third sector organisations – to a citywide referendum, in line with government rules.
However an attempt to block a public referendum on next year’s budget was made by opposition parties at a Policy & Resources Committee meeting yesterday (13 February), where they agreed to amend the proposal out of the budget.
The final decision on a referendum will now be taken at the Full Council meeting on 27 February, where the Green councillors will again put forward their proposal to protect services in the form of an amendment.
Councillor Jason Kitcat, Leader of the Council, said, “This was another piece of empty political theatre by the opposition as they know we retain the right to propose our social care referendum at the budget council meeting.
“We heard lots of rhetoric today but nothing of any credible opposition alternatives to our plans.
“As a city we face having to cut £100m from the council budget in the next few years whilst meeting growing demand for key services. This is a major challenge which all parties need to be open about, as we have.
“Given Labour’s pro-austerity policies, and Councillor Morgan’s knee-jerk reaction to our proposal, I can’t say I’m surprised they want to implement additional cuts. What’s disappointing is that they want to block the opportunity for residents to have a say on local services.
“With Labour and the Tories committed to the same cuts until 2020, it’s crucial that as a city we are able to debate and decide what it is we want from essential local services for our most vulnerable.”
For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.
*In January the Green administration announced their intention to put a 4.75% increase in council tax to the public vote.
This was supported by local union representatives and others, including government ministers who set out the rules for the referendum. http://www.brightonhovegreens.org/news
*The £2.9m that a 4.75% increase would raise will go towards mitigating government reductions in funding to social care services and community grants, as set out here in city council papers: