Green Councillors at Brighton & Hove City Council have called for a debate on EU membership this week to set the Council’s policy ahead of the national referendum on the issue in June.
Green Councillors have come together behind the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU and are calling for the UK to continue to work as a member state towards improving the EU. Greens point to almost 300 pieces of EU legislation which offers protection on the environment and another 300 on equality and workers rights, and say that while the EU is far from perfect, it can only be reformed from within.
In a motion to be debated at full Council on Thursday, Greens are now calling on fellow Councillors to join them in campaigning for the UK to stay in the EU, in recognition of the value of EU membership at a local government level. The move follows a number of local authorities (such as Havering, Lincolnshire, Leicester and Bromley) declaring their position on the issue, with several pressured by UKIP and Conservative councillors to call for withdrawal from the EU.
Green councillor for Preston Park, Leo Littman, who proposed the motion, said:
“Membership of the EU is a vital issue and one that will affect everyone in the UK. It is critical that people make sure they are fully informed before casting their vote, and really consider not just their current opinion of the EU, but the dire consequences for British society, our economy, and the environment, were we to leave. As Councillors, it’s time we all got behind a campaign to stay in the EU, and make people aware of just how important the issue is to the city of Brighton & Hove.
“We believe Brighton & Hove, and indeed the whole of the UK, is better off within the EU. Millions of pounds have been invested in the city; used for example to: tackle addiction and anti-social behaviour, provide workshop facilities for younger people developing new business ideas, design housing for the city’s older residents and fund vital transport infrastructure projects, including making our city a European centre of excellence for cycling.
“EU legislation has given us cleaner beaches, greater protection for our wild animals & plants, and ensures basic rights for all workers. It provides the main driver for improving our air quality, which is currently at illegal levels in Brighton & Hove and attributed to at least 175 premature deaths per year . Without these vital safeguards the health and well-being of residents would be likely to deteriorate.
“We know the EU isn’t perfect. It can be undemocratic and overly bureaucratic, and certain policies such as the Common Fisheries Policy are in desperate need of reform. But we can’t make things better by leaving. We need to stay in and make sure we drive forward the change that’s needed”.
The motion has been welcomed by Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, who said:
“The Green Party has a unique voice in this debate. We’re going to run a bold, positive campaign that celebrates what the EU has given us. Not only has the EU brought us key environmental protections and rights at work – but it’s been central to securing a lasting peace within this continent after centuries of conflict.
“We’ll also be unique in making the positive case for free movement within the EU – and the right we all have to work, study and retire across a whole continent.
“To make Europe better we need to stay in. That’s why our campaign for a better EU begins now but doesn’t end at the referendum. We want a more accountable and transparent EU and we look forward to working across borders to make that happen.”