Ed Baker lives in East Brighton and is the Green candidate in the upcoming East Brighton by-election on 8th February.
On 27th December Lloyd Russell-Moyle resigned his council seat representing East Brighton. With the election date set for 8th February, the four main party candidates are on the campaign trail.
I’m very proud to have been selected as the Green Party candidate. I’m doubly proud that the Greens have been the only party to field a candidate who lives in the ward.
I’ve lived in Brighton for more than 12 years. In that time I’ve fallen in love with our city. I’ve also been increasingly dismayed by the very visible damage wrought by national austerity policies from a cruel and complacent Tory government.
In 2016, rough sleeping in Brighton doubled. In 2017 it increased by nearly another quarter. This gives Brighton the grim accolade of the largest homeless population outside London. But this crisis is an iceberg – we know there are far more ‘hidden homeless’ sleeping on sofas or in their cars, who aren’t counted among the rough sleepers.
These numbers are greatly upsetting, and should be treated by the Labour-run council as an ongoing emergency. Again, the Greens are leading the way, spearheading an initiative to open council buildings as night shelters.
But to properly resolve our housing crisis, we need more genuinely affordable homes. Pressure from Green councillors has led to new flats in Hollingdean set at affordable rents, linked to a percentage of income rather than market rates. I strongly support this and want to see similar rents applied to more new homes.
The pain caused of austerity politics is felt really sharply in East Brighton, which encompasses some of the most neglected areas of the city. Since 2011 the ward has been represented by six Labour councillors, and now a Labour MP, and still we see cuts to vital services and record numbers referred to food banks. All this while Labour claim to have been focusing on ‘getting the basics right’. This displays a spectacular lack of ambition for our city, with even this low bar missed by a mile. On the doorsteps, residents tell me about their dissatisfaction, and how Labour have taken their votes for granted.
I’m excited to represent East Brighton. Only the Green party have the political courage to properly stand up to Tory cuts, and hold Labour to account for standing by and watching it happen.
But the Green vision doesn’t stop at opposition to austerity. Our ambitions for Brighton see the city leading the way as a modern and sustainable place to live and work.
We applaud the more than 50 companies locally who’ve taken the Plastic Free Pledge to abandon the ecological disaster of single-use plastics, and call on the council to do the same.
Air pollution is hugely damaging to our children’s health, and costs the national economy £16bn a year. We imagine a cleaner, healthier Brighton served by an entirely zero-emissions public transport network.
A Green vote in the by-election on the 8th of February is a vote for your local community. A vote for a cleaner, greener, fairer and more affordable East Brighton. It’s a vote for a more ambitious future, because Brighton deserves better than the basics.