Labour-run Brighton & Hove Council published its budget on Wednesday, revealing huge cuts to local services – including many directly impacting the city’s younger residents.
Labour councillors have been accused of ignoring children and young people after amending a council motion to remove the need to listen to young people impacted by widespread cuts.
Green councillors tabled a motion at Full Council on Thursday, requesting the council do all it can to protect vital services supporting young people from the worst of Labour’s looming cuts – and to commit to properly consulting children and young people affected before any final decisions are made.
However, Labour decided to amend the Green Party motion to remove the commitment to for the council to explore “how their [young people’s] voices can be heard when budget cuts affecting their services are being considered”.
Cuts proposed by Labour include a host of changes to services supporting young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Labour plans to save:
- £364,000 by closing St Patricks High Support Rough Sleepers Hostel
- £58,000 by decommissioning services currently provided by First Base Rough Sleepers Day Centre, and £100,000 by axing funding for specialist young advice providing by the Youth Advice Centre
- a further £80,000 is also being cut from support offered to young people at risk of exploitation.
The Labour council will slash funding for a grant scheme which sees young people given the chance to decide where and how some local money should be spent.
Labour’s recent decision to push ahead with local school and nursery closures has also been taken despite widespread opposition from staff, pupils, and their parents and guardians – leading to widespread accusations that Labour is riding roughshod over public opinion.
Cllr Chloë Goldsmith, who sits on the authority’s Children, Families, and Schools Committee for the Greens and has been a vocal champion of young people and opponent to school closures and funding cuts, was shocked at Labour’s amendment.
Speaking after Labour voted through its amendment, rather than the original Green Party motion, Cllr Goldsmith said: “I genuinely cannot believe Labour councillors are amending motions to remove the need to hear the voices of young people when they are affected by the huge and damaging cuts we have just seen announced, flippantly dismissing our motion as ‘virtue signalling’.
“Not only have they left publishing details of their proposed cuts until the last possible minute – and by doing so reducing the chance residents and community groups have to campaign against them – but they’re proactively amending council motions to remove the need to hear from the very people impacted by them.
“This is nothing more than a betrayal of the city’s young people who deserve to have their voices heard and their opinions and experiences acknowledged and taken into account by councillors taking such important decisions on their futures.”