Accomplishments of the UK’s first Green Council (2011 to 2015)

Besides having a strong voice in Parliament in Caroline Lucas, Brighton and Hove Green Party is proud of the improvements our councillors were able to make to the city in just four years as a minority administration.

Local Economy and Jobs

  • The Green-led council was one of the first councils to introduce a Living Wage for council employees, which is above the minimum wage, and set up the local Living Wage Commission which has already helped 200 local private and public employers adopt the living wage for their staff - currently £7.85 an hour.
  • In 2013 Brighton & Hove was the most popular UK seaside resort, with 50,000 more visitors than in the previous year. We introduced an eco-tourism strategy for the city.
  • Under Green leadership Brighton and Hove has successfully attracted over £70 million of external public money to fund transport and urban streetscape improvements (as of March 2015)
  • Brighton & Hove was named the third best city in the UK for SME growth in June 2014.
  • We began significant works to rebuild the derelict seafront arches in 2012 so that they can be brought back into use.
  • In December 2014 we won cross-party support for the £500m + Waterfront Project, which will see a new conference centre on the Black Rock site and new retail and housing on an improved seafront.
  • We successfully secured a government 'City Deal' for Greater Brighton in March 2014 and this is expected to create 8,500 jobs and £173m investment over the medium term.

Equalities and Fairness

  • Brighton and Hove Greens led national resistance to the Coalition Government's unjust 'bedroom tax': The Green-led council was the first in England to announce a policy that no household would be evicted from a council owned home as a result of spare room subsidy rent arrears accrued solely from that household's inability to pay the 'bedroom tax'.
  • For the Trans community we adopted all the recommendations from an internal scrutiny to counter institutional discrimination including improving the monitoring of transphobic hate crime.
  • We introduced a carers' card, which entitles carers to discounts and support across the city.
  • We successfully lobbied the government on ending the second home council tax discount, and from 2013/14 we ended the discount for second homes in Brighton & Hove.
  • In June 2014 we received confirmation that the Secretary of State had lifted his objections to the permanent traveller site proposal and the site is now in the building phase.

Transport

  • In September 2014 we were awarded CIVITAS European City of the Year 2014 for our extensive work on sustainable transport across B&H.
  • The Campaign for Better Transport named Brighton & Hove the least car dependent city outside of London in their car dependency scorecard 2012.
  • In November 2013 government figures showed safer roads in B&H since the Greens took office.
  • June 2014 figures showed that the number of bus journeys is increasing.

Housing

  • As of May 2015 we have planned and produced a programme, with our partners, that will yield 750 new affordable homes plus 15 pitches on the travellers’ site.
  • Of these, more than 200 are council houses and flats.
  • In addition, 245 homes planned and approved before 2011 have been completed.
  • We have brought nearly 900 empty homes back into use.
  • In March 2014 we hit our target of 100% of council homes meeting the Decent Homes standard.
  • We have kick-started developments that have been languishing, including Circus Street and Preston Barracks which are now back on track to provide new homes, facilities and employment space.
  • We rescued the Open Market scheme, London Road (87 homes for rent and shared ownership – completed 2015) and The Edge housing scheme, Pankhurst Avenue (95 homes for rent and shared ownership – completed 2015). Both schemes were stalled when we took over.

Environment

  • In 2015 we won £8 million of funding for the ‘Valley Gardens’ project to rejuvenate the green spaces between The Level park and the seafront - a single tree-filled valley garden, sweeping through the city centre from St Peter's church to the seafront.  This will also tackle the Aquarium junction near the Palace Pier, the city’s most dangerous roundabout.
  • The Level Restoration Project includes new gardens, a new water feature, a new rose garden, a sensory walk, an upgraded children's playground, new public toilets and café facilities, better lighting and furniture, and a new skatepark, with overall more green space.
  • In June 2014 we successfully became the UK's first UN Biosphere Reserve for 40 years through the Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere Project.
  • In May 2013 we became the world's first accredited 'One Planet City' in recognition of our citywide Sustainability Action Plan.
  • We are reducing council's building footprint, including the sell-off of King's House.
  • In January 2014 we agreed a Low Emissions Zone for the city centre. Air quality has improved at a vast majority of monitoring stations across the city.
  • Recycling rates in Brunswick and Adelaide ward jumped by 70% after communal recycling was introduced in 2012. We then rolled this out across the city centre.
  • In January 2015 we announced plans for a £26m street lighting refurbishment programme.
  • In July 2014 we added another 670 acres of public downland to our open access land under the Countryside Rights of Way Act.

Education

  • We’ve opened two new school satellite sites - the old Hove Police Station as a satellite site for West Hove Junior School and the Connaught annex for West Hove Infants School.
  • In 2014 we helped Hove Park School parents successfully fight academy status (a threat to local democratic control) by ensuring a council-run ballot of parents – helping to make Hove Park one of the only schools nationally to successfully fend off academy status.

Culture and Leisure

  • We not only kept all our branch libraries open despite government cuts at a time when other councils are closing libraries; in May 2014 we opened a new library and GP surgery in Woodingdean and a library serving Mile Oak in Portslade.
  • In March 2014 we opened the newly revamped Withdean Sports Complex after a £3m investment programme. The improvements include a new running track, climbing wall, and other facilities.
  • In November 2014, we won £5.8m from the Arts Council to regenerate the Royal Pavilion Estate.

End of term report

2015 End of Term Report [1.5MB pdf]