With the residents of Brighton and Hove now less than six months away from going to the polls to elect a new City Council at the local elections on May 4th, it is time to reflect on and review the performance of the current council over the past four-year term.
There is no doubt it has been one of the most tumultuous Brighton and Hove City Councils in memory, with dozens of controversial policies and decisions; the collapse of the Labour mid-way through the term leaving the Greens the biggest party; and a number of significant events such as bin strikes a that have brought council affairs to the doorstep of every resident.
The backdrop to the past three years of this council has in many respects been the the secret ‘memorandum of understanding agreement between the Greens and Labour.
The two parties signed this ‘Coalition-style’ agreement shortly after the 2019 election - but would not reveal its contents to the public.
The details only emerged 18 months after being signed, at the end of 2020, when the memorandum was was leaked to the press. The text of the agreement outlined a secret structure of decision-making between Labour and the Greens on an extensive range of council issues, including housing and finance for example, with decisions being made behind closed doors.
After Labour collapsed and the Greens became the largest party in mid 2020, we asked the Leader of the Council whether the memorandum of understanding with Labour still applied, and were told in reply on two occasions that it was continuing.
The Labour-Green agreement has therefore been the constant theme which has dominated the politics of the this council for the past council term; and is why both Labour and the Greens must face judgement together for the Council’s performance at the polls next May.
In the context of their joint agreement, Labour and the Greens have voted together on many issues and have become largely inseparable on Council issues.
Their insourcing policies, including across housing repairs and public toilet maintenance, designed to please the unions, have caused huge disruption to the city and wasted millions of pounds.
Under these policies Labour and Greens cancelled or ended the contracts of contractors, arguing that they could provide these services better themselves from within Council Departments. The result has been disastrous: The Council’s replacement housing repairs service has not coped and accumulated a backlog of over 10,000 repairs in just over 2 years.
And just 6 months after inexplicably cancelling the ten-year contract with Healthmatic for the cleaning and maintenance of the city’s public toilet facilities, the council’s replacement service has failed spectacularly, resulting in the closure of 17 public toilets.
On housing services and public toilets, the Labour-Green memorandum of understanding must surely be considered a huge failure that has cost residents dearly in quality of service and taxpayer’s money.
Other controversial policies over the past four years have included the decision to stop properly weeding the city’s pavements, with Labour and Greens voting to ban weedkiller but not put any alternative in place. Just three people were employed this summer to manually weed the entire 900km of city pavements – an impossible job!
There is a general sense from residents that service levels across the council have got worse over the past four years. The Council itself is not working for residents who often don’t have their phone calls or emails answered and can’t always see staff face-to-face.
While these services are not being provided, your council tax and parking fees and charges are going up because Greens and Labour keep voting for increases. Brighton and Hove City Council has increased its Band D Council Tax by 42.8% over the last 10 years - this is the 12th highest increase of any local authority in the UK over this period. Only 11 local authorities out of over 302 available for comparison have imposed bigger increases, putting Brighton & Hove in the top 4% of authorities for its council tax rises over this 10-year period.
Greens/Labour have lost focus. They waste council time discussing national and international issues rather than local issues they were elected by you to manage.
Our Conservative team is 100% focused on local matters that this council is responsible for.
There have now been 12 years of Green and Labour Councils at Brighton and Hove City Council and services are worse than ever.
As the past three years has proven, in Brighton and Hove, a vote for Labour is a vote for Greens. A vote for independents will not change this city as do not sit on any decision-making policy committees.
Only the Conservatives can turn this city around and we will be asking for your vote in May 2023.