Brighton and Hove Greens have frozen out opposition, say Tories

Posted On 19 May 2011 at 3:06 pm

The new Conservative leader in Brighton and Hove has accused the Greens of freezing his party of key jobs on the council.

Geoffrey Theobald said that the Greens and Labour had stitched up the key posts to prevent proper scrutiny.

Councillor Theobald said: “When we were a minority administration between 2007 and 2011, we gave the Labour group, who were then the official opposition, the chairmanship of four key committees.

“Now the Greens, who incidentally have three seats less than we did at the time, are only giving us two chairmanships.

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“We will have to see how the situation unfolds but, on the face of it, this is not a good day for local democracy.

“Indeed, it seems to suggest that the Greens have already started to sacrifice some of their much-vaunted principles in the face of political reality.”

The committees in question are responsible for scrutinizing council policies and calling the new Green administration to account.

The Greens emerged as the largest party at the local elections on Thursday 5 May winning 23 out of the 54 seats on Brighton and Hove City Council.

The Conservatives won 18, making them the official opposition, with Labour winning 13 seats.

The Conservatives said that the Overview and Scrutiny Commission, which is the co-ordinating body for the council’s scrutiny process and plays a key part in monitoring the budget, is traditionally chaired by the official opposition.

However, the Greens have decided to allocate this to Labour.

And, they said, the Audit Committee, which among other things officially signs off the council’s annual accounts, will also be chaired by Labour with a Green Party deputy.

In addition, the Environment and Community Safety Scrutiny Committee, which scrutinises the administration on key transport and environmental policies, will have only two Conservative members out of eight.

The decisions are expected to be ratified at the council meeting at Hove Town Hall this afternoon.

Councillor Theobald said: “I am very disappointed with the approach of the Green Party.

“When we were in administration, they used to be the first to complain about lack of democracy and transparency and now it appears that they have done a deal behind closed doors to effectively shut down any meaningful scrutiny of their decisions.

“I shall be pressing to see exactly what has been offered by Labour to the Greens in exchange for a disproportionate number of committee chairs and deputies.

“If they are in some sort of informal coalition then that is fine but, at the very least, they should be upfront with residents about what this involves.”

  1. Valerie Paynter, saveHOVE Reply

    Neat bit of spin, Geoffrey. Do you really expect the Labour Party (whose voters the Greens so mercilessly siphoned out of the Labour tank)to give the Greens any quarter? Any at all? They want their voters back, don’t they?

  2. quedula Reply

    This is democracy Geoffrey. Don’t forget the Green Party were “first past the post” and now are trying to create the most favourable conditions for getting their policies through.

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