Brighton and Hove’s Greens have come under attack for their plans to put up council tax and parking charges.
The party published its first draft budget yesterday (Thursday 1 December) prompting a critical response from the Conservatives and Labour groups on Brighton and Hove City Council.
Conservative opposition leader Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “The last Conservative administration protected frontline services and froze the council tax.
“This Green administration has wasted the last six months by failing to continue with our value for money programme and seems to be pursuing a policy of hitting frontline services and substantially increasing council tax.”
He criticised the Greens for spurning the government’s £3 million incentive to freeze council tax.
And he also criticised them for proposing to “raise an extra £1.3 million from motorists in the city through eye-watering increases in parking charges”.
He said that these included “a £400 per annum increase in the cost of permits for businesses, outrageous weekend parking rates and big increases in resident parking charges”.
He highlighted several areas of concern including
- the possible closure of some Sure Start children’s centres
- a £¾ million cut in the road maintenance and street lighting budgets
- reduced library opening hours and a proposal to scrap the mobile library service
- a £400,000 a year cut to the street cleaning budget
- the proposed closure of nine public toilets and reduced hours at the rest
- a £400,000 a year cut to the bin collection budget
- a 30 per cent reduction in the graffiti removal service
- big increases in charges for allotments
- removal of support for City in Bloom
- a rationalisation of sports facilities, eg, bowling greens and cricket pavilions
- big increases in admission charges to the Royal Pavilion
Councillor Theobald said: “This budget is an out and out attack on the core frontline services that the hard-working residents of this city rely upon.
“When we were in administration we were always at pains to prioritise services that made this a city we could all be proud of and the Greens are now putting all that at risk.
“But it is also a wasted opportunity.
“Why are they not continuing our programme of cutting out all the fat first before attacking these crucial services?
“For example, the human resources, communications and trade union budgets have hardly been touched.
“What is happening about commissioning? The independent district auditor last week reported that Brighton and Hove’s services are among the 20 per cent most expensive in the country for similar councils.
“It simply isn’t true for the Greens to say there is no more waste and bureaucracy to cut.”
The Labour group’s deputy leader and finance spokesman Councillor Les Hamilton said: “The Greens’ budget reflects more broken promises on top-level council pay and a failure to make the organisational changes needed to make the council more efficient.
“Instead they want residents to pay for their failures with a 10.5 per cent council tax increase over three years while refusing the government money on offer to freeze the level of tax to help hard-pressed families and are squeezing £1.3 million more from residents and local businesses in parking fee increases.
“We will be scrutinising every aspect of the Greens’ Tory-style cuts budget and making alternative proposals to deliver a better outcome for the people of the city.”
The budget proposals can be found at http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=120&MId=3227.