The opposition Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council voted with Labour this evening to pass a motion of no confidence in the Green administration.
In all, 29 councillors backed the motion while 21 opposed it. Only two councillors abstained – and one of those was the mayor, Councillor Denise Cobb, who remains impartial by convention.
The other was Hangleton and Knoll ward councillor Tony Janio – a Conservative – who said: “I’ve heard people speak with quite a passion tonight.”
He said that his party and Labour had had the chance to work together to out-vote the Greens after the last local elections but didn’t take it.
Instead, he said: “The Greens followed their manifesto. They won’t do that again because it was pretty mad.
“Two years ago, when the committee system was brought back in, we asked them (Labour) to come with us and take the edges off (the Green Party’s policies).
“But no, the Labour Party has just sat back and allowed the Green Party free reign.”
Councillor Janio said that Labour councillors were still “cynically sitting there, hoping just to take all their votes at the next election”.
He added: “I’m going to break ranks with my party tonight.
“I cannot take part in this despicable attempt to throw out an administration that is following its manifesto. I will abstain tonight.”
Conservative group leader Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “People generally have had enough of this Green administration and the reaction to them is overwhelmingly hostile on the doorstep.
“They can see a party that is in open revolt, with half the group not backing their convenor.
“You cannot run a city in this way with so much instability and uncertainty.
“We even have the sight of committee chairs not supporting their own reports which makes life intolerable for officers.
“So, for us, the lack of confidence is not so much around the budget process.
“If they want to push for a 4.75 per cent council tax increase they are perfectly entitled to do so – just as we are entitled to push for a freeze, which we shall be doing.
“More, it is an issue about general lack of competence.”
Councillor Theobald said that he was delighted that Councillor Morgan and his Labour colleagues wanted to work with the Tories to run the city.
“Perhaps this is an indication that they have come over to our way of thinking on so many of the issues that affect residents,” he said.
“Perhaps he has realised his mistake in joining with the Greens in ruling out any further market testing or commissioning of adult social care services despite officers stating categorically in a public report that ‘in-house services do not provide value for money when compared with other providers’.
“But the Labour Group clearly hasn’t thought this through properly.
“In the press release that they hastily cobbled together when they realised that we might actually support the motion, Councillor Morgan says that he ‘expects the leader of the council and committee chairs to resign and for negotiations to begin, led by the chief executive, on forming a caretaker administration’.
“Councillor Morgan goes on: ‘It will require compromises from Green and Conservative councillors.’
“But not apparently from Labour councillors! Labour – the smallest group on the council, remember.
“To emphasise the lack of compromise on his part, Councillor Morgan states confidently: ‘Council tax would increase at the below-inflation threshold set by the government.’
“Not a very promising start to the negotiations Councillor Morgan!
“And finally, he concludes that a new administration will need to involve ‘councillors from all parties who command respect across the council chamber and the city’.
“Are you including yourself in this Councillor Morgan?
“The mind boggles as to how this will work in practice!
“Perhaps there will be a vote at council – an X-Factor style popularity contest with Councillor Morgan playing Simon Cowell?”
“The Labour group has left it far too late. Why didn’t they join with us two years ago when we offered them the opportunity to work with us and make the committees directly proportional?
“As with the Greens’ council tax referendum announcement, this is all about political posturing ahead of next year’s elections as the two left-wing parties desperately try to outbid each other for the far left vote in the city.
“That is certainly no way to run a city and it is the vast majority of hard-working residents who are getting caught in the crossfire of your personal battle.”
Councillor Graham Cox said: “I’ve no confidence in the Green administration and I’ve even less confidence in Labour.”
He said that at least the Greens’ position was honourable: “They want to raise taxes and spend them wastefully.”
Labour here want to provide all of the services currently provided but they refuse to say how they would pay for them, he said, adding: “I have not heard one single positive idea from the Labour in the three years since I was elected.”
Councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn said that he had moved a motion of no confidence in former Labour council leader Ken Bodfish.
It was one of two no confidence votes which many believe undermined the former leadership about ten years ago.
Councillor Peltzer Dunn said: “I believe the Green Party, when they were elected, were very green.”
He said that this was a wake-up call for the Green Party to take responsibility for its actions.
“It is,” he said, “a question of responsibility.
“All the Greens are doing is trying to abdicate their responsibility.”
And he added: “You will be extinguished in May 2015.”
Councillor Dee Simson said: “What we hear on the doorstep all the time is: ‘When are we going to get rid of the Greens?’”
Councillor Andrew Wealls said that he was not sure why Labour had proposed its motion when it was hardly brimming with ideas.
Anyway, he said, the motion was about the Green administration. It had its positives, he said, such as an emphasis on cycleways, improvements in school attainment and progress on young people not in education, employment or training (Neets).
But ideology had stopped them from getting on with the job, he said, including a refusal to engage with the academies and free schools programme to help tackle the shortage of school places locally.
Councillor Wealls criticised the Greens for failing to secure a permanent site for the successful Bilingual Primary School, adding: “I have no confidence in the current administration but see no ideas from Labour – just opportunism to score political points and an ideas vacuum.”