Brighton and Hove Greens’ 4.75 per cent council tax rise rejected

Posted On 27 Feb 2014 at 7:34 pm

The Greens’ proposed 4.75 per cent rise in council tax has been rejected at the annual budget and council tax debate at Hove Town Hall.

Members of Brighton and Hove City Council are debating the Green Party’s proposal to put up council tax 4.75 per cent and ask for the support if voters in a referendum.

They are also considering Labour’s proposal of a council tax rise of just below the 2 per cent that would trigger a referendum – the level originally put forward by the Greens in December.

And the Conservatives want to freeze council tax, with the government promising just over £1 million if the council does so.

The Greens’ finance spokesman Councillor Leo Littman said: “It’s the best possible budget in the circumstances.”

Councillor Leo Littman

Councillor Leo Littman

Council leader Jason Kitcat said: “Council finances are in crisis. This is not a party political point.”

Councillor Kitcat, the Green leader, quoted senior Labour and Conservatives making the same point.

He said: “The pressure is incredible. Council tax is imperfect and the referendum process is imperfect. We have to work with what we’ve got today.”

He said that the council was incredibly efficient, having already taken almost £60 million out of the budget.

The Greens say that their proposed council tax rise would mean most households in Brighton and Hove paying £5.30 a month extra or less.

Councillor Kitcat added: “The difference between our position and Labour’s is 61p a week.”

Councillor Ann Norman, the Conservative finance spokesman, said that the Green budget proposals were predicated on a misunderstanding that “the only way to support services is to raise council tax”.

Councillor Norman said: “Services can be delivered better by doing things differently.” She cited councils that were collaborating, working with the voluntary and private sector and in other innovative ways.

Councillor Ann Norman

Councillor Ann Norman

She urged the Greens to follow the example of other Conservative and some Labour councils In freezing council tax.

Councillor Norman said that the Conservatives wanted to restore a proposed £25,000 cut to Pride. The Tories also intended to reverse proposed £165,000 cut to respite care for disabled children and their families. She said: “Cuts to their budget are a false economy.”

She also said that her party would cut the price of traders’ parking permits, saying: “This is nothing less than an extra tax on local businesses and we want to reduce it.

“We would also provide transitional funding to help the council’s excellent Able and Willing (supported employment) service to find a more sustainable model.”

Conservative group leader Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said that his party’s budget was “the budget that the majority in our city would like to see”.

He urged the Greens to market-test services to see whether others could provide them more efficiently than the council. And he called for the transport budget to focus more on repairing roads and pavements.

Criticising the proposed 4.75 per cent rise, Councillor Warren Morgan, the Labour group leader, said: “When the Greens say it’s just a few pounds a week, they show they’re out if touch with the people of this city.”

Councillor Morgan said that he opposed spending £900,000 on a referendum that would better be spent on services that residents want and need.

Councillor Les Hamilton

Councillor Les Hamilton

Councillor Les Hamilton, Labour’s finance spokesman, said: “I find it incredible that (Local Government Secretary) Eric Pickles can cut millions from our revenue support grant and then give us back peanuts.”

Councillor Hamilton said that revenue support grant had fallen from £100 million when the coalition government and would drop to £2 million by 2020.

He said: “The Green administration is the only one in the country proposing a referendum.

“There are 101 Labour councils and none of them is proposing a referendum, not because they don’t want more money but because they know people won’t support it.”

A Conservative amendment to restore £25,000 to Pride was carried as was a Labour amendment to put £165,000 back into grants for community organisations.

Able and Willing also had £125,000 restored to its budget.

  1. Stewart Gover, (Retired Skipper). Reply

    If the above account of the Full Council-Debate and Rejection tonight, 27/02/14 is correct then a tiny climpse of common-sense was seen in the Chamber where I made several written and verbal presentations on the behalf of the people of this City, and was sometimes,(Not always) rewarded with Unanimous Votes from all sides.If only Politics could be removed from Housing-Matters as the brilliant former Councillor Maria Caulfield once pleaded, our City would not be in the state that it’s in today.Labour kept the Rents Static to win Votes, but didn’t maintain the Stock, the Conservatives ignored the warnings of Tenant-Led Maintainance-Evaluation Panels and wouldn’t allow those Panels to speak to Dissatified Tenants in other Cities and now we have to pick-up the pieces during a Recession that Savagely cuts our funds! To crown it all, the little money that we have is constantly wasted on ‘Mad-Cap’ schemes that bring our City to a Standstill twice a day, EVERY DAY. Please’ GET a GRIP Councillors or move-Over and let another Glimmer of Sense appear here!

  2. john melson Reply

    The Labour and Cooperative Party and Conservative Councillors were all good little boys and girls last night and ate all the Greens in front of them, however we need a Budget – not one that supports a top-heavy and heavy-handed Management structure but one that provides the Residents of Brighton & Hove & Portslade with a proper level of service and is Value for Money.

    The Greens are just that, green. This is their first experience of running a Council so some blunders are to be expected (and are forgiveable) but a persistent failure by their Leadership to listen and learn is not acceptable, time for them to empty our bins rather than our pockets.

  3. Neil Newman Reply

    so the Tories want more services farmed-out to the private sector which means far greater costs in the future, Labour play politics knowing that higher taxes are needed but desperately don’t want to say it, and the Greens plough ahead with saying what needs to be said and done but face a party-political Press that savages their common-sense and democratic approach.

    its just like National politics!

    it is a shame the Greens cannot set Living Wages within Brighton alone, because that would far-more than off-set the extra taxes needed. The other Parties continue with their ‘race to the bottom’. And the Public are the ones who pay the price, especially the vulnerable, needing the Council services that are being cut by the Tory Govt’s so-called “Austerity”..

    when the Council itself is run by G4S and Serco, people will regret it, even former Tory voters. But it will be too late by then!

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