After epic budget meeting finishes in stalemate, row over cuts continues

Posted On 27 Feb 2015 at 1:47 pm

The row over what budget to set for Brighton and Hove next year is continuing even after an epic seven-hour council meeting failed to throw up an agreement.

Last night’s full council meeting saw the city’s three parties – Greens, Labour and Conservative – repeatedly vote down each other’s proposed budget solutions.

Just a handful of agreements were made, among them to save bus routes, the mayoralty in its existing form and the grant to Able and Willing, which provides employment for people with learning difficulties.

The group leaders started to thrash out an agreement in camera, but chief executive Penny Thompson called the meeting to an end at about 10.30pm saying it was unlikely to be reached that night.

Today, both the Labour and Conservative groups have issued statements urging the other parties to back their respective positions.

Labour group leader Warren Morgan said: “There is an agreement on the table that keeps our children’s centres open, funds important voluntary groups, freezes essential parking charges, protects some services for children with special needs and a good deal more.

“All parties on the council will get something from this deal, and most importantly, residents and services will get a lot out of it.

“Alongside an affordable increase in council tax, I believe this is a reasonable and sensible compromise we can all unite around.

“The alternative is to vote down the budget entirely, and hand control of our local services to government appointed Whitehall bureaucrats, which would be a disaster for our city. It’s time to show some leadership and common sense.”

However, Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said councillors should back his party’s amendments, as they have garnered the most support last night, with 17 votes for and 31 against.

He said: “It was clear last night that the council tax freeze option had the greatest amount of support amongst members of the council.

“I, therefore, feel very strongly that it is incumbent upon Labour group members in particular to compromise when we meet again next week to try and set a lawful budget.

“Labour’s 2% increase proposal would only raise an extra £900k – a tiny fraction of the council’s overall £750 million budget – after taking into account the council tax freeze grant from the government of £1.2 million.

“And as I pointed out at last night’s meeting, a 2% increase would be seven times the current rate of inflation – at a time when most household bills are falling, this is simply not justifiable.

“I urge the Labour group, the smallest political group on the council, to compromise and help us deliver what the residents of this city clearly want – a council tax freeze. ”

Brighton and Hove News has not, as yet, received any statement from the Green party.

  1. Gerald Wiley Reply

    Of course this appalling state of affairs can simply be laid at the door of council ‘leader’ Kitcat.

    So he stands up and does a rousing speech, and writes articles for the B&H Indy, and then expects the other parties to blindly agree with his immensely intelligent proposal.

    And so every party votes against everybody else’s proposal and we end up with them wasting 7 hours in a council meeting where the result was a foregone conclusion – stalemate.

    What Kitcat needed to do was to negotiate a deal with another party BEFORE the meeting so that an agreed solution could be proffered. As it was the green’s self-righteous arrogance, and their infighting coupled with Kitcat’s complete lack of leadership, of motiviation and of charisma got no where.

    So let me make a startling prediction – at next week’s return match, or the week thereafter, they will agree to go with 1.99% – after all – the green’s must surely lose control of the council after their disastrous record of the last 4 years, and having ‘leadership’ at national and local levels that does not give any feeling of confidence.

    Mind you – this is the fault of a party that is just a whip-less group of activists all pushing for their own individual objectives. They really are their own worst enemies.

  2. Valerie Paynter Reply

    There are no meaningful cost-benefit analyses to endorse reliance on voluntary groups to replace paid service. And since most service users are vulnerable, exhausted, unwell they are in no position to flag up deficiencies (especially when negative feedback would inevitably be buried and the service user demonised).

    Worse, relying on unregulated, unqualified volunteers could put service users at risk of abuse, theft, accident, violence…allsorts.

  3. Miles Cheverton Reply

    Gerald – you are entirely wrong. This can quite clearly be later at the feet of Austerity, or in other words the Nasty Parties war on the poor.

    Central government made these cuts across the country. All councils are in this mess thanks to neo liberal Tories and NOBODY ELSE.

    I fully support the green council and our green MP. They have done exceptionally well in the face of stonewalling from “in it for themselves” labour and Tory.

    Tell Cameron he’s a fundamentalist.

    I also fully support a 5.9% rise in CT.

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