The leader of Brighton and Hove’s opposition Conservative councillors has defended his and his party’s hard bargaining over the council’s budget last week.
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, who leads the Tory group on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “After six and a half hours of robust debate and tough negotiation, I’m pleased to say that the budget was set for the city council for the forthcoming year.
“I have always said that we would be a sensible opposition and work with other political parties if we think it is in the best interests of the city’s residents, businesses and visitors and we demonstrated that last week.
“As I said before the budget meeting, I think the Labour administration is finally starting to move in the right direction in terms of reforming and modernising some of the services that the council delivers to residents.
“It would, therefore, have been churlish, not to say irresponsible, of us as a group to vote against setting a budget for the city.
“A resolution hadn’t looked so promising earlier in the meeting after a Labour member stood up and denounced the changes we were suggesting to the budget and then voted against them all.
“It was therefore strange to say the least that just a couple of hours later they put their hands up to support of nearly all these self-same amendments.
“However, regardless of how we got there, getting these changes passed achieved a better outcome for residents.
“We were able to persuade the Labour administration to restore funding for mental health support, vital respite care for parents of disabled children, housing support to protect against homelessness, community and voluntary sector grants, public toilets, verge cutting and the council’s noise patrol service, which Labour wanted to scrap altogether.
“I’m sure that most right-minded people in the city would regard these as essential core services.
“It should not be forgotten that, just before the budget discussions, we also succeeded in persuading the Labour administration to do a U-turn with regard to their proposal to reduce the park ranger service from nine to three.
“Despite these concessions it was unfortunate that Labour couldn’t bring themselves to support two further proposals we put forward on increasing the frequency of gully cleaning, to try to prevent flooding in the city, and also on freezing the cost of business, trader and visitor parking permits.
“Now that the budget has been set, we must now get on with implementing the changes and helping to improve the Brighton and Hove economy.
“There are so many exciting new developments on the horizon which should lead to a positive future for the people of Brighton and Hove.”
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