The impending departure of Brighton and Hove City Council leader Warren Morgan was lamented by the Prime Minister as she answered questions in the House of Commons today (Wednesday 21 March).
Theresa May praised Councillor Morgan for building homes, providing good local services and confronting anti-semitism.
She mentioned the leadership change in Brighton after the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn brought up the pressure on council finances at Prime Minister’s questions.
But Mrs May said: “Locally and nationally the Labour Party has been taken over by the hard left who are more interested in fighting internal ideological battles than standing up for the priorities of working men and women.”
Mr Corbyn cited struggling Conservative councils and quoted warnings from senior party figures.
He mentioned Conservative-led Surrey County Council which has a partnership arrangement with Brighton and Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council to run some services jointly.
The deal, through a set up called Orbis, is intended to save money and avoid unnecessary duplication in services such as finance, benefits, human resources, IT, procurement and property.
The Prime Minister criticised Labour’s Shadow Local Government Secretary Andrew Gwynne.
Responding to Mr Corbyn, Mrs May said: “He says that his Shadow Local Government Secretary is supporting councils. I wonder if he’s supporting these councils.
“Haringey, where the Labour leader was forced out. Brighton, where the Labour leader was forced out. Cornwall, where the Labour group leader was forced out.
“What have these people done? They had supported building more homes, providing good local services and tackling anti-semitism in the Labour Party.
“So the message is clear: if you believe in good local services, if you want to see more homes built and if you want to tackle anti-semitism, there is no place for you in the Labour Party.”
Mr Corbyn said that the government was sucking the life and tearing the heart out of local high streets through rising business rates, adding a reference to criticism from retail expert Mary Portas.
He said: “This Conservative government has slashed public services. They cut funding and expect councils to pick up the pieces.
“The result of this is children’s centres are closing, schools are struggling, fewer police on the streets, older people being left without care or dignity and refuges turning women away.
“The Tory’s own head of local government says it’s unsustainable – and doesn’t it tell you everything you need to know about this government that it demands households and businesses pay more to get less.”
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