Labour has kept control of Brighton and Hove City Council at a crunch meeting at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Tuesday 5 March), with support from the Greens.
The Tories called it a Green and Labour love-in and a coalition of chaos but Labour council leader Daniel Yates said that he was prepared to wait until the local elections in May to see if voters wanted a change.
Opposition Conservative leader Tony Janio said: “The question is how did we get here? Well, we got here because we gained a new councillor and there were various other movements.
“But the simple fact is that it is convention within this council for many years that the largest party forms the administration.
“We are the party of law, morals and traditions. We believe in upholding traditions. That’s why we requested this meeting. No power grab. Nothing silly like that.
“We should be the administration. I can see now that the Greens and Labour as usual will gang up on us. They always do.
“But why do this now? It’s because the Labour council are in a decaying administration.
“Just leave them another 58 days, people are saying, until the election. But then there’s a few more weeks until they form an administration.”
Councillor Janio added: “I’m afraid the running of this city is simply too important to leave to the current crumbling Labour administration.
“So we did the right thing. We are trying to take hold of this administration, grip it and take the city forward. That’s why we called for this meeting.”
Former Tory leader Geoffrey Theobald also railed against Labour for breaching the long-held convention that the largest party runs the council.
Councillor Yates said: “In eight weeks and three days we will know what the will of the people is because we’ll have the city council election results. We take nothing for granted.
“What we’ve listened to tonight is the most appalling piece of party politicking that I’ve heard in this chamber since I’ve been a councillor … It is fairly unedifying.
“Councillor Theobald talked about convention – and how important convention and tradition is – and I do take that point.
“But it’s also the convention in this chamber that whoever comes along and wants to be able to run the administration of this great city should be able to carry the confidence of the full council.
“And if a group cannot carry the confidence of the full council, they do not deserve the right to continue in administration or to be the administration.”
He said that the Conservative group didn’t have the confidence of the full council.
Labour deputy leader Gill Mitchell said: “I want to assure this council and residents that we do not want to desert any sinking ship. It’s still full steam ahead.”
She said that there had been record investment in Brighton and Hove and that councillors were “so right” to highlight the risk to the Valley Gardens scheme and the Tories’ reckless attempt to wreck it.