The Greens have published the manifesto that they hope will help the party return to power in Brighton and Hove.
Councillor Phéllim Mac Cafferty, convenor of the Green group of councillors on Brighton and Hove City Council, set out his stall at an event on Tuesday evening.
The event marked the start of the party’s campaign for the local elections on Thursday 2 May.
The party – the first Green group to run a council in this country – hopes once again to become the largest party in the town hall.
It currently has 11 out of 54 seats, with the Conservatives on 21 and Labour on 19. The Independent Group has two seats and there is one vacant seat.
As the manifesto was published, Councillor Mac Cafferty told supporters: “If you want to know what Green councillors stand for, look at what we have done in the last few weeks.
“We put £12.5 million back into the council budget, reversing some of the worst cuts. We made serious investment in homeless support and tackling climate change.
“Through the budget, it is Greens that won £700,000 investment in our parks and £1 million for transport improvements including a brand new Brighton and Hove cycle network and work to improve air quality.
“It was also Green councillors who stopped the Tory takeover of the council, following Labour councillor resignations and defections.
“Against the backdrop of national chaos, it is the Greens who have stood firm against Brexit – fighting for the best for our communities, demanding answers on its impact and pushing our council to endorse a ‘people’s vote’.
“In opposition, we have done this and so much more with just 11 out of 54 councillors. Imagine what we could do if Greens ran the council.
“Tory austerity has failed our communities. Councils have lost £1 in every £2 in real-terms funding since cuts began in 2010.
“Our city is visibly paying the price for the failed Conservative austerity experiment. Whether that’s in the missed collections, dirtier streets in our city centre or the queues to see a GP or the waiting lists for operations.
“In the last four years Green councillors have achieved so much despite the context and are working hard for a fairer city.
“Our manifesto builds on many of those achievements so let me give you a snapshot.
- Building on our proposals for the first new council-run homeless shelter, we’ll triple the investment in the ‘Housing First’ homeless scheme which works on the basis that the first thing to do is to get people off the streets;
- We will bring temporary and emergency accommodation ‘in-house’;
- The first Green Council saw confidence return to the city with the new hospital, the new shopping district in the Lanes and new housing at Circus Street. We built Brighton and Hove’s first council houses in a generation and the second Green Council will build 600 more and develop 900 other new homes;
- Major regeneration schemes in the city such as the King Alfred are repeatedly stumbling under Labour and we will explore establishing the city council itself as a developer;
- Building on our work for people in financial crisis, we will ensure tenants get a fairer deal by setting up a council-run not for profit lettings agency;
- We will revisit the expensive private finance initiative waste contract with Veolia;
- After 4 years of Labour, our city centre is covered with grime and graffiti and we want to restore confidence to our city centre. We’ll do so with the injection of cash we won at budget council to prioritise care of our streets. We will let empty shops on our high street to business start-ups and commit to improving public and community spaces in the city centre and enhance walking and cycling;
- After 3 years of campaigning, just last week we won a commitment that events coming to our city will contribute to the care of parks and we will now make major events go single-use plastic free by 2020;
- We commit to welcoming and supporting all communities who call Brighton and Hove their home. We have supported our communities speak out against hate crimes and will continue to empower them- we will reserve seats on the powerful policy resources and growth committee for the black and minority ethnic community;
- In a city with one of the highest numbers of people with HIV and growing STIs we reversed the cut to sexual health services in the budget a few weeks ago and commit to protecting HIV budgets as long as the city has an escalating need;
- this week we heard that the specialist services supporting domestic violence survivors are working at 140 per cent above the numbers they were contracted to support and it is the Greens who will protect per capita funding for violence against women and girls programmes;
- having won £1/2M through the budget to tackle climate change we will build on our work when we last ran the council and put an action plan in place to invest in renewable energy such as district heat networks so residents have warm homes and lower bills, the council will have financial returns and of course it puts the city on a more environmentally sustainable footing;
- having led the call for strong action on single use plastics we will now push for refill stations and water fountains across the city;
- we blocked the sale of our precious Downland and will set up a Downland advisory board to ensure we continue to protect our countryside;
- we will boost protection of species and habitats, and, working with local partners we will plant bee-friendly flowers and native trees to reduce air pollution, flooding and to capture carbon emissions.
“There is so much more we are seeking to achieve in our manifesto. Ahead of the local elections on Thursday 2 May, I am proud to share our plans.
“With Labour divided and the Conservatives plunging us head-first into Brexit, it is the Greens who will defy the toxic combination of Tory cuts and Labour mismanagement and stand up for Brighton and Hove.
“In just over seven weeks our city will go to the polls. It’s clear: we need a city for everyone, a city for the future – but we also need the fresh ideas that will see us through the challenges ahead and a coherent plan that takes us forward.
“We invite you to be part of that greener fairer future and help us win for our city.”