We call ourselves a “City of Sanctuary” but there at least three areas in which I believe we are failing.
We see increases in homelessness and rough sleeping despite millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being pumped into trying to resolve this very sad but important issue.
We do not see any real changes although there are many great agencies working in our city trying to resolve this problem and help those in need.
The problem lies in the way that the administration allocates the money over too wide a field of agencies. It relies on too many organisations and spreads the resources too thinly.
We need to engage with a more defined agenda and ensure that it is funded because at the moment it would be cheaper to house these vulnerable people in a low-cost hotel rather than leave them on the streets.
Home to school transport is high on my Conservative group’s agenda as there appears to be a process and alleged consultation which the council are running without coming to elected members for support and scrutiny.
This will possibly have a detrimental effect on the children and families who rely on this service to ensure that these children do not miss out on their education.
We are supporting the GMB union to ensure that the correct process is adopted with all the checks in place and to insist that it comes to members for sign off so those who are vulnerable are protected and their needs met.
And adult social care is becoming Room 101 as – without a committee on the council being charged with oversight and decision-making responsibilities – it is very difficult to ensure the needs of those who require this service are met within our community.
Neither is there a way for the community to voice their concerns about this vital service in the chamber of the council.
Only this week I was contacted about on-site nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy being withdrawn for two of our last four council-run care homes – and I had to learn this from a member of the public and not from the council.
We have gone from 15 council-run care homes for the elderly down to four over recent years and now services are being cut from two of these.
So I ask, “Do we care?” It’s great hearing the sound bites from the council about how much we are doing for the vulnerable – but are we really?
In my experience, it is not words that bring about change and support our most vulnerable in the city but positive action. Sadly, despite huge budgets, I do not see the right actions coming from the council.
Councillor Steve Bell is the leader of the Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council.