Five councillors charged with guiding Brighton and Hove’s economic and financial recovery from the coronavirus crisis set out their qualifications for the role today (Friday 29 May).
They spoke out after recent barbed remarks from Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh who said that she had no confidence in their “skills, experience, knowledge and abilities”.
Labour council leader Nancy Platts said: “Councillors stand to represent their communities. Each and every one of us brings a unique background, skills, knowledge and experience – all of which are valuable.”
Councillor Platts said that in her 36-year working life she had been on senior management teams in the public, private and third sectors.
She was a trainee manager at Nationwide Building Society in one her first jobs at the age of 19.
In her twenties she managed a multimillion-pound budget in local government and gained two professional qualifications, one of them equivalent to a degree.
She studied evenings and weekends while working full time, later setting up her own business.
Labour councillor Daniel Yates said: “My qualification for sitting on this committee is that I am a resident, a ward councillor and a member of the P&R (Policy and Resources) Committee.
“I look forward to ensuring that my ward of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean – as well as the rest of the city – recovers and thrives in the post covid-19 world.”
Councillor Yates said that he had been a member of Brighton and Hove City Council for five years. He also spent four years as a member of Adur District Council earlier in his career.
He was the Brighton and Hove council leader until last May and since then he has been the lead member for finance, with an annual revenue budget of more than £750 million.
And he has been a member of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, Greater Brighton Economic Board and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board.
Councillors Yates has also served as a regional board member of the Co-op Group and on the members’ council of the Britannia Building Society which had assets of £37 billion.
Professionally, he became a physiotherapist almost 30 years ago and, as an NHS manager for the past 20 years, he has been responsible for multimillion-pound budgets.
Green councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty was elected nine years ago and became the youngest deputy leader of the council.
He has twice chaired the council’s Planning Committee. During his tenure, the committee approved the £486 million modernisation of the Royal Sussex County Hospital, the £130 million Circus Street scheme and plans for new council housing.
He sits on the Local Government Association’s resources board and has a doctorate in architecture and the built environment.
Green councillor David Gibson said that he offered financial knowledge and a commitment to “making the most of the opportunities to create a better world”.
He said that his background was in housing finance and he developed national training courses for residents in council housing. He had also worked as a consultant, scrutinising financial modelling.
Conservative councillor Joe Miller became a councillor five years ago and has chaired the council’s Audit and Standards Committee. He was also briefly the deputy leader of Lewes District Council and sat on the Local Government Association.
Councillor Miller has a first-class degree in law and is training to be a barrister. He has served as a governor of Longhill School.
He said that he came from a humble background and, while at university, he used to worked as a waiter.
He added that his modest background helped him to understand the impact of the covid-19 crisis on people’s incomes.
Councillor Miller criticised Councillor Fishleigh for her remarks which she made at the Annual Council meeting just over a fortnight ago.
He said: “It is unfortunate that a fellow member of our council called into question our ability to deliver for the city in this regard.”
He said that councillors should be lay people, separate from the day-to-day operation of the council.