Greens become Brighton and Hove’s largest party after another Labour councillor quits

Posted On 20 Jul 2020 at 9:52 pm

The Greens have become the party with the most seats on Brighton and Hove City Council after Labour councillor Nikkie Brennan resigned from the party this evening (Monday 20 July).

The Green group was holding a “virtual” meeting to decide whether to accept a power sharing offer from Labour when the news broke.

The party must now decide whether to try to take over the administration, accept the power-sharing offer or continue with the current arrangements.

It said this afternoon that it would issue a statement “in due course”.

Councillor Brennan’s resignation, following Councillor Kate Knight’s resignation earlier today, left Labour with 18 seats out of 54.

Councillor Anne Pissaridou was suspended by Labour last week but is expected to continue to vote with the party in the council chamber. All three are under investigation for alleged anti-semitism.

The Greens have 19 seats – one more than Labour – while the Conservatives have 13 and there are now four independent councillors, including the two ex-Labour members.

The Labour council leader Nancy Platts is expected to meet the council’s chief executive Geoff Raw and its senior lawyer Abraham Ghebre-Ghiorghis tomorrow morning (Tuesday 21 July) to discuss the situation.

Councillor Platts emailed colleagues just after 9.20pm and said: “I have just received notification that Councillor Brennan has resigned from the Labour Party and is no longer a member of the Labour group.

“I understand the council will be putting a statement out this evening.

“I will be talking to Geoff and Abraham again in the morning.”

The resignations and the suspension are linked to the row in the Labour Party about anti-semitism, with all three councillors facing scrutiny or investigation over past social media posts after revelations on the Brighton and Hove News website.

All three were selected for last year’s local elections on a Momentum slate but the group’s influence has waned since Sir Keir Starmer took over from Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader nationally.

In the local elections last year Labour narrowly avoided losing its position as the largest party on the council, ending up with 20 councillors while the Greens won 19 seats.

Councillor Nancy Platts

Talk has been rife over the past week about a possible motion of no confidence in Labour.

The two existing independent councillors, Bridget Fishleigh and former Conservative Tony Janio, have signalled that they could support the Greens should such a vote be called.

Following Kate Knight’s resignation, Councillor Platts offered to share power with the Greens on condition that the council leader remained a Labour councillor.

But the offer became moot as soon as news of Councillor Brennan’s resignation emerged.

It looks likely that the shift in power will happen officially at the full council meeting scheduled for Thursday (23 July) either by agreement or after a vote of no confidence in Labour.

It is also possible that the change could happen sooner if the council calls an extraordinary council meeting before Thursday.

  1. Valerie Reply

    The Green Party’s factions – mangoes vs watermelons – is an issue here & both Momentum & Blairites in Labour could split Green loyalties if the Greens don’t keep a polite distance.

    A new election? During a pandemic?

    The public needs the undivided attention of an Administration that faces a jobs meltdown, pandemic & huge £36m problem of a bankrupt i360 loan from the PWLB to sort too.

    • ChrisC Reply

      What ‘new election’?

      Councils have a fixed 4 year term with no provisisiosn for wholesale dissolution at any other time (some exceptions relating to abolition and re constitution following a local government reorganisation). Councils can’t be dissolved early like Parliament just because there has been a few resignations / expulsions from a party group.

      Now if the entirity of the current councillors resigned en-masss (bit far fetched because the Tories wouldn’t resign) then there would be a series of by elections for the vacant seats. But the Covid law put paid to even holding bye elections. So the Tories would be left in charge and despite their posturing would they really want that?

      There is a council meeting next week. There could be a vote of no confidence* in the current minority Labour administration. But the fun would start in voting in a new administration and a new leader and committee chairs.

      *Depending on the rules for submitting motions and their timelines.

      There would be some justice in a Green administration having to sort out the i360 beczuse it was their votes (and the Tories) that lumped us with the damn thing and a £36m problem rather than a mere £14m one

      • Gerry R Reply

        Not a fan of the Greens much, they have also let much of our city go to rack and ruin with the filthy streets, rubbish everywhere, open anti social behaviour begging at every cashpoint (even during the lockdown in much of Kemptown!) etc but I think they should be given a chance to run the council as the largest group…Labour have totally blown it, by not dealing with all their cranks, obsessives and antisemites, they have predictably self combusted, and not before time! Phelim – time to break free from the racist Labour party, step up and give local people some hope for a well run council and a clean, well run city. I can dream can’t I…?

      • ChrisC Reply

        correction – The council meeting is this Thuraday (23rd July) not next week.

    • Valerie Phillips Reply

      The rest of the Labour Party Left wing Cllrs must resign in sympathy/solidarity towards the 3 suspended (now resigned) colleagues and stay on the Council as Independent Left Cllrs working with the progressive elements of the Green Party. Now is the time to take up the challenge.

  2. Sal Reply

    Might lead to Central Government intervention. Greens will not want the poisoned chalice this is this city in this time. COVID, corruption, union strife, dysfunctional departments/department heads etc. This is probably not the end of Antisemitism in the Momentum-back councilors. The city could become ungovernable. Let’s see.

    • ChrisC Reply

      Well apparently the Greens do want to take charge of the poisoned chalice. Always knew they were stupid!

      And the gobvernment sending in Commissioners will not be good because they will slash and burn services acting based on money not actual need.

  3. Valerie Phillips Reply

    Phélim Mc Cafferty has the experience and competence to run an effective council.Its an opportunity for a United Labour/ Green led council to set high expectations for Brighton and Hove. We citizens must help by being supportive,helpful,positive towards their work. Supporting creativity and innovative development and hopefully new ways of doing things.

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