The Greens are ready to run Brighton and Hove City Council, the party said this evening (Tuesday 21 July).
The leadership appeared to rule out seizing power from Labour – even though the Greens now have more councillors than any other party.
But the Greens do not have a majority, with 19 out 54 seats, compared with Labour’s 18 seats and the Conservatives’ 13.
There are also four independent councillors, including two who resigned from Labour yesterday in a row about anti-semitism.
The Green group is understood to be consulting local party members about its next steps, with a view to reaching a decision tomorrow evening, ahead of the council meeting scheduled for Thursday.
Last night Green councillors debated a power-sharing offer from the Labour council leader Nancy Platts.
Today seven Labour councillors said that they were opposed to a formal alliance with the Greens – although they have not ruled out a deal with the Tories.
And Conservative leader Steve Bell called on Councillor Platts to step down, saying that she had to root out “racism” in her ranks.
Tonight, some expect Councillor Platts to tell a meeting of Labour councillors that she is ready to hand over power, with the Greens expected to take charge.
However, one councillor cautioned that the last time Labour slipped into second place – behind the Tories last year – it held on and ran the council until the local elections two months later.
This evening, the Green group said in a statement: “Greens remain concerned that the city is missing the leadership it desperately needs due to ongoing division between Labour councillors.
“Residents deserve a functioning council and this is our primary focus.
“Resignations have left the Labour group with 18 seats and the Greens with 19 and it is clear neither party can claim a majority to lead our city alone.
“However, Greens are united in our determination to see the city through our many current challenges and will work with all parties in order to get this achieved.
“Helping our city recover from the worst of covid-19 is the most urgent task.
“We understand Labour are still divided and that some councillors have made clear their unwillingness to support a Green-led council.
“Residents will have no time for the luxury of parties debating ‘seizing power’. They expect all of us to play our part for the city.
“Greens are keen to engage with our party membership, the Labour group and all partners to find the best way forward.
“Last year, Labour and Greens agreed to work together to ensure that the city would see positive change in four key areas: our climate emergency, on housing and homelessness, on combating austerity and in making the city a fairer place.
“Our collaborative work has led to positive improvements, including a renewed focus on reducing rough sleeping and delivering a climate assembly to reduce our toxic emissions by 2030.
“On key issues affecting our residents, we invite Labour to continue this joint policy programme.
“We urge Labour councillors to demonstrate their commitment to the shared goals that residents voted for in 2019.
“We encourage them to state publicly their commitment to working positively, cross-party, to achieve lasting change.
“We also ask Labour to immediately resolve the issues affecting their party, and demonstrate a commitment to equality and inclusion, so we can continue to work to put the best interests of the city first.
“The covid-19 pandemic has left the city’s residents, businesses and our health under increased strain.
“All political parties must act to prevent the worst of the climate crisis and to minimise the economic impact of the global health pandemic on people’s livelihoods and jobs.
“Now more than ever we must assert our city’s values of openness, diversity and equality.
“Given the crises at hand, our foremost concern will be the needs of our city and our residents.
“We await further information from Labour councillors. As always, Greens stand ready to serve our city.”
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