Brighton and Hove’s new Green council leader sets out his stall

Posted On 23 Jul 2020 at 6:13 pm

The new Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Phélim Mac Cafferty, set out his stall at a “virtual” meeting of the full council this afternoon (Thursday 23 July).

Councillor Mac Cafferty spoke shortly before being voted into office in a meeting that was delayed because of technical troubles.

He said: “I want to start by remembering the 159 people who have died in the city as a result of the covid-19 crisis.

“We owe it to the memory of each of them to use the coming period to work in as unified a fashion as possible.

“Right now residents need a council that will focus on getting us out of the crisis. And right now we are concerned about people’s livelihoods and their health.

“Greens come into administration when the council’s finances are the worst we have ever known them.

“Around the country the outlook for local government has never been bleaker with several councils now on the verge of bankruptcy.

“The pandemic comes on top of almost an entire decade of government cuts.

“As a council we have been buying protective equipment and trying to shield some of our most vulnerable residents.

“We’ve done this at the same time our income from parking, council tax and business rates is considerably down.

“This means there is a massive hole in the budget. The estimates of loss to our city currently range from £17 million to £39 million.

“This is considerably more than the savings the council has had to make in even the worst year of austerity.

“I remain deeply concerned about a second wave and the impact on our residents’ health.

“Most economists are now talking about an historically massive recession.

“The end of the government furlough scheme will have a huge impact on the city – from people becoming unemployed to businesses struggling.

“In a city that has thriving culture, hospitality and tourism sectors, we must ensure we weather the storm.

“Meanwhile, only the least observant would have failed to notice the climate crisis worsening.

“As we have argued for the last few months of the covid crisis, now is the time for a green recovery and we stand fully behind initiatives such as the mass insulation of homes, that will do three things

  • create jobs
  • reduce our toxic emissions and
  • warm our draughty homes

“We will unveil more details of our plans in the weeks ahead. And look to the most inspiring communities around the country to help guide the city out of the worst crisis it has faced since World War II – and give the city the sustainable recovery we so desperately need.

“But if there is one thing I know about the special place we all call home, it is the city’s creativity, ingenuity and flair.

“If there is a place that can respond to this crisis, it’s Brighton and Hove.

“I look to countless examples of when our city has faced its biggest challenges – from the 1987 hurricane and the Dutch elm disease outbreak to the 2008 crash – and know that our resilience and imagination will see us through.

“Residents at this time expect all of us to play our part for the city and we will work cross party where possible when it is in our city’s best interests to do so.

“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.

“I also want to thank Councillor Platts and the Labour group of councillors for their approach to recent events.

“In 2019, in the aftermath of the council elections the city elected many Green and Labour voices.

“Both parties agreed our shared intent. In areas of the climate crisis, housing and homelessness, the impact of austerity and commitment to equality, we must try to do politics differently, to deliver change for our residents.

“We have over the past year seen the council’s corporate plan reflect these values – and through joint working the city will soon have a climate assembly and an ambitious programme to provide more affordable homes.

“From the City Plan to the budget we have endeavoured to put the city first.

“We want to continue the dialogue with the Labour Party and work together, constructively, to solve our city’s problems.

“I also welcome that Councillor Bell has also expressed a desire for all of us to work together in the city’s best interests.

“As we have said publicly this week, it is clear neither party can claim a majority to lead our city alone.

“All councillors – in political parties and not – need to play our part. What’s more, politicians are not the only voices – and this is about fostering a spirit of collaboration across our city.

“I want our city to be successful – pandemic or none – and I can give a guarantee this evening that I will leave no stone unturned in the quest to do the right thing for our citizens, our environment and our city.

“We stand ready to serve the city.”

  1. Nigel Furness Reply

    Congratulations Phelim, on your elevation to to this position of immense responsibility.
    I would genuinely be delighted if you were to prove me wrong and show that, unlike all your predecessors, you have the B***S to rise to the occasion and SORT OUT CITYCLEAN ONCE AND FOR ALL!
    And, in the event that you do, you will receive my unstinting praise on this ONE issue.
    Sadly though, if you don’t, it may well prove to be the end of your Administration!

  2. Dean stringer Reply

    RIP Brighton

  3. Nathan Adler Reply

    Pleased to hear that jobs and livelihoods are being put as a priority, let’s see if that is more than just words. Madeira Drive will be the first real test will it be the anti car agenda or will it be to protect the tourist industry?

  4. Valerie Phillips Reply

    Lots of positivity. That’s what we need plus a clear green socialist strategy putting the community’s well-being at the heart of things. Phélim is the right person for this job.
    In such difficult times all Cllrs must be disciplined enough to put the general good first and their own egos aside.
    Remember the lockdown when the air was clean- no cars! and people were nice to each other! The homeless were given homes and 3 meals a day. We had a sense then of what was important- the NHS workers and all those people that kept essential services going.Social responsibility, support,family.Young people taking care for Elders. Community networks. Lets remember and reflect on the changes in values.
    Lets support.

  5. Rolivan Reply

    So who will pay for this Valerie?
    Perhaps it is time for the Council to become Developers and turn a lot of what will become vacant Commercial Property into much needed accommodation with them actually providing the 40% truly affordable homes that private developers seem to be able to do away with and the rest Social Housing,it shouldn’t be too difficult to raise the funds.It would appear they were able to find the money to go into a joint venture with Hyde so why not go it alone?

    • Nigel Furness Reply

      Well said, Rolivan, a practical solution, and I have another one.
      Over the years, innumerable councillors of different political persuasions, have bemoanedto me that we have alack of land on which to build new social housing, my response to which is that what’s lacking is NOT the land but the IMAGINATION to develop it efficiently.
      An example of this is to ban ALL surface car parking and bike storage from new developments by placing it underground; in fact, allnew supermarkets, shed warehouses and light industrial units should be dealt with similarly, thereby freeing-up the land above for housing.
      Another example could be for the Council to negotiate ‘flying freeholds” over the the innumerable surface car parks in order to build small-scale terraced houses or low-rise flats.
      I could go on and on but I think you probably get the drift.

      • Rolivan Reply

        There are lots of places housing could be built which I have commented on before.
        It might be sort of outside of the box and piecemeal but would use up lots of what will in the future not be so imperative.
        Look along Church Rd Hove for example there are lots of Roads and Avenues that are very wide both ends.These could have off site built units placed across the intersections at one end still leaving the other end for access.
        There are so many intersections across the City where much needed accommodation could be built except the Council Planners told me they would prefer larger developments and yet since then very little progress has been made.

        • Siimon Reply

          I suspect when they have finished bringing this City to its knees there will be plenty of closed down business spaces that can be turned into housing instead, just hope the students and landlords fill the gaps in taxes as I don’t want to pay more tax to get even less! I assume that the economy and currently established businesses in the town/city no longer matter and instead driving things into the ground is the agenda that is at play here, forcing anyone that wants to enjoy the British Seaside to drive/travel further afield instead – not very green! Such a shame to see the wonderful Seaside Town that I have lived in for nearly 50 years reduced to this 🙁

  6. James Verguson Reply

    Will the last business leaving Brighton and Hove kindly turn the lights out.

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