It’s a pay rise for the Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council as the new administration shares the wealth among its members.
After Labour’s shameful collapse last week, the Greens have seized control of the council’s executive administration and set about making bold changes – but at what cost to the city?
In it’s first act, forming a new administration, the Greens have smashed precedent by appointing joint chairs and joint leads to speak on the council’s decision-making committees.
The immediate result is a Green group pay rise with 18 of the party’s 19 councillors seeing an increase in their council salaries.
The long-term impact could be serious, with democratic, financial and environmental implications for the city – and the Conservative group is concerned that the Greens’ move has dismantled executive accountability and may also be unconstitutional.
In a letter to the chief executive Geoff Raw today the Conservatives have asked for answers to the following points.
Can you advise
1. Whether the proposal for joint chairs and leads is consistent with the city’s constitution.
2. The impact on the principle of executive accountability, including whether a collective responsibility would exist for decisions made and by extension if one co-chair has to resign, then the other automatically would as well, unless for personal reasons.
3. The financial implications for the council of the proposal.
4. The impact on council officers including whether there will be an increased workload with additional briefings required and whether the council will need to increase its number of staff to cope with this.
5. The impact on democracy, including
a. How the chair’s casting vote will be exercised.
b. How voting at an “urgency committee” will work.
c. Whether the Greens have additional seats on committees.
6. The impact on the city’s carbon footprint, including
a. Increase in courier transport requirements for committee and full council papers during the “virtual” council.
b. Increase in printing costs.
7. The protocol for correspondence – who councillors and members of the public should contact in the first instance. If one of the joint chairs is informed of a matter do they then bear responsibility for briefing their co-chair.
8. The protocol for full council – who oral and written questions should be directed to.
Brighton and Hove city residents will remember the performance of the last Green council.
The Greens’ cavalier approach back then had serious consequences including
- Wrecking the city’s finances; abandoning the value for money programme
- Presiding over a series of strikes that left rubbish piling up and made international headlines
- Trying to foist “meat-free” Mondays on workers at the Cityclean depot, angering the city’s waste collectors
- Abandoning “estate regeneration” which cost the city 800 council homes
The first act of this new Green administration doesn’t bode well and suggests that the Greens have not learned the lessons of their past mistakes.
The management of our city and taxpayers’ money is at stake.
With Labour in disarray, the Conservative group will ensure that scrutiny is applied from the outset of this new administration.
Councillor Steve Bell is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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