OPINION

It’s a pay rise all round for the new Green administration

Posted On 31 Jul 2020 at 10:49 pm

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.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Cllr Bell’s idea of “wealth” is curious. A diligent Councillor – and all the more so when in Administration – works longer hours than denoted by the part-time pay, which is decided by an outside body and voted upon by all Parties.

    As for the Greens imposing a Meat-Free Monday, that is not true. This was done by the Head of Service, Gillian Marston.

    Further to Cityclean, the Greens did not bring about that strike. The Greens prevented the whole place from being bankrupted (like Birmingham). Briefly, previous Administrations, in particular the Conservatives, had capitulated to the GMB’s illegal demands so that a strike was averted. Put briefly, Cityclean staff were paid for not working 2.5 hours per week. This was, of course, against all of the nationwide Equalities measures in 2013: if allowed to continue, it meant that everybody on the Council could claim that rate of back pay for four years. An impossible sum to meet. Gallingly, the Council lawyers said that this could not be publicised lest it upset the GMB (the poor loves) – something that should have been ignored. I explained this time and again to residents, who appreciated what we were up against.

    That is an extreme case of the surprising things a councillor can come up against. It is certainly an experience – and far from the doddle that cllr Bell depicts.

  2. Nathan Adler Reply

    We all know how the last Green Administration went – and that was reflected in that years election. The Greens rebuilt in 2019 to have an excellent result BUT the city id watching now. Will it be political dogma of practicality will they look to build and protect the city economy in the impending recession or just plough on with the 2030 neutral carbon idea regardless. If they get this wrong the electorate will be very unforgiving in 3 years and they may never recover.

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      Neutral carbon can create meaningful work, here and across the country/planet. Whether it be inventing devices, installing them, publicising them. Work to a common purpose has to be at the core of an economy.

      Meanwhile I like your Freudian notion of the “city id”. Brighton was always famed for this – at weekends.

      • Nigel Furness Reply

        Well I DON’T like your Freudian slip Christoper!
        “Economies must work to a common purpose,” you say. So NOW we know what lies behind the real ‘GREEN’ AGENDA–none other than that shadowy and despised organisation beloved of Tony B LIAR and funded by one GEORGE SOROS and his multi-billionaire, multi-national corporate chums, whose avowed aim is to sweep away nation states and turn the entire world into an enlarged version of that evil empire otherwise known as (what remains of) THE EUROPEAN UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS (EUSSR).
        None other ,of course than COMMON PURPOSE!
        I’m indebted to you, Christopher, for publicly confirming what I’ve known from the outset and I’m just wondering if you are further able to assist with my ongoing enquiries via any more vital snippets of information– DISCRETION ASSURED– of course!

  3. Jan Young Reply

    As elected Cabinets member for Finance in the Conservative Administration I must refute Christopher Hawtrees comment on the city nearing bankruptcy under the Conservatives.
    I found 40 million pounds savings just in wastage and the Value got Money program was at a saving of 75 million when the Greens took over the Administration.
    With regards to his comments that meat free Monday was bought in by an officer, he must surely know that only elected Councillors make decisions which are then implemented by officers unless of course he is saying what we all thought that the officers were running the City!!
    The Conservatives left the City in a very strong financial situation it’s a pity that both Labour and Greens forgot that they are dealing with residents money for the benefit of the residents.

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      Had the unworked-but-paid-hours set-up with the GMB continued, everybody employed by the Council would have been able to claim – at their hourly rate – 2.5 hours x 52 x 4. A lot of smackers.

      That is what we were up against. Similar to Birmingham, which had to flog off its exhibition centre when a legal case was brought – by a careworker, I think – for such back pay as a result of Equalities (which had been far too slow to evolve the previous decade).

      It sticks in the craw that the lawyers said we could not publicise the terrible situation. I did some tweets and the GMB did not like it.

      No, it was somebody at the Cityclean kitchen who brought in Meat-Free Monday off her own bat, and the Greens had to carry the can for that.

      As for the officer/councillor set-up, one thinks of cllr Robins who time and again could not answer Hove Library questions, and even wrote to the Argus to say that he was doing what he was told by officers. He never troubled to learn about the subject. As we know, the Greens and Conservatives collaborated well to overturn cllr Robins’s terrible, ignorant plot.

      Meanwhile, whatever you say about the Council finances in 2011, these were followed by year after year of reductions in the Settlement from the Government.

      Something that has always puzzled me is that if the Government was insistent such cuts were necessary, why didn’t it do so in one go? Perhaps that would have made it all too evident to people that the fabric of society was being undercut beyond hope of repair.

      • NIGEL FURNESS Reply

        HERE YOU GO AGAIN CHRISTOPHER!
        Without so much as a hint of irony you lay into poor Councillor Alan Robins,who you know perfectly well is in no position to respond because he currently occupies the office of Mayor, for: “OBEYING OFFICERS’ ORDERS” when answering your interminable questions on Hove Library.
        In the next breath, you’re crying over spilt milk because YOU and your fellow ‘Green’ Councillors did EXACTLY the same thing over the CITYCLEAN scandal by following LAWYERS ORDERS!
        The truth is, Christopher, that this is nothing more and nothing less than a thinly-veiled attempt on your part to rewrite the history of the last, disastrous. ‘GREEN ADMINISTRATION!’–but surely even you must realise by now that the electors woul have to be very ‘Green’ indeed to swallow any such nonsense!
        Either that or you’re some sort of a FANTASIST.
        Take my advice and QUIT WHILE YOU’RE LOSING!

    • Nigel Furness Reply

      Oh, very well said, Jan.
      When Christopher talks about councillors getting the equivelant of part time pay for full time work, that would apply only to very few, in my humble opinion. It certainly didn’t apply to him for where he was concerned he was in receipt of part time pay for considerably less than PART TIME WORK!
      Ask anyone in Central Hove Ward, formerly represented by yourself, how the infrastructure and maintenance of that area spiralled into near-terminal decline during his term in office representing it in the Council Chambers; i’m afraid that many of the replys you received may well offend public deceny!
      When challenged by residents on many occasions at the Local Action Team Meetings, his general response was to loudly shriek: “I DON’T HAVE TO LISTEEN TO THIS!”–before flouncing out. It was hilarious on one such occasion to hear him declare: “I CAME HERE OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF MY HEART!”–only to be rebuked by a prominent lady activist with the words: “OH GET OUT OF IT CHRIS, WE PAY YOU FOR THIS–AND BY ALL ACCOUNTS! WELL ABOVE THE ODDS!
      Little wonder then, that with the situation having reached such a pretty pass, hi beloved Greens deselected him from standing there in the 2015 Municipal Elections.
      I never officially discovered their reasoning but, according to more than afew of his erstwhile colleagues, he was considered to be: “Too much of a liabilty.”
      I apologise if what I’ve sdid here appears to be a little unkind, but it does lend credence to your excellent “VALUE FOR MONEY” campaign, Jan and also emphasises the point that history respects ACTIONS above WORDS.
      As one of our greatest writers might say: “ME THINK HE DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH!”

  4. Rolivan Reply

    If what you are saying is true then why did you let the Seafront get into such a state.
    When I returned to Brighton in 1995 after living abroad for more than 20 years I was appalled to see how the Infrastructure of the City had been allowed to decay,and still over 25 years later very little has been done.
    The West Pier,The Madeira Terraces,Black Rock,The Wonderful Preston Park Flower Beds,
    Why was there no foresight into making The Universities build Accommodation for students without infringing on much needed Family homes?
    Now it would seem that what was once a place for Tourists to marvel at has now been pushed aside for over 40,000 students.
    I was a Conservative voter for over 40 years but enough is enough.I became a Green Party Member but they have proved to be anything but Green.
    It is time for radical change and I hope that we can get more people like Bridget Fishleigh to enter the fray and sort the mess out.We need more ‘Saltdean Lido Projects’to get the City back to a place residents can be proud of.
    Oh and before I finish without Tony Bloom who has put the Albion on the world football map things would be even worse.

    • Nigel Furness Reply

      And I’m NOT AFRAID Christopher to say that YOU are clearly not in possession of any MIRRORS!
      So let’s seperate the FACTS from the FICTION, shall we?
      If you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.

      FACT: You WERE deselected in CENTRAL HOVE WARD in 2015 by the ‘GREEN’ PARTY after I publicly asked Simon Bannister, the Council Officer who chaired the Local Action Team Meetings, if I could place an item under Any Other Business at the end. When pressed by him to indicate what I had in mind, I said: “It has come to my attention that an elected member of the Council, sitting not a million miles away from me, has been taking my name in vain on Social Media. Seeing as their accusations are considered by the Legal Department of the Party which I seek to represent at the forthcoming Local Elections to be LIBELLOUS, we are considering our options and, needless to say, a complaint WILL be lodged with the City Council’s STANDARDS BOARD.” As you know, Christopher, (or perhaps you don’t–didn’t they tell you?) I was ‘unoficially’ approached by a certain number of your local ‘Green’ Party colleagues who pleaded with me to drop the case so long as they: “Eased you out of the frame, so to speak!” Well, seeing as there is not a vindictive bone in my body, I was agreeable to their proposals.
      I must confess my shock that you appear unable to summon any recollection of the events at that meeting, it was the one held, perhaps rather appropriately given the circumstances, at that school for the DRAMATIC Arts–you know the one–it was located on the South-Western corner of Church Road where it meets Vallance Road in Hove,on the third floor above the shop.
      I’m all the more surprised, seeing as you were seated RIGHT NEXT TO ME!

      NOW FOR THE FICTION! ARE YOU READY?

      If you and your ‘Green’ Party partners in crime, as it were, are happy to go along with your pretence then, out of the “Goodness of my heart,” I amprepared to draw a line under the issue because, in the end, it was all academic anyway–the ‘Greens’ were reduced to a rump at the Election and your former Central Hove seat fell to Labour but Christopher please, don’t go thinking that YOU would have retained it or you might just get ME thinking that a pig flew past my window as I write!
      Then again, my eyes are no longer what they once were…
      As for the simultaneous General Election, even if your outrageous assertion that you: “Thought it would be feeble to fight both elections together,” WERE to be true, and I notice that you had to drag the Awful Tory Candidate, Graham Cox into the picture by way of example because he had stood down in his Westbourne Ward seat, you’ve only succeeded in hoisting yourself on your own pettard.
      NO, CHRISTOPHER, the real truth of the matter is that you loved the lolly too much and you wanted to get your grubby paws on even more of it–an MP’s wage would have done nicely, would it not?
      It’s equally true that you were both so power-mad that you simply couldn’t conceive the possibility of losing!
      Seeing as I’m possessed of some generousity of spirit, i’m prepared to confess that, on the back of so much hard work put into the Election Campaign by yourself, you did very well to come third in Hove but, if your track record of Constituency work in CENTRAL HOVE is anything to go by, my beloved Town had a narrow escape when it comes to matters PARLIAMENTARY!
      In conclusion Christopher, no one doubts your capabilities whenit comes to campaigning, and once winning, but the REAL, long-term and CONSISTENT Constituency work is what finds you lacking and, like it or lump it, that is supposed to be what the electorate are asked to pay for–NOT EGOTISTS AND PURVEYORS OF FAKE NEWS.
      I very much look forward to your early response.

  5. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    I am afraid that Mr. Furness is a liar. I was not “deselected” by the Green Party. I was urged to stand again in Central Hove in 2015 but I thought that would look feeble as I was MP candidate the same day – and came third, ahead of ukip. Similarly, the good-natured Graham Cox did not stand again as councillor as he was an MP candidate.

    As for Central Hove action team meetings, what I recall is Mr. Furness coming along to mutter, interrupt and chant throughout them (and I course I never “flounced out”). The situation became so bad that cllrs Wealls and Moonam stopped holding these meetings.

    It is also worth remembering that when Mr. Furness stood as a candidate in Central Hove last year he came last (asnd last but one the time before). Evidently he was not regarded by residents as a saviour for this unspecified “near-terminal decline”.

  6. John Robb Reply

    Unfortunately by feathering their own nests, they are going to be going to be finding the money from redundancies. There is no magic money tree for councillors salaries.

  7. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    In his latest middle-of-the night ramble Mr. Furness again appears confused.

    The Green Party does not “de-select” people, let alone “ease them aside” (whatever that means). Candidates are asked to put themselves forward, and are then chosen by the Party. Almost up to the day in 2015, cllr Shanks – as co-ordinator of the local election – urged me to stand as candidate again in Central Hove. I maintained that one campaign is hard work; two impossible, and, in any case, to do so simultaneously makes one not appear serious about either one. I was also urged by her to stand in Central Hove last year, but I thought Westbourne could be won (and can yet be, as Labour’s tired line of “vote Green, get Conservative” was shown up as bogus).

    Mr. Furness has a fixation upon “lolly”. Nobody gets rich by being elected into local government. As for his allegations about my standing as MP candidate, I had said during that long campaign that I would give some of the wages to local charities (not that an MP’s wages are riches).

    I certainly recall the meeting to which Mr. Furness refers. He continually interrupted and shouted while Rachael Chessaud gave a presentation about the pan-Sussex subject of Travellers. As for his lumbering account of making a complaint to Standards, that would have duly run up against the fact that I had indeed tweeted about his behaviour at a previous meeting, above a pub – he insulted a policeman who had been invited to speak, as residents could testify. I could have added that he also muttered and chanted in the audience throughout an otherwise interesting meeting of the MP candidates in All Saints’ church. God must have been tempted to press the button to launch a thunderbolt.

    Typical of Mr. Furness’s middle-of-the-night, capitals-laden ramble is that he calls a good man, Graham Cox “awful”.

  8. Mister T Reply

    Nigel, as a neutral observer you’re coming across here as very boorish and untrustworthy. Certainly not a good look.

    That said, I’ve got my popcorn ready so do carry on.

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