Greens and Labour defeat ‘Trump-like’ Tories’ bid to save taxpayer millions

Conservative councillors were labelled “Trump-like” when they called for a focus on “value for money”.

The comments came in response to six examples cited by the Tories as examples of how the Greens and Labour had wasted taxpayers’ millions.

Councillor Samer Bagaeen said that money saved through the proposed value for money programme could be spent on things like ridding the city of graffiti.

He said that value for money was the relationship between economy, efficiency and effectiveness which all residents had the right to expect.

The Conservative motion listed six items that were claimed as examples of waste. They were

  • the £10 million cost of “insourcing” the council’s housing repair service
  • the £1 million overspend on home to school transport
  • the £3 million overspend at the Cityclean rubbish and recycling service
  • the £800,0000 lost by closing Madeira Drive and creating the A259 cycle lane
  • the £3.3 million cost resulting from underpaying some school staff
  • the £1,200 a day charge for an interim housing chief over eight months

Councillor Bagaeen said: “Some of our residents – council tax payers – will often judge the council’s value for money performance by looking at the level of council tax and how much it has risen year on year.

“Other residents will look at housing rents, comparing rises to inflation to see if the charge is rising faster than government guidelines.

“They will also compare rises with other councils’ rent rises to see if they are similar, lower or higher.

“As a council, we can look at our spending per head of population compared to other councils and also check to see that our spending is consistent with priorities and needs.”

He said that 10 years ago the first Green administration had agreed to a similar cross-party policy called the City Deserves Transformation.

But Green councillor Leo Littman said that the housing repair service would cost £10 million whether it was insourced or outsourced.

Conservative councillor Joe Miller said that a council report had said that £10 million was the extra cost of bringing the housing repair service in-house.

Councillor Littman also accused the Tories of “extraordinarily inaccurate and downright made-up claims” just because they were unhappy about the Greens and Labour winning more votes than them in the 2019 local elections.

He said: “It is almost Trumpian in its ignoring of the most basic of facts. It is, in the words of the eternal bard, ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’”

Labour councillors Daniel Yates said that the Tories were not trying to save money but “stir up public outrage and dissatisfaction”.

He said that he was sad at their demise into “ranks of cranks” and added: “What’s more is my sadness at seeing our local Conservative group following them down that rabbit hole of half-truths – half-baked and half-dreamlike opinions that surely our city doesn’t need more of.

“This motion and its ‘so-called’ supporting statement is little more than a budget amendment swaddled in Trump-like levels of financial illiteracy.”

He accused the Conservatives of ignoring a vote by some of their own councillors for a £38 million “doughnut on a stick” on the seafront – the i360 – which many in Labour had opposed.

Councillor Yates said that bringing housing repairs in-house gave the council greater control, £3 million had been spent on improving waste collection and the new cycle lanes were funded by the government and did not reduce the amount of support for bus services and concessionary fares.

Councillor Miller said: “Lots of people pay money each month, over £150, for council services through their council tax.

“In our view, they deserve to know how every pound is spent and spent well.

“If Councillor Yates disregards the motion, he is disregarding a huge number of people’s concern for the blight that is graffiti.

“Covid has resulted in new ways of working and there are savings to be made from buildings and from more working from home – and that’s what we ask for: a programme to examine those potential savings and work-styles too.

“There have been apologies previously about some of these financial occurrences and these are requests (to explore) how those similar occurrences can be avoided again.”

Green and Labour councillors defeated the Conservative motion, along with two independents, former Labour councillors Nikkie Brennan and Kate Knight.

Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh abstained and the fourth independent, former Conservative leader Tony Janio, backed the motion along with his former colleagues.

  1. Adam the truth teller Reply

    Vote Watermelon and go bust. I feel so sorry for the people of Brighton and Hove with the demonstrably poor quality of councillors in the city. Pet hobby horses and entrenched positions are coming ahead of common sense. You only have to look at the bankrupt mess the i360 has become to understand that the people in charge have no idea. You are in danger of becoming Croydon On Sea. Next local election, vote in lots of independents and send the carpetbaggers like MacCafferty and Littman packing.

  2. Greens Out Reply

    Labour councillors Daniel Yates said that the Tories were not trying to save money but “stir up public outrage and dissatisfaction”.

    Is Councillor Yates jealous that someone is trying to steal their thunder? Greens and Labour Coalition are doing a perfectly grand job of stirring up public outrage and dissatisfaction.

    Time for adults to start running this place.

  3. Nathan Adler Reply

    The most ‘Trump like’ act is the Green/ Momentum coalition saying they will ‘weight’ the current transport consultation and not listen to the vocal minority and yet not give the non vocal ‘majority’ a clear yes or no question on any of the temporary schemes. They basically are sticking their fingers in their ears and not listening to anyone with a view different to their own, reminds me of certain ex president who refused to accept democracy.

    • N Reply

      Yes, the Trumpesque weighting of the transportation survey is very worrying. Trying to listen to those who aren’t speaking. How do you know what they are thinking? Presumably, those who don’t say anything will be “assigned” a view which matches with green’s view?

      If the consultation is weighted to the city’s population by factors (eg. age, sex, race etc) then it is open to gaming. People can input their views but give a demographic that they think will have more say.

      All in all the “weighting” will make one vote (or view) unequal to another view. So hardly democratic – and will result in claims to “steal” the consultation whatever happens. Very Trump like!

      I’m not sure why the Green/Labour alliance is trying to massage the figures anyway. The Stanmer Parking consultation had charges opposed by over 90% – but they went ahead anyway (and we will now have a park for the few who can afford to pay rather than the many!). So if the same committee can ignore more than 90% of views, then sure they will do whatever they want on this too….

  4. Valerie Reply

    My personal experience: the inhouse repair service is major improvement – like a portfolio landlord’s HONEST retainers

  5. James Reply

    Why does it take up to two years to get a garden waste recycling bin. Surely this scheme is making money for the council. We get charged extra for the service, they collect all my neighbours bins. yet I and some other neighbours have to wait up to two years for a service we pay extra for!!

  6. Daniel Harris Reply

    Most of these lobbying techniques by the tories are indeed based on lies, agreed there was a dispute initially for the housing repair service and GMB were the ones running this.

    I do agree about the interim housing officer, homeless services were not consulted. Those with lived experience have been kept away, so she is no larrisa reed. We need someone the public can scrutinise and hold to account.

    The tories are surely done in B&H.

    Time to get a new brighton party, which gives 50% of all candidate selections to brightonians!

    Reflective of our city, not just old white folks and careerists, more younger people could be good. We need resilient people who will stand up to the bad officers and work with the decent ones. Working class candidates, who stand up for the city and not the wealthy and greedy few!

    A lot of existing structures need to be broken down, BHT and some of the so called drug services need massive investigation, too in the pockets of officers and certain political parties.

    Yet if you are service user, you are just a tick box exercise to get more funding. Yet people continue to die.

  7. Hendra Reply

    Perhaps cllr Littman can tell us all about the figures for the finances for i360. He seems a tad reticent on disclosing them. Possibly the largest hole in the council’s finances.

    • Greens Out Reply

      Seeing as they spent £36,000 (equivalent of nearly 1800 band C properties council tax payments for a year) on legal fees to prevent the public seeing the business plan for the i360 then it’s highly unlikely he’ll want too disclose anything at all. Shady to say the least!

    • Hove Guy Reply

      Will 2021 be the year the council finally admits defeat, regarding the monstrosity and discusses its demolition? It has been an ongoing disaster right from the start, both visually and economically, as well as a symbol of the most incompetent councils in the history of Brighton and Hove. Time to call it a day and sell it for scrap.

  8. Ren Reply

    For me, there’s not much in it between the council and Mears, who had the housing repairs contract. And as for Trump-like claims, no party has the monopoly on them. Perhaps a more measured approach all round and a touch of humility wouldn’t go amiss.

  9. Becs Reply

    These Conservative claims are patently absurd, and what’s more, because of Conservative austerity policies, between 2012 and 2020 local councils have lost 60p in every £1 that could have been spent on local services.

    Nobody wants a rise in council tax for the sake of it, but given the years of Conservative cuts, the fact that children’s services, adult social care, and other vital services have been protected is down to the Greens and I’m happy to see that Labour are supporting them. It sure isn’t down to the Tories.

    I recognise that I am privileged when I say I can afford to pay a bit more council tax. If the extra I pay goes towards keeping a service for victims of domestic abuse, then I consider that value for money.

  10. Rob Heale Reply

    Both the Tories and the Greens voted to spend £40MILLION of PUBLIC MONEY on the i360. That structure is now making HUGE LOSSES!

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