The decision not to resume last month’s abandoned full council meeting is the latest blow to local democracy in the city.
Meetings of the full council of Brighton and Hove’s 54 councillors are important occasions, both for councillors and for members of the public.
These meetings, among other important functions, set the city’s budget for the year ahead, decide levels of council tax and review key policies that affect residents of the city.
They are also an important opportunity for residents to have their say and engage with what is going on at their council – for petitions to be presented, public questions to be asked and deputations from concerned groups to be made.
And they are opportunities for the local media to apply scrutiny and report on the issues of the day in Brighton and Hove.
Last month the council scheduled its first full “in person” council meeting since the coronavirus pandemic began, to be held at Brighton Town Hall.
As argued in my previous column for Brighton and Hove News, this was already long overdue, with Brighton and Hove City Council behind many neighbouring councils who had returned to full capacity meetings months ago.
However, the planning for this long-awaited Brighton Town Hall meeting was so poor that the entire meeting had to be abandoned when a Labour councillor reported a positive covid test mid-meeting.
Councillors were sent home before the main agenda had even been started.
Now, a month later, the council has said that it will not be setting a date to resume this meeting.
This decision is a blow for residents and follows a trend we have seen from this Labour/Green council over the past two years where democracy has been chipped away at.
This also once again highlights the lack of leadership being provided by the Greens and Labour who are not doing their respective jobs on behalf of residents.
The Greens in administration should be fulfilling the role of setting council meetings.
Labour, who are supposed to be the city’s official opposition (and are being paid for this role), should be demanding they occur.
Both, however, are indifferent and have allowed this decision to go through.
It is such poor representation for residents from Labour and the Greens and once again this has left the Conservatives as the only party pushing for basic local democracy to be upheld in Brighton and Hove.
The Conservatives will continue to push for local democracy to be prioritised, full council meetings to be held and for residents to come first.
Councillor Steve Bell is the leader of the Conservative group on Brighton and Hove City Council.