OPINION

Cancelled council meeting latest blow to local democracy

Posted On 28 Nov 2021 at 2:29 am

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.

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    The other Committees, including Policy and Resources, are the places in which decisions are made.

    The memorable Full Council is the one at which plans for a directly-elected Mayor were thrown out, and this allowed us to being back the Committee system.

  2. Ken Norman (retired Councillor, please withhold my name) Reply

    This is what I have been saying since the last elections when these anti democratic people got into power!
    It is bringing Brighton and Hove into a very difficult situation that looks seriously like a mini dictatorship that doesn’t care about it citizens at all!
    This cannot go on so we should be looking towards residents realising what a disastrous mistake it was to vite these people into power in our once great City!

    • Donna Lee Reply

      Ex Tory councillor upset that Greens are in power shocker. Maybe post it under a fake name next time?

  3. Martha Gunn Reply

    I’m not sure ‘in-person’ full council meetings are the main issue here.
    Far more dangerous are the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of the Green Party exemplified in the likes of Cllrs Heley, Clare and MacCafferty.
    On the other hand the Labour Group is still infested by a rump of Corbyn cranks who would need to be expelled before it is fit for office.
    Meanwhile demographic and electoral realities mean the Conservatives have little chance of ever running the city again.
    On balance a purged and reformed Labour Party looks like the best least worst option for the future.

  4. David Haskell Reply

    And what was your view when Boris illegally prorogued parliament? Or the current government’s attempts to curtail protests. Totally hypocritical. A Tory’s opinion on democracy is worth exactly zero.

  5. ChrisC Reply

    You make it sound like the full council will never sit again!

    Absolute nonsense.

    In case Cllr Bell hasn’t got it it in his diary already it’s Thursday 16th December 2021 at 4.30 pm..

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      Who is to say that this December meeting will ever happen? The unfinished business from the last abandoned meeting is still unfinished and presumably also abandoned (how interesting that a Labour councillor popped up with a positive Covid test at half-time and the whole thing was called off as a result – was it not possible that any contacts at the council meeting could have got tested themselves and reconvened the meeting somehow at a later date, before 16 December??)

      Let’s see if the next meeting now gets called off because of ‘fear of Omicron’. Would not be at all surprised.

      We, the taxpayers, residents and voters, are not being served or considered in any respect by this shower.

  6. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    And of course will there be a full-throated appearance by cllr Janio?

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      Only on the subject of hedgehogs.

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