At the recent meeting of the full council, the Labour group of councillors pushed for action on a range of issues including improving basic council services.
They also called for tax justice, better public toilets and proper licensing of Airbnbs and short-term holiday lets.
As part of Labour’s campaign for gender equality, we also brought forward a motion calling for the council to adopt a cross-cutting gender equality strategy.
This would be developed in consultation with women’s organisations across the city and designed to target gender inequalities in health, safety, education, the economy and more.
In the public engagement section of the meeting, local resident Bella Sankey brought an excellent deputation highlighting gender inequalities in the city.
However, the response from the Green administration to Bella’s deputation was deeply disappointing.
When presented with data that showed over a third of women missed their smear tests last year, and Brighton and Hove ranking below the national average for cervical screenings year after year, the Greens on multiple occasions in the meeting chose to downplay the scale of the problem and question the accuracy of the Healthwatch statistics.
Since then, NHS Digital data has been published which reinforces the point we were making, and ranks Brighton and Hove among the lowest cities in the country for cervical screenings.
Cervical cancer kills hundreds of women a year, so I’d urge the Green administration to stop burying its head in the sand and take this issue seriously.
Furthermore, in the Greens’ response to Bella’s powerful deputation, they said outright that they would not support or adopt a gender equality strategy.
Apparently, the left hand hadn’t spoken to right hand, because when our motion calling for a gender equality strategy was heard later in the meeting, the Greens u-turned and lent us their support.
The Tories, meanwhile, showed no interest in gender equality and chose not to back our motion.
The gender equality gap is just not closing. In some cases, it’s widening.
Only by developing a systematic and comprehensive strategy, with all key partners, across all sectors (voluntary, public and private) can we hope to see some of these persistent and deeply embedded issues start to re-balance.
The hard work starts now – and we hope the administration will work with us and partners across the city to develop a robust gender equality strategy that will address inequalities in health, safety, education and the economy.
Councillor John Allcock is the joint leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.