Conservatives announce three 'champions' to scrutinise Labour

Cllr Andrew Wealls, Cllr Nick Lewry and Cllr Mary Mears
Cllr Andrew Wealls, Cllr Nick Lewry and Cllr Mary Mears

The new leader of the Conservatives in Brighton and Hove has announced three new 'champion' roles to hold the Labour Administration to account.

The Conservatives are the official opposition to Labour on Brighton and Hove City Council, with 20 councillors to Labour's 22. The Green Party has 11 councillors, and there is one independent.

The three champion roles are for business, cycling and the community/voluntary sector.

Cllr Tony Janio, who was appointed the new leader of the Conservatives in May, said: "We have decided to create these new roles because we feel that they are very important policy areas which are not being given due attention by the Labour Administration."

Cllr Mary Mears was appointed the new business champion.

She said: "I am delighted to be taking on this new role for the Conservative group. As a former leader of the council and a former local trader myself I know the vital importance of businesses to the city – they are the lifeblood of our economy and employ thousands of local residents.

"The Conservatives are the only political group that really understand their needs and I will do my best to help them in any way I can in my new role.”

Cllr Nick Lewry will take on the role of cycling champion. He said: "Brighton and Hove is already very much a cycling city but we believe that much more can be done to make cycling both easier and safer for residents and visitors.

"We are very proud to have been the party which began the process of introducing Boris Bikes to Brighton and Hove, but much more still needs to be done to break down the barriers between cyclists and motorists which unnecessarily polarise the transport debate in the city. Increasing the number of people cycling is good from every perspective.

"Not only does it help reduce the number of car journeys in the city and hence, traffic congestion and air pollution, it is also hugely beneficial to the individuals in terms of their physical and mental health."

The new community and voluntary sector champion Cllr Andrew Wealls said: "As Conservatives we believe strongly in the power of the community and voluntary sector to transform people’s lives for the better. Over the years we have provided strong and vocal support for the sector both through the budget process and in our everyday work as councillors. I am delighted to be taking up this new role and look forward to putting the case for a strengthened role for the sector in the council and the city as a whole."

In response to the appointments, a Labour spokesperson said: “When last in power the Conservatives tried to rip out a brand new cycle lane in Hove. They only recently tried to abolish the committee Labour set up to work with the community and voluntary sector, and for them to say Labour doesn’t work with local businesses is frankly desperate when the evidence shows otherwise.

"It seems that in the wake of an election where Labour got over 50 per cent of the votes in the city and their candidates were humiliated, the Conservatives are flailing around trying to appear useful.”