Green Party members have voted not to support any further cuts in council services.
A general meeting of the party’s grassroot members support a motion that stated: “To propose this rise in council tax in conjunction with a cuts budget would fatally undermine the Green Party’s anti-austerity stance locally and nationally. It is the worst of all worlds.”
The “no cuts” motion - proposed by John Medhurst, a respected author and trade unionist – had 17 seconders, including four councillors and a parliamentary candidate: Ruth Buckley, Green councillor for Goldsmid and deputy leader of the city council; Alex Phillips, Green councillor for Goldsmid; Davy Jones, Green parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown; Liz Wakefield, Green councillor for Hanover and Elm Grove; and Mike Jones, Green councillor for Preston Park.
Leading figures in the party, however, pointed out another general meeting was scheduled before the crucial budget council meeting next month.
In a further effort to downplay the significance of the vote, they also pointed out three of the four councillors who seconded the motion are standing down on May 7; only Alex Phillips is seeking a new term of office.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Pavilion, abstained in the votes and spoke only to ask a question.
Green activists have been buoyed by news that membership has hit a record – with 1,500 members in the city, increasing at the rate of up to 50 a day since the start of 2015. The “Green surge” - which party insiders say comes from across the city and from all sectors of society, not just students - means the party is likely to be the city’s biggest party in terms of membership by the time of the city council
Labour - which has struggled to achieve a similar surge - is thought to have about 1,600 members.
The meeting also voted to ask Councillor Jason Kitcat to stand down as leader of the minority Green administration – or “Convenor” of the Green Group – in the run-up to the city council elections on May 7.
In theory, the Green Party’s “no cuts” vote has to be followed by the party’s 20 councillors; in practice, the Green Group is not “whipped” - and so individuals can decide how to vote on any issue.