Green activists vote for councillors not to support further cuts

and Mike Jones, Green councillor for Preston Park.
and Mike Jones, Green councillor for Preston Park.

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

elections.

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.