Grassroots members of the Green Party have said no to any further cuts.
The general meeting of Brighton and Hove Green Party - the sovereign body that frames Green Party policy locally - passed this substantive motion at a meeting attended by 55 members - the required 5% of the local membership - at the Brighthelm Centre on Saturday (January 17):
This General Meeting notes the Motion (see below), passed unanimously (with one abstention) at the December 2015 General Meeting, that the Brighton and Hove Green Party supports the production of a Budget for 2015-16 that will protect local services and employment, not cut them.
The cuts to local services required to "balance the budget" for 2015-16 are the direct result of massive and unprecedented cuts by central government to the local government support grant, cuts which could mean a further cut to the Brighton and Hove budget of over £100 million by 2020. This will effectively destroy local services as we know them.
The cuts required to balance the budget for 2015-16 alone would require a restoration of more than £20 million of government grant or a Council Tax rise of over £20%. The proposed 5.9% Council Tax increase is therefore not viable as a means to fight the cuts or defend the vulnerable. It is a regressive tax on the poorest, and it would hardly dent the massive cuts still required.
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.
We are now seeing a "Green surge" and rising membership especially amongst younger voters, the primary reason for which is our inspiring anti-austerity message. If the only example in the UK of the Green Party in office were to implement a large cuts budget just before the 2015 General Election that would disillusion and alienate many of those new supporters. It is likely it would severely damage not only the local party but the national party's prospects in the election.
The Brighton and Hove Green Party will not support any Brighton and Hove Council Budget for 2015- 16 that makes further cuts to local services. We support a no cuts budget identifying how much government grant now needs to be returned to Brighton and Hove to avoid horrendous damage to local services. It is therefore the policy of Brighton and Hove Green party that any budget that makes further cuts to local services should not be voted for by the Green Group of Councillors, nor abstained upon to allow it to pass.
The Brighton and Hove Green Party advocates a strategy of complete resistance to implementing further cuts to local services, including:
A massive communications campaign to a) explain why the Green Party is adopting this policy, the devastating effect of the level of cuts suggested for 2015-16 and the years beyond, and c) that Labour and the Conservatives will deliver those cuts because they have no policy or strategy to resist them.
Refusal to assist any officials sent by DCLG to enforce a cuts budget upon Brighton and Hove, and wide publicity to explain this refusal.
Working with the Brighton and Hove People's Assembly, local campaign groups and trade unions to publicise and implement this strategy and to create a focus of resistance to cuts and the austerity agenda.
Proposed: John Medhurst
Seconded: Davy Jones [Green parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown], Ruth Buckley [Green councillor for Goldsmid and deputy leader of the city council], Alex Phillips [Green councillor for Goldsmid], Liz Wakefield [Green councillor for Hanover and Elm Grove], Mike Jones [Green councillor for Preston Park], Alison Plaumer, Trey Blake, Dawn Thorpe, David Walker, Steve Peake, Penny Porter, Paul Philo, Valerie Phillips, Richard Stanton, Carlie Goldsmith, Tom Coady, Diane Montgomery
Motion agreed at the Green Party general meeting December 17 2015:
This meeting calls on the Party to plan for a 2015/16 budget that will protect services and employment, not cut them. We agree to explore all possible ways of securing the restoration of sufficient government grant to fund such a budget.
As a key step towards this goal, we agree to mount a city-wide campaign involving Brighton and Hove People's Assembly, local campaign groups, trade unions and as many other organisations as we can to raise awareness of the situation faced by the council and send a clear message to Government that services and people in Brighton and Hove have suffered enough and cannot take any more cuts.
This campaign will engage with the public and raise awareness through various different channels, for example local media, stalls, canvassing, ward-level public meetings, street theatre, benefit gig, leaflets, window posters, a campaign website, social media, ward newsletters and Greenleaf.
The campaign will run an online poll asking people whether they support the Government's program and will use results from this poll to demonstrate popular resistance to the austerity agenda.
Proposed by Richard Stanton; seconded by Ruth Buckley