Labour is to press on with council cuts

Warren Morgan is leader of Brighton and Hove City Council
Warren Morgan is leader of Brighton and Hove City Council

Leading figures in the council’s Labour Group said they would “stand firm”.

Leading figures in the council’s Labour Group said they would “stand firm” on their commitment to residents ahead of Thursday’s Full Council meeting.

Councillor Tom Bewick

Councillor Tom Bewick

This comes hot-on-the-heels of the release of Labour’s draft budget for the city council - which sees £68 million cuts to council services by 2020.

Cllr Warren Morgan, leader of the council, said: “At Full Council, the Labour administration will continue to push forward on the commitments it made to residents; to modernise the council so that basic and essential services represent value for money and work for all residents, to grow the local economy and ensure the city has the resources and infrastructure to face the future, and to promote equality across the city whilst we face unprecedented Tory cuts to local council funding.

"We have been clear that we will not go down the head-in-the-sand, grandstanding route of the Greens, whose piecemeal and ill-thought through approach left us as a city ill-prepared for the challenges we face.”

The Green Group on the council called the cuts “unfair” and “highly damaging” to the city.

Protesters from union groups lobbied the council meeting at Brighton Town Hall, to oppose the cuts to services set out in the draft budget - which could see 540 jobs lost in four years.

Cllr Tom Bewick, lead member for children’s services, said he would respond to a 9,000-strong petition about the proposed reorganisation of learning support services, “making clear that the plans are still being consulted on but aim to provide a better and more balanced service for children and young people in the city”.

Cllr Les Hamilton, deputy leader and finance lead, talked about the Council Tax Reduction scheme for 2016/7 - which saw opposition from a group of campaigners. He said millions is being taken out of the funding for this scheme by the government, “who clearly expect councils to pass this cost onto low income families”.

This means people on the Council Tax Reduction scheme will pay 20% of their council tax bill, up from 15%.

Cllr Hamilton said: “Labour won approval for its decision to spend an additional £1.5 million next year directly to offset these Conservative cuts - cuts which campaigners rightly see as unfair, but which only represent one aspect of the £144 million funding reduction which the Conservative government have imposed on the city between 2010 and 2020. ”

The Labour Group also raised the issue of the increasing unaffordability of housing locally at the meeting, noting how the Conservative Housing and Planning Bill would make the housing situation worse for many residents. Cllr

Tracey Hill, lead member for private rented sector, said: “Labour is determined to deliver affordable housing in the city, build council homes, improve conditions for private sector tenants, as well as combat homelessness.”