This week has been an unedifying fiasco for all in politics: a government in chaos, the official opposition sitting on the fence. With less than months until the proposed ‘exit’ date from the European Union we are no clearer about what it will mean for our city, residents or the country. It’s those of us left at the sharp end of government decisions – or indecisions – at council level who will, as ever, pay the price.
One of the reasons Greens campaigned to stay in the European Union was our concern that Brexit would hit the poorest hardest. Our concern is sadly justified: the Governor of the Bank of England has said that households are already more than £900 worse off because of Brexit.
The Local Government Association calculates that local communities face an £8.4 billion funding gap from the point the UK exits the EU.
Councils around the country are already beginning to fail due to cuts from the Conservative Government – just this week we learned Somerset Council is likely to join Northamptonshire County Council in going bankrupt.
Councils need a further £8bn by 2025 just to stand still, never mind pay for the rising cost of adult social care.
We cannot withstand a Brexit double whammy too.
Green councillors have repeatedly raised concerns about the impact of Brexit on local councils.
With such Brexit uncertainty, who can plan for the future of local services, never mind make wise business decisions?
It is time to drag Brexit back to the drawing board, so that councils like ours and the people we serve have our say and stand a chance in the future.
Thanks to a Green proposal Brighton and Hove City Council became the first to back a ‘people’s vote’.
The times are uncertain but we must be focused and vocal, as our city stands to be so dramatically affected.
Join Green MEP Keith Taylor at a public meeting on ‘Brexit – what it means for Brighton and Hove’ next Wednesday, July 18, from 7:30pm at the Brighthelm Centre. All welcome.
Phelim Mac Cafferty is the Convenor of the Green Group on Brighton & Hove City Council