Once again the Conservative Government is talking the talk, but not walking the walk on the environment with a 25-year environment ‘plan’ that won’t commit the country to any action until 2030.
At the same time as feigning concern for our green spaces, new Government proposals mean it will soon be as easy to frack as it is to put up a shed in your garden. Saying provisions will be in place by 2030 consigns the health of our children to the dustbin of history. But our environment can’t be a ‘bolt on’; it must be central to everything we do.
We need a plan for the next 25 months and the next 25 years. And not just for our environment, but for our young people, who are set to be worse off than generations before them. Our older people too are facing a crisis in adult social care. Our NHS, police, fire service and council are on life support.
Elected Green representatives in Brussels, Westminster and on the city council have been preparing for the future. Here in Brighton and Hove Greens have been bold where the local Labour Council has failed. We have taken serious action on homelessness, campaigning for the first new homeless shelter for the city. Our work doubled the money available to buy back council homes – necessary when the waiting list for social housing is upwards of 17,000 people. We’ve been pushing for Housing First, an approach proven to help recurrently homeless people with a stable home; and calling for emergency accommodation to be run by the council, not private profiteers.
Greens refuse to stand by as the NHS is quietly privatised. With campaigners we have warned that buried within the ‘integration’ agenda lies huge cuts to our beloved NHS. We have been actively campaigning to halt these devastating plans – while Labour refuses. We won’t stay quiet as GP numbers dwindle to just one for every 2,500 residents.
Our city is also in the grip of rising air pollution. We need transport without pollution, serious investment in cycling improvements and affirmative action on clean air. More too must be done to reduce waste. We continue to demand that the Labour Council renegotiates a flawed recycling contract that means residents cannot recycle most plastics.
Greens provide day to day scrutiny of council decisions. We’re also asserting week in-week out that we have the compassion, vision and concrete proposals for a fairer, greener city too. Greens on the council blocked the sale of Hove Library and our precious Downland. We have rallied against cuts to our vital community organisations – The Whitehawk Inn, The Bridge, Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, Possability People and Fabrica. As austerity continues to punish the most marginalised, Greens continue to oppose cuts; while local Labour and Conservatives worked together to vote through a cuts budget.
Greens want a different future where the environment and our communities come first. We will continue to speak out against Brexit, reject plans to sell off our public services and push for affordable housing. Green councillors are working for a thriving Brighton and Hove with a strong voice for local people. Our city deserves nothing less.
Phelim Mac Cafferty is the convenor of Brighton & Hove City Council.