In a press release this week, several senior local Conservative councillors including their leader took aim at a business over business rates. That business was a burger van parked outside the town hall.
The fact that they could see it through the window perhaps demonstrates how limited their horizons are, how parochial their politics have become, and how little vision they have for running our city.
Meanwhile there has been no word from our Conservative councillors on the crippling business rate increases imposed on hundreds of local shops, restaurants and guest houses in Brighton and Hove by the Conservative government. There has been no complaint from the Conservative leader over the government’s announcement it won’t be investing in much needed rail infrastructure between Brighton and London, or the harm both of these measures will do to our local economy.
Where is the outrage at the fact that the government are putting £60 billion aside for “unforeseen consequences” of Brexit, whilst the NHS struggles to cope without the £350 million a week that was promised on the side of a bus?
Where is the outrage at housing benefit being quietly withdrawn for 18-21 year olds, something Andy Winter of Brighton Housing Trust said could see young people “return to unsafe family situations, turn to crime and prostitution, and end up sleeping rough.”
Where is the outrage from local Tory councillors at the news in the budget that the Conservative government is pumping hundreds of millions into free schools and new grammars, whilst local authority schools face massive cuts to their funding? Or outrage at the massive drop in government funding for local council services: down from £8.2bn in 2016-17 to £6.5bn in 2017-18? That’s more than 20 per cent in one year. Where is the outrage at the utter failure of the Tory Chancellor to properly address the huge crisis in social care in his budget, instead heaping blame on councils and costs onto the local taxpayer? What about the budget tax increases imposed by the Conservatives on the 15-20 per cent of Brighton and Hove residents who are self-employed? Anything?
If there is one thing that local Conservative councillors should be speaking up about, like their local government colleagues around the country, it is the need for more funding for local council services in Brighton and Hove. No, of course not. Look at that burger van though, isn’t it terrible?
Cllr Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.