Labour and Greens in 'progressive alliance' to approve Brighton and Hove City Council budget

After a six-hour meeting, the Labour administration was supported by the Greens to pass its budget for 2019/20 at Hove Town Hall this evening (February 28)

Thursday, 28th February 2019, 10:05 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 7:20 am
Councillors at the budget meeting in Hove Town Hall

This means in April council tax will rise by 2.99 per cent and there will be £14.8 million in savings at the local authority.

Moving the vote for the Labour budget with Green amendments, Labour council leader Daniel Yates said: "Everything can be improved, and I consider these six amendments do improve our budget and shows a progressive alliance can improve this city."

But Conservative leader Tony Janio said it was a 'Green and Labour watermelon coalition'.

Councillors at Hove Town Hall

The Greens made six amendments to the Labour budget, five of which were supported by Labour in the first vote.

These included putting funding back into sexual health services, reducing cuts to library services and additional funding for the homeless.

The sixth amendment was a tweaked version of a Conservative amendment, but with some of the cash from the capital budget going towards city-wide transport improvements and half a million pounds towards sustainability and carbon reduction.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, convenor of the Green Group of councillors said: “This is the Labour budget. Opposition parties are only granted six amendments to it, and we have fought hard to make sure our communities remain a priority We have pushed to improve the budget being proposed– and our work will now see over £12.5m put back into the council budget, providing serious investment into climate change mitigation, support for the homeless and challenging the plans to reduce funding for some of our most vital public services, such as substance misuse rehab and libraries.

“Once again, Greens assert that prevention is better than cure – cutting public services costs more economically, and socially, than it will ever save in the short term. We have shared with the city our approach, and while we cannot rescue this Labour budget, our focus on the value of prevention means that Greens make sound investments without robbing from one service to pay for another. Unlike the Tories, who see fit to hand down austerity year upon year, and a divided Labour who have brought forward no new ideas, it is time for a Green vision for the future of our city that puts our communities first.”

The amended budget was approved after the budget was initially voted down and the meeting was adjourned while leaders from the three main political groups attempted to thrash out a solution.

The Labour administration needed support from either the Conservatives or Greens to get its budget through, despite support from the two new councillors who form The Independent Group.

At 11pm, the second vote was passed by 30 votes to 21.

Battle for control

Now the budget is approved, councillors will be looking to next week, when there will be a vote on which party will run the council.

After a political shake-up last week Labour now has 19 councillors, but has the support of the newly-formed Independent Group.

The Conservatives have 21 councillors and the Greens have 11.

An extraordinary meeting will be held next Tuesday which could see the Conservatives take power after Cllr Anne Meadows defected to the Tories last week.

Referring to the budget vote, and perhaps to next week's vote on which party controls the council, Conservative councillor Steve Bell said: "The ball is being batted from one side of the chamber to the other and the Greens are definitely the net."