Labour is putting in place a strong team to lead the city next May

imagesI agree with Mike Holland on at least one point: there is no room for “numpties” at the council.

With a budget reducing by more than £100 million and enormous challenges facing the city in terms of housing, schools, development and poverty, we need people leading the council who are up to the task.

That’s why Labour has brought in people with vast experience in tackling big issues and major projects to run as candidates next May. People like: Martin Perry, who won a decade-long battle to deliver the American Express Community Stadium; Neil Schofield, someone with experience at the highest levels of government; and Tom Bewick, head of an international skills organisation.

Alongside them we have people with vast experience at management level in the third sector, like Karen Barford; in urban planning, with Julie Cattell; and running council services, with Gill Mitchell.

These are people who can identify issues and deliver solutions on time and in budget, and would be part of a Labour council administration getting to grips with the basics like cleaning our streets, and with getting our economy working for everyone.

Our Fairness Commission, announced last week, is about tackling inequality and poverty – not by condemning people to a life on benefits, but getting them into secure, well-paid jobs so they can contribute to a vibrant economy as both employees and consumers.

Along with Labour’s shadow business minister and our three parliamentary candidates, I met recently with local business owners at the Amex to see what Labour can do to help small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the city. What I heard was a sector keen to grow, but which is restricted, one that sees time as its most vital resource. A Labour council would help them find the space and time to prosper.

I pass along our seafront every day. There is not just a need to clean it up and get the traffic flowing again, but vast potential to unlock – as Andy Parsons correctly identifies. Major projects need to happen – not to satisfy the vanity of politicians, but to deliver the jobs, apprenticeships, tourism, homes and leisure facilities this city desperately needs. A stronger economy delivers more income for the city to support services like social care, stretched by an ageing population.

I don’t agree with reducing the council down to a small board which simply commissions services from the private sector as in cities in the United States.

There is a role for local councillors as community champions, and we need a diverse mix in the council chamber to ensure all parts of our city are represented and heard. No system of government is perfect and an elected mayor is not necessarily an improvement on what we have now.

Whoever runs the city needs to reconnect with residents, with neighbourhoods, and with business, and win back the trust of a population so badly let down by the current incumbents. I’ll make no promises beyond assembling the best team of people I can and doing my very best to restore that trust and engagement if Labour are elected next May.

This article first appeared in the Brighton and Hove Independent.

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