Monthly Archives: December 2014

Our Ambition: 15 in 15

#15in15Our ambition in 2015 is to gain fifteen more council seats on top of those won in 2011 and since. That would give Labour a majority on Brighton and Hove City Council – no party has had a majority of councillors on the authority since 2003 when the current ward structure was established.

Is doubling the number of Labour councillors a realistic target? Yes. In several recent local elections, Labour have increased their number of seats by similar amounts: in Hammersmith and Fulham in 2015 Labour gained 11 seats. In Lancashire in 2013 Labour gained 23, Staffordshire 21. In Cardiff in 2012 Labour gained 33.

Surely Labour is third on the council? Yes, in terms of the number of current councillors, but in 2011 we finished second in almost all of the 21 wards, sometimes by very narrow margins. Overall we won 32% of the vote citywide, more than the Tories and just 1% less than the Greens, so we are well placed to make significant gains from both. Our organisation and campaigning is vastly improved on 2011.

Which wards are you targeting? The local elections are on the same day as the General Election where we are also aiming to win all three Parliamentary seats, so we are campaigning for every Labour vote in every ward across the city. Historically Labour supporters vote in greater numbers on General Election day than they do in local elections. So we may win seats in wards where we might not normally be in contention. Clearly those with smaller Green or Conservative majorities are more likely to be Labour gains.

So are you targeting Green or Conservative-held wards? Both. We expect to gain between five and ten seats from both parties. The Green vote is collapsing due to their running of the council and they are struggling to find candidates, and the Conservatives have dwindling numbers of activists to support their campaigns, only money. They are losing significant support to UKIP. The Greens are effectively abandoning anything outside of Caroline Lucas’s Pavilion constituency.

Why 15 in 15? We need a majority. The city council faces incredibly difficult decisions as its finances are cut and social care and infrastructure challenges grow, but we have exciting major projects in the pipeline, key pledges to deliver and ambitions for the city. Under a committee system-council, the Tory opposition and a rump of Green councillors could and would frustrate and block everything Labour seeks to achieve.

What are your policies and goals? We’ve set out our Contract With Brighton and Hove, and have a strong team of candidates in place. I’ve written about my goals and ambitions for the city here.

How can I help? Join in by signing up here: www.brightonhovelabour.com/volunteer and tweet your support using #15in15.

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2014 – a Brighton and Hove Labour year in review

Campaign launch.3A lot has happened since I wrote my review of 2013. Every year has its ups and downs, and if you are an Albion season ticket holder like me you’ll know what I mean. Yet every time I walk on the Downs, in view of the sea and the city centre, I’m reminded of how lucky we are to live here.

Of course, our location between the sea and the South Downs National Park make building the homes we need very difficult, and being so close to London makes housing increasingly expensive. One of the tough choices we faced this year was on our City Plan; deciding how best to build homes for local families without losing our open spaces. Others involved opposing the Greens 5% council tax increase, their £36 million loan to the i360, and recently their council tax benefit proposals.

One of the highlights of 2014 was May’s European elections. Labour in the city doubled its vote on the last elections in 2009, from nine thousand to over twenty thousand, pushing the Greens into second place and helping to elect our fantastic new MEP Anneliese Dodds. Our positive offer to the electorate and strong local campaigning paid off. Despite topping the poll nationally, UKIP came fourth in Brighton and Hove.

Opinion polls have continued to show Labour in pole position to beat both the Greens and the Tories next May. We are not complacent though, and have worked hard in the past twelve months to put the foundations in place for success at the elections next May.

Over the course of this year I’ve spoken to over fifty key organisations and leaders across the city, whilst colleagues have knocked on thousands of doors from Portslade to Saltdean, the seafront to Patcham. We have put what we learnt into our ten key pledges; our Contract with Brighton and Hove, which will form the foundation of our offer to voters next May.

Beach candidatesWe have chosen over forty of the fifty four people needed to fight the local elections; a great team to stand alongside our three excellent Parliamentary candidates Purna Sen, Nancy Platts and Peter Kyle.

Together we have campaigned for new rights for tenants in the private sector, for our local firefighters, for new play area facilities, for more local GP surgeries, for a safer city and for an end to violence against women, for a Living Wage, allotments, food banks, payday loans and much more. Throughout the year we have urged the Greens to do better on keeping our streets clean, collecting the city’s refuse and reversing the decline in recycling.

We’ve pledged to set up a Fairness Commission to tackle poverty and inequality in the city during our first year in office. Our team is in place, our priorities are clear, our campaigns are stronger than ever.

2015 will be a very challenging year for Brighton and Hove, but also one of opportunity to put our co-operative values into practice. As our local politics becomes more polarised between the Greens on the left and the Tories and UKIP on the right, and despite the huge financial challenges Brighton and Hove faces, my New Year’s Resolution is to try an offer our city hope for positive change in May.  We will deliver a fairer, better Brighton and Hove.

Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

Warren.