Monthly Archives: April 2015

A positive, realistic and ambitious plan for Brighton and Hove

17608_805721472816664_2112969511938700015_nSpeech at The Argus council hustings and debate, 24th April:

Labour has a positive, realistic and ambitious plan for Brighton and Hove. Labour has the leadership, the candidate team and the unity to deliver it. Labour will deliver a city that works for you, for every neighbourhood and every community in this city.

We want to promote a prosperous economy that delivers better opportunities and better wages for all, that helps move some of the thousands of people in our city out of low-wage, in-work poverty. It is a scandal that thousands of our neighbours now rely on food banks for something to eat. There were just two food banks here in 2012; now there are a dozen. It is a scandal that dozens of people sleep on the streets of our city, a prosperous city in a prosperous nation.

We will do whatever we can to end reliance on food banks and end the scandal of street homelessness.

We will set up a landlord licensing scheme to tackle bad landlords, end rip-off lettings agent fees, and get a better deal for tenants in the private rented sector. We will build at least 500 new council homes, and as many more truly affordable homes as we can possibly deliver, to tackle the enormous housing crisis in our city.

It will not be an easy task, but it is one to which we are firmly committed.

No-one should be denied access to a decent and affordable home because of high rents, the buy-to-let student market or the thousands of people escaping rocketing house prices in London.

A Labour council under my leadership would get the city moving again, and push for more affordable public transport especially for those starting training or apprenticeships.

We will wipe out youth unemployment by 2019.

We will make our city’s streets cleaner, deliver a refuse collection service residents can rely on, and get our city’s recycling levels at least back up to where they were before the Greens took over. We will ensure a new secondary school is built  and that all pupils have access to excellent and accountable education under powers restored by a Labour government.

We will prioritise work on improving mental health, on tackling domestic violence, on combatting prejudice and on putting council services back into the heart of our neighbourhoods.

Achieving all this under pressure from massive Conservative government cuts will be hard, but we will work in partnership with communities, charities, businesses and others, providing leadership based on our values of fairness and co-operation, setting a new tone and direction towards a city that is cleaner, fairer and more prosperous, a city we can all be proud of, and a council that works for you.

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Give us a majority, give us a chance to serve

10401556_922575384454226_2322285707133409745_nBrighton and Hove needs strong leadership. After four years of bitter division amongst the Greens, four years of Tory drift and over a decade of minority control, our city needs a council with a clear vision and a majority to deliver it.

There are huge challenges ahead, one that I and the Labour team are keen to get to grips with. We need more affordable homes and more good quality council housing, and action to tackle unscrupulous landlords and rip off letting agent fees. We need to help lift families out of poverty, with 45% of kids living in poverty in my ward and thousands in the city using foodbanks, it’s a scandal no-one should ignore. We need to deliver new projects like Black Rock and the King Alfred, on time and in budget, with new jobs, homes and facilities as part of the deal. With people like Martin Perry in my team of candidates, I know we can make it happen if you give us the chance.

We need more apprenticeships, more secure jobs and an end to zero hour contracts. We need good schools in every neighbourhood, and neighbourhoods that have the power to make their communities stronger and safer. We need a transport network that works for everyone, and a freeze on parking charges. Most of all we need basic refuse and street cleaning services that get the job done and get us back on track to recycling more of our waste. None of this will be easy given the cuts we face, so electing a majority administration to do it is vital.

Labour topped the poll in last May’s elections in the city, and is in second place in almost every Green held-ward. We are the main challenger in most Tory-held wards too. The Greens won’t hold on to power and the city can’t afford another do-nothing Tory council, or a deadlocked three-way split between the parties.

ManifestoFrontLabour has new ideas and new approaches based on our values of co-operation and fairness. We won’t just represent the city centre like the Greens, or the suburbs and villages like the Conservatives, but every street and every community from Portslade to Patcham to Saltdean. Everyone should share in the prosperity we enjoy from our unique economic, cultural, tourist and leisure position.

Brighton and Hove needs a majority Labour council delivering decent services we all pay for, a plan for our city’s future, and hope for those struggling to afford to eat and find a home. On May 7th you can elect a council that works for you by voting for your local Labour candidates. As Labour leader John Smith said the night before he died; “A chance to serve; that’s all we ask.”

This is the full text of an article published in The Argus, 22nd April.

Labour’s commitment to the LGBT community

Pride LabourSpeech to LGBT Local Council Hustings, Queens Hotel, Brighton 21st April:

I’m proud to be leading Labour into the local elections here in Brighton and Hove, to be a member of a Party which is, as we speak, launching it’s national LGBT manifesto just a few hundred yards from here, to be leading a team that not only includes a significant number of out LGBT candidates in target and winnable wards, but which has a plan to take on the issues important to this city’s LGBT communities.

A Labour council under my leadership will focus on equalities, community safety, neighbourhoods and business growth.

I am announcing today that if we win a majority, I will establish a Neighbourhoods, Communities and Equalities Committee, with a Lead Member for Equalities, to promote a safer, stronger, healthier city, a real committee, with decision-making powers and the teeth to tackle some of the problems that persist, to devolve power to neighbourhoods and communities.

We will take on and defeat homophobia, biphobia and trans phobia, push for stronger community policing, continue the work programme set out by the Trans Scrutiny report which I was part of, support LGBT run small businesses and more.

As our national manifesto being launched now by Angela Eagle says, nearly a quarter of LGB young people, and a half of young trans people have attempted suicide. That’s a tragedy and a scandal that we all need to address. I’ll appoint a lead member for mental health who will sit on the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board to take that on.

But I’m not just here tonight to promote our LGBT policies – LGBT residents and businesses need cleaner streets, roads that aren’t blocked for months on end with road works, a freeze on parking charge increases, a crackdown on bad landlords and rip-off letting agents fees and more.

We want to make major projects at Black Rock and Madeira Drive happen, we want the Madeira Terraces and the Aquarium Terraces repaired and reopened, we want to see Kemp Town thrive.

We are not just about getting rid of the Greens and stopping the Tories taking over again, Labour offer a positive and bold vision for the city, a city that works for you whether gay or straight, trans or cis. Give us a majority on May 7th, give us the chance to serve you for the next four years.

Find out more about LGBT Labour

Why Brighton and Hove needs a Labour Council and three Labour MPs

10401556_922575384454226_2322285707133409745_nOn May 7th Brighton and Hove, the city I have called home all my life and one of the most unique places in the country, faces a choice. The city centre can continue to indulge in being different by having the UKs only Green MP, while the outskirts can quietly forget that they have two Conservative MPs propping up a government that has done so much harm to so many people in the last five years, or it can vote for change.

Brighton and Hove, and Portslade, Saltdean, Hangleton, Patcham, Woodingdean and all the other neighbourhoods that make up our city, have the opportunity on the same day to say goodbye to the Greens running the council and once again elect three Labour MPs as they did between 1997 and 2010. The three seats here are critical in deciding whether David Cameron remains in 10 Downing Street, or if Ed Miliband is elected our next Prime Minister.

Working together, our Labour MPs Purna Sen, Peter Kyle and Nancy Platts, along with a Labour council led by me, will do all we can to build a better Brighton and Hove, better for those currently on low incomes, those struggling to afford a home, those who have to use the foodbank rather than the supermarket.

We will eliminate youth unemployment and create more apprenticeships. We will wipe out street homelessness and build at least 500 new council homes. We will set up a Fairness Commission to ensure every possible step is taken to tackle poverty and inequality that blight the lives and restrict the opportunities of over twelve thousand of our city’s residents.

We will end the chaos on on our city’s roads and focus what funding we can draw in on securing and improving our city’s shop window and major transport artery, the seafront. We will get the basics right by ensuring that bins are collected, streets are kept clean and that more, not less, of our city’s waste is recycled. We will ensure that major projects like the King Alfred leisure centre and the Waterfront shopping centre and arena are delivered on time and in budget, with affordable homes secured for local residents as part of the deal. We will strive to create a local economy that benefits everyone, not just the few.

We won’t promise populist and unaffordable pledges like parking and council tax freezes like the Tories have done, and we won’t continue with the indulgent, unending and financially irresponsible schemes that the Greens, with Tory support, have pursued. We will be realistic in what we promise, responsible in how we manage the city’s finances, determined in what we do to deliver for all residents, but particularly those who need our help most.

Brighton and Hove is a fantastic place to live, and despite all the challenges we face, people who live here are proud of it. Labour wants to make it better, we want to restore it to the city it was a decade ago, provide strong leadership for the future and unlock the potential of every young person who wants to live and work here. Help us win on May 7th, and we will deliver a council that works for you, a city that has a past to be proud of and a future with of hope and opportunity for all.

Read our manifesto here.

Volunteer to help here.

Postscript: I’ve been challenged on promising to “wipe out” street homelessness whilst at the same time saying that our promises are realistic and deliverable. It is a fair point. Our manifesto says we will “reduce” street homelessness. Since then all parties in the city have been challenged by Andy Winter of BHT to go further. I want to take up that challenge, I want to do more than reduce street homelessness, I want to see it eliminated. No-one should have to sleep rough on the streets. Yes, it might be an undeliverable pledge, but I am not in politics to do what is easy, I’m in it to attempt what is hard. On this I would rather try but fail than not try at all.

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