Category Archives: Council

10×10: our half-term report

ManifestoFrontTwo years ago this week I was elected to lead the city council, alongside an excellent team of councillors who are working hard like me to make a difference.

We promised “a council that works for you”, and we’ve worked quietly and persistently to get the basics right, to do what you expect from your council.

This week new communal bins are appearing on our streets, joining the smart compactor bins introduced last year. Garden waste brown bins have been hugely popular. Soon new wheeled recycling bins, already well received in Portslade and Hangleton, will arrive on doorsteps to further boost our recycling rates.

We are investing £7m in better street lighting. We are halfway to building 500 new council homes, and work on 1000 affordable homes begins soon.

We’ve protected our Royal Pavilion from cuts and will save the Madeira Terraces. Our libraries are all still open and for longer hours. Our family of schools continues to improve.

We are protecting the vulnerable in the city, with a new ethical care charter, with millions more being spent on care for children, older people, people with disabilities and those tackling chronic health issues.

We’ve stopped cuts to domestic violence services. We’ve made tackling mental health stigma and rough sleeping top priorities. We’ve invested in our credit union, and last week abolished child funeral charges and council tax charges for care leavers.

Our city economy has to benefit everyone, not just a few. Last month I launched the Southern Accelerator to win investment in infrastructure. We got our target of 1000 new apprenticeships two years early. We are drawing in billions of pounds of investment into our seafront and elsewhere. We have made significant  improvements to our planning service.

Despite the huge challenges of cuts to our funding, the spiraling costs of social care, and Brexit, we are delivering. Our auditors say we are delivering good value for money, and the recent Local Government Association review said that firm foundations are in place so we can now  progress quickly.

These are just some of the 100 positive things we’ve achieved in two years, and we will be listing them in batches of ten over the next two weeks on Facebook, Twitter and our website.


We won’t let up in the next two, there is much more to do. Soon we will announce new plans for our third year in office. I hope that after that time you will put your trust in us again to keep getting the basics right, protecting the vulnerable and growing our economy for everyone.

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10×10: Here are our one hundred achievements:

First 10

  1. Building 57 council homes at Kite Place https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/new-council-housing-scheme-takes-shape
  2. Rolling out wheeled bin recycling https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/cash-wheelie-bins-will-increase-recycling
  3. New life for Shelter Hall https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/parking-and-travel/roads-and-highways/rebuilding-former-west-street-shelter-hall
  4. Setting 1000 apprenticeships challenge http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/jobs/apprenticeships/1000-apprenticeships
  5. New trust for Royal Pavilion & Museums https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council-moves-secure-long-term-future-museums
  6. Investing in “smart” street lighting https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/future-bright-super-smart-street-lighting
  7. New Brighton and Hove Communities fund https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/a-proposed-new-way-forward-trust-funds-managed-council
  8. Fighting HIV http://gscene.com/news/city-to-join-initiative-to-eradicate-hiv-in-brighton-hove-by-2030/
  9. Improving the Planning service https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/planning-services-steps-improve-performance-working
  10. Campaigning to help rough sleepers https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/make-change-count

 

Second 10

  1. Rescue plan for Madeira Terraces https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/people-power-called-upon-help-save-madeira-terraces
  2. Care Leavers Trust Fund agreed https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000883/M00006141/AI00052207/$BrightonandHoveChildrensCommitteeSavingsandTrustFundforCICmay2016.docA.ps.pdf
  3. Signing up to the Ethical Care Charter http://www.brightonhovelabour.com/new_contract_will_deliver_labour_s_ethical_home_care_pledge
  4. Rent Smart partnership for private tenants http://www.brightonhovelabour.com/rentsmart_helping_private_rented_sector_tenants http://rentsmartbrightonhove.org/
  5. Council’s value for money rating improves https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000699/M00006102/AI00053286/$20160926095149_009706_0039542_AuditStandardscoversheetSept.docxA.ps.pdf
  6. Litter patrols begin https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/drop-litter-pick-a-fine-0
  7. Credit union strengthened https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/bhcc-seeks-strengthen-citys-credit-union-services
  8. Libraries hours extended https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/libraries-open-extra-thanks-pioneering-out-hours-scheme
  9. Child burial fees removed http://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/child-burial-charges-scrapped-in-brighton-and-hove-1-7947735
  10. Big Conversation on city parks https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/big-thanks-3500-responding-parks-survey

 

Third 10

  1. Freedom of the City for Bloom and Hughton https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/mgconvert2pdf.aspx?id=109142 http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2017/04/17/council-leader-proposes-honouring-premier-league-brighton-and-hove-albion-bosses-with-freedom-of-the-city/
  2. Affordable homes joint venture delivers 1000 homes https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/new-project-build-affordable-housing-city-agreed
  3. New communal bins https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/new-bins-keep-brighton-and-hove-tidy
  4. City in top 30 for primary schools https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city%E2%80%99s-primary-pupils-top-30-nationally-key-stage-2
  5. Preston Park velodrome restored https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/preston-park-velodrome-reopened
  6. Fairness Commission work completed https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/fairness-commission-announces-their-recommendations-city
  7. City to gain new “Lane” http://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/work-begins-on-new-lane-in-brighton-1-7808245
  8. Time to Change pledge signed https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/pledgewall/organisations/brighton-hove-city-council
  9. £12m boost for Waterfront arena project https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/video-%C2%A312m-govt-funding-towards-brighton-arena-0
  10. Rough Sleeping Strategy agreed https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/housing/general-housing/rough-sleeping-strategy

 

Fourth 10

  1. City Plan agreed https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/major-milestone-citys-planning-blueprint
  2. Action to Poverty Proof the School Day https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000883/M00006145/AI00055223/$20170201142233_010022_0042571_PovertyProofingtheSchoolDayupdatedraftforcommittee15January.docxA.ps.pdf
  3. National tourism event Explore GB hosted https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/best-british-showcased-brighton-hove
  4. Care leavers to be exempted from council tax https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000912/M00006702/AI00056866/$20170425101629_011577_0043649_CommitteeReportTemplate100614newsavedformat.docxA.ps.pdf
  5. Motor Neurone Disease Charter signed http://www.mndassociation.org/news-and-events/latest-news/success-two-more-councils-adopt-the-mnd-charter/
  6. Council begins commercial waste collection http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/environment/recycling-rubbish-and-street-cleaning/commercial-recycling-and-rubbish
  7. Amnesty returns 6 homes https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/tenancy-amnesty-returns-six-homes
  8. Office move saves £2m https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/%C2%A32-million-saving-a-year-hove-town-hall-officially-opens
  9. Fuel poverty tackled https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city-gets-top-marks-tackling-fuel-poverty
  10. Support services shared to save money: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/four-councils-sharing-legal-services-save-%C2%A31-million-a-year

 

Fifth 10

  1. 45 extra care flats opening in July https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/housing/council-housing/brooke-mead-extra-care-housing-scheme-0
  2. Garden waste collection service introduced https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/garden-waste-scheme-grows
  3. £18m improvement plan for Pavilion Estate https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/contractors-appointment-kick-starts-first-phase-royal-pavilion-estate-project
  4. Pilot for reducing holiday costs https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/new-term-dates-announced-school-year-2017-2018
  5. Direction of travel for adult social care agreed https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000826/M00006003/AI00047597/$20151009095054_007754_0033367_HWBReportTemplate261114.docA.ps.pdf https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000826/M00006003/AI00047597/$20151009095055_007915_0033368_AdultSocialCareJourney.pdfA.ps.pdf
  6. Residents to get online access to services https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council-invests-digital-services-put-customer-first
  7. “Southern accelerator” for city region http://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/politics/greater-brighton-should-be-a-powerhouse-for-the-south-1-7914766/amp
  8. Tackling anti-social behaviour https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/public-space-protection-orders-come-force
  9. Zip wire given the go ahead https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/brighton%E2%80%99s-300-metre-zip-wire-approved
  10. Parking meters go contactless https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/contactless-pay-and-display-machines-just-ticket-drivers

 

Sixth 10

  1. New Volunteering Policy and Action Plan https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000885/M00006263/AI00054532/$20161116111634_009892_0040530_PowerofVolunteeringBHCCActionPlancommiteereport.docxA.ps.pdf
  2. Meeting the challenge of social care costs https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000117/M00006132/AI00055568/$20170215114506_011422_0042857_Generlafundreport.docx.pdf4
  3. Seafront swimming pool on the way https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/yet-another-big-investment-city%E2%80%99s-billion-pound-beachfront
  4. Enforcement action taken against HMOs https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/new-licensing-could-cut-impact-shared-and-student-homes
  5. LGBT schools support rated best in the country: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council%E2%80%99s-lgbt-support-schools-rated-among-best-country
  6. Transport team awarded top prize https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/brighton-hove-wins-top-national-transport-award
  7. Helping child refugees http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14953821.Brighton_and_Hove_offers_new_life_to_65_young_refugees_fleeing_homeland_violence/
  8. “Crime not to care” campaign is great success https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/your-street-set-become-a-crime-scene
  9. Creating new council temporary accommodation https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000884/M00006162/AI00054328/$20170110095512_010072_0041279_Nov2016ReviewoffutureoptionsforStonehurstCourtv2.docxA.ps.pdf
  10. Planning application in for Preston Barracks http://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/preston-barracks-development-plans-submitted-to-city-council-1-7841314

 

Seventh 10

  1. 93% of city schools now good or outstanding https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city%E2%80%99s-ofsted-success-%E2%80%98a-fantastic-achievement%E2%80%99
  2. Tourists give high rating to city https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/report-shows-visitors-are-happy-brighton-hove
  3. Fairer housing allocation process https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/changing-way-council-homes-are-allocated
  4. Big Belly Bins introduced https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council%E2%80%99s-bigbelly-bins-able-devour-more-waste
  5. Support for British Sign Language Charter https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000885/M00006265/AI00055696/$20170303090257_011360_0043168_BHCCBSLCharterCommitteeReportMarch2017FINAL.docxA.ps.pdf
  6. Textile recycling boosts communities https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/community-groups-benefit-new-textile-recycling-scheme
  7. Lead Member for Mental Health is first for council http://www.brightonhovelabour.com/improving_our_efforts_to_suicide_prevention
  8. Civic Centre vision for Brighton Town Hall https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/future-brighton-town-hall
  9. Rail South proposal to help commuters http://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/opinion/warren-morgan-my-plan-for-a-new-body-to-run-our-rail-services-1-7792962
  10. Air quality improves https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city%E2%80%99s-air-quality-improving

 

Eighth 10

  1. £2.5m funding for homelessness prevention https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/bid-success-boost-homeless-prevention-and-rough-sleeping-work
  2. Recycling up https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city-waste-services-improving-residents-and-businesses
  3. CAMHS plan agreed https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/mgconvert2pdf.aspx?id=102539
  4. Supporting carers https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000826/M00006147/AI00052527/$20160704103201_009286_0038497_SupportingCarersCarersRapidNeedsAssessmentCarersStrategyandCarersC.docA.ps.pdf
  5. Funding for Saltdean library also helps Lido project https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/library-funding-could-boost-saltdean-lido-restoration
  6. Domestic Violence funding protected https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000117/M00006132/AI00055568/$20170215114508_010289_0042863_Appendix6CombinedISFPSPRG090217.docx.pdf75
  7. Building blocks in place says LGA review https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/outside-view-improving-services
  8. Think tank for the city http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2016/10/16/think-tank-to-look-for-ways-to-bring-about-better-brighton-and-hove/
  9. Bike Share arriving soon https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/brighton-hoves-new-bike-share-scheme-track-summer
  10. Improving procurement https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000117/M00006132/AI00055568/$20170215114508_010289_0042863_Appendix6CombinedISFPSPRG090217.docx.pdf84

 

 

Ninth 10

  1. City-wide council homes programme shortlisted for award https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/sites/brighton-hove.gov.uk/files/New%20Homes%20for%20Neighbourhoods%20Update%20March%202017.pdf
  2. New street sweepers https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/clean-green-sweeping-machines-hit-citys-streets https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/clean-sweep-recycling
  3. Patient transport back on track http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2016/11/01/patient-transport-contractor-to-lose-60m-contract/
  4. Free wifi https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/new-free-city-centre-wi-fi-network
  5. More in-house fostering saves £350k in agency placements https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000912/M00006399/AI00054494/$20161128145904_009882_0040733_PRGQ2201617progressupdateCorporateKeyPerformanceIndicatorsappendix.pdfA.ps.pdf22 https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/fostering-%E2%80%93-it-can-be-great-your-own-children-well
  6. Most parking charges frozen https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/parking-charges-mostly-frozen-next-year
  7. Fortnightly residents e-newsletter begins https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/council-and-democracy/news/your-brighton-hove-email-newsletter
  8. Park improvements https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/work-set-start-%C2%A353000-revamp-brighton-park https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/all-smiles-playground-re-opens
  9. I am Whole mental health campaign supported https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/iamwhole
  10. Free swimming for under 16s http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14494640.Free_swimming_for_under_16s_in_Brighton_and_Hove_to_continue/ http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/leisure-and-libraries/sports-and-activity/free-swimming

 

Tenth 10

  1. Restoring Stanmer Park https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/stanmer-park-restoration
  2. SEN nurseries are outstanding https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council%E2%80%99s-sen-nurseries-maintain-%E2%80%98outstanding%E2%80%99-ofsted-ratings
  3. Food poverty action plan wins award http://bhcommunityworks.org.uk/sector-star-winners/ https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000826/M00006148/AI00053166/$20160909164754_009485_0039198_FINALFoodPovertyActionPlan2015.pdfA.ps.pdf
  4. “Let’s get you home” campaign supported https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000826/M00006146/AI00050663/$BCFapp3.pptxA.ps.pdf
  5. £1 billion seafront investment plan https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000912/M00006398/AI00053700/$20160930112107_009680_0039629_BHSIPFinalVersionSept2016.pdfA.ps.pdf
  6. Action for refugees http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-34981828 https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council-seeking-landlords-and-coordinating-help-refugees-syria
  7. King Alfred given go-ahead https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council-chooses-crest-nicholson-redevelop-king-alfred-site
  8. Support for social prescribing and befriending http://impact-initiatives.org.uk/contact-point-befriending-launched-tackle-isolation-brighton-hove/
  9. Smart tech to manage city traffic flow https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000823/M00005632/AI00050296/$Enc.%203%20for%20201617%20Local%20Transport%20Plan%20Capital%20Programme_v1.docxA.ps.pdf
  10. £2m management savings https://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000117/M00006132/AI00055568/$20170215114506_011422_0042857_Generlafundreport.docx.pdf54

 

Councils cannot take another five years of Conservative Government

Town HallMuch will be written about this coming General Election, with Theresa May keen to make it as much about Brexit as possible. Whatever the outcome, she won’t get it all her own way; most people vote in General Elections on issues much closer to home, on prospects for them, their family and community.

It is perhaps a paradox that many local elections become a verdict on national government, whilst many of the factors that can determine peoples votes in a General Election are in fact controlled by councils. Local services and their future could, indeed should, be a major factor in this election.

Council and mayoral elections in May should not just be a warm-up act for the main attraction in June. Those who run town halls, city halls and devolved authorities still wield much more power than individual MPs, despite the enormous cuts and additional pressure they face.

Since the Conservatives first took power in 2010, alongside the Liberal Democrats (who should hang their heads in shame for their betrayal of local government), councils have faced cuts of between 30-40% in their funding, as the Revenue Support Grant has been steadily reduced. For my own council this will mean around a hundred million pounds a year less in 2020 that we had in 2010. Meanwhile the range of costs and responsibilities we have has been steadily added to by central Government, for example free bus travel for older people which costs us £10 million a year.

Schools funding is also being cut, with the Government hoping that blame will fall on councils, through whom the money is passported, rather than Whitehall. Housing for many councils is another challenge, but again any extra cash is funneled through developers not councils who can target need, not maximize profit.

Planning decisions, whilst nominally left in the hands of quasi-judicial planning committees, are now effectively in the hands of central Government through planning inspectors and the National Planning Policy Framework. Decisions are made in favour of the developers, but councils get the blame when new housing overtakes green fields.

Meanwhile the costs of social care are increasing rapidly, with an ageing population living longer with acute health needs. The Conservatives will talk of the billions more they have put into care, but in truth this is money generated by giving councils no option but to increase council tax bills by up to 5% a year. Here in Brighton and Hove, with a younger than average population, our social care bill far outstrips what we raise through council tax. Once again, the blame falls on town halls not Whitehall, as taxes go up but services shrink.

I fear that another five years of Government will be bleak for local Government. Increasingly the ability of local people to influence decisions will reduce further, away from the supposed ideal of “localism” championed by David Cameron (remember him). If Brexit does immense damage to the national economy, the impacts will be felt locally, and costs will be passed down. We could see a drift to the American model, where small councils meet infrequently to hand out private sector contracts where accountability is far removed from the resident.

The people responsible for making sure the bins are emptied and streets cleaned, for making sure restaurants don’t poison you and that buildings are safe, for running the mortuary and the registry office, should not be forgotten in this election. If your local council services are not on your mind when you vote in May and again in June, then they should be.

The Conservative Government’s Budget will not help Brighton and Hove

BudgetThe Conservative Government’s national insurance increase on the self-employed will hit up to 20% of the city’s workforce, many of whom are already affected by benefit reductions.

The money for social care is nowhere near enough to address the crisis, and as yet we don’t know where it is coming from. On past experience it will be from the budgets of local councils already slashed by 20% in a year, or already announced money brought forward.

After big cuts to our state schools, new free schools and grammars got hundreds of millions. There was nothing for housing, nothing for rail infrastructure, nothing substantial for the NHS and nothing on the impact of Brexit. This Budget won’t help our council, our small businesses or our public services in Brighton and Hove.

Faced with huge Budget challenges, we are delivering for Brighton and Hove

received_10154080748042534.jpegCan I begin my speech today proposing the 2017/18 Budget by expressing thanks, on behalf of myself as Leader of the Council, on behalf of the Administration, and I hope every elected member here, to all of the officers and staff of Brighton and Hove City Council for their part in bringing it before us today and delivering it.

From the Chief Executive and the Executive Leadership Team, to Department Heads and front-line staff, they have met the challenge of putting together the most difficult and challenging Budget in this council’s history. They have put in place savings of over £20 million through innovation and hard work, through modernisation and service redesign, through stepping up and doing more. Some staff, as is inevitable with savings of this magnitude, are facing up to a future outside of the council.

None of this Budget, none of what this council does every day, would be possible without our officers and staff, from the Executive Director bearing huge legal responsibility, to the Cityclean operative making sure our streets are cleared and our refuse collected. So before we begin our debate today I’d ask all members to join me in showing our appreciation for what staff do.

It is one of the three key priorities of this Administration to get the basics right within the scope of our reducing resources. That means investment, innovation, savings, new partnerships, service redesign – finding ways to do more, to do better with less. If we are asking our residents to pay more in council tax, we have to meet this challenge, not shy away from it.

We are investing in the basic services people use everyday. New wheeled recycling bins, replacement communal bins, new Big Belly compactor bins to make our streets cleaner. New parking meters with card and contactless payment to give people even more easy parking payment options. Fines for litterers and fly-tippers to crack down on those who pollute our public spaces and expect others to pick up the cost as well as the mess.

Commercial waste collections, garden waste collections and vehicle servicing are bringing in new revenue to maintain and improve the services we provide. In-house textile recycling is now raising money for local charities. The £7million invested in modern street lighting will mean our network is more energy efficient and will cost less to run.

Our recycling rates are again increasing. This Budget contains no cuts to front-line Cityclean staff. The Big Conversation has led to proposals for a new City Parks Foundation and new partnerships with sports clubs to make their activities in our parks – football, tennis, bowls – sustainable.

I pay tribute to my colleague Cllr Gill Mitchell for driving these changes through and delivering success after success after success. We have continued to improve residents’ satisfaction with our services – in fact we are the only public sector organisation in the city to achieve this, and it should be applauded.

We will in the period of this Budget revolutionise our customer services and our relationship with the residents of the city, with Digital First delivering new online bulletins for residents and staff, improved transactional services and a better website, alongside a significant element of the planned four year savings through digitisation and streamlining of hundreds of functions in this authority. We want to drive customer satisfaction still higher, so we are reviewing the top 20 interactions that residents have with us as a council, to ensure that even more customer journeys are positive ones.

Cllr Emma Daniel is leading our neighbourhoods work, taking the council back out into communities, taking forward the work of the Fairness Commission we established, helping join up our services across council teams, tackling issues at an earlier stage to improve outcomes and save money, getting the local right. I thank her and her committee for the innovative work she is leading in helping transform this council and the way it works with all our residents, all our communities.

We are succeeding in delivering the schools our young people and our economy need. Under Cllr Tom Bewick and Cllr Daniel Chapman we have seen the number of schools rated Good or Outstanding increase by 10 per cent to 92 per cent overall, above the national average for the first time. We are now in top 25 authorities for primary schools nationally. We should praise all in our schools for their efforts to make this happen.

We plan to re-design the Early Help system and modernise the special school provision across the city. We’ve seen awards for our LGBT work in schools recognised as the best in the UK, and we’ve doubled free childcare. For those leaving school we will deliver 1,000 apprenticeships in 1,000 days.

As soon as we balanced the Budget we restored over two hundred thousand pounds to the youth service budget that was proposed in December, half of that recurrent every year. As a council we will still be funding services to young people by over two million pounds to promote routes into employment, better mental health, and work to keep young people out of substance misuse and crime.

Under Cllr Alan Robins we have taken up the challenge of implementing the libraries plan agreed last year, we have maintained the number of libraries, extended their opening hours and set them on course to be the hubs at the heart of our communities. All of our decisions are difficult, but we have to put the long-term benefit of the city at the heart of our decision making.

In pursuit of that benefit we have protected the Royal Pavilion and our museums for future generations by placing them in a trust that can access the charitable and lottery funding they need.

We will see in the coming months the continued construction on Phase 1 of £18m refurbishment of the Royal Pavilion Estate.  Our familiarity should not breed complacency when it comes to what is, alongside our seafront, the heart of our tourist and cultural offer.

We were elected to deliver a council that works for everyone, a council that gets the basics right, universal services delivered, and essential infrastructure improved.

The second of our key objectives is protecting the most vulnerable, focusing the resources we as a council and as a city have on those in priority need. It is a duty incumbent on us all.

I would like to thank my colleagues Cllr Karen Barford and Cllr Daniel Yates for their incredibly hard work and able leadership in health and social care, the largest and most challenging element of our budget. So much of their vital work is behind the scenes, but essential to the future of our council and its care services, how we work with the NHS, how we deal with the needs of an ageing population.

Despite the immense financial challenges, the message to our residents is clear. Where need is identified, we will continue to provide a service. We will help you stay fit, healthy and active, but when you need our help we will be there.

We are funding projected demand pressure for adult and children’s social care and temporary accommodation to the tune of an extra £12 million. Providing these care services alone will cost over £160 million next year, far more than the £127 million we will receive in council tax.

I am incredibly proud of the work being done by Cllr Caroline Penn on behalf of this Administration on improving the mental health of this city and tackling stigma. As a nation we are recognising the impact of mental health, the need to look at it in a new way, and to put it at the heart of our health and wellbeing agenda.

Elsewhere, we have saved £350,000 by increasing our in -house foster care placements, we have signed up to ethical care charter, and we have backed the Fast Track Cities initiative on HIV/AIDS. We have been recognised for tackling fuel poverty that costs so many tenants in the city so much and is so fundamental to overall poverty levels in the city.

I am pleased that whilst we wait to determine the full impact of benefit and tax changes locally, we in this Budget will maintain a significant discretionary fund to help those who do find themselves in poverty, supporting the vital work done by our neighbours in this building from Money Advice, the Credit Union and Citizens Advice.

I am proud that in this Budget we are protecting funding for domestic violence services, with over £600 thousand going in to community-based interventions, prevention and recovery services, and refuge and floating support. All the time I am Leader of this council, this will remain one of our top priorities.

On housing, the private rented sector and rough sleeping I commend the work done by Cllr Anne Meadows, Cllr Tracey Hill and Cllr Clare Moonan. We’ve won agreement for a thousand affordable homes in our joint venture, our pledge to build 500 council homes is on track, a new allocations policy has been set, and the ground-breaking Rent Smart initiative was launched across a wide range of partners.

Our Rough Sleeping Strategy has been adopted and implemented, we have boosted our temporary accommodation with two new in-house schemes at Oxford Street and Stonehurst Court, and we have launched the joint Make Change Count appeal raising funds to help people off the streets.

Whether it is health or housing, care or communities, renters or rough sleepers, we are working hard to help those who need it.

The third objective we have committed this council to is growing an economy that benefits all.

Brighton and Hove is open for business. Apprenticeships are up by 19 per cent in the city, putting us above the national average for the first time. Retail is set to get a massive boost with John Lewis coming to the city, Redevco investing in the new Lane and Hanningtons estate, Standard Life investing hundreds of millions into the Churchill Square extension, and Ikea proposing a store on land in our city region owned by Brighton and Hove Albion.

Our colleges and universities continue to equip our young people with the skills and innovation needed to compete in the local, national and global market, and I have forged ever closer working relationships with them in partnership work that benefits the city as a whole.

I’d like at this point to commend in particular Cllr Julie Cattell, Chair of Planning and Deputy Chair of Economic Development, for the immense work she and all our dedicated planning officers have done in the last 18 months to turn our planning department around – to have it running at pace is key to business confidence and the continued growth of our economy. Cllr Jackie O’Quinn is also doing a fantastic job at the helm of the Licensing Committee.

We are bringing in billions of pounds to the city in regeneration projects, including the Waterfront arena, Shelter Hall, Preston Barracks, and King Alfred through bodies such as Greater Brighton, Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, and Brighton and Hove Business Partnership. We are campaigning for the Brighton and Hove Living Wage, opposing zero-hour contracts, growing career opportunities and working to deliver the full potential of all our residents. We are putting in place a new Civic Office to bring further inward investment into the city.

Brighton and Hove is indeed a place to invest, a place with a talented, trained and innovative workforce on which to draw, a unique location for business to spark and grow. We are open for business, we will grow an economy where everyone shares in the benefits of that growth.

I would like to use this opportunity to make two new announcements today, ones which I hope will command support across this chamber.

The loss of a child is one of the most unimaginable things any family could have to bear. I pay tribute to the campaign led by Carolyn Harris MP in the House of Commons, which has won support from all parties, to end funeral fees in the case of child deaths. A number of councils have responded positively to this campaign.

Whilst we do not charge for child burials or cremations, we do charge for the grave plot and the headstone, meaning families can face costs of almost £170. Mr Mayor I am asking Council today to support me in saying that this will be the last Budget where we will set charges for the burial of children, and that we will take the necessary steps to end child funeral costs in the city council Budget as soon as possible.

I would like to pay tribute to the former Chair of the Children and Young People’s Committee Cllr Tom Bewick for the work he did in that role during the first two years of our Administration, in particular his instrumental role in setting up a Care Leavers Trust for young people who have not had the benefit of a stable family environment as they start out in life.

All of us have a responsibility as Corporate Parents to those children and young people in our care and leaving our care. That is why, Mr Mayor, I would like this council to support the campaign by the Children’s Society and exempt fully all local care leavers from council tax until the age of 25. We will be bringing forward proposals to enable that during the course of the coming year.

I want at this point to address the broader issue of local government funding.

Mr Mayor it is the fault of successive governments that no sustainable solution to the funding of council services has been devised. The removal of the Revenue Support Grant between 2011 and 2020, over a hundred million pounds a year in our case, leaves us increasingly reliant on council tax and business rates. These are two property taxes based on outdated valuations, regressive in their impact and utterly insufficient to fund the services local councils are charged with providing.

Let me be clear on the proposals in this Budget to raise the council tax level in Brighton and Hove by 4.99%. I opposed similar rises in the past and I stand here proposing this increase with a very heavy heart. This rise will hit people on lower incomes hard at a time when they are seeing living costs increase and benefit support reduced. It is right that we maintain a substantial discretionary fund to support those pushed towards poverty, homelessness and the food bank.

However with the pressures of social care costs increasing here as they are in every top-tier authority, we have little choice but to apply the full three per cent social care precept as we try to close the gap and ease funding pressure on other services.

Calling for a national funding review, my West Sussex counterpart Cllr Louise Goldsmith said at their Budget meeting last week that nationally social care services are “seriously, seriously underfunded” and that the social care precept provided “just a few drops of help in a vast ocean of need.”

The results of The Municipal Journal and LGiU annual finance survey were published last week. Nearly eight out of 10 respondents to the survey of more than 160 council chief executives, leaders, finance directors and portfolio holders from 131 local authorities across England said they lacked confidence in the sustainability of the sector’s finances.

13% admitted there was a danger they would no longer have enough funding to fulfil their statutory duties in the coming year, with half of those based in the South East.

The president of the Association of Local Authority Treasurers Societies, Duncan Whitfield, said the next two years would be ‘make or break for some of the more beleaguered authorities’.

The survey also found an overwhelming 94% planning to increase council tax in 2017/18 and four out of five of those eligible said they were likely or very likely to take up all or some of increased social care precept. Four out of five top-tier respondents named social care as their greatest immediate pressure.

Lord Porter, the Conservative peer who heads the Local Government Association, said this week:

“Social care faces a funding gap of at least £2.6 billion by 2020. It cannot be left to council taxpayers alone to try and fix this. Councils, the NHS, charities and care providers remain united around the desperate need for new government funding for social care. By continuing to ignore these warnings, social care remains in crisis and councils and the NHS continue to be pushed to the financial brink.

“The Government cannot ignore this any longer. Genuinely new government money for social care is urgently needed. Without this, our most vulnerable continue to face an ever uncertain future where they might no longer receive the dignified care and support they deserve, such as help getting dressed or getting out and about, which is crucial to their independence and wellbeing.

“Councils face an overall £5.8 billion funding gap by 2020. This will push councils perilously close to the financial edge over the next few years and force them all to make significant reductions to the local services communities rely on, including filling potholes, collecting waste, maintaining our parks and green spaces and running children’s centres, leisure centres and libraries, to plug growing funding gaps.”

Chief executive of the LGiU, Jonathan Carr-West, said: ‘Local government finances across the country are in a dire state. Everyone is expecting someone to fail. They are just hoping it won’t be them.’

Thanks to the work of this Administration, our officers and the support of members across party in this council, it will not be us. But we are far from the least affected.

The Government has said that from 2020 councils will retain all of their business rates, rather than the 50% they do at present. Although that in theory offer this authority the prospect of in excess of fifty million pounds, it is clear that revaluation, rebates and redistribution may mean we see no net benefit. This will not be anything other than a fiscally neutral move by the Treasury, leaving them no worse off and local government no better off as a result

Over the last 4 years, this council has saved £76 million in order to ensure that we keep pace with the demand and inflationary cost of social care and temporary accommodation, within an envelope that is shrinking as the result of diminishing funding from central government. No one is immune from savings, and I have ensured my Administration has saved £70,000 from the special responsibility allowances set by the Independent Remuneration Panel.

Our revenue support grant will all but disappear in 2020.  Health budgets for 2017/18 and beyond have not been set. It seems unlikely that the full impact of welfare reform has yet been felt.

I am pleased to say that we are rising to this financial challenge, and managing this council’s finances well. I thank my colleague Cllr Les Hamilton for his role in ensuring we are on a sound and sensible course.

At this halfway point in our Administration’s first term, in the face of unprecedented funding challenges, with 40% reductions in our spending power, I am determined that we will maintain the vast majority of our services in some form, and strive to keep the number of compulsory job losses to levels below those of many other authorities in the same situation. Achieving that in this Budget has been an immense task, but as most will acknowledge, we are not in circumstances that are unique or that are of our own making.

We are by no means the worst off as a council, but we are far from being the one with the best deal. As a council we are modernising and reforming, managing responsibly and competently, innovating and changing the way we do things, making savings while investing in new resources and revenue generation. This year we instructed officers that a projected overspend of close to £4 million had to be reduced to within the risk provision we prudently set. We delivered. Our auditors, Ernst & Young, have recognized our sound financial management and recently gave us an improved and positive rating for securing value for money for the taxpayer.

During this year we will deliver savings through sharing services with other councils via the Orbis partnerships, both in support services and legal. Having stress-tested the four year integrated service and financial plans first agreed in February 2015, we have identified further initiatives that will help us, for example a fresh approach to the neighbourhoods agenda and to enforcement.

Through our investment in Digital First we will have a renewed focus on those projects that deliver the biggest savings – starting with mobile working and using predictive analytics in the adult social care service. We have ensured that the council’s ambitious Modernisation Programme will continue apace – its work streams will deliver most of the required savings for 2017/18 to add to the £17 million forecast for this year.

Mr Mayor we have adopted a financially responsible approach, a more commercial approach, a more co-operative approach, a more customer-focused approach. We are getting a grip on demand led services, streamlining processes and delivering £2 million in management savings last year and next year. All of us should be proud of what this council is achieving, in the face of the challenges common across local government, and in the face of our own specific housing and infrastructure challenges here in Brighton and Hove.

We are leading the city through by strengthening our collaboration with all our partners and asking the Better Brighton & Hove think tank to research, address and solve the economic, social, and public service challenges facing the city.

In conclusion, all of us were elected to serve the residents of this city, to make it a better place to live now and in the future, to preserve our heritage and invest in our economy. We are the temporary custodians of a valuable and historic place, a collection of rich and varied communities and culture, a city with incredible resources and immense potential.

We should be united in saying that Government should help us do what we were all elected to do, help us get to the basic services right, protect the most vulnerable, and ensure everyone benefits when our economy does well.

We should be united in asking Government to devolve to us the powers to fund what we need to do, and to deliver what our residents and businesses need.

We should be united in calling for an urgent review of how local government is funded and how it meets the challenge of providing social care services, not to apportion blame but to address a national crisis.

I say to this council, very simply, we should be united in support of this council, our residents and for Brighton and Hove.

We in this Group will support a significant number of the opposition amendments, because we recognise the work put in and the intent from opposition parties to make our budget better. I hope they in turn recognise our work and our intent in making the difficult choices, significant savings and sound financial decisions we have in this Budget today. The amendments today total less than 1% of the total revenue, HRA and capital budgets we have in front of us today. So let us view how we vote tonight in that perspective.

Let’s be united for care homes, nurseries and libraries. Let’s be united for those youth services we all care about, united for the seven hundred services this council provides for the people of this city, from the simplest cleaning job to the most complex legal social care case.

Let’s be united in support of the social worker and the street sweeper, for the dedicated men and women employed by this council who have adapted and adjusted and upped their game year after year after year.

Let us be united for the community and voluntary services we support, we commission and we partner with in Brighton and Hove, for the small businesses who need our support in the face of unfair government business rates rises AND the council taxpayer hit by benefit changes and tax increases.

Getting the basics right, protecting the most vulnerable and growing the economy. Managing the resources we have well, increasing them wherever and whenever we can. Those  are my aims as Leader, our aims as an Administration, they should be ours as a council, ours as a city with a great future ahead of it.

I make an appeal across this chamber today. Be united. Join together. Support our city, support our communities, support our residents. Support this budget and be confident in the future of Brighton and Hove.

2016: fifty positive things your council has achieved this year

 

received_10154080748042534.jpeg2016 has been a year memorable for many of the wrong reasons. Here in Brighton and Hove though, there has been a lot that has been positive.

Here are just some of the things your Labour-led council has achieved despite huge cuts from government.

  1. Affordable homes joint venture approved to deliver 1000 homes: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/new-project-build-affordable-housing-city-agreed
  2. Air quality improves: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city%E2%80%99s-air-quality-improving
  3. Animal warden service revamped: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/new-animal-warden-service
  4. Apprenticeships up by 19 per cent in the city, putting us above the national average for the first time; new challenge set: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/jobs/apprenticeships/1000-apprenticeships
  5. Big Belly Bins introduced: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council%E2%80%99s-bigbelly-bins-able-devour-more-waste
  6. Big Conversation on city parks draws huge response: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/big-thanks-3500-responding-parks-survey
  7. Budget passed: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/budget-agreed-201617
  8. Care leavers’ trust fund established: http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000883/M00006141/AI00052207/$BrightonandHoveChildrensCommitteeSavingsandTrustFundforCICmay2016.docA.ps.pdf
  9. City Innovation Challenge winners announced: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/council-and-democracy/council-finance/city-innovation-challenge
  10. Commercial waste collection service earns money for services: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/environment/recycling-rubbish-and-street-cleaning/commercial-recycling-and-rubbish
  11. Council house building programme on track to deliver 500 new homes: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/housing/council-housing/new-homes-neighbourhoods https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/latest-approval-new-generation-council-housing https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/work-starts-57-new-council-homes
  12. Credit Union strengthened: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/bhcc-seeks-strengthen-citys-credit-union-services
  13. Ethical Care Charter adopted: http://www.brightonhovelabour.com/new_contract_will_deliver_labour_s_ethical_home_care_pledge
  14. Fairness Commission completes work: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/fairness-commission-announces-their-recommendations-city
  15. Food poverty action plan wins best partnership at the city sector stars event: http://bhcommunityworks.org.uk/sector-star-winners/
  16. Foster parents increase by 8 per cent in last year; saving £350k on agency out placements.
  17. Free childcare doubled: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/%C2%A3120k-council-bid-success-free-childcare-plan
  18. Fuel poverty tackled: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city-gets-top-marks-tackling-fuel-poverty
  19. Garden waste collection service introduced: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/garden-waste-scheme-grows
  20. HIV prevention Fast Track Cities Initiative “90-90-90” adopted: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14948188.Brighton_and_Hove_bid_for_HIV_Fast_Track_City_status/
  21. Housing allocations improved: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/housing-allocations-proposals-strengthen-focus-local-need
  22. King Alfred replacement given go-ahead: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council-chooses-crest-nicholson-redevelop-king-alfred-site
  23. LGBT schools support rated best in the country: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council%E2%80%99s-lgbt-support-schools-rated-among-best-country
  24. Library hours extended: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/libraries-open-extra-thanks-pioneering-out-hours-scheme
  25. Litter fines introduced: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/drop-litter-pick-a-fine-0
  26. Madeira Terraces rescue plan in place: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/%C2%A34m-bid-goes-start-brighton-terraces-re-build
  27. Mental health for young people highlighted in campaign: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/iamwhole
  28. Motor Neurone Disease Charter signed: http://www.mndassociation.org/news-and-events/latest-news/success-two-more-councils-adopt-the-mnd-charter/
  29. Nursery in children’s centre rated outstanding: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2016/05/16/brighton-nursery-rated-outstanding-after-ofsted-inspection/
  30. Office move saves £2m: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/%C2%A32-million-saving-a-year-hove-town-hall-officially-opens
  31. Parking meters go contactless: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/contactless-pay-and-display-machines-just-ticket-drivers
  32. Pavilion future secured: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/securing-future-royal-pavilion-and-museums
  33. Planning service improves: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/planning-services-steps-improve-performance-working
  34. Recycling improves: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city-waste-services-improving-residents-and-businesses
  35. Refugees helped with support from residents.
  36. Rent Smart launched for private tenants: http://rentsmartbrightonhove.org/
  37. Rough Sleeping Strategy agreed: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/draft-rough-sleeping-strategy-2016-consultation
  38. Seafront gets a billion pounds investment: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/council-and-democracy/news/search-news
  39. Schools success: number of schools rated Good or Outstanding up by 10 per cent (now 92 per cent) city is above the national average for the first time, and now in top 25 for primary schools nationally https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city%E2%80%99s-schools-top-50-key-new-government-performance-table https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city%E2%80%99s-primary-pupils-top-30-nationally-key-stage-2 https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/city%E2%80%99s-schools-are-way-ahead-key-stage-2
  40. Sharing support services to save money: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/four-councils-sharing-legal-services-save-%C2%A31-million-a-year
  41. Shelter Hall work underway: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/parking-and-travel/roads-and-highways/rebuilding-former-west-street-shelter-hall
  42. Street Lighting investment approved: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/future-bright-super-smart-street-lighting
  43. Street sweeping boost: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/clean-green-sweeping-machines-hit-citys-streets
  44. Temporary accommodation boosted: http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/ieIssueDetails.aspx?IId=50474&PlanId=0&Opt=3#AI49506
  45. Textile recycling boosts funding for communities: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/community-groups-benefit-new-textile-recycling-scheme
  46. Transport team awarded top prize: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/brighton-hove-wins-top-national-transport-award
  47. Velodrome restored: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/preston-park-velodrome-reopened
  48. Volunteering pledge signed: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2016/11/28/volunteering-race-equality-and-domestic-violence-on-the-agenda-at-brighton-and-hove-council-meeting/
  49. Wheeled bin recycling rolled out: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/cash-wheelie-bins-will-increase-recycling
  50. Zip wire given the go ahead: https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/brighton%E2%80%99s-300-metre-zip-wire-approved

Bring on 2017: we will deliver even more for Brighton and Hove.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting the basics right, protecting the most vulnerable, and growing an economy that benefits all.

 

WM portrait

Our draft Budget for 2017/18 is now out. My Labour & Co-operative Administration is facing up to the harshest ever financial circumstances the city council has faced. We are making a stand, drawing a line in face of the biggest ever cuts imposed by the Conservative Government.

We are protecting:

  • Early years services including nurseries and childrens centres, child protection is our legal duty and top priority
  • Libraries, not just as a place to borrow books but as community advice hubs and assets, the heart of our neighbourhoods approach
  • Refuse, recycling and street cleaning, the basic service your council tax pays for, with £400k coming in from commercial waste collection. Investment in big belly bins, new street cleaning vehicles, garden waste are new service innovations.
  • Public toilets no more cuts proposed, none added in the current year, no additions to the closures chosen by the previous Green Administration
  • Domestic violence we are pushing back against to cuts to this vital preventative service
  • Rough sleeping we are succeeding working to prevent hundreds of families entering homelessness, and are resisting pressure from benefit cuts that put more at risk
  • Poverty proofing the school day was a key recommendation from the Fairness Commission, giving pupils a fair start at school
  • Living Wage protected at local level not the national rebranded minimum wage
  • Social care: we are reviewing and redesigning services to focus on effective signposting, build stronger communities through increased partnership working, provide preventative services and ensure people get the safe, high quality, personalised, accessible and sustainable support they need.

This is our plan, our positive way forward, building a co-operative council and city to keep vital services going:

  • Investing millions in digital customer services
  • Saving millions through managing assets better, like our move from Kings House which will save £2m a year
  • Designing neighbourhood services and partnering with other organisations to keep services going locally through local hubs, volunteer-run parks
  • Saving half a million through our new housing allocations policy
  • A £7m investment in better street lighting that will deliver a £500k saving each year
  • Placing the Royal Pavilion into a trust to protect it and enable it to raise more money
  • Joining the Orbis partnership with neighbouring councils sharing support services to protect jobs and grow capacity
  • Housing investment in new council houses and truly affordable homes to tackle poverty and homelessness, and bring in new council tax
  • Major projects – new infrastructure, economic activity, more business rates/rents
  • Revenue generation from services like commercial waste, vehicle workshops

All this in the face of enormous pressures:

  • Government grant is down by another £11 million this year. It is shrinking from £140m to £6m over an 8 year period, a 40% funding reduction in real terms
  • We have already saved £70 million in last 4 years, £20 million in current year, leaving no easy cuts, no simple solutions, no savings that are pain-free
  • We still have to make £51 million savings over next three years, £24 million in the coming year
  • We are still £3m off balancing the Budget for 2017/18 – more savings need to be found
  • The £125m income from council tax is now smaller that £150m costs of care, increasing by £7m in the coming year
  • We are putting £1.5m more into supporting council tax payments for people on low incomes as Government funding for that scheme is cut
  • We are putting £300k more into free bus passes for older people, from the £562k additional parking revenue – the total cost of free bus travel is now more than £11m
  • We are making a further £2m of management savings

Cuts include:

  • £750k from youth services, however £250k remains for advocacy, services and support for young people vulnerable to exploitation, involved in substance misuse, entering the criminal justice system or requiring emotional and mental health support. We also continue to fund Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) work, the Youth Employability Service, the Youth Offending Service, and services for adolescents.
  • £600k from parks covered in our Big Conversation, and £100k from sports club subsidies
  • £290k from supported bus routes – still leaving a £900k subsidy

We are not alone. This is all in a national context:

An additional 2% social care “precept” on council tax, above what was allowed in the last financial year, has been asked for by most councils responsible for for social care, but this was not announced in the Government’s Autumn Statement. Even if it is, it won’t be Government that pays it will be us, with them transferring the financial burden of social care on to local taxation.

LGA Chair Lord Porter (Conservative) warns that councils will face an ‘extremely challenging’ situation over the next few years to tackle the £5.8bn funding gap by 2020: ‘Many councils are faced with difficult decisions about which services are scaled back or stopped altogether.’ He said the government must take urgent action to fund social care properly, if councils are to stand any chance of protecting care services for elderly and vulnerable people. Porter said that extra council tax-raising powers would not bring in enough money to alleviate the pressure on social care services for elderly and vulnerable, and that people are at breaking point now.

So far 24 top tier councils both Labour and Conservative-led are taking up full increase in council tax allowed at just under 4%. The days of council tax “freezes” are over.

Other councils have it even worse. In Liverpool all council-run services, including libraries, sports centres, maintenance of parks, highway repairs, street cleaning and rubbish collections, would have to be cut by 50% to balance the books, with Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson warning there will soon be no funds left, even for basic services.

There is a nationwide crisis in social care:  77 of the 152 local authorities responsible for providing care for the elderly have seen at least one residential and nursing care provider close in the last six months, because cuts to council budgets meant there were insufficient funds to run adequate services. In 48 councils, at least one company that provides care for the elderly in their own homes has ceased trading.

Is the Government getting it’s priorities right? No.

  • The Autumn Statement gave £240m for Grammar Schools whilst failing to help councils with social care and basic service funding.
  • Over the course of the Conservative’s decade in power they will give away £21 billion in tax cuts for higher earners, and another £1 billion in inheritance tax.
  • In the same period they are handing over £12 billion in corporation tax cuts for big businesses.
  • All this while £7.6 billion is cut from local government. That’s councils like ours.

Find out more about our Budget and watch my Budget message here.

Sign my petition calling on the Government to reverse their tax cuts and restore council funding: https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-save-our-services

 

Our team, working for you

VictoryChris Moncreiff, as a political commentator of many years experience, makes some valid points about the state of the Labour Party (Argus, Sept 8th). Some readers may worry what this means for the running of their local council in Brighton and Hove.

I’d like to reassure residents of Brighton and Hove that we are and remain a strong team focused on delivering what we were elected to do for all our residents and communities.

Cllr Gill Mitchell is leading work on tackling littering and flytipping, with new compactor bins and our enforcement team cracking down on people who dump rubbish in our streets, now ably assisted by Cllr Saoirse Horan on all environmental and transport issues.

Cllr Tom Bewick is pushing for ever better schools, more apprenticeships and equipping our young people for the world of work. Cllr Dan Chapman is leading cross-party work on schools admissions to include the new secondary school opening next year.

Cllr Anne Meadows is overseeing the building of 500 new council homes, and our new joint venture to build a thousand truly affordable homes for rent or sale at 60% of market rates, while Cllr Tracey Hill leads work to make the city’s private rented sector fairer and Cllr Clare Moonan pushes ahead with work to tackle rough sleeping.

Cllr Emma Daniel is in charge of building stronger communities and neighbourhoods, taking up the challenge of our Fairness Commission to deliver on our pledge to ensure everyone shares in the city’s success. Cllr Alan Robins now heads our efforts on supporting the arts, culture and economic development, while Cllr Julie Cattell is delivering huge improvements in our Planning service.

Cllr Dan Yates and Cllr Karen Barford are facing up to the huge challenges our city faces in adult social care and health issues, and Cllr Caroline Penn is working with partner agencies to improve mental health.

Cllr Les Hamilton brings four decades of experience on the council to the immense challenge of changing our council to meet the demands of a budget that is 40% smaller in the face of growing demand.

I’m working to build new partnerships to give us the muscle to tackle the big issues and compete on a national and international stage, and hope to be able to make a big announcement soon.

I’m proud to lead this great team leading Brighton and Hove. Despite the cuts and increasing pressures we face, despite the fact that the Greens and Tories can and do outvote us when it suits them politically, we will work every day to make a difference.

We will preserve and restore our city’s heritage, we will make our communities stronger and our society fairer, we will find new ways of funding the decent basic services you expect. Jobs, homes and schools remain at the heart of what we do.

We are here until 2019 at least, I hope longer, doing the job you expect from us whatever the national political situation . At its heart, politics is not about labels, it is about energy, ideas, aspiration and hope. We will do our best to deliver those for Brighton and Hove.

(First published in The Argus, 12th September)

A 2020 Vision For Brighton and Hove

Brighton from sea (2)By the time you read this the EU Referendum will be over and Britain’s role in or out of Europe will be decided. After months of debate this will be a relief to most.

For Brighton and Hove though, another question about our place in our region and the world must be addressed. Small to medium sized cities like ours around the globe are looking to the future and deciding what they want to offer residents, visitors and businesses.

Alongside the day to day concerns about social care and parking, grass cutting and libraries, as Leader of the City Council I have a responsibility to ensure our city makes progress and does not decline, that it competes and cooperates rather than building walls around itself.

Within our region and largely out of the public spotlight, discussions are going on about a range of new geographies and governance arrangements for health, transport, planning and economic growth. Local government faces wholesale but largely unstructured change; without a plan to see us through it the ability to provide the things residents need and expect is under threat.

Our city should lead, not follow. We should be at the heart of change, not at the mercy of it. We need a vision for 2020 and beyond that secures a better future, not one that harks after a better past. With the social, financial and infrastructure challenges we face, we have to take risks, find bold and innovative solutions, not retreat into a comfortable but ultimately sterile decline.

We are bidding for devolved powers from Government that will give us the ability to tackle the housing crisis and bring in the money we need to fund basic services, and I met with the Secretary of State for Local Government recently to make that case, and presented him with our devolution bid prospectus. I want to explore growing the Greater Brighton City Region to Crawley and Gatwick, creating a real powerhouse in the south east with global access and reach. We need the power and influence to ensure we have the transport infrastructure and governance to guarantee rail links to London, and I am seeking discussions with the Mayor’s office in the capital to take that forward.

We need a vision for a prosperous city where all share in our economic success, and our plans for investment and growth along our seafront, throughout the city and including up to our universities are moving at pace. An economy founded on tourism and conferences, arts and creative industries, digital and financial services, education and skills, entrepreneurship and independent businesses must be driven to prosper.

Brighton and Hove has always faced outwards, has long been an international city, and to secure a successful future for those who live here we need to pursue this vision with energy and determination, confidence and aspiration, and a belief in ourselves as a city whose better days lie ahead of us.

The Lockwood Project – saving Brighton’s Madeira Terraces

wp-1465421775296.jpegOur iconic Madeira Terraces have lasted over 130 years, a remarkable testimony to the quality of Victorian craftsmanship. Sadly the seaside environment has taken its toll on the ironwork and major restoration is needed.

I’m committing the council today to a project that will fully restore or replace that ironwork and return the Madeira Terraces to their original condition. Named for the Brighton Borough Surveyor who created the Terraces and our famous Birdcage Bandstand, Phillip Cawston Lockwood, we are calling it the Lockwood Project.

We have been working over recent months with civil engineers Mott Macdonald on what needs to be done and we’re now near to a plan to fully restore the Madeira Terraces.   Crucially we are liaising closely with Historic England to ensure that our plan for the future respects the heritage of the past.  Where possible we will restore the ironwork, but where modern engineering methods, materials and treatments allow and can be justified we will also use these to replace iron work on a like-for-like replica basis, to ensure that the structure can last longer.

The Terraces were created as a covered promenade to attract tourists from London on the new railway of the 1800s. In the 21st Century we need something more, and something that will help fund the restoration and upkeep of the Terraces.

We are exploring ways of achieving this with colleagues at Historic England that protects the integrity of the Terraces, but also provides new ways of generating income to pay for their restoration and to provide new activity along this important stretch of our city’s coastline.  The option we’re proposing is self-contained but serviced glass-fronted units within the terrace arches, structures that preserve the integrity of the Terraces but allow new space to be leased or rented for use as cafes, shops, businesses or even “overnight beach huts”, but not permanent accommodation.

We’re working to ensure that we find an engineering solution that is both feasible but also gains the support of the heritage groups.  Importantly, we are looking for ways to preserve the unique and historic Green Wall which predates the Terraces themselves, building around it just as the Terraces were, allowing the Green Wall to breathe and grow.

None of this can be achieved without some public funding and we are placing a bid at the end of this month for £4 million of Coastal Communities funding to get the Lockwood Project underway.  Further funding will be sought from grants, lottery funding and private investment, and we’ll look at using the same Public Works Loan Board borrowing as the i360 for some of the estimated £20 to £30 million costs. There may also be a potential for a financial relationship with some of the other projects in the pipeline for Madeira Drive, such as the Sea Lanes swimming pool, or Section 106 planning gain money.

A report will come to the Councils Policy, Resources and Growth Committee in July to begin what is likely to be at least a year-long process of consultation with residents, planning and legal agreements, and the procurement of a specialist contractor expert in this type of restoration. Ideally work will be underway by the end of next year if we are able to secure the required funding. It could be that the work will be phased, with restoration done in sections so that we can open some of the units as soon as possible.

The restoration of the Madeira Terraces will be an integral part of the multi-million pound regeneration of Madeira Drive, with the new swimming pool, new zip wire attraction, Aquarium Terraces replacement, children’s play area and our new ten thousand seat arena and conference centre at Black Rock. From the pier to the marina, the whole area will be improved and enhanced, whilst restoring the wonderful Madeira Arches for future generations.

It is my hope that the Lockwood Project will preserve a much-valued part of our local heritage, whilst adding to our tourist offer in the same way the Terraces did in Victorian times. I’d like to think that Phillip Cawston Lockwood would approve, and I hope you will too.

Will the Greens and Tories unite to scupper Hove cinema hope, and put community libraries across Brighton and Hove at risk?

Hove Library
Could this building have housed a new art house cinema for Hove?

With cuts by the Conservative Government of over 40% to our local services, it is clear that like many other councils, Brighton and Hove cannot continue to run its current network of libraries as they are.

Rather than close or privatise them as some councils have, we proposed moving Hove library to a new, purpose built extension at Hove museum. The Carnegie building, where the library currently operates, is by far the most expensive library building to run. It is also an unsafe working environment for library staff.

By moving the library just 300 metres along the road, closer to most Hove library users, we could add a cafe and outdoor space to what is currently offered, and run a library service at a fraction of the cost. Crucially, that would free up enough money each year to keep all of our branch libraries across the city open, and indeed extend opening hours where they have been cut.

Branch libraries are at the heart of our plan for community hubs in every neighbourhood. It is a sensible and innovative plan that has been backed by a majority of the public in two consultation exercises, and supported by full Council within the Libraries Plan.

Behind the scenes, we have been talking to an art house cinema chain about buying the building, and returning a cinema to Hove, one of the homes of early film-making, for the first time in forty years.

All the time the sale of the Carnegie building has been under discussion, this has had to remain confidential. We did however tell the Conservative leadership.

The Conservative Group on the council have been split, with some backing the move, and others, led by the would-be parliamentary candidate Robert Nemeth, opposing. They asked for more time, and more information, plus a further building survey costing the council £8,000. All of this was given, with the survey being delivered in a tight timescale, over a dozen further reports and a month of discussions.

Yet despite a thorough and sound business plan, they are still threatening to oppose the move of Hove library, simply to inflict a political defeat on the Labour Administration, in alliance with the Greens.

It won’t be the first time the Greens and Tories have joined up, having forced through the taxpayer loan for the i360 last year.

I’ve said very recently that I will always work to find a consensus in the best interests of the city and its residents. It is what people expect us to do.

Officers have made very clear in the Libraries Plan and subsequent reports to committee that the necessary alternative course of action if the Carnegie was to remain open would be to close many of our branch libraries in Saltdean, Rottingdean, Hangleton, Patcham, Westdene, Woodingdean, Mile Oak, Moulsecoomb, Coldean, Hollingbury, Portslade and Whitehawk. Our innovative plan has been designed to prevent that, I still want to prevent that and we will continue to try to work with the Conservatives and Green councilors to prevent that.

It is a very worrying time for this city and our valued libraries. It shows a real lack of civic responsibility on the part of the Greens, who we expect to act like this, but also on the part of Tories like Robert Nemeth, putting his own personal ambitions above what is right for Brighton and Hove. I’d hoped for stronger leadership from Tory leader Geoffrey Theobald, who has always said he would support innovation and creativity in providing public services.

I’m very disappointed that it has come to this with the future of libraries across the city being placed at significant risk.

The Conservatives will decide on Monday whether to back our libraries solution, keeping all our libraries open including an improved service in Hove, or to back the Greens protesting over an ageing building that isn’t fit for purpose and which costs so much to run that it threatens the future of more than half our community libraries across Brighton and Hove.

If you support our libraries plan and want to ensure the future of libraries across the city, e-mail the Conservative Group Leader: Geoffrey.theobald@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Sign our petition here: https://www.change.org/p/green-and-conservative-councillors-on-brighton-and-hove-council-save-our-libraries