Category Archives: Uncategorized

Setting The Record Straight

In the summer of 2016, Brighton and Hove Labour Party held its annual general meeting at a city centre venue. Following the huge expansion of membership the summer before, over four times the previous number attended. Queues stretched around the block, particularly after a large contingent from a nearby Momentum rally arrived.

The venue quickly exceeded capacity, and the venue staff closed the doors as admitting further people would have breached fire safety limits. It was decided, on probably ill-judged advice from Region, to hold the AGM in three “shifts” so all could participate.

At the main door some people believed that they were being prevented from taking part, and that the person refusing them entry was from the Labour Party, not the venue. There was a heated confrontation.

As a result, the member of venue staff complained to a member of Labour staff (who himself was, during the event, elbowed in the ribs and called a “Blairite c***”) and several members of the outgoing City Party Executive. They then told me what had happened.

After the meeting I posted one tweet, half of which referred to the incident. It was wrong that this staff member, unconnected to anyone in Labour and just doing his job, had been caught up in a confrontation at such close quarters that the persons spit hit him. Ultimately he declined to make a formal complaint.

This incident had nothing to do with the subsequent annulment of the AGM and breakup of the City Party.

The elections held that day, using open buckets to collect ballots and held over three sessions, could not in the Party’s view be guaranteed to be safe.

The successful candidate for Chair was immediately suspended and subsequently expelled by the NEC for membership of the proscribed organisation the Alliance for Workers Liberty.

The NEC decided that the City Party, at over seven thousand members, was too large to function as a single unit, and determined that the three constituency parties should be reconstituted.

As someone who helped found the city party structure to more effectively contest local elections, I disagreed with that step in principle, but acknowledged it in practical terms. It was never my decision or one I had influence over. I had no involvement in the decision and was informed the day before it was announced. I don’t think the reasons for the annulment of the City Party elections and the return to CLPs were properly explained.

Again, my tweet, and the incident at the door, had nothing to do with the AGM being annulled and the City Party being broken up.

Claims were made that it was a desperate attempt by “Blairites” to cling on to control. The outgoing chair was Lloyd Russell-Moyle, now the Corbyn-supporting MP for Brighton Kemptown. He took over from Nancy Platts when she went to work in Jeremy Corbyn’s office. Plenty of the outgoing Exec were on the Left, and standing again. By and large the City Party Executive had worked well bringing together all strands of the Party.

That one tweet has been used repeatedly over the past two years as “proof” that I have regularly “lied and fabricated smears” to discredit the Left and attack the leadership nationally.

Repeated again and again in blogs and on social media, particularly in the closed Facebook groups of the three local CLPs, these claims have become “the truth”.

My achievements in office have therefore always had a “yes, but..”. Is it any wonder I’ve been told, again and again, that “the membership won’t support you” carrying on as Leader?

None of this has been central to my decision to stand down, but it has been a distraction and a drain on delivering Labour policies in the city.

My decision not to seek re-election now means I am free to set the record straight. Of course those members convinced that I’ve spent the last two years fabricating “smears” – one of whom branded me an “execrable toad”, and another who referred to “murdering psychopaths” sharing the same traits as me – are very unlikely to believe a word of this, even if they read it.

That doesn’t matter and I’ve nothing to gain or lose now other than to put my side of the story, and to demonstrate the lengths some have gone to in order to pursue factional goals and personal vendettas. It was never about me attacking, or them defending, Jeremy Corbyn, it was all about settling scores. As Neil Schofield blogged last week, there were attempts to oust me as Labour Group leader even as we were campaigning to win the last local elections, months before Corbyn even stood.

I’ve had some personal abuse, yes, but it is nothing compared to the mysogynistic abuse and personal harrassment some of my women councillor colleagues have had to deal with over the past five years.

It’s the right thing to do, now, to call this behaviour out.

This blog post isn’t about me or my leadership, it’s about the Labour Party, about winning a majority Labour council in Brighton and Hove.

It is my hope that the many good and decent people on the Left and in the majority in the local Labour Party will now see through this kind of behaviour and, if they really believe in a new, kinder, gentler politics, kick these malicious people out of their movement. If they don’t, they may well find themselves on the receiving end of it next.

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All Good Things…

It has been the privilege of my life to have been given the opportunity to serve as leader of the place where I was born and which I call home. However that time must now come to an end.

Despite the enormous financial and infrastructure challenges facing the city council, leading it has been a role I have enjoyed and found hugely rewarding, even in only being able to achieve a fraction of what I would have wished to.

None of what I have achieved as Leader of the Labour and Co-operative Group over the past five years, or as Council Leader over the past three, have I achieved alone. I have been incredibly lucky to have has a group of friends, a team of talented councillor colleagues, and a set of dedicated council officers alongside me.

Together I believe we have achieved an enormous amount under near impossible circumstances given the funding, housing and political pressures we face. I’d like to pick out just a few things which are important to me.

Since taking up the Labour and Co-operative Group leadership we have gone from third place on the city council to first, almost doubling our number of councillors. We have won every council by-election we have faced, increasing our share of the vote even in office. Labour now stands ready to win a majority on the city council, a feat no political party in Brighton and Hove has managed in nearly two decades.

I made it a priority for the Labour Administration, on taking office in 2015, to tackle the city’s housing crisis. It is not easy, but we have succeeded in completing more new council homes in one year than at any time in the last thirty, and an innovative new partnership project to deliver a thousand homes affordable on the National Living Wage is about to begin. I put tackling the crisis of rough sleeping at the top of our agenda; whilst the problem continues to grow, we have ensured thousands have been helped from a life on the streets.

I have been proud to have played a small role in securing a future for the Madeira Terraces, alongside some dedicated community campaigners. As I said last week, our city’s heritage is not something to be remembered, but something to be lived. I hope I see the restoration completed.

Under my leadership we have, despite tens of millions being cut from our funding by the Government each year, steadied the council’s finances under a four-year plan, delivered three Budgets without the chaos of the Green administration that we replaced, and have done so without the need for any compulsory redundancies. We’ve seen increases in customer satisfaction, alongside an acknowledgment from residents that we are delivering value for money.

The council under my leadership has made significant progress on a number of major projects; the new King Alfred leisure centre, the replacement conference centre and concert arena for the Brighton Centre, the expansion of Churchill Square shopping centre, the Circus Street development, the Preston Barracks regeneration scheme and more. Together they total over a billion pounds worth of investment in new jobs, homes and economic growth that will secure the city’s economy for the future. Two decades of inaction and delay are at an end.

On a personal note, I was so happy to have been able to play a part in the celebrations to mark the Albion’s promotion to the Premier League, and to award the Freedom of the City to Chris Hughton and Tony Bloom.

Having spoken to colleagues over recent months I have now taken the decision to continue to serve as Leader until Annual Council in May, but not seek re-election at the Labour & Co-operative Group Annual General Meeting in April. This will give my successor time to prepare for the city council elections in 2019, and set out their stall for what I believe will be a Labour victory and the first majority council for nearly twenty years.
After fifteen years of representing East Brighton ward, I will also stand down as a councillor in May 2019.

I’ve given the city my best efforts in service of my fellow residents. I would like to thank all those who have worked with me and supported me over the past five years, and I wish my successor well in taking on the immense and difficult challenges of the years ahead.

Getting On With The Job

Over the coming months, the Labour minority Administration on Brighton and Hove City Council, which I am proud to lead, faces a number of significant challenges.

We face a seventh austerity budget imposed on us by the Conservative government, taking £100m away from our service funding, and the same time as our costs are growing and Whitehall hands us ever more responsibility for things they previously paid for.

We face the challenge of securing funding and powers to secure our city’s heritage and infrastructure, at the Pavilion and on the seafront, particularly Madeira Terraces.

We have to continue to make progress on delivering 1500 new council homes and truly affordable homes through our Living Wage joint venture.

We have to meet the challenge of a rising tide of rough sleeping and homelessness caused by Government welfare policy.

We need to secure the progress made on getting a better deal for tenants in the private rented sector, and support the provision of student accommodation to ease pressure on the housing market.

We have to ensure the council and partner agencies are ready to help those hit by the Governments roll-out of Universal Credit.

We must secure progress on the new conference centre and concert arena, extension to Churchill Square, and funding for a new King Alfred. Jobs, homes and our city’s future economic prosperity depend on it.

We need to bring together the council and Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver the GPs, primary health care services and basic NHS provision residents need.

We must continue the improvement in recycling we have achieved, and the action against litterers and flytippers who are placing a strain on our city’s cleaning services.

We want to roll out troubleshooters into our communities to tackle problems as they arrive at a local level, and improve the way we provide customer services online.

We must push even harder for a better deal for Brighton and Hove from the Government, for the powers and funding to deliver what our communities need.

We have to ensure the places at our schools, all of which are good and improving, are there for the pupils that need them.

We must continue to prepare the city, our economy and our businesses for the impact of Brexit.

All this and much more needs to be done. Its the job I was elected to do, that the city expects me to get on with, and I will not be distracted or diverted from it.

Despite the challenges we face, Brighton and Hove can be as great as it ever was, and better, for everyone that lives here. That the job I’m getting on with.

Standing up to racism

Yesterday I made a public statement regarding anti-Semitism at the Labour Conference in Brighton and Hove.

As a city, we have clear policies on equalities, discrimination and racism. It is my job as Leader of the City Council to speak out against racism, bigotry and prejudice in all its forms. I’ve done so when the far-right came here to march. I’ve done so when refugees faced abuse, when the Muslim community faced hostility in the wake of events elsewhere.

Whatever my views on conflicts elsewhere in the world, my firm belief is that those conflicts should not be played out by groups or individuals against communities in our city. We are a City of Sanctuary, where people from all backgrounds should live alongside each other, live and work together, without the wars and conflicts in countries they may have connections with coming into daily life here.

Our right to free speech is bounded by the rights of others not to have their daily life subject to intimidation and fear. People are of course free to criticize and protest against the actions of the Israeli Government. Jewish people here are no more responsible for those actions simply for being Jewish than Syrian people are responsible for Assad or Americans are for Trump. Women in headscarves shouldn’t face abuse because of IS. Men in yarmulkes shouldn’t face abuse because of Netanyahu.

Legitimate debate on the Israel/Palestine issue should not be stifled, but neither should that issue it be a justification for the demonisation of an entire group of people based on their ethnicity or religion. My statement was not about that conflict.

Nor was it about the Labour leadership. Jeremy Corbyn and the front bench have been clear on their condemnation of anti-Semitism: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/sep/26/new-antisemitism-row-for-labour-over-fringe-speakers-holocaust-remarks-miko-peled?

Conference approved a rule change with the support of 96% of delegates to make anti-Semitic behaviour even more explicitly against the Party rules than it was previously. I’m calling for those rules to be enforced, so that we can welcome Conference back to Brighton and Hove again.

Anti-Semitism is racism. The Labour Party is an anti-racist Party. Brighton and Hove is a city where all should feel safe and secure. These are things which should not be in question.

Tony Bloom and Chris Hughton: Freedom of Brighton and Hove

FreedomMr Mayor, Brighton and Hove Albion is part of this city’s history, it is part of the fabric of this place, it is so important to so many in this place as the sea of blue and white that washed over Hove Lawns last Sunday showed to the world.

It is four years since this council awarded Dick Knight the Freedom of the City in recognition of his role in saving Brighton and Hove Albion.

Twenty years ago, just as this council was coming into existence, so our football club teetered on the edge of going out of existence. A club founded in 1901, a club that was the first body to unite our two towns, a club my family has supported for almost a century.

A club that is valued so highly by so many, across generations, across every part of our community. The Albion, as we saw on the last day at the Goldstone, in the demonstrations for a new stadium, in the fans on the pitch a month ago, and in the thousands on the seafront at the weekend, transcends mere fixtures and statistics. It is an emotion which binds us.

Today Brighton and Hove Albion has once again joined the top flight of English football, is in the Premier League for the first time, and in just three months will emerge on to the global sporting stage. That is down to the club and the team led by the two men we, on behalf of the people of the City of Brighton and Hove, meet to honour today.

It is fitting that it is exactly eight years ago today that Mr Tony Bloom took over as Chairman of Brighton and Hove Albion. The gratitude of tens of thousands of Brighton and Hove Albion fans goes to him, a man whose family is steeped in the club, a man whose support of the club has been unparalleled not just in financial terms, but in heart and soul as well.

He is that rare thing in football, an owner and investor who is also a loyal, diehard, lifelong fan. No-one can doubt, seeing him celebrate goals, victories and promotion home and away, not just from the directors box but from the terraces alongside the travelling supporters, just what the club means to him. The millions he has invested in the team will now reap the rewards, for the club, for the fans and for this city.

Promotion, profile, pride. Premier League.

After almost winning promotion to the Premier League at the first few attempts following the move to the fantastic American Express Community Stadium, in December 2014 it seemed our opportunity had slipped away and relegation threatened.

The appointment of Mr Chris Hughton, a football professional of the highest calibre, with an illustrious career as a player at Spurs and for the Republic of Ireland, and as a manager at Newcastle behind him, heralded a return to success.

Under his inspired leadership the Albion have won an astonishing 50% of their games, coming agonisingly close to promotion last season, but this year making it certain with three games to spare.

For me no moment this season summed up what he inspires in his players more than the team lifting Antony Knockaerts shirt aloft following the death of his father. His calm, confident and determined leadership is an inspiration to all in sport and beyond.

His contribution to the sport and success at every level has won him a long list of awards. In March Football’s “Black List” recognised his achievements in coaching, a week after he won coach of the year at the British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards. He has been awarded Championship Manager of the Month nine times, more than any other manager.

He was League Managers Association Manager of the Year in 2010 and 2016. He holds two FA Cup winners medals, a UEFA cup winners medal, and two Championship promotion honours.

It is my honour as Leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, and my pleasure as a lifelong Albion fan, to propose that Tony Bloom and Chris Hughton are awarded the Freedom of the City of Brighton and Hove today.

In making this award we recognise the achievement of everyone associated with the club, from the board to the backroom staff, the players and coaches, the sponsors and Albion In The Community, and of course the fans who stuck with the team, who fought for survival and the new home at Falmer that Tony Bloom and Martin Perry delivered.

Together, we are Brighton and Hove Albion, and we are on our way to the Premier League.

On Sunday tens of thousands cheered and applauded Tony Bloom, Chris Hughton and the team from one side of the city to the other, on a day none of us who were there will forget.

Today Mr Mayor I move that we honour the Albion’s Premier League success by awarding these leaders, these heroes of our football club, the Freedom of the City of Brighton and Hove.

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.

_________________________________________________________________

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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My media week

pr-101_fundrazr-blogIt’s been a busy week on media with interviews on the Budget,social care, devolution and benefit changes. Here’s a round-up:

TV

Sunday Politics South East (from 48 minutes in): http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0833g95/sunday-politics-south-east-27112016

Radio

BBC Sussex, Wednesday: https://twitter.com/BBCSussex/status/804018608707928064

BBC Sussex Breakfast, Thursday (from 2 hours 8 minutes in) : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04fpc7l

Juice 107, Friday: not yet online

Press and online

Brighton and Hove News, Sunday: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2016/11/27/facing-hard-budget-cuts-together-brighton-and-hove-council-leader-issues-a-call-for-help/

The Argus, Monday: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14931607.City_faces_falling_behind_without_elected_mayor/

Brighton and Hove News, Wednesday: http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2016/11/30/brighton-and-hove-council-to-shed-300-staff-and-cut-51m/

City Council website, Wednesday:                                                             https://youtu.be/pyW6DvutooE?list=PLkn6wzCIq2ylpH785q-65w3B_snw35ew-

The Argus, Wednesday: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14937620.__24_million_cuts_for_Brighton_and_Hove_City_Council_in_toughest_year_ever/

Brighton and Hove Independent, Wednesday: http://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/brighton-to-brace-itself-for-24-million-council-cuts-1-7706445

My blog, Wednesday:                         https://warrenmorgan.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/getting-the-basics-right-protecting-the-most-vulnerable-and-growing-an-economy-that-benefits-all/

The Argus, Thursday: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14940320.__24m_cuts_for_Brighton_and_Hove_could_make_for__most_difficult_year_ever_/

Change.org petition, Thursday:                                                           https://www.change.org/p/theresa-may-mp-save-our-services

The Argus, Friday: http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14942281.Opposition_claim_Labour_administration_lack_coherent_plan_for___24_million_council_cuts/

Brighton and Hove Independent, Friday: http://www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk/news/opinion/warren-morgan-we-cannot-avoid-making-painful-cuts-1-7707138

 

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

 

Facing hard budget cuts together

images

There is no sugaring the pill, no sweetening the message, no avoiding the truth. Your council Budget in the spring will contain cuts to services and jobs unlike any seen so far. We are likely to have to make savings of tens of millions in the coming years, on top of the £100 million savings that have been delivered over the past five years. At the same time it is likely that your council tax will increase by  at least 4%. And the cuts will continue until 2020.

I know there will be campaigns and protests over many of the cuts we are being forced to make, strong cases put forward as to why services should be spared the axe, why they bring value above and beyond their cost. Those campaigns will be right, their anger justified and understandable. There are no services the council provides that do not bring benefit to you, your community or our city. Any cut we make will have an impact.

So why are these cuts happening? Three reasons. Firstly the Government is removing the third of our service funding it has until now provided. £27m is being cut from the money the Treasury gives Brighton and Hove each year by 2020.

Secondly, more and more people need the social care services the council has to provide. Care for the growing number of older people, people with disabilities or long term health conditions, and vulnerable children in care. It is the biggest part of our budget and we have to find £10 million more next year, and by 2020 care costs could eat our entire budget.

Last year the Government added 2% to permitted council tax increases to help fund this, but the £2 million that brings in isn’t enough to keep pace. Most Conservative-led councils agree. The government may yet add a further 2% for next year, although there was no indication of it in the Autumn Statement.

Thirdly, we are in the middle of a housing crisis with rising demand for temporary accommodation as many people struggle with rents due to benefit reductions. We are building new council homes and new affordable homes as fast as we can. Our joint venture with Hyde Housing due for approval in December could deliver over a thousand at just 60% of market rates.

Why aren’t we making other savings, finding new income or investing to save? We are. My team of Labour councillors is working tirelessly with support from officers to find new ways of meeting the financial challenges. we are joining an innovative scheme with East Sussex and Surrey to share “back office” support services like human resources, finance and legal.

We are investing money from selling buildings like Kings House in better online services, and in the process saving £2 million a year in running costs.  We are innovating, changing, bringing co-operative ideas to how we work with you to keep services going. There will be many ways you can pitch in and play your part.

In an uncertain global economy we will fight for investment in good jobs and affordable homes in Brighton and Hove. Any new development brings in additional business rates and council tax to fund your services. We are earning money from new enforcement fines, clothing recycling and vehicle workshop services to help fund front line refuse and street cleaning services.

Over the past eighteen months we have been dashing to catch up with other councils who have been changing the way they fund and provide services for years. Transforming and innovating in what we do needs time and investment.

Why isn’t parking revenue used to offset the cuts? Most of the money we get from tickets, permits and charges goes to fund free bus travel for older people. Why not charge students council tax or just borrow more? The simple answer is that we can’t by law.

Will being able to keep all our business rates help? That won’t happen until 2020, by which time revaluations, appeals and discounts by Government may reduce what we get from local businesses significantly.

Why aren’t we fighting the cuts? The Green Administration waved placards and beat drums outside an empty Treasury, and handed petitions to No 10 that were simply ignored. That’s gesture politics,  we are making the case to ministers, both directly and with our council colleagues across the country and across the political divide, for fairer funding, for the tools we need to do the job you expect us to do. Just as you have had to find new ways of making ends meet, so should we. Ultimately, by law we have to balance the books.

Despite the flood tide of cuts, we won’t just stand there King Canute-like as the water rises over us, we will lead the way to firmer ground. We won’t fall for offers of cheaper delivery from big private companies that could tie you into second rate services. We will work hard to get the basics right, to protect the vulnerable and to grow an economy that benefits everyone. We need your help and support. Let’s fight for your city and your services together.