Tag Archives: Private Rented Sector

2019: Beginning The Campaign For A Labour Majority For Brighton and Hove

The fight starts now for a Labour majority in Brighton and Hove at the next local elections in May 2019. We need six more councillors for a majority, ending more than a decade and a half of no overall control.

We’ve achieved a huge amount since winning minority control in 2015, despite savage Conservative Government cuts to our funding, and two opposition parties on the council who have wasted no opportunity to delay or frustrate the positive things we are trying to achieve for our city.

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So why do we need that majority, and what would we do with it?

Our goal is to build the homes Brighton and Hove needs – affordable homes, more temporary accommodation to tackle homelessness, excellent quality council houses, homes that people need for their families, homes that businesses need for their workers. We’ll push further on our work to make the private rented sector better for tenants and better for Brighton and Hove.

We want to go further and faster on building a city economy – and city region economy – that benefits everyone. More jobs that are secure, that pay well and that give people the security they need for their families. We believe Brighton and Hove belongs in Europe, with thriving universities, creative digital companies and an outward-looking visitor economy.

We want to build a city that cares for residents from their early years through to a healthy and active later life. Social care and good physical and mental is at the heart of what we do. There is no greater challenge – and no bigger opportunity – to lead on making a fundamental difference to the lives of ordinary people here in Brighton and Hove.

We have to stand up for our city to Government, for fairer funding for the services and infrastructure we need, for the business rates local businesses pay but which the Treasury takes, and for the ability to build the homes we need. At the same time we need to innovate in finding ways to pay for the basic services our families and communities rely on, working in partnership with the public sector and the voluntary sector at every step.

We need to be a powerful voice for the infrastructure we need, from housing to health, from rail to ultra-fast broadband. The people of Brighton and Hove need us to speak up for them regionally, nationally and internationally – we can’t continue to lose out because we’ve no clear leadership and a Tory group with near-parity.

Stronger communities are, we believe, the answer to the biggest challenges we face. With so many pressures seeking to divide us, we have to lead in our neighbourhoods, across generations, against racism, homophobia, transphobia and any forces that push our communities apart. Together we can achieve more. United we can face down bigotry and prejudice in all its forms.

These are difficult times. Our challenges are great and the future is uncertain. Our job is to give people hope, hope that their home city can not only weather the storm but build a Brighton and Hove that delivers excellent basic services, that cares for and improves the lives of everyone that lives here, and grows our economy for the benefit of the many, not the few.

Join us. In the next few months we will start building our team of 54 candidates to win that majority and take Brighton and Hove forward. We’ll be recruiting a full-time campaign organiser too. If you are not already a Labour member, join here.

Don’t let the Tories – just two seats behind us on the council – hold us back. Don’t let the Conservatives win just because it is “their turn”.

We believe in a fairer, co-operative and progressive vision for our unique and exciting city, a Labour vision. If you want to be part of the next stage in our journey, then join us, talk to us, stand with us.

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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 Budget for Brighton and Hove

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Madam Mayor it is an honour and a privilege to propose the first Budget of this administration, the first Labour budget in nine years, and one that sets a course for this city in the most challenging of financial conditions.

We face unprecedented reductions in our funding, unprecedented demands on housing and infrastructure, an unprecedented need for new and imaginative answers to the challenges we face, and unprecedented opportunities to build a better Brighton and Hove for the future.

There is no hiding the scale and extent of the cuts we face this year and in the next three. Let there be no doubt that jobs will be lost and services will be hit. We will no longer be able to do what we did in 2010 in 2019. However we do not, as a local authority, stand alone in this crisis.

The crisis in local government funding stretches far beyond our boundaries. The policies of the current Government on council funding seem to many incoherent and unfair, let alone sustainable.

The head of Solace, the organisation of local government chief executives said of the Local Government settlement: “Many of these measures do not make local services sustainable in the long term. Without more fundamental change to how local services are paid for and provided, the support individuals and communities receive will be drastically curtailed.”

Conservative peer Lord Porter, Chair of the Local Government Association, said last Summer: “Even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.”

No private business can absorb £25 million in cuts and increased costs year on year, as we are in this council. Few businesses of comparable scale can add £25 million to their profits each year, every year. It is not a sustainable or viable situation.

The Government challenging all councils to be financially self-sustaining goes to the heart of who we are and what we do. Are we a public service or are we a private business whose primary function is to generate revenue?

Any private business that charges its customers more can expect demands from them for better services in return. We, like other councils, face charging our residents more in council tax, fees and charges, in return for less.

We will no doubt hear from the Conservative Group today about inefficiencies, about trades unions, about managers and about waste. We will hear from them about the need to be self-sufficient financially and about how we should achieve that, somehow without increasing council tax, fees and parking charges on local residents.

We will hear them say that what is happening beyond Brighton and Hove, about what their fellow Conservative councillors are doing with their council tax levels, is none of our concern. But it should be.

The Conservative led Local Government Association said in September that Councils have withstood a fall in core central government funding of 40 per cent over the past five years.

Having already made £20 billion worth of savings since 2010, there is limited scope to keep protecting services through making further efficiency savings. If spending reductions follow a similar pattern over the next five years, councils will be facing a £12.4bn funding gap by the end of the decade.

Despite finding over £300 million in “transitional funding” for mostly Conservative-run shire counties, not that we are not grateful for our £30 thousand share of that, the LGA says “most councils will continue to have serious funding gaps”.

Why did Brighton and Hove receive just £30 thousand in so-called transitional funding last month, when Surrey County Council got £11 million? Yes, they have four times the population as Brighton and Hove, but why get three hundred times the funding?

I’m sure the letters of protest from Tory leaders and threats of rebellion from Tory backbenchers played no part in that decision at all, or indeed the petitioning by Mr Cameron’s mum and aunt against closures in his own constituency.

Madam Mayor, why does the Chancellor not use some of the £20 billion windfall from lower inflation and falling borrowing costs he will announce in his budget next month, for local government? Just a fraction of the unpaid corporation taxes from highly profitable multinationals, with whom the Chancellor has frequent meetings, would go a long way to address the financial crisis councils face.

Local government of every political stripe is feeling the pain, paying the costs of austerity at a point when the Government says austerity measures are coming to an end. No let up, no reprieve. And it is residents, till now shielded by the remarkable efficiencies of local government, who will feel the pain most. In their parks and streets, in their schools and children’s centres, in their care homes and day centres.

The Tory government can, as they did last week, find £80 thousand for printing laws on vellum, but they can’t find money to fund our essential front line services.

Madam Mayor I’d argue, and I’m not alone, that this is local government reorganization by the back door, slash and burn reform, survival of the fittest, a bonfire of the civic values that have made Britain’s towns and cities great over the last two centuries.

The 2016 State of Local Government Finance survey, conducted by think tank the Local Government Information Unit and published last week, found that 89% of the 132 councils surveyed say they will have to increase charging in 2016-17. Nine out of ten councils are increasing car parking charges.

The number saying they will have to dip into their reserves has risen sharply, from 55% in 2012 to 82% this year. And nearly 40% say cuts in their frontline services will be evident to the public.

At the very least, as called for by LGA Vice Chair Nick Forbes, the planned £700 million of new funding from the Better Care Fund should be brought forward to 2016/17 in order to help alleviate growing social care pressures.

The full retention of business rates is held out as an answer, but it won’t come until 2020, long after our Revenue Grant has gone, and after a revaluation that could see revenues fall. Whether we will actually benefit from an additional £50 million, after appeals, remains to be seen. However it will only go part way to offset the loss of almost £150 million from this councils funding in the decade that precedes it.

Madam Mayor, with no freeze grant on offer, nine out of ten of England’s unitary and county councils are increasing their council tax by 3.99%, including the 2% social care precept, as we are proposing, yet three-quarters of them say that the money raised from residents will not be enough to keep pace with increased costs.

Even our neighbours in Conservative-led West Sussex, who have frozen council tax increases for the past six years, are putting up their bills by the same amount as we are in their 2016 Budget. So we will take no lectures from the Group opposite about the council tax increases we propose today.

Madam Mayor I would have respect for those members opposite seeking to reverse cuts in their communities if they, like their Conservative colleagues elsewhere in this county, acknowledged just once that it is their Government that is removing the funding for essential local services. We are after all, Madam Mayor, all in this together.

Madam Mayor, we will hear from the Green Group about the past, about what could and should have happened and how if only we had, then that would have prevented the cuts we face today. They will say that if only we’d had a referendum on bigger tax increases, if only we had fought outsourcing and privatisation alongside them, then none of this would be happening. It is empty rhetoric.

In harking back to the budgets of the past there will however be no mention of the failed Green Administration Budgets of the last two years, where Green councillors voted against Green budgets because they could not cope with even the limited responsibility they took in office for the challenges we face. It’s an empty promise of a failed alternative.

I’m not surprised by Councillor McCafferty’s attacks on the Labour budget; they are little different to the attacks on Green budgets over the past four years. He and his colleagues have but one function setting, opposition, and they seem much happier there than in office this time last year. Empty words are easy in guilt free opposition.

Where are their answers? Not implementing cuts would mean setting an unlawful budget, and handing the running of our city over to Government-appointed bureaucrats. Putting up council tax to offset the cuts and cost pressures would mean increases of 20 to 30% on residents bills, not something they will back in a referendum, and not something I’d impose on the city’s lowest income households. But even those empty gestures remain words rather than actions, with neither proffered as an alternative here today.

Last week half a dozen Green Party members were outside an empty Treasury building, protesting against officials and ministers and a Chancellor who were not there to hear it. An empty noise outside an empty building, an empty gesture from a party that failed to deliver on empty promises when in office, one that is empty of ideas in opposition, as we can see from their lack of any amendments today.

This isn’t fighting the cuts. It’s walking away, hands in the air, leaving others to deal with things they simply can’t or won’t face up to. It is a shameful abdication of the job the voters of their wards elected them to do.

Last May the residents of this city saw through the Green Party’s empty record and their empty manifesto with its empty promises and realized there was nothing there worth supporting. With nothing but empty protest the Green Party’s utter and abject failure to propose an alternative today proves those voters right.

Instead, Madam Mayor, the people of Brighton and Hove chose substance, chose imagination and chose hope. They chose leadership that meets challenges with innovation: that meets inequality with fairness; that meets competition with co-operation. These are the values of the Labour administration I lead and these are the values that our four year Budget plan will deliver, giving clarity and certainty to residents and staff in very difficult times.

My colleagues with through the course of this debate focus on the positive work we are doing in protecting our services wherever we can, building new services where we are able, redesigning services where we can do better for less, and joining in new partnerships with the voluntary sector, communities, neighbourhoods and residents, local businesses and not-for-profit trusts, to find new ways of designing services fit for the future and fit for our local need.

Madam Mayor, I want to pay tribute to the work of my lead councillors, and the officers of this council, in bringing forward these final budget proposals today. We have listened and we have acted, we have worked hard to put funding where it is needed most.

More money for park rangers and animal welfare. More funding to tackle domestic violence and poor standards in private rented accommodation. More resources to enable change in the Playbus service and in the Brighton Centre. More money for public toilets than planned under the Greens, and funding for community groups at the heart of our neighbourhoods strategy protected.

We’ve made investments in modern customer service and online systems, in revenue-generating services within Cityclean, ever better use of our buildings and property, all aimed at bringing in funds to pay for public services.

We’ve taken tough decisions to get the £9 million overspend we faced when taking over last summer under control. We must live within our means, despite the pressures we face.

We’ve asked for our city, one of the best educated, innovative and creative cities in the UK, to put their minds to new solutions via our City Innovation Challenge. We’ve asked some of the best experts we could find to bring together and build on the work being done to tackle poverty and inequality in the city via our Fairness Commission. And we have asked some of the best business minds in the city to look at how we can unlock the talent and potential of our young people via our Employment and Skills Task Force.

We will deliver on our pledge to build 500 new council homes by 2019 – indeed we may exceed it with construction beginning on almost half by May. In the next few weeks we will seek approval for our Living Wage Housing joint venture that will deliver over a thousand homes to rent at 60% of market rates. With work to tackle an unfair and unaffordable rented market, we will meet the housing crisis in this city head on.

We will within weeks present a new strategy to tackle rough sleeping, and next month will see the start of a new service to crack down on the littering and fly tipping that blights our streets. We said we’d get the basics right and we will.

We will work with our service users, our vulnerable residents and their families, to design support that meets their needs. We’ve acted to ensure better pay for staff in the social care sector though the Unison Ethical Care Charter. We will work with health partners to ensure GP provision meets demand, and that mental health provision sits alongside on an equal footing.

We will work to provide school places and the highest standards in education, in the coming months begin consultation on new school catchment areas and to raise aspiration amongst our young people so that no talent in our city is wasted, no opportunities missed.

We will continue to support the arts, tourism and creative digital industries so vital to our economy, and draw in new businesses like John Lewis so we become ever more resilient, attractive and prosperous on a local, regional and international stage.

We will continue to attract and invest hundreds of millions in our city’s infrastructure over the next four years; a new arena at Black Rock, a new shopping centre next to the Grand, a new leisure centre at the King Alfred, new homes, facilities and business space at Circus Street and Preston Barracks, new seafront infrastructure at West Street, investment in our heritage at the Madeira Terraces and Royal Pavilion estate.

We will cut our own cloth as a council to fit our budget.  Almost two million pounds in savings from management costs. Tens of thousands less on councillor allowances this year compared to last. An independent review of the number of councillors to be elected in 2019.

We will win new devolved powers from Government and we will devolve power down to local residents in every community, becoming a new co-operative council that works with residents designing and building solutions to their local issues. Cuts to our funding mean we may no longer be a provider and a funder, but we will be an enabler, a partnership-builder and a leader our city’s diverse neighbourhoods.

As the leader of this council and the Labour Group I am proud to move the General Revenue Fund, Capital Resources and Housing Revenue Account Budgets for 2016/17. As a whole this Budget reflects our priorities for this council and for Brighton and Hove, our principles as a Labour and Co-operative administration, our determination to act and not just protest in the face of cuts, our determination to deliver for our residents.

These are the values, these are the actions, these are the ambitions that underpin our Budget and our plan for this council and this city for the year ahead and the years to come. This is what having a Labour Administration means for this city. We are delivering on our contract, we are delivering a council that works for you, we will deliver a better Brighton and Hove.

 

 

 

We need to build affordable homes now

housingThis week I went to London to lobby government ministers for more powers to tackle the housing crisis in the city and our region. We need the power to bring forward new sites, draw in new funding, and co-ordinate work to build more affordable homes for rent or to buy.

The statistics on housing in the city are staggering. This week a report said that rents in Brighton and Hove are rising by 18 per cent a year. The average rent for a one-bedroomed flat is around £900 a month. The average price of a flat is £260,000. For a semi-detached home that rises to £360,000, and for a terraced house the average is now £425,000, some £40,000 less than London.

Four thousand people move here from the capital each year, while the student rental market eats more properties each month. With the lack of supply these factors mean house price inflation of more than 12 per cent a year.

Current council policy asks for 40 per cent of major new developments to be “affordable”, meaning on offer at 80 per cent of market rents. With rents so high, even that is unaffordable to those we seek to help, and 40 per cent of units are rarely if ever achieved.

That’s why we are looking to build 2,000 homes for rent at 60 per cent of market rent through our proposed joint venture with Hyde. We are building dozens of new council homes in Whitehawk as part of our pledge to build at least 500 council homes by 2019.

Some argue for rent controls; we are committed to a fairer rental market, with transparent fees and rights for tenants so that the few unscrupulous landlords and letting agents who give the sector a bad name can be made to clean up their acts and not undercut the decent majority.

We will look at any and all opportunities to build, and seek to offer homes of all types and tenures in the city to those who need them.

Our economy depends on staff being able to afford to live here. Our council needs the additional income new council tax-generating properties will bring.

The government is pushing the city and our regional neighbours to build. In his Autumn Statement the Chancellor said he wants 200,000 “starter homes” built by 2020, at 80 per cent of market rates and capped at £250,000. This is welcome, though that price will still be well out of reach for many on lower incomes. The government required us to look at every option in drawing up our City Plan which must deliver over 11,000 new homes in the next 15 years.

Of course when developers bring forward plans to build, as they have done recently in the east of the city, the opposition from Conservative councillors and MPs is vociferous. Any plans to build out into the urban fringe, up in high-rise developments or on brownfield sites are opposed.

Unless we are to become a “London-by-the-sea” with properties only within reach of the wealthy, and new build reserved for overseas investors, the Conservative Government must give us the powers to intervene in the market, and Conservative politicians must accept the case for more homes to be built.

Bold solutions, difficult decisions and innovative partnerships are needed if we are to do what is needed to tackle our city’s housing crisis.

Labour’s first 100 days in office – and what’s next

WHATS%~1The Labour Administration on the City Council has come into office at the most challenging time for local councils for decades, and we have made clear from the start that we will not shy away from tackling the issues of funding, infrastructure, jobs, homes and schools that face us as a city. We have in our first 100 days laid the foundations for the next four years, alongside some practical actions that we hope will see benefiting residents and neighbourhoods straight away.

Getting the basics right; cleaning up our city: We’ve begun or Big Summer Cleanup to get the city and our neighbourhoods looking cleaner: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council-spearheads-big-summer-clean In addition we have set out in our CityClean strategy how we are going to improve refuse and recycling services, bring in income to support the service, and take action on fly-tipping.

A fairer and more prosperous city: We’ve set up our Fairness Commission to tackle poverty and inequality in Brighton and Hove, making sure we all work to ensure our city’s economic success is shared by all. It will launch in the coming few weeks.

Keeping the city moving: We have intervened to keep a vital local bus service going: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/council-steps-keep-bus-route-running and we will be undertaking a strategic review of all services and transport to see how we can ensure traffic keeps flowing, people can get to work and to the services they need.

Building the homes the city needs: We have approved a £14m new 57 home council housing scheme in Whitehawk and five more in Ardingly Street, and seen the opening of over 40 Extra Care Housing flats at Brooke Mead in Albion Street.  12 new housing association family homes are starting on site in Portslade and Hangleton.

Keeping people safe from harm: We have approved a new service for domestic violence and violence against women and girls, putting trusted local services doing vital work on a more secure footing: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/press-release/new-domestic-violence-abuse-rape-sexual-violence-abuse-service-unveiled

Changing services and planning ahead: We have set out a four year Budget strategy, ending the annual shaving of services and pledging a fundamental review that will strive to direct what we do at achieving the best results for the city with vastly reduced funding from Government. Painful decisions lie ahead but we will consult and plan ahead so that there is clarity for everyone in how things are going to change.

Giving young people a better start: We have set out plans to create an apprenticeship training company to help small businesses take on apprentices and give our young people the start on rewarding careers that they need. We have put in place an action plan to improve children’s services across the board approved, including new priorities to focus on the most vulnerable.

Getting a grip on changes to our roads: We have taken urgent action to review the major proposals for roads and public spaces in Valley Gardens scheme, which would reduce road space from St Peter’s to the Aquarium roundabout and create a new park over the next five years and at a cost of several million pounds.

Taking action to protect our open spaces: We have begun consulting on the use of new powers to better protect the city’s open spaces from repeat trespass and anti-social behaviour.

Changing the council to get the job done: We have set up the new Neighbourhoods, Communities and Equalities Committee to ensure that every street and every community is engaged and involved with what the council and our partner organisations do, and to deliver change across the board. Lead councillors have been charged with responsibilities on Mental Health, Private Rented Sector Housing and Homelessness, and we have brought together the key areas of Education and Skills under one lead councillor. We have set up a new Procurement Board to ensure value for money, social value, well managed procurement process on new contracts.

In The Next 100 Days we will:

  • Launch our Fairness Commission
  • Set about becoming a Co-operative Council to help redesign our services in an accountable and democratic way
  • Get agreement on a new King Alfred, a new arena at Black Rock and the expansion of Churchill Square, all with new housing, jobs and public amenities included.
  • Bring forward outline plans to save Madeira Terrace, and press for the restoration of the Aquarium Terraces.
  • Announce proposals from the reviews of Youth and Children’s Centre services.
  • Publish a New City Employment and Skills Plan, putting local business in the driving seat under a new task force.
  • Start work on the regulation of the Private Rented Sector, making it more accountable and giving better protection to tenants, refresh our Student Housing Strategy and develop new policies on housing allocation and temporary accommodation.
  • Hold a summit on tackling homelessness, bringing together everyone working on the issue to co-ordinate efforts.
  • Begin work to secure vital seafront infrastructure at the West St junction with Kings Road.
  • Continue work with Brighton University on setting up a new secondary school.
  • Seek to get the best deal devolution deal possible, working with neighbouring councils and putting a strong case to Government.
  • Make appointments to the council’s senior officer team to ensure stability and vision in delivering the changes needed.
  • Plans to build truly affordable homes far in excess of our 500 new council homes target are in the pipeline.

Change will take time, and we will not do it all, but we have set the foundations for a council that does all it can to challenge poverty and inequality, a council that work for every resident and every neighbourhood.

 

 

 

 

A positive, realistic and ambitious plan for Brighton and Hove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will wipe out youth unemployment by 2019.

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

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

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

ManifestoFront

Give us a majority, give us a chance to serve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Labour’s commitment to the LGBT community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find out more about LGBT Labour

A Team That Will Work For You – Labour’s local candidates

Manifesto launchLabour has chosen its team of candidates to contest the local elections in Brighton and Hove on May 7th.

I’m proud to be leading such a strong team into the local elections, a team of local residents who will bring knowledge of their neighbourhoods and a wide range of skills and experience to the city council. We have people in our team with proven records in delivering major projects, employment and skills, the NHS, education, voluntary sector organisations and more who will run our city competently if elected on May 7th.

With the General Election on the same day, a vote for your local Labour council candidates will count in each and every one of the city’s 21 wards. Labour is best placed in the vast majority of them to defeat Green and Conservative councillors. We have won the last four elections held in the city, and only Labour can get rid of the Greens.

A list of Labour candidates is here: www.brightonhovelabour.com/our_people

Our candidates reflect our city:

  • Half of Labour’s candidates are women
  • A quarter are experienced councillors, three-quarters are new to politics
  • 10% of Labour’s candidates are drawn from the city’s LGBT community
  • There are several candidates in their 20s, and representation from the city’s BAME community.
  • Over two thirds of the current Labour councillors are seeking re-election.

Labour launched its local manifesto, “A City That Works For You” last week, pledging to deliver:

  • Improved street cleaning, refuse and recycling and an end to Green traffic schemes
  • Secure and well paid jobs, more apprenticeships and an end to youth unemployment
  • Work to tackle poverty and inequality across the city
  • 500 new council homes and measures to help tenants in the private rented sector
  • A new secondary school and excellent results for all pupils

Read the full manifesto here:  www.brightonhovelabour.com/a_council_that_works_for_you

launch 2Labour is best placed to win, having won the four most recent elections in Brighton and Hove, and leads in the polls:

Labour was in first or second place in 18 of the 21 wards at the last local elections in 2011, and had near equal support to the Green Party winning 32% of the vote, just 1% less that the Greens and 3% more than the Conservatives.

Vote Labour wherever you are in Brighton, Hove and Portslade on May 7th, for a team that will deliver for you, your family and your neighbourhood, a team that will work for you.

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A Council That Works For You – Labour’s Contract With Brighton and Hove

Campaign launch.3Today I am launching Labour’s manifesto for Brighton and Hove.

Our city is crying out for change. We need a city council that works, with clear purpose and strong leadership to make sure that basic services residents rely on are delivered.

We need a council that works for you and your neighbourhood, that works for you and your family, that works for you and your business. We need a council that works with the public, private and voluntary sectors to build a better Brighton and Hove together.

We need a council that delivers secure and well paid jobs, new and excellent schools, and many more truly affordable homes.

We need a council that works for every resident in every part of the city, from Portslade to Patcham, Hangleton to Saltdean, Westbourne to Moulsecoomb, not just the city centre.

The Greens have let the city down, and have proven they are not up to the job. No other party is offering the credible and sensible plan that we are setting out in our manifesto today.

Even in these challenging financial times for local councils, there is so much we can do if given the chance, and Labour has a strong and capable team ready to get to work for the city.

Vote us in on May 7th and Labour will deliver a council that works for you.

rosetteLabour’s key pledges include:

  • Ensuring cleaner streets, better recycling and a reliable refuse collection service.
  • Suspending and reviewing the traffic schemes started by the Greens, and returning to a more sensible and better managed approach to transport planning.
  • Ending youth unemployment in the city within four years.
  • Building at least 500 new council homes by 2019.
  • Delivering new rights for tenants and proper regulation of landlords.
  • Tackling poverty and inequality through a Fairness Commission.

You can read our full manifesto online here:  A City That Works For You

If you want to help us win in May and deliver this manifesto, visit our website.