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Archive - Monday, 5 March 2012
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Council budget decisions are proving problematic for some
So the Labour group on Brighton and Hove City Council voted with the Tories to sabotage the Green administration’s budget.
In doing this they will be, among other things: reducing housing options for the homeless, cutting funds for asylum seekers, reducing the opportunities for environmental initiatives in the city and destroying the chance to, at last, manage the city’s downland for the benefit of people and the environment. This, then, is the kind of programme we can expect from a Labour administration.
All this at the service of cynical short-termism and political manoeuvring, whereby it is no doubt planned that they will get the kudos for a frozen council tax this year and for taking Government money, and the Greens will be blamed in the run-up to the next local elections for the inevitably worse future cuts such an action will cause.
And there is no excuse for calling on a “referendum” in which a tiny minority of voters in Brighton and Hove took part and which was carried out with such a disgraceful lack of clear information.
Labour group members who vote for this should hang their heads in shame. As a former Labour member and councillor I am ashamed.
(And just in case anyone is wondering, I am not a member of the Green Party.)
Joyce Edmond-Smith, Bentham Road, Brighton
At the council’s budget meeting last week the Conservative group put forward a proposal to reduce the amount of council taxpayers’ money spent on employing trade union officials at the town hall. At around £300,000 a year, Brighton and Hove spends the third highest out of all unitary authorities in the country on union funding and we believe this should be reduced.
We proposed instead that the money should be spent, among other things, on reversing the Green Party’s cuts to opening hours at Hangleton and Portslade libraries and cuts to seafront toilets.
Sadly, our proposal was voted down by both Green and Labour groups at the meeting. This is a great shame – speaking from personal experience in my ward I know that Hangleton Library is a lifeline for many elderly residents and is also used extensively for children’s homework clubs and other local community activities.
But what makes me particularly angry is that the Labour Party in particular has a clear, vested interest in this matter. They receive significant funding from the trade unions both locally and nationally for fighting elections and obviously don’t want to jeopardise that arrangement. But, unbelievably, not one of their members declared an interest at the beginning of the budget meeting as councillors are required to do by law if anything being debated is likely to benefit them materially in any way.
Just imagine if the boot had been on the other foot and this had involved a Conservative member failing to declare an interest in a donation to our party – no doubt all hell would have broken loose.
Residents are entitled to a level of openness and transparency in the decisions that are being taken on their behalf and I’m afraid this whole episode falls well short of that.
Councillor Dawn Barnett, Hangleton and Knoll Ward