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The Argus Council Tax debate: Leaders set out their stalls
Brighton and Hove’s political leaders clashed yesterday evening over the proposed 4.75% rise in council tax.
Council leader Jason Kitcat argued his Green administration’s plans were vital for protecting the most vulnerable in society.
Argus readers, who braved a rainstormof biblical proportions to make the debate, packed into the hall to quiz all three.
Argus Editor Michael Beard, who chaired the debate, said: “There were so many issues and somany talking points. We covered a lot of ground.
“All three provided some really good and really frank answers, and that will have provided our readers with the information and the knowledge they need to help make up their minds on such a huge issue.”
Headded: “Debates like this are so important. It provides an excellent opportunity for our readers to question their leaders face to face.”
- Watch the night again:
As well as the controversial council tax rise, questions from the floor touched on everything from i360 and travellers to pollution and bus lanes.
Setting out the Greens’ controversial proposal, Coun Kitcat said: “I think it is a sign of civilisation that we care for the vulnerable and elderly in our society. But the fact is social care is in crisis.
“That service will degrade and stop altogether.
“We say that 61p a week extra is worth it to know that the essential services for the most vulnerable will be protected– because one day the vulnerable will be us.”
- The Argus Council Tax Debate: Green leader Jason Kitcat responds
- The Argus Council Tax Debate: Labour leader Warren Morgan responds
- The Argus Council Tax Debate: Conservative leader Geoffrey Theobald responds
- The Argus Council Tax Debate: Political columnist Tim Ridgway's view
- The Argus Council Tax Debate: The people have their say
Coun Morgan told the near 200 guests that ordinary working people could not afford the increase and instead argued for a 2% rise.
Coun Theobald said care services were far too costly and the council should instead look to make them more costefficient.
Speaking afterwards, he praised The Argus for staging the debate.
He said: “Communication is keywhen it comes to decisions like this.
“The best councils are the ones who communicate with residents, and events like tonight go a hugeway in doing that.”
He added: “I don’t think I’ve actually met anyone who is in favour of the 4.75% rise.
“I read The Argus every day, and it is quite clear from the readers that they don’t want it.
“From my own experience from knocking on doors, I haven’t met anyone yet who is in favour of it.”
Coun Kitcat added: “For too long these kind of issues have been discussed in small circles of political activists.
“When the issue is as big as this is, it has to be discussed and debated as widely as possible, and that’s why events like tonight are so important.”
He added: “We must go away from tonight and make our case for our proposal. It is clear something has to be done and you can’t get something for nothing.
“We hope that all councillors will consider it seriously.”
Coun Morgan added: “There were a lot of informed contributions and it was good to hear the viewsof the public.
“I think people are interested and they want to take part, whether that is through social media or in person at a hustings-style debate.”
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