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The Argus Council Tax Debate: Political columnist Tim Ridgway's view
High winds, torrential downpours and heavy clouds – the stage was set for a political showdown which could shape Brighton and Hove for years to come.
It wasn’t quite political Armageddon.
But the 200-strong crowd who battled the Biblical conditions to attend witnessed a battle of strong wills from headstrong individuals who refused to budge on their council tax stance.
In the centre of it all was the council leader Jason Kitcat.
- 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
Crisp white shirt, no tie, confident – opening up the evening, he eloquently described why the Greens were right in asking for £5 more a month from the taxpayer.
He claimed, without it, the council would be left to crumble under the weight of the government’s spending crackdown.
Even if this meant the council would have to spend £230,000 on a referendum.
Stage right was Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald dressed appropriately in blue.
“I can shout louder than you sir,” he exclaimed as he mapped out why he felt the council had not found enough savings yet from its vast budget.
A freeze in the rates, he claimed, is the only fair option for hard-up households.
On the left hand side was Labour group leader Warren Morgan, looking very New Labour in a dashing purple tie.
Two per cent is plenty, he affirmed, going on to describe why the Greens had fallen for a Tory-government gimmick to go for a city-wide vote which is deemed to fail.
The government, cycle lanes, the great “non-existent” seafront tower – all were blamed for the dire financial spending situation facing the council.
One resident claiming that all three participants were like “weasels scrapping in a sack” was a little unflattering.
They were not weasels, they were three cockerels strutting around the farmyard weighing up one another.
In just a few days, the eyeing up will finish and the fighting will begin.
It will not be pretty. But at the end there will only be one winner.
And who it is, debates like this will go a long way to deciding.
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