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Green councillor's expulsion could lead to Brighton council shake-up
The expulsion of a Christian councillor could lead to a major shake-up in the running of a council.
Christina Summers was officially kicked out of the Green group on Brighton and Hove City Council in a behind closed doors meeting last night.
It comes after the an internal party inquiry into her decision to vote against supporting same-sex marriage in a town hall debate earlier this year.
It means the political makeup of the local authority is currently 22 Greens, 18 Conservatives, 12 Labour, one independent and one vacant post.
Opposition councillors are now seeking to see if the decision, which sees Coun Summers become an independent councillor, will mean the Greens lose their casting vote on four of the seven main council committees.
It could even affect the powerful Policy and Resources Committee.
Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said: “Rather than wasting all their time on internal squabbling, the Greens should be getting on with running this city."
Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said: “We are very concerned about the conduct of the Green Administration.
“As a responsible opposition we felt that it was right to give them the opportunity to run the council but a series of events has now proved that they are not capable.”
Coun Mitchell added: "Our sole aim is to protect services for city residents from the Government’s cuts programme and the Green Party’s misguided priorities that spend extra on their own pet Green projects while cutting the very basic services relied on by the majority.
"If there are councillors who prefer this more sensible approach then they should work with us."
The inquiry was established when 15 members of the Green group, which is not whipped meaning councillors can freely vote on any issues, wrote to the local party asking for it to look into Coun Summers’ actions.
It ruled her decision to speak and vote against equal marriage did not “constitute sufficient grounds” for disciplinary action against her.
However, the panel’s results, which have been seen by The Argus, claim the decision was taken on the grounds of her wider behaviour, which included her taking part in public anti-abortion vigils outside Wistons clinic in Dyke Road, Brighton.
A spokesman confirmed a letter signed by a majority of the Green councillors will be handed to the council’s chief executive today enacting Coun Summers’ removal.
Speaking on behalf of the Brighton & Hove Green Party, executive member Rob Shepherd said: "A majority of Green Councillors confirmed the removal of Councillor Summers from the Green Group of Councillors and so from today she will sit as an independent councillor, though she will remain a member of Brighton and Hove Green Party.
"This follows last week’s presentation of a report by the Inquiry Panel convened for the purpose.
"Coun Summers will have a right to appeal through the party’s processes but we do not yet know whether she will take up that right, nor do we know whether she will wish to remain an independent councillor. That is up to her.”
The decision to expel her from the Green group does not affect her membership of the Green party.
She has until September 21 to appeal against the ruling to the national party.
- Don’t miss Adam Trimingham in The Argus tomorrow for his view on Coun Summers.