External mediators will be brought in to help heal a rift in the Green Party.

In an effort to bring the ruling administration of Brighton and Hove City Council together, party members will task two peacemakers to help bring the non-whipped group of councillors together.

Those behind the plan to revert to tactics more commonly used in settling trade union disputes or disagreements between warring couples claim it was needed to “remedy the current malaise and move forward”.

Green sources added it was a sign there was a commitment to put months of deep-rooted tension between the group of 21 councillors aside.

But critics remained sceptical as to whether it would actually work.

The motion was passed after a behind-closed-doors debate by party members at its regular monthly meeting.

It comes after division over issues such as same-sex marriage, an “at-risk” elm tree and industrial action by refuse and recycling staff over a pay dispute.

The rift culminated in a failed coup by a group of “rebel” members to replace council leader Jason Kitcat with the then deputy council leader Phelim MacCafferty.


Some insiders have labelled the groups “watermelons”, for those on the left, and “mangoes”, for those with more centrist views.

The motion called for members to note the discord was “having an adverse and unhealthy effect on…the party at every level”.

It added it was concerned that unless no steps were taken it believed the situation “could adversely affect the future of the Green Party, both locally and nationally”.

Among the steps planned for mediation include meetings with aggrieved individuals and working with “middle ground bridge-builders” to plan a “development day” to bring members together.

Council leader Jason Kitcat was last night not available for comment.

Labour group leader Warren Morgan said: “If the Greens are not talking to each other, then they are certainly not listening to residents.

“There are now just 621 days to go till the elections when this bitterly divided party can be removed from office.”

Independent councillor Christina Summers, who used to be a member of the Green group, said: “When you govern you cannot always be idealistic “I would hope that there is some genuine change of hearts rather than some patchwork efforts which will allow them to continue as a political force.

“They cannot think they're chances of re-election are good in this stage.”


Ridgway's verdict


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Some of their members may be a product of the free love era.

But in recent months, even the offer of a free hug has been a rarity within the Brighton and Hove Green Party.

Despite being in its strongest ever electoral position, some have been more intent to chip away at the foundations from the inside rather than continue building on its success at the ballot box.

It means instead of delivering on the promise of being the fresh new hope many longed for, they are closer to being a political laughing stock.

Every party has its own internal divisions.

But when you have a council leader publicly saying one thing and his deputy saying another, even Messrs Blair and Brown would start questioning the harmony.

Yes, the Greens are not whipped and like to create policy by debating, not dictating.

But to onlookers, how can you trust a group of people taking decisions when their supposed colleagues openly have the daggers out?

An early indicator of a split was when Christina Summers was voted out of the Green group after not supporting a motion on same-sex marriage.

The wounds became deeper, first over plans to chop down an elm tree as part of the Seven Dials redevelopment and then over a public sector pay dispute.

Now, it has been decided to take the very “Brighton approach” of meditation to try and put these squabbles to one side forever.

Whether or not the cracks are too deep for this very modern plaster we shall have to wait and see.

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