It was supposed to be a night of high drama but in reality it turned into handbags at dawn.

All the talk before budget night at Brighton and Hove City Council was of a western movie standoff with three stubborn cowboys pointing their guns at each of their rivals and refusing to back down.

Walking in Wayne, Scott and Eastwood’s boots were Messers Kitcat, Theobald and Morgan – the magnificent three if you like.

Proceedings were kicked off by council leader Jason Kitcat.

Standing tall with an assured calm confidence, his opening salvo was delivered in the manner of John Wayne.

He talked. They listened.

Voting down a 5.9% council tax rise and resultant referendum is ‘the most despondent, downhearted thing possible’.

He went on: “If true, they are saying the people of Brighton and Hove are selfish”.

Who could argue with him?

Well his opponents, for one, Conservative leader Geoffrey Theobald certainly could.

An older statesman, he has seen it all before.

And such barbs from a young upstart weren’t going to bother him.

This was the city’s very own Randolph Scott, the man of experience who’s seen it all before.

His swipes at Kitcat and the ‘lawless’ Greens were well rehearsed.

But it was to his more immediate colleagues on his left, the Labour Party, who he had in his sights as he set out a case for a council tax freeze.

“How about making a compromise?” he bellowed in a tone which belied his years.

It remained as convincing as the last time he said it.

Yet once again it went unanswered by Labour group leader Warren Morgan.

The council’s quiet man, some may call him.

But unlike former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, this man of few words ignores the barbs and actually has a chance of running something.

Morgan – like Clint Eastwood – was a surprising choice for his breakthrough role.

But looking at previous years when Labour’s 2% rise got nodded through, this is a man who tends to get his own way.

The lines he did speak came straight from the casino floor – “The Greens are gamblers... last throw of the dice... a busted flush.”

Texas hold ‘em is clearly this cowboy’s game of choice.

But this standoff was not just restricted to the three main stars.

Enter the supporting cast.

Councillor Ben Duncan, speaking under the title of an Independent Green, gave a cactus-esque cameo.

A thorn in the backside of his own party for years, he urged his councillor colleagues to ‘take a stand’ against the ‘hit squad of civil servants’ forcing cuts on the city.

Conservative councillor Tony Janio jumped up to speak, opening with: “I hadn’t intended on speaking tonight...”

Spin another one Mr DJ.

“What's the point of the Labour Party?” he asked – a question intended as rhetorical but instead it came out as a punch line.

It was all too much for Mr Mayor and Labour councillor Brian Fitch – Mr impartial himself – who got told off from the stern head teacher and chief executive Penny Thompson for getting too animated in his response.

Green Councillor Phelim MacCafferty swiftly followed making valid points about bankers and tax avoiders.

But calling Tony Blair ‘an Iraqi baby bomber’ and saying he would die to make David Cameron miserable perhaps was a little over the top.

And then there was time for the council’s resident jester and bookworm Christopher Hawtree.

Previous council meetings saw him bring words from literary greats such as Emily Bronte and Virginia Woolf.

But this time round he brought a modern touch, describing proceedings as the ‘political equivalent of 50 Shades of Grey’.

“We have our hands tied and are under the government leash”, he explained.

All this naughty talk clearly built up an appetite.

He went on to describe the Labour option as like scampi in the basket: “It’s the same tawdry affair but they’ve tried to disguise it with wicker and napkin.”

The irony that he said this in between enjoying the free buffet provided was not lost on all.

Conservative councillor Garry Peltzer Dunn followed and mocked the divides in the Green camp claiming that there were ‘50 shades of Green present in Hawtree’s chamber of torture’.

It was perfectly set up for Labour councillor Alan Robins, the paint salesman of the council: “I’m the only one here who can provide you with 50 shades of paint.”

It was all getting a bit too much.

In fact, to use John Wayne’s words: “It was getting to be ri-goddamn-diculous...”

And that was before the two hours it took to vote.

But in truth, no one could have summed it up better.

As it is the ponies will have to be watered and fed for the cowboys to return tomorrow.

What was clear is that there was plenty of squabbling over what was essentially a Fistful of Dollars.

A hundred grand out of a budget of more than £700 million really isn’t a lot.

But at least the standoff is over with the main players able to return to their camps without losing too much face.

When Wayne, Scott and Eastwood do next trot into town, we expect less of the cowboy and more of a simple sheriff.

It will be a dull end to this spaghetti western.

But it is what we need from our elected representatives at this time.