THE Green budget refuseniks have received the backing of a militant socialist councillor who took on Margaret Thatcher’s government cuts 30 years ago.

Six Green councillors who voted against their own party’s budget last week have received the support from one of Liverpool’s 47 councillors who took a similar stance under their deputy leader Derek Hatton (pictured inset) against government cuts in the 80s.

The support has been hailed as a rallying point by some Green supporters in the continued opposition of a budget process that will inflict cuts in excess of £20 million.

Labour group leader, councillor Warren Morgan, described the opposition as “irresponsible gesture politics”.

Councillor Morgan said militant “watermelon” Greens had abdicated responsibility just as Liverpool City Council deputy leader Derek Hatton had done in the 1980s.

He also criticised the greens for choosing Richard Stanton as a candidate for the local elections He said choosing a former councillor who said the Grand hotel bombing was justified, as one of their candidates in May’s local elections “shows just how wedded they are to that kind of politics”.

He said: “The moderates in the Greens have lost and the hard-left has won.”

Battle lines appear to be hardening on both sides with Conservative councillors continuing to advocate a freeze, claiming the council needs to get its own house in order before making further financial demands on residents.

Councillors will try again today to unite over a compromise agreement that would see council tax increase by 1.99% as well saving the city’s children’s centres and mayoralty office and retain funding for domestic abuse refuges, funding for Pride and Able and Willing, the subsidised employer of disabled workers.

One of the key stumbling blocks to agreement has been overcome after a freeze on parking permits was removed from the compromise agreement.

Green leader, councillor Jason Kitcat said his party could not support a fourth year of freezes on car parking permits and that it was not in the best interests of the city.

Coun Kitcat said he was confident a budget would be set but conceded that it would be a close vote.

The Argus understands there are just a couple of votes in it with the number of councillors not able to attend the meeting, which could be more than 10% of the authority’s 54 representatives.

The council faces a ticking timebomb to pass their budget as part of their legal requirements by next week with a failure to do so raising the spectre of Whitehall officials entering council offices to make the necessary cuts.

Coun Kitcat said he wished his group was not divided over their approach to budget negotiations but he respects councillors taking a stand out of “heartfelt concern” for council services and made on “principle”.

But he was critical of the Conservative opposition who he described as “relentless” in their attempts to frustrate the budget.

He said: “They would rather see Eric Pickles come in than have it decided locally and I am disappointed they would do that when their view does not have majority support in the council.”

Conservative councillor Mary Mears said her party had not discussed the prospect of abstaining from the budget vote to make it easier to pass the compromise agreement.

Coun Mears said her party still believed there were still many more efficiencies to be found , citing a project called LOVE (Living Our Values) – which is training almost 800 managers – as one particular area of waste.

At Thursday’s meeting, Councillor Ollie Sykes, the Green’s finance lead, said the time had come to stop labelling the council as “inefficient” with just three council staff responsible for 300 annual outdoor events, three staff responsible for 26,000 streetlights and four responsible for 15 major projects.

But Coun Mears said: “The reason why we have gone for the freeze is because we do not think the council should be asking for more money from residents when they are not running efficiently and we are not there yet.

“I think it’s morally wrong when the council hasn’t got its own house in order.”

Caroline Bottrell, head of organisational development, said: “The Living our values, everyday programme is our culture change approach and features a number of key activities including a mandatory development programme for all our managers.

“It focuses on performance improvement and managers are asked to look at themselves as leaders and what they bring.

“It is vital that we develop our managers as the council faces fast-paced change and a need for increased efficiencies.”

Who is Derek Hatton?

FIREMAN Derek Hatton became the deputy leader of Liverpool City Council in 1983. He was a member of the Labour Party and the Militant organisation.

He joined the rate-capping rebellion in 1985 and the council refused to make a rate increase in June – setting an illegal deficit budget which committed the council to spending £30 million in excess of its income.

Members claimed the excess represented money ‘stolen’ by central government when support grants for Liverpool were reduced. The policy catapulted Mr Hatton and the council into massive media attention and conflict with the then-Conservative government.

This was widely seen as a negotiating tactic but it was fiercely condemned by Labour leader Neil Kinnock – who expelled Mr Hatton from the party.

Liverpool’s Labour councillors were banned by the district auditor from serving in public office for five years.

In 1993, Mr Hatton was accused of corruption during his time as deputy leader. After a lengthy trial he was found not guilty.

Nicknamed “Degsy”, the 67-year-old Liverpudlian is now a motivational speaker.

And in the blue corner...

A FORMER council leader made a formal complaint against Brighton and Hove City Council’s chief executive following a heated dispute at last Thursday’s council meeting.

Conservative councillor Mary Mears has complained about a discussion she has with chief executive Penny Thompson at the end of last week’s council budget.

Moments earlier within the meeting, Coun Mears had outspokenly criticised council officers for dictating the date of the next budget meeting to councillors.

Coun Mears said that Ms Thompson spoke to her after the meeting.

The Rottingdean coastal councillor said their dispute happened in front of other councillors.