THE future of Brighton and Hove City Council hangs in the balance.

Labour’s Councillor Anne Pissaridou, who was the face of major policies across the city, has been suspended from the national party. 

Despite this, the council insists, the Labour Group remains the largest party on the council as she is still a member of the Labour group of councillors. 

To add further uncertainty, the result of an anti-Semitism investigation into another Labour Group councillor, Nichole Brennan, is not yet known.

Because of this, questions are now being asked about what comes next for the council’s leadership. 

A showdown could come at Thursday’s full council meeting. 

The 54 councillors representing 21 wards in the city are now made up of 20 from the Labour group, 19 from the Green group and13 from the Conservative Group and two independents.

The Argus:

The Green group can bring a challenge to Labour’s leadership, which would be decided by a councillors’ vote.

If the Tories abstain, independent councillors would have the deciding vote. However, the Tories could decide to hand power to the Greens.

In the event of Cllr Brennan’s suspension, Labour would then have two councillors who cannot represent the party, although, according the council, still technically allowed to vote.

However in this scenario, the Greens would have a legitimate claim as the largest party.

This could change should either Cllr Pissaridou or Cllr Brennan choose to step down. 

Normally, this would trigger by-elections Labour would be expected to win, granting them a majority once again.

However, no elections are allowed to be held until at least May 2021 due to the coronavirus crisis.

Although current leader Nancy Platts is not expected to be voted out of the role while numbers remain as they are, it is thought committees may be reshaped under pressure from the Greens, who are now in a strengthened position. 

For now, the Green group is keeping tight-lipped on its plans. A spokeswoman said the group was  “shocked” to hear of Cllr Pissaridou’s suspension. 

She added: “The suspension means there have been questions about the composition of the city council. 

“We will respond more fully on this issue in due course. Whatever the outcome, Greens have always pledged to do what is best for Brighton and Hove.”

There is a precedent for a Green group to lend its support to Labour. 

In the month before the May 2019 local election, long-standing Labour councillor Anne Meadows defected to the Tories – alleging anti-Semitism – which left the Conservatives with the majority of seats on the council. 

However, Labour clung on to power with support of Green votes.

>> Read more: Councillor suspended from party remains in council’s Labour Group

The parties worked together then to keep the Tories out of office.

The other key question raised by the suspension of Cllr Pissaridou is who will take over her role on the environment, transport and sustainability committee, which is currently overseeing major decisions on the city’s future. 

Cllr Pissaridou was the face of many of the committee’s recent controversial policies including the car ban in Madeira Drive, the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane and general pedestrianisation across the city.

For the time being, current-Deputy Chairman , Gary Wilkinson, will lead on issues relating to the committee.