CONSERVATIVE councillors are boycotting today's council meeting after the Green and Labour groups objected to their nominee for mayor.

Councillor Dawn Barnett had been selected by the Conservatives to serve as the next Mayor of Brighton and Hove as a substitute for Councillor Mary Mears, who is no longer able to take on the role due to ill health.

However, councillors from the Green Party and Labour said they would not back her nomination over concerns over previous statements made by Cllr Barnett.

A spokesman for the Conservative group said the party was “saddened” to make the decision not to attend the meeting, “particularly given the mayoralty is one of the most cherished civic traditions of Brighton and Hove City Council and is meant to be non-political".

He said: “However, as neither Labour nor the Greens support the Conservative candidate, we felt it was only fair and reasonable that we show our support for Cllr Dawn Barnett by neither attending nor voting for the new mayor and deputy mayor at this year’s annual council.

“We support Dawn 100 per cent and we feel very strongly as a group that the actions of Labour and the Greens this year have been underhanded and wrong.”

Cllr Barnett, who represents the Hangleton and Knoll ward, said she had been in the process of being fitted for mayoral robes when she heard the news. She said the two parties planned to vote down her nomination at a mayoral inauguration ceremony.

She said no one from either party had raised their concerns with her or the Conservatives about her nomination and accused the Greens and Labour of hypocrisy.

She said: “They’ve got problems in their own parties which they should sort out. Instead of playing silly games, they should be worrying about the state of the city.”

Earlier this month, a spokesman for the Brighton and Hove Labour group said: “As a City of Sanctuary, and a council working towards us becoming an anti-racist city, we were not convinced of the appropriateness of someone with the track record of Cllr Barnett in terms of public statements about ethnic minorities and homeless people being the first citizen of Brighton and Hove.”

A spokesman for the Green group told The Argus the party “could not support” Cllr Barnett’s nomination.

He said: “While the Mayor of Brighton and Hove has no decision-making powers, they have an important role as first citizen of the city. 

“As such, they represent the values of the city, especially at important community events. We question Cllr Barnett’s suitability for this prominent role that is supposed to be about representing all residents in our diverse city.”

The council meeting can be watched live on the council’s website.