A new political party has been set up to fight for seats on Brighton and Hove City Council at the local elections in May.

The Friends of Brighton and Hove Party has registered with the Electoral Commission so that it can field independent candidates at the elections on Thursday 4 May.

The organisation has no affiliation to any national party and was formed by members of the Friends of Brighton and Hove Citizens Action Group.

The action group started when two residents, Laura King and Ollie Wilson, started a petition to reopen Madeira Drive in 2020 and then set up a Facebook group to support their campaign.

Since then, their group has attracted more supporters – and members have regularly asked questions at council meetings about the council’s finances and councillors’ expenses.

The Friends of Brighton and Hove is the second new group to enter the fray after Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh set up the Brighton and Hove Independents.

Cllr Fishleigh was the only member of the current council to have been elected as an independent.

She is now one of seven, with the others having left the established political parties, mostly Labour.

While independents can stand as individuals, electoral law and council rules are geared towards a system of political parties.

A letter to the new party’s supporters from Ms King calls on Brighton and Hove residents who love the city and wish to serve with “honour and integrity” to sign up.

Local election candidates do not have to pay a deposit but requires the signed support of 10 people who live in the ward.

The Argus: Laura King's new political party will contest the local elections in MayLaura King's new political party will contest the local elections in May (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Ms King wrote: “We are the protest vote. Even those with a party can still vote for Friends of Brighton and Hove at a local level and give their party a kick up the backside if their party has not done anything for them or our city lately.

“We have already been described as ‘a party to vote for at last’ by one individual who’s never voted before.”

She said that the party was setting up a website and starting a Crowdfunder to cover the cost of leaflets.

According to the letter to supporters, the party’s 10 priorities are:

  • The delivery of statutory and basic goods and services and city upkeep
  • Reopening all council offices and services to reinstate fully comprehensive customer services, including face-to-face and providing full access to public meetings
  • Removing barriers to trade, tourism, events and businesses in this city, including restoring visitor parking and public toilets
  • Restoration of our precious heritage and civic maintenance to make Brighton and Hove a city to be proud of once more
  • Valuing all community and green assets, including those left in perpetuity to this city
  • Seeking to identify legitimate new revenue streams which do not continually exploit citizens via parking permits and council tax hikes
  • Evidence-based environmentalism such as improving the recycling level and reinstating the street tree planting scheme and not building on nature reserves or cutting down trees and hedges in wildlife season
  • Ensuring proper procedures are followed in all council matters and no council meeting time is wasted virtue-signalling or discussing issues the council has no jurisdiction over
  • Rejuvenation of the night-time economy
  • Putting “projects” last on the list once the basics are sorted out, projects which can only proceed once they are proven to be in the people’s/city’s interest and following legitimate public consultation with majority approval and all due processes followed thereafter

Prospective candidates can contact the Friends of Brighton and Hove Party by emailing friendsofbrightonandhove@outlook.com.

As well as the Friends of Brighton and Hove and the Brighton and Hove Independents, four parties are known to have been selecting candidates for the local elections – Conservative, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat.

The Conservatives, Labour and Greens currently hold 47 of the 54 seats on the council. The 54 councillors represented 21 electoral wards at the last local elections but at this election there will 23 wards after boundary changes.