More than £1 million has been diverted from a planned low-traffic neighbourhood scheme to refurbish the city’s toilets.

Councillors from across the political spectrum engaged in fierce debate to approve the council's budget for the year ahead amid a projected £14 million shortfall in the city’s finances.

Labour and Conservative councillors backed a budget amendment which will see £1.1 million in funding assigned for a planned low-traffic neighbourhood in Hanover and Tarner invested into the city’s public toilets instead.

The move proved controversial among Green councillors, who accused Labour of “cheap electioneering” and “flip-flopping” after previously voting in favour of the project in the past.

The Argus: Lifeguards have been spared cuts following a meeting of councillors last nightLifeguards have been spared cuts following a meeting of councillors last night

Cuts to the city’s lifeguard stations, the seafront Volk’s Railway, a service that helps disabled people into work and the council’s youth-led grants programme have all been reversed after discussions and debate by councillors last night, with a planned reduction in library opening hours also axed.

However, plans to scrap all of the city’s parking pay and display machines will go ahead as planned, despite concerns of “digital exclusion”, as well as the closure of Mile Oak Library in Portslade.

Council tax will rise by almost five per cent for the next financial year, with some households seeing bills rise by almost £180.

Addressing councillors at the start of the meeting, council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty said that the Green administration had “worked to the wire to stretch every penny to save services and jobs”.

He said that vital public services will continue to be funded, with £3 million in investment going into improving the city’s playgrounds and £2.5 million going towards warmer homes for renters and homeowners struggling with the cost of living crisis.

Cllr Mac Cafferty said: “Despite the immense challenges, we’ve been able to prevent the worst impact of cuts.

“Greens are making the tough decisions to keep our city moving forward. We are making the best of a bad situation.”

Labour accused of 'cheap electioneering'

Green councillors have slammed Labour and the Conservatives for stripping £1.1 million of funding for plans to install safety measures on Elm Grove, Queen’s Park Road and Egremont Place as part of a low-traffic neighbourhood scheme.

Councillor Elaine Hills, who co-chairs the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “This is cheap electioneering at the expense of safer, greener streets, cleaner air and tackling the climate crisis.

“Labour has voted in favour of the liveable neighbourhood scheme so far, but now suddenly are making this screeching U-turn.”

Labour councillors said they secured “big budget wins” for residents, funding “basic services not vanity projects”.

A spokesman for the Labour group said: “Labour worked cross-party to get vital measures to improve outcomes for residents into the council’s budget and won support to reverse cuts to lifeguards and Volk’s Railway, block the return of children’s library fines and invest £1.1 million in public toilets.”