Leaders of the city’s political parties traded blows in the final Argus debate before the election on Thursday.

Green council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty was joined by Labour deputy leader Amanda Evans, Conservative leader Steve Bell, founder of the Brighton and Hove Independents Bridget Fishleigh and Paul Chandler, treasurer of the Liberal Democrats for the debate, organised by this newspaper in partnership with Latest TV.

Candidates clashed on a range of issues raised by Argus readers, including the i360, potholes, the state of the city, and public toilets.

Cllr Mac Cafferty defended his administration and said the Greens had faced a range of challenges from the pandemic to the cost-of-living crisis.

He said: “Taking over the city at a time like this has required resilience, experience, insight and compassion.

“We’ve tried to make tough decisions to keep our city moving forward, making the best of a bad situation and stretching every penny.

“The big challenges of today require big ideas and I have a team ready to deliver. We’ve shown what we can do in dire circumstances and with a full four-year term and a majority we can get so much done for Brighton and Hove.”

Labour councillor Amanda Evans accused the Green administration of “some level of mismanagement” of the council’s finances and pledged to restore the city’s basic services.

She said: “We want to combat climate change with actions that really work, support our communities through the cost of living crisis, and provide quality education to narrow the educational attainment gap.

“I plead with the people of Brighton and Hove to give all their votes to Labour so we can have a majority council for the first time in 20 years.”


Conservative councillor Steve Bell called on the council to stop funding “vanity projects” and instead work to improve the “bad” state of the city.

He said the first priority of the Tories if elected would be to meet with unions and “have a reset” as well as sorting out rubbish collections and overgrowing weeds in the city.

He said: “We would also end a lot of waste on vanity projects - that is how we would help fund the city’s services.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Paul Chandler urged people in the city to give one of their votes to the party to deliver for residents.

He said: “We stand on our record as good councillors around the country. We are people who are practical and not ideologically driven.”

He said the Liberal Democrats were prepared to “think outside the box” but came under scrutiny for not knowing how much the party’s new tram system proposal would cost.

When asked by Cllr Fishleigh about how much money would be needed for such a project, which would stretch along the seafront, Mr Chandler said he “doesn’t know”.


Cllr Fishleigh from the Brighton and Hove Independents said the priority of her group if elected would be to put residents of the city first.

She said: “The sole purpose of our group is to serve the city and its residents in the best way possible, based on sound, fact-based, professional decision-making. 

“We are not part of the traditional party system. The main job of the others is to put their party first but we are about putting the residents of Brighton and Hove first.

“With just a few of us elected we will have the power and influence to stop the decline of our great city.”

Voters go the polls to elect 54 councillors from across the city on Thursday.