Another week, another Argus headline showing another Labour manifesto U-turn, writes Green Councillor Steve Davis. This time it’s the toilets. “Toilets will be shut for Saturday Parkruns in Brighton under new plans” announced Zac Sherratt’s piece yesterday morning. Given the torrent of criticism Labour directed at the Greens for suggesting the city temporarily mothball some toilets – and the promises they gave residents last May – it was surprising to see reduced opening hours included in Labour’s budget.

The fact the cuts will affect the 1,100 or more runners who flock to Preston Park, Hove Park, Hove Promenade, and East Brighton Park Parkrun events – not to mention everyone else who visits our parks bright and early to play sport or walk their dog – is incredibly disappointing. In a cost-of-living crisis, events like Parkrun, Junior Parkrun on Sunday mornings, and access to our fantastic parks are even more important. There are also many people for who readily available toilets are a key accessibility need and a reduction in opening times represents a restriction in their ability to enjoy our city’s open spaces. The council should not be putting barriers in the way of people getting active, improving their mental and physical wellbeing and connecting with others.

Before people rush to the online comments section, let’s address the plans the last Green administration proposed. To protect vital frontline services, including some of those now on the chopping block in Labour’s budget, we put forward a proposal to temporarily mothball some toilet sites as part of a long-term plan to create a self-sustaining model for our toilets which would have protected them for ever. We’d also begun securing funding for more Changing Places toilets, facilities which are now being installed. Because we published our budget proposals way in advance, residents had a chance to have their say. People gave us their feedback, we listened, and the plans were changed.

Labour, however, saw political points to be scored and told anyone who would listen they would keep all the toilets open. Now in administration they’re finding the reality of the financial situation doesn’t allow for all their pre-election promises. Champagne dreams but light ale money, my dear old gran would have said.

Labour, we were all told, would sort out the weeds. They just didn’t tell people they would do so by spraying cancer-causing chemicals across our city. They wouldn’t close schools. Well, apart from the two they are closing and possibly the half a dozen others it has emerged have an uncertain future. It really is difficult to say.

Labour would sort the bins out. Brilliant voters thought. And the council did indeed rush to issue a press release saying collections had improved after Labour’s first few months. Only now the GMB is threatening to strike over job losses and broken equipment not being repaired in time.

Their manifesto promised to tackle climate change and create a sustainable environment. But their budget does not include a single meaningful investment in this area, while they still refuse to tackle local air pollution – leaving 44,000 local school children breathing air considered dangerous by the World Health Organisation.

Labour promised a city where everyone felt welcome and safe. They’d published a draft strategy tackling violence against women and girls. It just didn’t mention the £70,000 funding cut planned for local services like Rise which are actively supporting survivors of such violence and now face a potentially uncertain future.

In opposition, there isn’t a lot we can do other than scrutinise Labour’s decisions, hold them to account, and remind people of their broken promises. If we can keep track of them all.

We have submitted amendments to Labour’s budget – including asking Labour to spend £70,000 earmarked for a feasibility study and business prospectus instead on reversing the cuts to prevention of violence against women and girls funding. We’re hopeful enough Labour councillors will vote with their conscience on this to see the amendment pass. All I can say to Argus readers is if you have a Labour councillor and agree with us that preventing violence against women is more important than a business prospectus, please email your councillor to say so. Next time you read in The Argus that Labour has performed aU-turn on another promise or cut a vital service to fund a popularist policy, remember Labour won the election with unkept promises and received less than half the votes. They promised champagne but are serving us light ale.

Cllr Steve Davis is the leader of the Greens on Brighton and Hove City Council