MY WEEK started last Saturday at a Labour fundraiser at St George’s in Kemp Town to raise money for our local and general election campaigns, writes council leader Bella Sankey. It was a great event, with Goan cuisine and live music and the first time we have taken stock and celebrated winning overall control of the council last year.

As I said in my speech to supporters we need to continue to make the case to our residents that our city needs a strong Labour majority to do the work and take the decisions that will reduce inequality, make our city greener and become the best small city in the world to live in and visit. That means continuing to listen to residents and, where we can, taking action to improve the outcomes our council delivers.

On Monday we were straight back to work on our cost of living action plan – establishing a cross directorate team, chaired by Cllr Mitchie Alexander, cabinet adviser on community engagement, to take action to support those most in need. Our Fairness Fund is being established with over £600,000 already committed by your Labour council. We will be asking local partners and businesses if they would like to contribute and sponsor the fund so we can grow our capacity to create better life chances in Brighton and Hove.

On Wednesday I had a sunny and uplifting trip to Rottingdean, Ovingdean and Saltdean with Cllr Maureen Winder, our lead on green spaces and equalities, to see the brilliant work by children’s charity, PARC. Co-founded by Cathy Taylor and Sally Conniff in 1995 in memory of two local girls who lost their lives to meningitis, the charity has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years to support the council’s creation of playgrounds and recreational facilities for children in the Deans. Cathy and Sally showed me the basketball court and football pitch on Rottingdean seafront (Connor’s Court) along with the brilliant storytelling area on the front. We heard about the plans to invest in the basketball court and skatepark in Saltdean as well as the planned refurbishment to the children’s playground in Ovingdean using section 106 developer contributions. PARC is also putting on free storytelling events in Rottingdean all summer long, to book your place go to This work is a shining example of what the council, working in partnership with local communities, can deliver.

On Thursday we were very pleased to announce that our children’s services have been judged outstanding by Ofsted. In our role as councillors and staff there is no more important job than our role as corporate parents, protecting and supporting children in need and I couldn’t be prouder of this assessment of our work. The report concluded that “the quality of work is strong throughout children’s social care services and is making a positive difference to the progress and experiences of children and families in Brighton and Hove”. Well done to our social workers, foster carers and children.

On Thursday it was annual council in the chamber at our beautiful Brighton Town Hall. The main ceremonial event was the mayor-making and we made history by electing Cllr Mohammed Asaduzzaman as our mayor and first citizen of Brighton and Hove. Mayor Asaduzzaman has given years of his life to community service, fostering better community relations and supporting those in need in our city. I know that he and his wife and consort, Most Ara, will be a credit to our city while supporting and raising money for his chosen charities: Chomp Brighton, Sussex Cricket Foundation, Brighton Students Union, Brighton Housing Trust, Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust and My Universities Hospital Sussex. Our elected deputy mayor is Cllr Amanda Grimshaw, a force of nature and our Armed Forces champion who is already moving mountains to ensure better recognition and support for those who serve.

I was humbled to be re-elected as leader and pleased to move a report to change our governance system from committee to cabinet. As I’ve written in this column previously it will allow us to act more swiftly to address the emerging needs of our residents and to start to get the city moving again after years of stagnation. We also implemented independent recommendations on councillor allowances and introduced a new progressive parental leave scheme and diversity action plan to ensure that we continue to attract those from all walks of life to stand for election.

Lastly, Friday was dedicated to discussing our net zero plans with partners across the county at the University of Sussex. More news on this in the coming months.

Bella Sankey is the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council