Last week Brighton & Hove Greens launched our manifesto. Given that it looks like we’ve gone first, the ‘start your photocopiers‘ line seems apt for the other parties. We’ve already see the other parties pile into Green ideas for example with bike rental and solar panels for council properties. Green Cllr Bill Randall tells me he’s got an old leaflet from over 8 years ago with him calling for a bike rental scheme in the city. I guess there is some chance of debate advancing if after eight years these policies get adopted by the other parties. Shall I hope that in another 8 years they’ll be opposing public service cuts too?
Tories keep saying Greens favour a congestion charge. We don’t, we have no policy for this and they’ll notice that our manifesto makes no mention of such a charge. Will that stop them suggesting it in their speeches and publications? Sadly, I doubt it.
I would say this, but the Green manifesto is full of clear, positive ideas for this city from more affordable housing, to 20mph limits for residential areas to a living wage for council staff. Lots of good stuff, but I want to highlight some particular areas of interest to me.
Democracy & Trust
We want to devolve power and introduce participative budgeting through neighbourhood councils or ward forums. We also want to return the council to the committee system which is more open and democratic than the current ‘strong leader and cabinet’ system imposed on us by the previous Labour government. We also would like to see a ‘one stop shop’ for people to be able to have their say on consultations, policies and services provided by the public sector.
We have a strong commitment to use open data formats and licenses for council information, reports, data and media. We also want to automatically publish Freedom of Information request responses (as long as privacy is not affected), remove restrictive terms on council web services and publish contracts the council signs up to.
Greens are committed to bringing services back in-house, reducing high offer pay and we oppose the move to abolish Sussex Police Authority with a single police commissioner for all of Sussex.
Waste & Recycling
We want to set our sights on becoming a ‘zero waste city’ which, until recently, was a status which brought councils extra funding. The new government’s waste plans are very much in limbo, but perhaps zero waste funding might return. Regardless we believe reducing waste and boosting recycling are the right things to do to save money and protect the environment.
We’re going to push for food waste collection, look to get the council collecting commercial waste and oppose any new landfill or landraise sites in Sussex.
We are continuing to work with residents and businesses to find the balance between ‘peace and pleasure’. Being an old town with homes cheek by jowl with pubs and clubs, it’s always going to be difficult. However many businesses are responsive and understanding of the challenges. We want to support them with a responsible licensee scheme akin to the Scores on the Doors initiative for food standards in restaurants. We also want to improve the process for residents and businesses of nearby licensing applications. Where allowed by the law we’d also like to review the license fees charged by the council, as some seem too low and others too high.
Read about this and more in the full manifesto [PDF]