notes from JK

Despite the cuts, Green councils deliver

There is no doubt it’s not an easy time to be in local government: The Tory-led coalition are imposing massive austerity measures with councils bearing far more than their fair share of the cuts in public funding. This has been complemented by ongoing public attacks on both council officers and councillors by pugnacious Tory ministers like Eric Pickles, Bob Neil and Grant Shapps. Finally councils are being pushed and pulled between suggestions of more powers being devolved, more central direction on how to do things and massive centrally decided reforms to their funding and legal powers. Local government is a bit punch drunk.

Despite all this, councils can and should deliver. In Brighton & Hove the Green administration came to power in 2011 with a very clear manifesto which we have been working hard to implement. In less than a year Greens have made significant changes, we have:

1. Introduced a Living wage of £7.19 for the lowest paid council staff. We have created a Living Wage Commission for the city which is working with the largest employers to advocate that living wage across the city.

2. Won over £6m of new external funding for major improvements to the city’s transport infrastructure & public spaces.

3. Protected the Children’s & Adult Social care budgets, including for carers – over 2 years they will not change, whilst neighbouring authorities are withdrawing care and support from many in need.

4. We are building the city’s first new council houses in decades, and bringing more empty properties back into use. We are also working with local squatter groups working on ‘meanwhile’ leases for empty properties awaiting development.

5. Introduced a new approach in the council which prioritises openness, democracy & participation – as shown by our budget process, commitment to open data and plans for neighbourhood councils.

None of these would have happened without Greens taking control of the city council in Brighton & Hove.

We’re also unique in how much we’ve protected in our first budget, despite incredible pressure from the government, and ill-conceived amendments from the opposition parties. The Green administration’s budget will:

  • Double capital funding for transport and the public realm.
  • Build new non-academy school places in our best schools.
  • Keep an in-house Youth Service, unlike almost every other council in the country.
  • Preserve the main grant programmes for the 3rd sector at the same level as previous years.
  • Create a new £300,000 grants programme for 3rd sector youth services, and a £150,000 fund to support capital investment in the 3rd sector.
  • Protect Staff terms and conditions.
  • Preserve parks services
  • Keep all our branch libraries remain open, the book fund is growing.
  • Preventing homelessness funding is protected and domestic violence support increasing by £100,000.
  • We will be bringing forward pilots for communal recycling, food waste collection and commercial waste collection.
  • We will be piloting participatory budgeting and neighbourhood councils.
  • We will be consolidating buildings down to a few hubs which will be upgraded to be super energy efficient, have solar panels and support mobile working and hot desking.
  • Will keep pursuing a unique bid for urban UN Biosphere status.

Whilst the government’s austerity measures are forcing back to scale back in some areas, we are still able to make good progress in many important areas. For example we are going to be working towards achieving One Planet Council status in the coming months.

As Greens we’re utterly opposed to much of the coalition’s wrong-headed policies, but we have a duty to make the best of the situation for our residents. If you have elections in your area vote Green this May for more dedicated councillors fighting for fair solutions to the challenges in their areas. Greens deliver.

8 replies on “Despite the cuts, Green councils deliver”

Not exactly. Our original budget proposals planned to eliminate the council subsidy to the music service. This does not make up 100% of that service’s budget, there is also direct funding from central government and income from fees.

At the same time as we made our initial budget announcement the government announced additional cuts in the form of reduced funding for music & arts services.

We recognised the government funding changes would have created an unacceptable “double whammy” on the service. There was also an excellent campaign highlighting the value of the service.

As a result of all this we did amend the council budget proposals to restore greater funding to the music and arts service.

jason, its a stupid question because its worth asking could council save money be converting over to open source software? i imagine there would be some limits to it and there would be that old problem the intial out lay to save money later. how much money do councils pay out to microsoft/

It can in some places, but the up-front costs and support costs don’t make it such a clear cut case as it might seem at first. We have to take it on a case by case basis.

Unbelievable arrogance! Don’t you realise that your mad parking charges are Killing tourism, killing business, killing jobs and going to turn Brighton in to a ghost town. There is now a no confidence petition being passed around which people are signing in their droves. A tent city is now being planned with over 60 businesses already signed up to sponsor a tent on the green with more coming on all the time with massive banners highlighting what you are doing to this town with the national media in attendance. £20 parking per day is one thing but not giving the public the ability to pay through card machines or mobile technology shows amazing lack of basic thought. Where do you think people will get the change from? No one is parking in these spaces now and are starving the council of much needed money.

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