Council tax frozen after heated budget meeting

By Catherine Roberts

The Greens lost their battle to raise council tax in Brighton & Hove thanks to a Labour amendment pushed through at the budget meeting last night.

Five hours of debate dampened the Green budget proposal, with Labour and Conservative councillors securing an amendment that will halt the 3.5% tax rise and pull in £3 million offered by the Government.

The Tories’ demands to axe union officers and close Brightstart nursery were apparently too hard to stomach and they failed to pass any changes.

Tempers flared throughout the evening, with Mayor Ann Meadows repeatedly quietening both protestors in the public gallery and incensed councillors.

The opposition battered the Greens’ “idealistic” budget. Conservative leader Geoffrey Theobald declared: “This has been a wasted first year in office.”

Labour leader, Jill Mitchell, scolded the Greens for their broken campaign promises. She added: “They have gone from the protest party to the party most protested about in this city.”

The Labour amendment also sees a reduction in the increase in allotment fees and the rescue of the mobile library. Awareness of the library’s plight was raised thanks to former East Sussex Council member, Harry Spillman, who gathered more than 1300 signatures protesting against the destruction of “a vital community resource”.

This was the first ever Green budget to be passed.

Having accused Labour of turning blue last night, Green finance minister Coun Jason Kitcat this morning expressed his disappointment: “This city has seen New Labour become Blue Labour as they’ve shifted hard right, falling into the Tory trap of the tax freeze, which leaves our council worse off for years to come.

“The Green budget was a fair budget for tough times, protecting vital services. Clearly the other parties agreed, joining us in voting through our financial plans for the next year.

“My door remains open to opposition councillors wanting to begin the co-operative working they’ve so far felt unable to embark on. But first and foremost I’m focussed on delivering our Green manifesto and budget to build a better, fairer city for our future.”

Check Mat’s Twitter account for a blow-by-blow account of Thursday’s budget meeting.

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