Thursday 30th January marked a new low point in the pantomime political point scoring between the mainstream parties who make up Brighton and Hove Council. Amidst cat calls and booing, a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the Green Party administration was passed by 29 votes to 21.
Scandalously this was not a vote against the £20 million cut in jobs and services proposed by the administration, but a vote by Labour and Tory councillors for more cuts!
The Green Party have said that they won’t resign, and plan to press ahead with a referendum in May on their proposal to carry out these cuts, threatening 100 plus jobs, or to increase council tax by 4.75%.
The Socialist Party have argued (http://brightonhovesocialistparty.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/oppose-green-partys-cuts-budget.html) that this referendum is no defence against the Con-Dem government’s austerity programme, which has withdrawn £70 million of central government funding from Brighton.
As we have explained, the referendum would pass the bill for Tory cuts onto the council tax payers of Brighton, and divide, rather than unite, opposition to the austerity programme the Greens were elected to resist.
The Socialist Party will be campaigning in the run up to the council’s budget meeting in February for a second question to be added to the referendum. This should ask whether voters agree that:
Brighton and Hove Council should draw up a ‘needs budget’ to restore jobs and services. Based on this the council should launch a campaign with Trade Unions, Service Users and Community Groups to demand that Central Government refund the £70 million lost from the City’s funding since 2010.
Section 116 of the Local Government Act 2003 provides a specific power for local authorities to hold polls in order to ascertain views on any matter relating to:
(1) their services, or
(2) expenditure on those services, or
(3) their power to promote well-being in their areas.
The Green Party have suggested that they plan a ‘referendum on austerity’. The Socialist Party says that it is merely a referendum on "WHAT FORM austerity should take’: ‘£22 million of cuts and a 2% council tax rise’ or ‘£20 million and a 4.75% rise’. Our proposal is a REAL alternative and provides an opportunity for the people of Brighton to link up with others fighting austerity like the RMT tube workers in London.