Greens welcome commitment to proposals for improving mental health in schools

Children’s Mental Health Week (4-10 Feb) a reminder that help is urgently needed

Photo by Pixabay on

The mental health needs of children in schools will be given renewed focus after a series of Green proposals calling for greater support received the backing of all parties at a Council meeting last week.

Greens called on the Council to support education providers to deliver activities that help to prevent mental health problems developing early, with a particular focus on activities that can help to prevent depression and anxiety, along with support on restricting access to social media and mobile phones, plus providing training for staff delivering P.S.H.E education.

Green Councillor Amanda Knight, who proposed the Green Notice of Motion on Child Mental Health in Schools, said that the positive work already delivered by schools and local mental health partnerships is impeded by a lack of resources and inadequate funding from central Government, and called on the Council to lobby for increased support.

With child mental health issues a growing concern across the city, Greens are also encouraging individuals to find out more about initiatives planned as part of Children’s Mental Health Week (4-10th Feb).

Cllr Knight commented:

“This Children’s Mental Health Week is a crucial time to raise awareness of the mental health support needed for young people in schools.  Yet while fantastic work is underway in our city to support mental health, current central Government funding has not been able to provide the levels of support our schools need. Their current plans to reach a handful of pupils by 2030 are completely inadequate, and ignore the immediate needs of thousands of our children. Children also face complex challenges to their mental health such as the long term use of mobile phones and social media.

“I’m delighted that Green proposals aiming to boost support for our young people in school were backed by all parties. So I urge the council and our family of schools to work together to focus on what preventative work is available and help our cities children to achieve the best they can for themselves in both their academic education and their emotional and mental wellbeing, no matter what background they come from.”

Green Group Notice of Motion: Mental Health in Schools

Greens publish vision for development in the city as City Plan Part Two response released

Response to city development plan from Green Group available here:

Green Councillors have published their response to Brighton and Hove City Council’s development plan, City Plan Part Two, including new ideas for affordable housing and sustainable transport they say will enable the city to thrive into the future.

Greens say that while councils are constrained by national planning law, the city plan must be taken as an opportunity to hold developers to the highest standards possible on issues such as sustainability, affordability and design.

Over 50 new proposals are detailed in the Green response, including:

  • launching a pilot of an intergenerational housing scheme at Toads Hole Valley, to support our ageing population;
  • building more supported accommodation and emergency housing, council-owned and with support services built in
  • creating a design charter and holding developers to a higher standard in energy efficient homes;
  • restricting the conversion and spread of short-term holiday let homes or AirBnB property development
  • demanding air quality provision at all development sites, not only in Air Quality Management areas;
  • a space for nature in all development; with vegetation and tree planting to mitigate air pollution,
  • district heat networks and a boost for community energy, so residents have warm homes and lower energy bills
  • improving public and community spaces in the city centre, to enhance walking and cycling; and a commitment that all developments will prioritise ‘car free’ access and links to public transport
  • allowing community organisations greater involvement in discussions with developers about new facilities;
  • using gaps on the high street for ‘between use’ with new business start-ups,
  • greater protection for the historical and heritage fabric of Brighton and Hove’s retail;
  • introducing storm drains and the reinstatement of the lost flood plain in Patcham;
  • stricter ecological studies for urban fringe sites, and the commitment of the most outstanding and strict environmental commitments for any development granted access to an urban fringe site; requiring no less than 100% genuinely affordable homes
  • identification of further sites in the city centre lying vacant for new genuinely affordable housing, such as above car parks or shopping centres, studies for denser housing on some brownfield sites, and truly affordable housing at the Brighton General Hospital site;
  • Demanding a consistent approach to the area between the train station and Churchill square, focusing on public space, accessibility, clearer and cleaner pavements and on-foot travel

Convenor of the Green Group, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty commented:

“We are pleased to be able to share our responses to the council’s development plan with the city. In our view, the challenges that lie ahead – a rising need for affordable housing, a growing elderly population, increasing air pollution and climate change –mean that a development plan for our city must be visionary and forward-thinking. It should hold developers to the highest sustainability standards possible as well as boosting community wellbeing and quality of life. That’s why Greens have focused on how future development plans can put the community at centre stage – prioritising affordable housing, green spaces, public transport and community facilities.

“As we did with our political leadership in the City Plan Part One, Greens believe that a well-designed and well-planned built environment creates benefits which go far beyond just bricks and mortar, such as protecting our fragile environment, and boosting other areas of the economy such as tourism, retail and leisure.

“The recent halt by developers of the King Alfred leisure centre project has again reminded us that the balance is still tipped in favour of developers. Yet we need to ensure community needs are met by future development plans. Although we are constrained by damaging and short-sighted national planning rules, this should not stop us from showing political leadership. The City Plan helps to inform planning policy, so we hope the Labour Council take on board new ideas that put our city on a path to more sustainable development.”

Read the council’s CPP2 consultation paper online.

Conservative Government ‘passing the buck’ on chaotic Brexit to local council and community, say Greens

Letter urges council to prepare and test for impact of no-deal Brexit but offers ‘paltry’ resources

The Green Group of Councillors have hit back at Conservative Government Minsters after a letter suggesting councils ‘step up’ their preparation for a no-deal Brexit was received by Brighton and Hove City Council this week.

The letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government incorporates a ‘local authority preparedness check list,’  which Secretary of State James Brokenshire says will set out the ‘expectations in terms of local authority preparedness between now and the end of March.’

The list calls on the council to plan for major problems with maintaining council services, care homes, schools or waste plants; with communications and transport and resources for the most vulnerable. Stating that ‘The UK’s exit from the EU has created significant tensions as well as mis-information and/or expectations in communities’ the letter also requests that councils prepare for increased community tensions or hate crime.

Greens say ‘paltry’ Government pledges of cash and resource support for local councils come nowhere mitigating the potential impact Brexit may cause in Brighton and Hove. Accusing the Conservative Government of ‘buck passing,’ Greens say the actions suggested by the Government load the responsibility for the Government’s chaotic Brexit onto local councils and communities, and will be impossible without sufficient local funding.

Pointing to repeated requests made by the Green Group for information on the impact of Brexit on the city, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said:

This letter from the Conservative minister for councils is unbelievable. Weeks before a possible ‘no deal’ plunges our residents into huge uncertainty, the paltry advice from the government has only been outmatched by the paltry amount on offer from the minister. The cash won’t come anywhere near helping our council count the heavy cost of a no deal Brexit. What’s clear is that the Minister is happy to pass the buck for no deal Brexit. The events of this week tell us this government is intent on putting the unity of the Conservative party ahead of the needs of our residents.

Green Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty speaking at a People’s Vote rally

“Since the date of the referendum Green Councillors have been requesting detailed information from central Government about what Brexit will mean for Brighton and Hove –drawing blood from a stone would have been easier. Almost two and a half years after the referendum we are still in the dark. The information we have managed to get makes for grim reading: as many as 250 local projects could stand to lose EU funding. A no deal crash out will hit our city heavily in key sectors of the local economy- services exports, research & digital. Productivity will be damaged. Councils already need a further £8bn by 2025 just to stand still. We cannot withstand a Brexit double-whammy too.

“The only way we now can avoid a disastrous no deal Brexit is with a People’s Vote.”

The letter from Secretary of State James Brokenshire, January 31st 2019, is available here:

Read more:

‘Greens demand answers on what Brexit will mean for Brighton and Hove’:

Review of animal welfare charter blocked despite huge public petition to end use of animals in circuses

Labour council leadership fails to back Green call for a review of animal welfare charter

Opposition to a Green request for a review of the council’s animal welfare charter met with anger from the public gallery at a meeting of Full Council today (31st January).

A petition signed by over 5,000 people calling for an end to the use of performing animals in circuses was heard by all Councillors, with the Greens putting forward proposals seeking to strengthen the petition through a review of the council’s animal welfare charter.

Pointing to a previous petition on the same subject heard by Councillors in 2017, Greens called on all Councillors to heed the request of residents and recognise the strength of feeling about the issue.

However the vote on the Green amendment was met with shock and anger in the public gallery after the Labour leadership failed to back the proposals.

Councillor Mac Cafferty, who proposed the amendment, said:

“Greens feel we must take up what campaigners are saying and so brought forward an amendment to provide a steer to the council on this issue.

“Legislation states that land used by councils has to be for ‘the benefit and improvement’ of the council. We need to look at what benefit a ban would confer on our city, and to us that is clear: a more humane approach to the other animals that share our planet.

“But this isn’t only about saying no to the worst practices – it’s also about being more forward thinking. We should use up to date practices and looking at technology too. We can embrace compassion for the other sentient beings on our planet and still say that our children can seek wonder in the world and have fun. We share the public shock and anger that Councillors – and especially the Labour leadership of the Council – cannot come with us on this vital issue.”


[1] Green amendment to animals in circuses petition (Jan 31st) available here:$$Supp30936dDocPackPublic.pdf

[2] A previous amendment to a 2017 petition on banning animals in circuses was put forward by the Greens was voted down at a meeting of Tourism, Development and Culture on 21st September 2017