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

Success for Greens as climate and biodiversity emergency declared in Brighton and Hove

City Council becomes latest to commit to action on climate change and species extinction

Green Councillor Ollie Sykes and Extinction Rebellion campaigners
Copyright  Danny Fitzpatrick

Brighton and Hove City Council has become the latest council to declare a state of climate emergency following a call from the Greens. 

Green plans for council action on climate change and protection of the natural environment were agreed by all parties at a meeting of Full Council yesterday (Thursday 13th December). The Green proposals call on the city council to go ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030. Greens also want to see the council put in place measures to boost the protection of species, habitats and ecosystems to avert worsening climate disaster.

Recent reports from the United Nations have revealed that there are just 12 years left to limit global warming and that a mass extinction of species is now underway.

Following the success of the Green proposals, the city council will now lobby the Government to invest more resources in climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and also on the protection of the natural environment.

The emergency declaration follows similar pledges secured by Greens on Bristol Council, London Assembly, Stroud Council and others.

Members of the Brighton branch of global climate movement ‘Extinction Rebellion’ gathered outside Hove Town Hall in support of the Green call for action. 

Greens and Extinction Rebellion campaigners outside Hove Town Hall. Copyright Danny Fitzpatrick

While welcoming the support received from all parties on the council, Greens are now urging all parties to commit to taking ‘urgent, strong and determined’ action when the proposals are reviewed at policy committees next year.

Councillor Sykes, who put forward the call to council, commented:

“There’s nothing more urgent for this and future generations than the fight to slow climate change and protect our natural environment. I’m so pleased that this Green proposal passed unanimously at Council yesterday. Now let’s get more local authorities on board and start acting on our promises.”

Councillor Greenbaum, who seconded the notice of motion, added:

“Global climate talks are stalling under the influence of climate deniers such as Trump. At home the Conservative Government is blocking the progress of renewable energy while simultaneously pushing through legislation to make fracking easier, and there is no real plan to protect our natural assets or improve air quality. Meanwhile, our climate is changing more rapidly than we feared, and the impacts are catastrophic as we have seen from the recent California wildfires. And humankind’s destruction of natural habitats has destroyed 83% of all mammals and half of plants.  

“The situation is dire and requires radical and immediate action, but with no leadership, hope or commitment coming from the global or national stage it is clear that the solutions will have be found at a local level – as we have seen in Bristol, Stroud, London and now Brighton – and grassroots movements such as Extinction Rebellion. We simply can’t sit back without trying to stop this disaster unfolding further.”

The Green Group proposals are available to read here:$

Greens call on Council: Declare climate emergency and take action on environmental disaster

City Council urged to halt further CO2 emissions by 2030 and address species extinction as environmental crisis deepens

Green Councillors are calling for Brighton and Hove to become the latest council to declare a state of ‘climate emergency’ following a UN report that revealed there are just 12 years left to limit the damage of climate change.

In a set of proposals being put to a vote at a meeting of Full Council this week, Greens say that Brighton and Hove City Council must play its part in protecting the local environment and go ‘carbon neutral’ by 2030 to have any chance of withstanding climate disaster. 

Greens are also urging the Council to boost the protection of species, habitats and ecosystems, after a global report found that up to 46% of animal and plant species could be wiped out from the planet by 2050. 

As part of the proposals, Green Councillors also want to see the Government invest more resources in climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation and also on the protection of our natural environment.

Recognising the critical location of Brighton and Hove between the sea and the South Downs, Greens say more must be done to protect the city from the impact of the changing climate, building on the success of Bristol Greens who last month pushed Bristol Council to bring their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions target forward by 20 years. Similar motions have since been passed by Green Councillors in Stroud District, the Forest of Dean and the London Assembly.

Green Councillor Ollie Sykes, who will put forward the proposals on Thursday, commented:

“If one thing has pushed Brexit from the news agenda recently, it’s been the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss. We’ve been collectively devastated by TV shows highlighting human impact on species and habitats.Destructive hurricanes and wildfires linked to global warming seem to have become commonplace. A recent UN report tells us we have only 12 years to act. Other cities have shown how positive change can be managed and we should do the same.”

Councillors from all parties will be asked to support the Brighton and Hove Greens ‘climate emergency’ proposals this Thursday, 13th December. Members of the Brighton branch of international movement ‘Extinction Rebellion,’ who hit the headlines for staging protests to highlight species extinction and climate breakdown, are expected to gather outside Hove Town Hall before the meeting to show their support for the Green proposals. 

You can find out more about the Extinction Rebellion event on  Facebook:


Want to know more….?

IPCC report: A collective of worldwide UN scientists conducting research into the climate have warned that there are only 12 years within which global leaders can implement the changes necessary to prevent the impact of global temperature exceeding 1.5c.

-Green Group Notice of Motion wording:

This Council notes with concern the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on global climate change impacts and the recent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reports on global species and habitat loss. Council notes also that our coastal city on the edge of the South Downs is affected by these threats, which are projected to intensify.

Further to this, Council:

(1)        Declares its recognition of global climate and biodiversity emergencies;

(2)        Requests the Policy, Resources & Growth Committee to:

·       undertake a short review of BHCC governance policies and progress aimed at addressing locally these twin threats and to report on findings;

·       consider a target date of 2030 for whole city carbon neutrality;

·       consider how the Council can strengthen local protection and enhancement of species, habitats and ecosystems services under available powers;

Request the Chief Executive to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer stating the concern of the Council with respect to the above, the likely national impact on the economy and on the wellbeing of citizens, and requesting government funding be made available to implement swift appropriate actions in response.

‘Carbon Neutral’ – 
Carbon Neutral refers to taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero – then offsetting the equivalent amount of any remaining emissions; e.g, through phasing out fossil fuel emissions, boosting energy efficiency and moving to fully renewable energy. 
‘What is carbon neutral?’

In places like Oslo, measures have been taken to ban diesel cars, undertake ‘carbon capture’ plants, selling electric vehicles or hybrid cars, and improving home energy efficiency.

IPBES report: The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services:
The IPBES report was compiled by research conducted across three years by 550 scientists from more than 100 countries, utilising thousands of scientific articles, government sources and indigenous and local knowledge.
The report found that: 
“By 2050, 38-46% of animal and plant species could be wiped out from the planet. Of particular concern are Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, which are more vulnerable to soil impoverishment.
“Within 30 years, the number of people living in arid regions could rise from 2.7 to 4 billion, increasing the risk of migration crises. Land degradation and climate change, leading to declining crop yields and social and economic instability, are likely to force 50-700 million people to migrate by the middle of the century.”

Bristol Green Councillors
successfully proposed a notice of motion calling for the city to declare a state of climate emergency and bring forward carbon emissions targets by 20 years.

London Assembly: Full text of the London Assembly motion available at

Extinction Rebellion Brighton: 
Event reads: “WE NEED YOU! The green party have submitted a motion of “Declaration of Climate Emergency” councillors will be discussing this motion this Thursday!!! Lets show them that the motion has full support from us Brightonians and that we want to align with many other local authorities across the country!!”

Greens to speak out for public services at weekend anti-cuts rally

Fight against cuts to NHS and other services ‘a matter of life and death’

Green Councillors will march in solidarity with communities defending public services at a public rally organised for this Saturday, October 13th.

Coordinated by Sussex Defend the NHS and the Brighton and Hove Trades Council, the ‘Matter of Life and Death’ march will highlight the devastating impact of cuts on public services, with a particular focus on the NHS. A rally starting at the Level at 11.30am will be followed by a public march to Regency Square.

Organisers have also asked attendees to consider wearing something black, as a symbol to commemorate the hundreds of people who are estimated to have died as a result of cuts to public services.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, Convenor of the Green Group of Councillors will speak at the event, as will Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion.

Councillor Dick Page, Green Spokesperson for Health and Wellbeing, commented:

“With the Brexit shambles taking up the headlines, we Greens stand alongside all the communities protesting that if austerity is over, why in our city are health treatments being restricted, care support is harder to access, and with less & less GPs, more people are waiting longer for an appointment?

“All local leaders do is issue bland, complacent strategies & action plans. What we need is enough funding for people’s needs, and secure, publicly-provided services.”

Councillor Mac Cafferty, who will address the rally at Regency Square, added:

“Years of brutal cuts have pushed key services to breaking point. Under the guise of ‘savings’, and ‘integration’ our NHS is at risk of being dismantled and sold off to the highest bidder. A third of NHS contracts awarded since Hunt’s 2013 Health Act have gone to the private sector.

“Sadly, the impact of this attack on public services is all too clear. This year, health chiefs at the Royal Sussex County Hospital said staff shortages and high demand led to “the toughest winter” on record. The city now has just one GP to every 2,500 patients. 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year, combined with a 96% drop in applications from the EU as Brexit looms.

“This Saturday I will stand shoulder to shoulder with all of those marching to defend our public services. Whether it’s councils, hospitals or adult social care, so many of the services struggling to meet rising demand are being brought to their knees by a cuts and privatisation agenda. Scandalously, it is residents reliant on local services who will pay the price.”

Saturday’s march will leave from the Level at 12.30 after hearing from local speakers. A rally in Regency Square with further speakers will start at 1.30pm.

With just 12 years left to limit climate change, Council must oppose new fracking laws say Greens

Council can and must act now say Greens as climate scientists give 12 year ultimatum

The Green Group of Councillors have reaffirmed their call for an end to fracking and called for ‘immediate action’ on climate change following a damning report from the UN on global warming.


Leading scientists have warned the worst effects of climate change could be felt as soon as 2030 if no action is taken to limit global warming

A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was published this week, with 91 scientists warning that the planet will reach climate disaster as early as 2030 if no action is taken to curb increases in global warming. According to the report, a rise in global temperature will lead to extreme droughts, food shortages and increased poverty,  with the IPCC calling for ‘unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,’ to minimise climate disaster.

Green Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty commented:

“This report should serve as a painful wake up call. The effects of climate change are already being felt. However the IPCC has concluded that a rise of even half a degree above current global temperatures will herald a climate disaster as soon as 2030. Increases in global temperatures of half a degree could lead to millions exposed to severe drought and plunge us into a food shortage.

“Yet the IPCC have reminded us that we can reverse some of these changes if we take serious action now. That’s exactly why Greens will call for an unequivocal rejection of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ at the next meeting of Full Council. It’s never been clearer that our reliance on fossil fuels has to end. With unprecedented levels of change needed, we also repeat our concerns that limited actions by the Labour Council on air pollution and sustainable transport do not go far enough, and call for a serious commitment from this Council to play its full part in curbing global warming.”



More information:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the leading international body on climate change, and the source of scientific information and technical guidance on the subject to the United Nations. The IPCC published a report on Monday, 8th October, detailing the findings of climate scientists investigating levels of global warming and climate change. The Panel concluded that allowing the global temperature to exceed 1.5 degrees celsius would create a ‘climate disaster,’ causing severe impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, and concluded that the worst effects could be felt as soon as 2030 if activities exacerbating climate change continue at their current rate.

It is estimated that a rise in global temperatures to 2°c would lead to an increase in the severity of climate change. At 2°c, insects would be twice as likely to lose half of their habitat; 99% of corals would be lost and flooding would become more common and far-reaching. 

Greens will present a notice of motion on hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’) to the next meeting of Full Council in Brighton and Hove on 18th October. #LetCommunitiesDecide


40 years of the rainbow flag: why we still need to wear the symbol with pride

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty

Next weekend marks one of the biggest in the city’s calendar as we come together to celebrate our LGBT community for Pride. As we did for Trans Pride on 21st July, Greens will once again march with all those who stand together for equality and liberation.

This year is also the 40th anniversary of the iconic rainbow flag. Designed by artist Gilbert Baker, the flag was first flown at San Francisco’s Pride march in 1978. Now a celebrated symbol of the LGBT community, it is rooted in activism. Following the tragic assassination of the first openly gay US politician Harvey Milk, demand for the flags soared. Today we wear the symbol with pride – but despite progress, we know that our activism must continue, as one in four LGBT people have experienced violent hate crime. Four in ten British people believe gay sex is unnatural. Homophobia is legitimised in government with the partnership between the Conservative Party and the stridently homophobic Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who have blocked equal marriage in Northern Ireland. The noisy march for equality goes on beyond Pride weekend.

Gilbert Baker with original rainbow flag

Designer of the rainbow flag, Gilbert Baker. The original flag (as reproduced in the image) had 8 colours, including pink.

And this is why: Theresa May’s Government’s continued policy of creating a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants has exacerbated LGBT persecution. Data published by the UK Government last November revealed that thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans asylum seekers have been refused entry into the UK from countries where they will face prison, violence or even death. Not a single applicant from India or Sri Lanka, where homosexuality is illegal, were accepted by the Home Office.

Worse still, asylum seekers have described facing intense discrimination in the process of making their claims, including being asked for explicit pictures to ‘prove’ their sexuality. People whose claims are rejected are then subject to detention centres, places that national charity Stonewall found were “little sanctuary from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse.” In a country where homosexuality has been ‘decriminalised’ we are still locking people up for being LGBT.

As the city becomes a show of colour and celebration we should take the time to remember that LGBT people at home and abroad still face bigotry and violence. On Saturday we must march for them. As we celebrate the progress made in the fight for LGBT equality, we are reminded by the rainbow flag in its 40th year that it is the dedication of campaigners and courage of communities, refusing to be silent, that has made progress on LGBT rights possible.

Greens will continue to campaign for an end to the brutal ‘hostile environment’ policy of this Conservative Government that punishes those already vulnerable for who they love. We will campaign until we have lasting equality both here and abroad.

BHGP Pride 2017 with flag

Marching for equality at Brighton and Hove Pride last year

I wish everyone a safe, happy and sustainable Pride.

Labour failing to get a grip on bins and litter

Litter is piling up in the city – a depressing visual reminder that the Labour Council has failed to get a grip on waste

Councillor Leo Littman

We can all do our bit to reduce litter: take our rubbish home, or even better, don’t take rubbish with us in the first place. However, it is the Council’s responsibility to keep our green spaces clean and tidy, and this early May bank holiday they failed horribly.

weekend litter chaos Argus

From The Argus Newspaper,  May 11th 2018

30,000 visitors flocked to the city and tourists and residents were drawn into parks and open spaces by the sunshine. Yet instead of being a reminder of the Brighton Fringe & Festival’s fantastic cultural and arts offer, the bank holiday also became a reminder of the Council’s failure to deal with waste. 20 tonnes of it was left behind on Brighton beach alone.

Any influx of visitors in Brighton and Hove can cause a surge in litter. With good weather forecast at the start of May, it should have been clear that extra resources to manage waste collection would be needed.

Yet Councillor Gill Mitchell, the Labour lead on Environment, said that ‘extra staff resources would be in place by the end of May and beginning of June.’ Talk about shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted!

The bank holiday litter issue belies a much bigger problem. This is not the fault of City Clean and City Parks workers, who spend hours painstakingly picking up rubbish overflowing from inadequate bins; it’s the Council’s Labour administration who cut their budgets too hard.

Complaints from residents about litter, bins and fly tipping problems now appear in my inbox on almost a daily basis. They eclipse practically all other complaints received by myself and my fellow Green Councillors.

collage bin May

A snapshot of Brighton and Hove in recent months. Labour Council leader Dan Yates said recently that after the last bank holiday, the ‘city was looking great.’

Residents are clearly frustrated with overflowing bins and months of delayed bin collections. They have raised concerns about the impact of rubbish on our environment and our tourist economy. On top of the rising number of unsightly graffiti ‘tags’ that now cover buildings across the city, it is easy to see why residents and conservation societies are increasingly fed up.

tagging question

Green Councillors have been asking repeated questions about graffiti tagging

There is no doubt that hardworking and committed staff – like so many public service workers hit hard by ruthless austerity cuts – are being asked to do more with fewer resources. Last autumn we heard that refuse collection trucks were available in the depot but with no staff to drive them. Cuts to the dedicated City Clean team by the Labour Council have gone too far, too fast and the service is struggling to keep up with demand.

Rubbish recycling figures

The solution to some of this does not rest solely on providing more bins. Councils in England spend around £852m per year on waste collection. As recent documentary Blue Planet made clear, we all need to reduce our waste at the source, dispose of it responsibly – and be helped to recycle. 35% of fish caught off the British coast have plastic in their gut and 80% of the ocean plastic comes from the land.

come clean over plastic recycling

No wonder Brighton and Hove’s recycling figures are so rubbish, when the Council’s own recycling contract doesn’t include collecting most plastics. Image from Brighton and Hove Independent, 30th March 2018

Yet despite being a coastal city, in Brighton and Hove only a small amount of plastic can be collected for recycling – not pots, tubs or trays, whereas other Councils manage to recycle so much more. These restrictions are the result of a 25-year long contract struck under a previous Labour administration with the waste company Veolia.

Residents want to recycle more – but Labour have failed to challenge this contract. With 17 years of it to go, their inaction means the city will continue to lag behind on recycling. Just this week the Environmental Services Association said that the UK will struggle to meet targets for household recycling ‘due to a historic lack of funding and policy support in England.’ We can’t afford waste – and we can’t afford to waste time.

Under the previous administration, recycling levels dropped due to missed collections during a strike sparked by the equalisation of gender pay. Five years on, recycling figures are still appalling. What is the current administration’s excuse?

Proposals put forward for a plastic-free city by the Greens last November are moving at a snail’s pace under Labour. The city will wait until at least July before news on important changes, such as prohibiting the use of single-use plastics at city events, or ending the practice of purchasing unnecessary plastics in the Council’s supply chain. Although 30% or more of the refuse collected and sent for incineration in Newhaven is food, Labour voted against using money Greens put back in to the budget to kick-start a food waste collection service.

greens plastic free city

Greens set out a budget plan for a cleaner, greener city that also included weekend, year-round emptying of bins in city centre parks. Again, Labour voted against these proposals in coalition with the Conservatives. Their other attempts to tackle the problem – such as the 3GS littering enforcement agents – have proven to be deeply unpopular, fining people for putting things in the wrong bin; and with no remit to deal with the vast amount of litter left on the beach.

A rubbish litter strategy

Help certainly won’t come from the Conservative Government – who published a ‘litter strategy’ that ultimately puts the responsibility for clean streets on seemingly endless volunteers, instead of using available powers to encourage big companies to stop creating useless packaging, or reversing years of cuts to Council budgets.

The city needs a stronger strategy for reducing waste. Greens have led the way on banning single-use plastics. We are calling for an Environmental Impact Charge – so that huge events pay back to our city and contribute to clear up the mess that the extra footfall often leaves behind. We want to see a timetable for action that sets out the options for retro-fitting our recycling facilities to take more plastics, something that other local councils and local companies have been doing for many years.

We live in a city full of people already taking the lead on this – our fantastic small businesses and local trailblazers – like the Food Partnership, Claire Potter Design, HiSbE, Surfers Against Sewage, the Tempest Inn and other local groups are already pioneering new and innovative ways to deal with waste.

beach clean greens 2

Green Party Members on a beach clean

It was a Labour Council which tied the city into a 25-year contract which handed control of what we as a city are allowed to recycle to a private multi-national company. It was another Labour Council which cut the budgets of CityClean and CityParks to the point where they can no longer keep the city or our parks clean. In between, Labour prevented the Greens from trialling food waste collection schemes.

Dan Yates, the new Labour Leader of the Council recently wrote: “Unfortunately it appears beaches do not keep themselves clean, nor do parks, or even our streets.” No, Dan; they don’t. That, as a basic public service, is your job, and you’ve failed.

One thing is clear; whether it’s allowing residents to recycle what they want to recycle (be that plastic not shaped into bottles; or their food waste), or keeping our streets and public spaces clean and tidy, Labour are simply not up to the job.