More reactions to Mary Mears’ Master Plan for Brighton’s budget and May’s local elections

There has been quite a response to Friday’s post Budget Masterplan shows the campaigning skills of Mary Mears.  Some people ‘get it’, others (Dan Wilson) doesn’t.

Serenus Zeitblom (is that really your name ….?) does get it: “Genius? Perhaps not. But it’s very, very clever. It puts all the opposition parties on the back foot; oppose the budget and you’re campaigning for higher taxes, support it and you’ve accepted the cuts. And in a minority administration the votes of the opposition parties make a difference. Both Greens and Labour are going to have to be very careful – both in the way they vote and in the way they present the case. Yes, it’s potentially hugely damaging in the long run. And, yes, the Tories are being less than forthcoming about how many jobs will go in the long term. But it shows that anyone who thinks the Tories will roll over is seriously mistaken.  And, frankly, it’s difficult to see Labour in Brighton having the nous, the skill or the energy to fight this. If the Greens can pass this test it’s a sign that they’re ready for power.”

Rob Buckwell (one of the Tory candidates in Goldsmid ward and a keen supporter  of low Council Tax – Rob, you need to get out more) says: “You are right to point out that I am delighted about the council tax cut, I only hope the opposition parties don’t block it.”  He goes on, “There was great excitement in the Estate Agents office this evening”.  (I made the last comment up.  Why am I being so mean to Rob?  I actually like him and have enjoyed meeting him).

‘HP’ suggests that the Budget announcement is just an interim measure to see the Tories through to the May elections: “The Tory strategy is to delay the inevitable. The big number redundancies, that other councils are getting to grips with, will come but it will be after May in the form of big in-year cuts. By then they will either be someone else’s problem or they will be at the start of a new term for them (even better, a new non-tory administration might have to reverse the 1% cut). Who cares if another 50 or 60 hard working public servants have to go to pay with their livlihoods for that last throw of the dice she has given herself. Why should she care? This isn’t just the rough and tumble of local politics – it’s people’s lives and once again Mears has shown herself to not give two hoots. As long as she can stay on top everything else can go to hell. This includes the future prosperity of the city which she has personally seen to it is no longer open for business as progress – development, homes, jobs – tend to cost votes rather than gain votes.”

And then there is Dan Wilson: “If this is genius, I’ll stick to being a fool.”  (I’ll resist making a cheap joke here).  He continues “I do hope the tenner or so people save on this is a comfort as vital services close and 250 people lose their jobs. It’s as cynical as it is reckless and will still have to be paid for.”  He doesn’t get it.  It is the headline that counts.  There won’t be 250 people losing their jobs.  That’s the whole point.  Mears and Co are far too smart to make hundreds of real people redundant.  As I pointed out, the Council press release shows that the Tories have this covered: “Job losses will be minimised because the council has already started deleting empty posts and reducing use of agency staff as well as redeploying and retraining. These principles have helped reduce the risk to jobs overall.”  These will be jobs lost to city, but they will, on the whole, not be actual people losing their jobs. 

The most likely opposition will probably come from the voluntary sector, at least the opposition that will have the most resinance with the general public.  Details of what cuts they will get have yet to be announce.  It is a very very interesting time.

4 Responses

  1. I think if you want to compare the Mearcon to a masterplan, looking at her move on resident parking is more persuasive. That’s clever, attractive to many and also brassy in its cycnicism.

    Straw poll today and last evening is that a 1% decrease is of little interest. Plenty of people, however, are concerned about libraries, BrightStart and all manner of things.

    The Brightonian electorate this morning may have been hungover (oh yes, definitely a party night last night in Regency and several were still going on at noon!) but it is not as stupid as Mears, and perhaps Bappy, think.

  2. I’d say that Dan is right.

    I have tried to range widely in getting a take upon things in all quarters, and I do not know if that has done me any good, and that’s another matter, but for sure I have never heard anybody voice a particular objection to the Council tax. Let alone say that a ten quid reduction would make a difference.

    Now, a new system of local taxation, that could be resonant instead of this Heseltine Fudge.

  3. Please give us a break BPB, we’re still digesting this devious budget proposal (all 226 pages of it) and attempts to stir things ups amongst the opposition are a distraction just now.

    As you well know, the Conservative led council are implementing an “intelligent decomissioning” process (conveniently timetabled to start after the election!) to decide which services to stop providing entirely and which ones to outsource to the lowest bidder.

    The budget proposal explains that these upcoming cuts won’t take full effect until the next financial year 2012/13 so the 250 jobs about to go are just the tip of the iceberg.

    The “intelligent” part is the device by which every council service comes to be commissioned, either from the public sector, profit-motivated private sector or the voluntary sector (crippled by grant cuts despite warm words about the “big society”, and the empty invitation just a smoke screen for privatisation) – meaning that future job cuts will be dissembled.

    Insightful post by Jason Kitcat here decrying the £11.6 million cuts planned for children’s services and adult social care, while car parks are to receive an additional £4.5 million:

  4. Good post steampunk and thanks for the link.

    £4.5m on carparks – and removing cycle lanes. FFS! If one good thing comes of this it will be more opposition co-operation. If that’s the result then maybe Mary Mears isn’t such a ‘shrewd operator’ (why do I keep thinking of Sade?)

    Remarkable that the BPB regards all this with chuckling indulgence, while still finding space to heap more abuse on Paul Elgood. If he isn’t Roy Pennington he might be Reg Prentice.

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