The Brighton & Hove Budget 2012 – where clear political battle lines will be drawn

The Green administration in Brighton and Hove has announced that Council Tax in the City is to go up be about 3.5% in each of the next three years, or 10% over 3 years.

However, the People’s Geoff, (Tory Leader Geoffrey Theobald) said in a communication with this Humble Blogger that he thinks “residents will be concerned”. He said: “I find it quite irresponsible that the Greens are planning these large increases, for the next 3 years, at such an early stage in their administration”. He said that the Tories’ “first priority was always to look for savings in back office functions before ever turning to the council tax payer.”

Inevitably, as I warned last week, the Tories have raised the issue of the new head of media relations, as well as the decision to taking on the management of the Council’s downland estate.

I think Geoffrey Theobald is being a bit disingenuous. After all, the council tax freeze last year, indeed much of the budget set in the dying days of the Tory administration, was a decisive …. deferring of difficult decisions until this coming year’s budget.

A 3.5% increase is significantly less that the rate of inflation which is running at the moment at about 5%.

Council Leader Bill Randall has said his Green administration’s aim is to “protect front line services which support the city’s most vulnerable people.”

When it comes to setting a budget, it is clear that 23 Greens will vote one way, 18 Conservatives another, leaving the ultimate decision in the hands of Labour councillors. The 13 Labour councillors are in a tricky position. After they have put forward their token amendments which will have no chance of being agreed, they will either have to support the Conservatives’ opposition (and lose further credibility in the City) or support the Green’s budget (which will frustrate them and Labour activists who continue to see the Greens locally as their main opponents).

Of course Labour could abstain, thereby allowing the Green budget to be set. But an abstention would beg the question: what is the point of Labour councillors in Brighton?

13 Responses

  1. The Greens talk about ‘sustainability’ but clearly don’t really understand what it entails.

    Increasing taxes/budgets is not sustainable because eventually people have nothing left to give.

    Times are hard and getting harder (as the Blair/Brown hangover kicks in big time, and Cameron/Osborne just watch it happen). The council must cut its coat according to its cloth, and do the best it can with what it already gets – even CUTTING council tax.

    I am sorry if it means the council and councillor will miss out on expensive new toys – but we (the taxpayers) can’t afford to indulge them any more.

    The council is there to provide some basic, essential services as efficiently as possible, not to coerce people into a political/social/environmental revolution.

  2. I think your last point the most interesting here, and one which goes beyond the issue of the budget or any one party. I would not support compulsory voting forced on individuals, but I think paid public figures should be required to do so.

  3. “Labour’s…token amendments which have no chance of being agreed”, well unless the Greens or Tories support them, which is entirely possible and not unprecedented. All parties have accepted/supported amendments from other groups even in recent Tory years, and the Budget is one of the few occasions under the Cabinet system where all cllrs have a real say and influence. So this is another rather weak attempt at portraying Labour as irrelevant.

    We are of course no-where near February’s Budget, and the Greens have promised an open and collaborative approach before then accomodating Opposition proposals.

    Last year the Tory Administration kept their Budget – with its pre-election tax freeze bribe – secret. The Greens worked with Labour on joint amendments, but at the last minute revealed their own alternative Budget proposals which they had kept secret, agin with one eye on the elections.

    The Labour and Co-operative Group will act responsibly and we will expect the Greens and Tories to refrain from such political manoevering, particularly in the face of such huge Government cuts and the current dire global economic situation, and work constructively with us on a Budget that protects essential services and invests in homes and jobs.

    • Warren – I look forward to working with all parties on the budget as it develops, I completely agree we need to work constructively in the face of the huge pressures our budget faces.

      Just to clarify over what happened last year – your group leader and finance lead both were informed Greens would present amendments alone on areas you didn’t agree on with us, and you would do like-wise. I was surprised you only presented one amendment on seafront railings and not anything more; but there was no secrecy nor last minute surprises as you suggest – I had tried to get your group to support much of what was in our alternative budget, without success.

  4. Well I have faith that our Labour councillors will act in the interests of their wards and the City… if that is helping the Greens pass the budget then that’s fine by me. It’s just a shame we cannot locally raise the taxes on the rich by 5% and stop the everyday average Joe (+Jane) council tax payer having to suffer…

    I guess that’s just an ideal world eh, where the local council have the powers they deserve 😉

    • Presumably anyone one who supports increasing taxes on the rich will only be sated when there are no more rich – when they have been taxed into poverty like everyone else is… Otherwise, what point is the point at which you consider that even the rich ‘taxed enough already’ ?

      This is the unsustainability labour and the greens are wedded to – they can always find something to spend more of our money on – so they do. When its all gone? Borrow from the future and lumber future generations with your debts.

      But the question, in your view, when would there *not* be a case for taxing those you consider ‘rich’ even more?

      • All I ask is the people who have benefited most from the country should put a little more back in and help out the people not as fortunate as themselves. The best and fairest way is through tax.

        I hardly think they would be taxed into poverty… just a little less in order to make their city even better. We all benefit even the higher taxed.

        Mr Perrin, would you consider yourself to be ‘well off’?

      • Awww…..dose poor widdle wich people……

        Your comments seem strangely out of touch when even the richest man in the world is wondering aloud why his secretary pays a bigger proportion of her income in tax than he does.

        Maybe if the rich stopped dodging what they’re supposed to be paying already, it would be a start.

        And well done to the TopShop Nine for drawing attention to the corporate theft which this Government is so happy to accommodate.

      • Mr Fitch – you avoid the question…

        A tax %age means the ‘rich’ pay more (x% of a lot is more than x% of a little) – but this isn’t good enough for you, you want the rich to pay a higher %age so they pay ‘even more’ – now it’s suggested they pay even yet more still (another 5%)… when does it stop?

        So, simple question… when does it stop? If some people are richer than others, when would you stop taking more from the ‘rich’?

      • Andy – the richest man in the world wants to give more to the state? What, precisely, is stopping him?

        We have a cabinet (at Westminster) of millionaires – I am sure none of them would be so crass as to suggest tax levels should be higher unless they had *ALREADY* voluntarily paid over every extra penny of their own money to the state… would they?

        Any councillor on Brighton and Hove council who thinks that council tax should be higher must *surely* be paying the higher rate already, voluntarily… Otherwise, in their own minds they must be getting a free ride that they don’t think they deserve… And that would be the most base hypocrisy wouldn’t it?

      • I hope to God you are a rich upper class bloke, then at least I can see why you are so stubbornly defending their interests. If you are however a normal working class man, or a “squeezed middle” type then you truly are a strange one.

        When should we stop taxing the rich?
        When we have eliminated poverty in this country and helped level the playing fields for normal hard working people who were not born into millions.

        Anyway I’m not going to carry this on because the poor old blogger must be getting loads of emails

      • You are showing how blinkered you are…

        The rich will protect their ‘take home pay’ – and they are in a position to do so – if you tax them more they will increase their pay to cover it – and that means less available in the company for their ‘poor’ employees.

        So called ‘progressive’ taxation drives pay differential up – it is substantially the cause of the ‘problem’ its supporters claim it is to cure!!

  5. It seems that the Green Party are going a bit soft on tax raising. In the 2010 election they promised to raise the tax burden from 36% to 45%, a rise of 25% by 2013 but now they propose a relatively modest increase. Is this reality hitting, or have they had a change of heart?

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