Welcome to Green Councillors Against Cuts.
The Green Party was the only party in 2010, with a fully-funded alternative budget to local government cuts. This involved taxing the super rich, stopping tax evasion, introducing a Tobin/Robin Hood Tax, ending the use of PFI, scrapping Trident nuclear weapons, bringing our troops home from Afghanistan, cancelling unnecessary road building and other progressive measures. We are calling on Councillors to sign the Green Left statement here or explain how they are fighting the cuts. Please contact your local Councillor or let us know. The Greens have 139 city, district or metropolitan seats in England and Wales. We also have town and parish councillors.
Number who have signed the green left statement: 1
-Councillor Richard Mallender, Lady Bay, Rushcliffe Borough Council
Number who have signed http://councillorsagainstcuts.org/ : 2
(The website does not accept any other Party except Labour)
-Councillor Will Duckworth, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council
-Councillor Julian Roskams, Malvern Hills District Council
Number who have contacted us directly:
-Cllr Robert Vint, (South Hams District Councillor, Totnes Town Councillor)
Places where Greens tried to give residents a referendum on council tax payments (2014):
All have failed to get a referendum. In Brighton four Councillors voted against the budget, three abstained ( Ruth Buckley (Goldsmid), Rob Jarrett (Goldsmid), Stephanie Powell (Queens Park) ) leaving 14 Greens and Labour to vote for the budget. Will more Green Councillors vote against the 2015 budget?
Nowhere has yet tried “progressive council tax”
Places where Greens are in power, coalition or have the balance of power:
Stroud District Council
Places where greens are close to gaining the council:
All Councillors , we need your help with this list.
Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty
Brunswick & Adelaide,Brighton & Hove City Council
Did they vote for 2012/13/14 budget? Yes/Yes/Against
Councillor Ben Duncan
Queen’s Park, Brighton & Hove City Council
Did they vote for 2012/13/14 budget? Yes/Yes/Against
‘A Green Brighton councillor has vowed to reject his own party’s budget plans which will see the elderly and vulnerable hit hardest.
Brighton and Hove City Council must find £22.5 million from its 2014/15 budget as the government spending squeeze continues.
Just days after its Green minority administration revealed the details, Ben Duncan, who represents Queen’s Park, said he would be voting against the plan.
Speaking at a meeting on how to resist austerity and campaign against the cuts, he urged other Green and Labour politicians to join him in rejecting the proposal.
It came as union activists warned there could be strike action over the cuts in the coming months.
Coun Duncan praised the fair and environmental principles which fellow Greens had applied when setting the budget.
However, he said: “We’re already seeing the impact of these cuts locally and it’s only going to get worse until local authorities say enough is enough and we’re not going to accept this.
“We need to start that movement in Brighton and Hove as people elected the Greens on an anti-cuts platform.”
About 50 people attended the public meeting on Sunday.
In addition to Coun Duncan, six other Green councillors were present – Rob Jarrett, Liz Wakefield, Ruth Buckley, Alex Phillips, Mike Jones and Phelim MacCafferty.
Coun Duncan said he did not expect to be the only councillor to reject the budget.
The budget plans includes £6 million taken out of adult social care and £4.7 million from children’s services.
This could see care taken away from all but the neediest, care homes closed and disabled workers lose their jobs.
At the meeting, members of the public spoke of their fears that people with learning disabilities, older people, children in need of support and people at risk of homelessness will suffer as a result of the funding cuts proposed.
Andy Richards, chairman of Brighton and Hove Unison, said: “The cuts to the council budget proposed over the next four years threaten to destroy basic services which ordinary people rely on.”
A further meeting will take place in January before a decision on the budget is taken by all 54 councillors at its meeting on February 27.
For more details visit www.brightonpa.org.uk ‘
Councillor Gus Hoyt
Ashley, Bristol City Council
Did they vote for 2012/2013/2014 budget: No/Yes/?
‘Tess introduced an amendment to save the cut to Homeless Prevention Fund. The only available money for stopping this cut long term was to take it from adult LEISURE learning sources already offered elsewhere whilst offering one year’s funding to help people in these courses… Personally I see preventing families and individuals falling into homelessness as far more important. Maybe that’s just me though.
But due to overwhelming popular support -backed by you too it seems – we might have to withdraw it as this is ALL anyone is focusing on (but not mentioning homelessness of course).
LibDems now proposing a one year band-aid that will only make the problem worse next year as we’ll be in a worse situation but with £200,000 less to deal with it.
It’s easy to swallow propaganda and I am afraid you have here. I personally was always taught to dig deeper and get to the truth…
@Roy. I do get where you’re coming from and last year Tess send I proposed a rise in council tax, were ridiculed and got not one vote. This year this would have saved over £6.5m in cuts to services and ensured the same for every coming year. We voted against the budget because it was a cuts budget that did nothing to alleviate the cuts. This year though the budget does include a rise (whilst we’ve also ensured that the council tax discount reform is NOT passed onto those who can’t afford it.) For us to vote against this would be wrong in my view. We’ll see what next year provides.
What we really must realise though (and I expect this will be taken out of context and put in Watermelon but such is life…) is that these cuts are imposed on us from central government – I proposed a motion a while back calling for all councils to unite against this – it was shelved and never saw the council chamber…To simply lay the blame at the door of local authorities is to play into the hands of the ideologically driven cuts central gov – who now avoid confrontation where it counts. Thus they get away with it … again.
Now. Of course SOME council’s are fully embracing these cuts and using them as a way to put away at all the services they never thought they should be responsible for – and these really should be opposed as much as possible.
But simply to encourage a ‘no’ vote at budget time rather than spending most hours of the day campaigning and saving age essential services (rather than the obvious vote winners -see first trend to this post) then I think we really are smirking our responsibilities as elected councillors.
We might as well all quit, disband the party and revert only to banner-waving after everything has been demolished.
I’m for using all tools available. Peaceful direct action, careful scrutiny and transparency – with help from the press and getting elected. Since actually seeing first hand just how influential we can be once elected I am amazed at our potential -we are but two (til May…) here In Bristol but sit with equal status in all crossparty working groups we can manage to sit on. We (I – possibly only till May) have a seat on the Cabinet (Neighbourhoods, the environment and qualities) where I am in charge of devolving power to neighbourhoods, many aspects of the green agenda (Food to energy conservation/generation, tackling fuel poverty, protecting green spaces etc etc) portfolio and just watch this space on International Women’s Day here in Bristol and beyond to see what we are achieving on the Equalities front.
But then I’m just an apologist for the cuts so I would say that…’
‘Then there are the cuts. As a Green (and personally) I am fundamentally against the cuts that Westminster is forcing on the country. I believe they are ideologically driven and that the money can be found elsewhere (clamping down on irresponsible corporations and tax avoiders, for example).
This does not change the fact that as a local authority we have no alternative but to accept the financial situation which has been imposed upon us. Savings of £34m have to be found, but I will do my best to ameliorate the effects on the most vulnerable. Clearly this is not a position I ever wanted to be in, but with power comes responsibility. We have to rise to this challenge and put the needs of the people of the city before short-term political gain.
I can see the Labour leaflets already. “Greens deliver coalition cuts!” But hopefully Bristolians will see through this shallow taunt. We all know that Labour mayoral candidate Marvin Rees would have had to do exactly the same, had he won. We will be helping forge a new way of doing things here in Bristol, and I genuinely believe it will work.
Hopefully it might also serve to stop the childish pantomime that has dominated local politics for so long.’
Ex–councillor Ceri Mumford
Bulk Ward, Lancaster City Council
Did they vote for 2012 budget? Yes.
‘Hi from Lancaster city council! We have just succeeded in protecting council tax benefit, now trying to stop council tax rises for all…….this year, yes, thanks to increasing council tax on empty and second homes and some efficiency savings. But next year we’ll have a further £1.2 million cut from central govt so it’s looking really bad. Need to mobilise this year! We are having a People’s Assembly on Sat in Lancaster to get a broad-based coalition together to fight back…………yes, Labour want to go with 2% rise this year to prepare. Greens are arguing we don’t need that at the mo (we have £900k in reserves which will get eaten up next year for sure but we shouldn’t be raising council tax unless desperate). We think we should take govt grant over next 2 years rather than making local people pay. We have even included a few smalll growth items this year. Next year we need to do something drastic though (Source: facebook January 2013)
Councillor Alex Phillips
Goldsmid,Brighton & Hove City Council
Did they vote for 2012/2013/2014 budget? Yes/Against/Against
‘So, the Brighton and Hove Council Budget has been passed, but people are still asking me the question: why didn’t you vote ‘for’ the budget with all of the other councillors in the chamber that evening? Why did you decide to vote against?
This blog is to explain my position. In short, I found our amended budget (by Labour and supported by the Tories), which included a Council Tax Freeze, unpalatable. I’ll clarify my thinking below.
First of all, I just want to say that I respect my colleagues, although I do not agree with their decision to vote ‘for’ the amended budget. I recognise that the other parties, who did not reveal their budget amendments until less than 48 hours before Budget Council, put us in an extremely difficult situation. This is despite us having spent almost three months in consultation with the city about our budget proposals.
I know from attending meetings in the run up to budget day that there were several distinct views in the Group on how to respond to the ‘Blue Labour’-Tory alliance’s voting through the tax freeze and all that means for more severe cuts to budgets next year. Some colleagues agreed with me and some did not. It is interesting that in the final days before the budget there must have been a shift among some colleagues in favour of supporting the budget should it be amended by the opposition on council tax as several colleagues had previously shared my position but I was the only councillor who ultimately voted against. I am told that the Unions attempted to put pressure on Labour but to no avail. But we knew that neither Labour nor the Tories would budge on their proposed Council Tax Freeze.
My view is that voting for the amended budget was incorrect, both strategically and in principle. For me it was down to a question of ethics, integrity, consistency of message and bringing our membership with us. In voting for the amended budget, I do not believe we managed to do any of these things – something that could be electorally damaging to us in the future.
Let’s put this into perspective. We led the way on refusing Pickles’ Council Tax bribe, which was a powerful thing to do, and thirty or so local authorities of all colours followed suit. Then, all but one (me) of the Green Councillors voted for the amended budget which included the Council Tax Freeze, so it looks as if ‘we’ capitulated to Tory thinking at the first hurdle. I decided to stand by my Green principles and keep my pledge to the members and the electorate, even if that meant I was the only one in the room to say ‘no’. Although my Green Group colleagues have equally sincere and different positions on this, as a politician, I believe it is important for me to keep faith with the voters: if I’ve told them that I’m against the Council Tax Freeze, then I feel that I have a duty to keep that promise and to vote accordingly.
Taking the membership with us is also crucial, and in my view, we failed in this regard too. I was the first Green to take a Tory seat in the city, and the first Green to take a seat in Hove, and so I know just how hard it is to get elected. And we don’t do it alone. We do it with the help of our members, who put in countless numbers of hours and tireless work to see us elected. As a grassroots, bottom-up Party, we are supposed to listen to our membership, and that is why we have two Green Group Moderators – party members who are there to amongst other things, ensure all members’ voices are heard. Both of these individuals had clearly set out their personal reasoning as to why we should vote against the amended budget. I felt, and rightly, that by listening to these two individuals I was listening to a view that was also held within our general membership. In my view, we ignore our members at our peril.
So, why am I, most of our members, the Green councillors and our Liaison Officers against the Tory bribe of a Council Tax Freeze? It is because of the knock-on effect that it will have for next year and future years, as we’ll have less income and our Council Tax base will be eroded.
I must make it clear that I am not advocating that the Green Party should stand down from administration; the issue is about being consistent with our policies and taking the membership with us. It is clear that we have not remained consistent with what we told members and constituents, and so people are right to be annoyed. The argument that the other parties could raise a vote of no confidence in our Leader is disingenuous. Under our constitution, which is the Strong Leader Model, a vote of no confidence holds absolutely no legal significance whatsoever. The only way in which the other parties could get rid of us as the administration would be for them to propose their own Leader and then to call another meeting to vote that person in, which would take three weeks. This is very unlikely to happen because it would mean that the Tories would have to be in a coalition with the Labour Party; that would be electorally disastrous for both of them, but especially for Labour as the Tories have more councillors. In the unlikely event that it did happen, I believe some Labour members would leave their Party and join the Greens within no time at all. However I accept there would be some significant communications challenges for the Party and the council Administration in the event of a no confidence vote whatever the legal processes and so this was a tough decision to call for everyone. I should also point out that a vote of no confidence could have been proposed at any time in the past or indeed in the future.
It is a challenging time for us to be in office, and we have had to work within the vicious constraints of central government, but the fact remains that we did not have to vote for a Tax Freeze – we chose to as part of the wider budget. Obviously others in the Green Group will disagree with me but I feel I have come to a considered position on this difficult matter.
So, where do we go from here?
Well, in my view, we cannot allow this to happen again. We must feed the dilemma outlined above into the local party constitutional review process; and we must have improved methods of engaging with the membership, especially when issues are this important and there are conflicting views within the group and the party.’
Councillor Liz Wakefield
Hanover & Elm Grove,Brighton & Hove City Council
Did they vote for 2012/13/14 budget? Yes/Yes/Against