8 Mar 2012

Alex Phillips why I refused to vote for a Green Party cuts budget.

Alex Phillips was the only Brighton and Hove councillor to reject a Green Party budget forced through by Labour and Tory cuts.  Good for her a rising star and we need more of them to keep green and not turn grey.

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.


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