Brighton council urged to address climate emergency in budget

After securing an amendment for £3 million to be invested in support for the homeless, Brighton’s Green councillors have now announced a series of proposals for the city’s spending plan, calling on the Labour administration to focus on tackling the climate emergency, solving the housing crisis and supporting communities.

Brighton pier
Brighton pier

Image: Aleem Yousaf / Flickr / cc by-sa 2.0

Imogen Benson

Green councillors in Brighton and Hove have announced their proposals for the council’s 2020/21 budget, setting out plans for over £11 million to be invested in measures preventing climate change, tackling the housing crisis and stopping cuts. 

With the budget set to be decided today (27 February), the Labour administration has proposed to make over £9 million in savings by making cuts to community services, including a £1.47-million cut to learning disability care, and increasing council tax bills by an average of £75 a year. 

Announcing plans to invest in the community, economy and environment, the Green Party’s funding proposal includes £3.9 million for transport improvements, a £2.6-million ‘Warmer Homes’ grant, and the reversal of over £100,000 in cuts planned for the city’s communities, equalities and voluntary group work. 

The Greens also plan to reduce the cuts to learning disability services by £234,000 and provide extra support to the city’s disability advice centre. 

Income will be generated through penalties for irresponsible drivers and the revision of parking charges, whilst ensuring that changes to controlled parking zone (CPZ) fees and high-emission vehicle costs do not apply to the poorest households or those on benefits.

The Greens have also called for funding to be allocated to support the recommendations made by residents taking part in the city’s Climate Assembly, which is set to play a central role in the council’s climate emergency strategy.

Brighton and Hove unanimously passed a Climate Emergency Declaration in February 2019 following the submission of a petition from the public calling for the council to go carbon neutral by 2030.

Although opposition parties hold limited power to amend Labour’s budget, the Greens have already secured an amendment for £3 million to be invested in homelessness support

Commenting on the budget proposals, Green Finance Lead Councillor David Gibson, said: “At the heart of our budget approach is a strong commitment to social and environmental justice. We are also focused on fairness, fairness to future generations facing a climate emergency, and fairness to low-income households and the most vulnerable. 

“Our plans reverse cuts to services for the most vulnerable, such as those with learning difficulties, cuts to communities and equalities provision and short breaks for carers. And they raise money – most of which will be spent on the urgent action needed to tackle the climate emergency.

“None of our proposals take from one service to pay for another. Instead we are raising fees through penalties for irresponsible drivers who slow public transport down and by modest increases in some parking charges. This will provide the vital staff capacity necessary to plant trees and protect biodiversity, to make transport more sustainable, to develop renewable solar energy and to ensure social value and community wealth generation is better embedded in the council’s activities.

“We are asking: is our council’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency just hot air or do we vote for a budget that provides the staff and resources needed to address it? All parties signed up to the climate emergency in December 2018; now we urge them to act.”

The proposals can be read in full on the Brighton and Hove Green Party website.