“Mexican stand-off” leaves three council tax options on the table

From Brighton & Hove News

A Mexican stand-off – without guns – left all three council tax options on the table when councillors met this afternoon (Thursday 12 February).

The Greens want to put up council tax by 5.9 per cent, the Conservatives want to freeze the level of council tax and Labour councillors want a 2 per cent increase.

The Labour proposal is known as a threshold rise because 2 per cent is the threshold above which a referendum would have to be held.

All three options will now be put to a full meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council  on Thursday 26 February.

At the council’s Policy and Resources Committee meeting at Hove Town hall this afternoon, the Conservatives and Labour voted against the Greens’ proposed rise.

The Greens and Labour then voted against the council tax freeze proposed by the Tories.

Then the Greens and the Tories voted together against Labour’s proposed threshold rise.

It was then agreed that all 54 councillors should debate all three increases – and the different level of spending cuts associated with each position at the annual budget council meeting.

Green councillor Ollie Sykes said: “I’d like to make a heartfelt plea. Let the people decide.”

His call for a referendum was rejected by the Conservative councillor and group leader Geoffrey Theobald who said: “The difference between having a council tax freeze and a threshold budget is £918,000 in a budget of £750 million.”

He said that the cost of council services was high in Brighton and Hove compared with other councils, creating scope for savings.

He also said that the council would receive extra money from the New Homes Bonus – an estimated £1.17 million in 2015-16. He said that Labour was committed to scrapping the New Homes Bonus.

The Labour group leader Councillor Warren Morgan said: “This is another déjà vu budget from the Greens.”

He accused the Greens of putting politics above what was good for residents, and he said that they had deliberately threatened to cut children’s services as a way of blackmailing people to vote for a 6 per cent increase in council tax.

He added: “The Greens say let the people decide. If you don’t elect councillors to set a budget, what do you elect them for!”

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