The Green Party has been flushed out of power in Brighton and Hove, losing more than half its seats on the south coast council. Labour now have the largest group on the council with 23 seats, but are five short of an overall majority. The Green party has 11, down from 23.
The Conservative party picked up the remaining 20 seats on the council to become the second largest group, again illustrating the rainbow characteristics of a city which returned one Conservative, one Labour and one Green Party MP to Westminster on Thursday.
The far left Greens have been a source of much ridicule over the last four years thanks to ill thought through and in some cases downright barmy policies. Amongst them: a proposed referendum to raise council tax by 4.75 percent which would have cost £900,000 to administer, a figure which would have gone most of the way to plugging the funding gap the Greens claimed to be dealing with.
Some of the more colourful proposals – traffic calming sheep is a local favourite – sadly never got off the ground.
Incoherence plagued the administration. Unworkable recycling policies which, amongst other things, threatened £50,000 fines for putting paper in the plastics box saw the council slip almost to the bottom of the league tables for recycling nationally.
An obsession with minor detail also caused derision, such as the “meat free Mondays” rolled out across all council canteens which alienated manual workers, including the town’s bin men. Plans to relieve traffic congestion at a notorious roundabout had to be completely re-written at great expense in order to save a beloved elm tree. Transgender toilets and the ability to tick “Mx” on council forms were introduced, taking up the council’s time and money.
And then, in typical socialist fashion they managed to create Brighton’s very own winter of discontent by provoking a prolonged strike by bin men which saw seagulls feasting on the rubbish piling high in the streets.
While the administration, led by the improbably named council leader Jason Kitcat fought with the men over so-called Spanish practices which saw some of the workers pocketing £50,000 a year salaries, his Green opponents, the ‘watermelons’ (green on the outside, red on the inside) led by gay activist Phelim MacCafferty actually lined up on the picket line with the bin men.