The Green Party in Brighton and Hove is set to take control of the city’s council after the ruling minority Labour administration was plagued by a series of allegations over anti-Semitism and two resignations from the party.
Brighton and Hove City Council leader Nancy Platts said that Labour would “step aside… in the best interests of the city” after the party was reduced to 18 seats on the council to the Green’s 19.
The local Labour party added that it intends to “embrace opposition and take on the crucial role of standing up for residents and holding the new administration to account.”
In the space of less than a week, Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou (North Portslade) was suspended from the party over allegations of anti-Semtism, with two others – Kate Knight (Mouslecoomb and Bevendean) and Nichole Brennan (East Brighton) – resigning from the party over similar accusations. All three deny the claims against them.
Attempts to form a governing agreement between the two parties came to nothing, with Labour claiming the Greens rejected their offer of power-sharing. However, seven Labour councillors publicly opposed a formal power-sharing arrangement in an open letter, claiming that Brighton and Hove residents still associate the Greens with “administrative incompetence.”
The Green Party, whose only MP represents Brighton, held minority control of the council from 2011 to 2015, but their administration was criticised for internal disputes, including several attempts to oust the council leader, and a strike by binmen which saw refuse go uncollected.
However, the party won the most votes in the local elections across the city last year, although narrowly missed out on being the largest party on the council to Labour.
Green councillors are understood to be consulting local members about next steps, ahead of a council meeting tomorrow proposing that the Greens form a new administration. However, the party would need the support of either Labour or the Conservatives to maintain control.
In a statement, the Green group stated that the party “stands ready to serve our city” and that Green councillors remain “united in our determination to see the city through our many current challenges and will work with all parties in order to get this achieved.”
Local Conservative party leader Steve Bell criticised Labour and had called on Platts to stand down, saying the party had failed to adhere its own pledge to be an anti-racist council by allowing councillors accused and being investigated of anti-Semitism to remain in the party.
Bridget Fishleigh, independent councillor for Rottingdean Coastal, said that Labour had failed the city, but expressed caution about a Green-led council – given their shared responsibility for the i360 “white elephant” and the controversial Valley Gardens development.
“I can only hope the Greens won’t let their political dogma stop them from implementing the changes our city so badly needs,” she told The Argus.