The Green Party will lead Brighton and Hove City Council for the first time in five years, after taking control from Labour.
In a virtual meeting, councillors voted 39-14 in favour of a minority Green administration, with one abstention. All Green and Labour councillors voted in favour of the new administration, with all Conservative councillors voting against.
Independent councillors Nichole Brennan and Kate Knight – who resigned Labour earlier this week – voted with Labour in favour of the Green administration. Rottingdean Coastal independent Bridget Fishleigh, voted against and Tony Janio, former Conservative group leader, abstained.
Local Green leader Phelim MacCafferty (Brunswick and Adelaide) will take over from Labour’s Nancy Platts (East Brighton) as council leader.
The Green group became the largest party after two resignations from Labour councillors earlier this week, following accusations of anti-Semitism. Their departure came just days after the suspension of a Labour councillor for sharing allegedly anti-Semitic material on social media – however, they remain part of the Labour group on the council.
The party has run the council before, taking control in 2011 and becoming the first Green-led council in the UK. However, an internal split over a bin strike in 2013 and calls for council leader Jason Kitcat to resign saw the party ousted in the following local election.
Addressing councillors, MacCafferty said all parties need to play their part in governing Brighton and Hove in the difficult times the city is facing.
Residents need a council to take the city out of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and warned of a range of challenges including an incoming recession, a second wave and the climate crisis, he said.
However, he added that the city’s creativity, resilience and imagination will help see the city through, as it has in the face of previous obstacles.
At the council meeting, outgoing council leader and Labour group Nancy Platts told councillors: “It has been an honour and privilege to lead the city I love for the last year,” adding she is proud of the achievements of the Labour administration, particularly the handling of the coronavirus crisis.
She indicated that Labour would work “cooperatively and constructively” with the new Green-led administration.
Steve Bell, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said that his party will work “tirelessly” with other parties to ensure the city overcomes the pandemic and to produce a council that is “fit for purpose.”
Debates on petitions that were due to be discussed at the meeting, including the controversial closure of Madeira Drive, were postponed and will be discussed at a future meeting of the council in August.