When I first came to this chamber, some 4 years ago, I could not have been more nervous. Everywhere I looked there were men and women of great standing in this city - men and women with letters before and after their names, some with buses, streets or blocks of flats named after them. I wondered how I could ever live with such towering intellects, well, I needn't have worried. As my dear departed mother would have said "most haven't got a bit of common sense between them".
We have an administration who's finance spokesperson in an effort to justify a 5.9% increase in council tax, telling hard working people, some having to work 40 or 50 hours a week just to stand still, in all seriousness and without a trace of irony - "don't worry, you'll only have to give up one grapefruit a week", and a Tory opposition who can't even decide amongst themselves if they want Big Eric to come and sort things out or not.
It gives me no pleasure to say this is the most disliked administration I have ever known. Everywhere I go, everyone I speak to, the first thing they say is "when can we get rid of the Greens" - it's become almost a citywide mantra. So you might have supposed they would have tried to salvage something from the shipwreck, but no, it's more of the same old thing. Increased parking charges and shut more toilets.
In the course of my work, I have to use on-street parking about 5 times a day. It's a minimum of a pound a time, 20 working days a month means a £100 a month, £1,200 a year. Any increase could finish a small business.
And we can not afford to deter visitors from outside the city coming to Brighton because of the cost of parking.
At the moment, we're asking a lot of small businesses and trades to rebuild the economy and take on apprentices to train the next generation. So we are proposing to help support them by freezing on-street parking and trader permits. Any increase in parking charges would add more cost to running the small businesses which we are relying on to revive our economic fortunes.
I would ask you all to support our fair and reasonable amendments. For my part I would also like to pay tribute to Councillors Warren Morgan, Gill Mitchell and Les Hamilton, councillors with over 60 years experience between them, who have worked so hard to make some sense of this nonsense.
I have heard Green councillors in the chamber tell us why they left the Labour Party. Well it's having colleagues wit the experience of councillors Morgan, Mitchell and Hamilton and the dignity and level headedness shown by the whole Labour Group that keeps me in the Labour Party.
Risking £1,000,000 on the outcome of a referendum, the Citizens Income - giving everyone £72 a week if they need it or not, the idea you can build a council house for £60,000 or all our financial problems can be solved by selling dope, are all reasons I was never tempted to join the Green Party.