At Thursday’s Full Council meeting, the Labour Group will be bringing forward a motion to tackle the council service delivery crisis in Brighton & Hove. Here, Labour’s spokesperson for environment, transport and sustainability, Councillor Gary Wilkinson, sets out our case for a cross-party working group to get to grips with the problem once and for all:
Labour Councillors receive an extremely high volume of complaints from residents rightly angry about basic council services failing to deliver.
There are obvious shortcomings in rubbish and recycling collection – pre-dating the bin lorry drivers strike – as well as problems with parking permits and keeping the streets clean.
Weeds and grassed areas are overgrowing and our open spaces are plagued by litter. Residents are receiving parking tickets whilst waiting weeks for their permits to arrive. Graffiti is becoming the norm on our once beautiful streets, whilst residents are having to navigate fly-tipping obstacles and the fear of rats.
Whilst taking no pleasure in calling our city filthy, we have never seen our streets and green spaces in such a state.
These are not all new concerns. I have read over previous council meetings and these issues have been raised time and time again by all the political groups.
At the same time I commend and applaud the hard work of all our Council staff over the pandemic and the difficult circumstances they are working in, as well as the pressures that have been placed upon them due to over £100 million in cuts to council finances by the Conservative Government over the last decade. Most of the city’s endemic problems have been made worse by the national policies of the Conservative Government.
This is not about our individual council staff. It is about systemic issues in delivering services. Systems that have been failing our residents.
I also wish to thank all those volunteers in neighbourhoods across Brighton & Hove who work hard to keep their areas clean and tidy and assist council staff by carrying out litter picks, reporting environmental problems and supporting their neighbours.
However, residents are increasingly and rightly angry with the maintenance, upkeep, and cleanliness in many parts of our city.
How many times do we read in the local papers or see on social media the dismay and desperation of many of our residents with getting their basic services delivered?
Delayed Parking permits resulting in fines, rubbish and refuse bins not being emptied for weeks on end, graffiti and litter strewn across our streets, beaches and parks; the list of failures is endless.
The council is failing to get the basics right to such an extent that the Labour Group is asking for a dedicated working group to sort out the mess. We want a cross-party group set up to investigate, review and discuss solutions to the systemic management failures behind the delivery of basic council services.
We hope, for the sake of our residents, that the other political groups support our motion at Full Council, so we can come together to tackle these deep-rooted problems.
Councillor Gary Wilkinson