Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Caroline Lucas & Davy Jones condemn Green councillors' privatisation decision

The political decisions of the minority Green Council in Brighton and Hove have been controversial , locally and nationally, within the Green Party and within the broader left movement. At the crux of the argument has been the degree to which the Council should go along with the austerity agenda and implement cuts and costs savings, claiming that 'Green cuts' would be more progressive than those made by the other parties. At the same time the Council has also made considerable progress on the Green agenda. (See article on New Statesman website LINK)

A decision made at by some Green councillors at a Council committee last night has brought out the differences between the Council leadership's perspective and that of the city's Green MP and prospective MP.

Caroline Lucas MP, (Green Brighton and Hove) and Davy Jones (Green candidate for Brighton Kempton) have issued the following statement:
We are disappointed that at yesterday's Brighton & Hove Council Policy & Resources Committee meeting some Green Group councillors including the Council leader Jason Kitcat, voted to accept a Health & Well-Being Board recommendation to out-source a local NHS service (ICES) to provide specialist equipment for people with disabilities to a private sector provider.

It is a complicated situation - the Sussex Community NHS Trust was threatening to pull out of the service, "cost shunting" the responsibility over to the cash-strapped local Council that only provides a small component of the service currently. This is deeply regrettable. But we believe the Council has made a mistake in allowing itself to be forced by the NHS Trust to out-source this service to a private sector provider.

There was no necessity to make this decision earlier today – the existing contract runs until September 2015, leaving plenty of time to seek alternative solutions to keep the service in public hands.

We are particularly disappointed in today’s decision as it is not one that is in line with national or local Green Party policy, that unreservedly opposes the privatisation of NHS services. Neither was the ICES decision brought before the local Green Group or Green Party in advance for discussion. The Green Party councillors on the Council recently successfully proposed a motion to the full Council meeting opposing privatisation of NHS services.

We reiterate our outright opposition to the out-sourcing of the ICES service and to support the staff in the NHS in their campaigns to remain in the public sector, and NHS campaigners fighting against privatisation.


Anonymous said...

Complete mess in Brighton shows what happen when Green party get any power / responsibility - they're the new Lib Dems!

Anonymous said...

Not so easy when one gets to hold the reins - no example of the Greens being any different.

All the parties seem to lack courage.

Anonymous said...

Admirable of Martin to condemn his own party when he sees things that he does not agree with, unlike other parties who attempt to either cover up, spin or lie about the issues.

Anonymous said...

Or new new labour if we go for Brent Comparisons.

Anonymous said...

That's alright then!

Plenty of Labour Party people condemn their own party when they disagree - is that Labour Dawn Butler supporting the Stonebridge playground?

Martin Francis said...

For me the movement against austerity is more imore important than tribalism about our particular party membership. Locally I have worked with Labour councillors on issues such as the Welsh Harp, Harlesden Incinerator and now with Zaffar Van Kalwala on Stonebridge Adventure Playground. Dawn Butler's support for that campaign is very welcome and we have reweeted each others comments. I have also worked with the SWP and Lib Dems on occassions as well as many non-part actvists.

The problem of councils (Labour or Green) implementing Coalition cuts is common to left Labour and Green left. The difference between Brighton and Brent is that the former has a minority Green administration not able to set a budget without opposition support while Brent has a huge Labour majority.

Green Left debated the issue in Red Pepper in April 2012 and Pete Murry asked a pertinent question of Jason Kitkat, leader of Brighton Council:

"Green Left has a variety of views. Some feel that you shouldn’t have touched the budget at all but resigned rather than implement it. Others feel you should have only set a needs budget and let it get voted down. Others would support you because you are a Green council, despite the fact you are making some cuts, and would probably accept quite a lot of the arguments you have made today. But people want to know what is the difference between a Green council adopting a humane attitude to cutting and any other council doing it? What else are you doing that makes it worthwhile having a Green council? "

Some clearly thought that the 'something else was worth it (see the New Statesman link in the article above) I didn't and don't ,if the cost is the demise of local government as we know it and local councils colluding in the attack on the poor. Let's be clear the failure to mount a political fightback from the political base of local councils is a failure of the left in general, within the Labour Party and outside it.

The Labour Party is weakened by its commitment to austerity-lite and failure to take on neo-liberalism. The Green Party is anti-austerity but weakened by the fact that apart from the minority Brighton administration it does not have the council base to mount a national challenge.

Anonymous said...

Statement on Integrated Community Equipment Service

17 November 2014

The Integrated Community Equipment Service (ICES) provides disabled living equipment to help people maintain their independence at home, and to support them to have a timely discharge from hospital.

Since 2004 this service has been provided to residents of Brighton and Hove by Sussex Community NHS Trust. In June this year the NHS Trust gave notice to say they were no longer interested in providing the service and would be terminating the contract after September 2015.

In October the Public Health & Wellbeing Board recommended that the local NHS Clinical Care Commissioning Group and Brighton and Hove City Council agree a new contract with the provider that our neighbours West Sussex County Council would be appointing to deliver their service from next March.

Having looked into whether there were any viable alternative approaches, Policy & Resources Committee today approved that recommendation.

After the Policy & Resources Committee decision on the future of the Integrated Community Equipment Store, Councillor Jason Kitcat, Leader of the Council, said

"It is with a heavy heart that we had to support this change. After Sussex Community Trust decided they would not continue running the service, the council legally had to follow the national legislation around providing health services, though we oppose it because these rules effectively mean that there are sometimes only private options available.

"As Greens, we utterly oppose the principle of privatising health services and wish to make it clear that Green policy would replace these tendering rules in favour of a presumption of a publicly owned health service.

"At a time of huge cuts to councils, we are faced with the real prospect of not being able to protect jobs and services - and cannot afford to take on new services that need major investment.

"Leaving the service to collapse would leave vulnerable people in Brighton & Hove without the vital equipment they need to live independently and safely at home.

"We've asked officers to ensure that council staff will keep their terms and conditions, including being paid at least the Living Wage. We also asked that trade union representatives are included in all stages of discussions."


The government’s Care Act requires equipment to be available 24/7 – meaning the currently five-day-a-week service needs to change to meet these requirements.
The level of investment required for the council to run a separate in-house service would involve set-up costs estimated by council officials to be £1m, along with approximately £125,000 in IT costs and annual costs of £87,000. Further, the council cannot second staff from the Sussex Community Trust to continue the service as it is, since they do not want to run the service.
Brighton & Hove City Council is a minority funder of the service, with the Brighton & Hove Clinical Commissioning Group paying for the majority of the cost.
Existing staff will be transferred to the new provider under a TUPE process to ensure that the service meets the requirements of the city.
Occupational Therapists who visit residents in their home to assess their equipment needs will continue to be employed by Brighton and Hove City Council and are not affected by the equipment contract.

For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.

Anonymous said...

The Greens are in the minority on the Brighton Council and need supporting votes from Labour in order to legislate in accordance with Green Party policy. Sadly the necessary support from Labour is not always there. This is not surprising, different parties have different policies there will always be occasions where agreement cannot be reached.