Brighton and Hove Local Elections 2019

We asked the candidates in the Brighton and Hove 2019 Local Elections the following questions (full text at end of page):

A. Do you support the declaration of climate and biodiversity emergency?
B. What priority do you give it? (1) Top priority; (2) A major priority but not the most important; (3) A lesser priority compared to other areas that require council action.

Additionally, if you want to support the city to seriously address ‘climate emergency’, we would invite you to commit to undertake more detailed consideration of the following THREE questions:

1.  How will you engage with voluntary/community groups and residents to achieve carbon neutrality for Brighton and Hove by 2030?
2. How will you engage with business and residents to achieve carbon neutrality for Brighton and Hove by 2030?
3. Will you pledge to produce a costed action plan to achieve carbon neutrality for Brighton and Hove within 6 months of being elected?

Additional questions were also sent to the various parties.

Candidate and Party Responses

Daniel Yates, Labour Party, Moulsecoomb & Bevendean
“Our commitments to addressing the global climate and biodiversity emergency can be found in our manifesto www.brightonhovelabour.com 
Apologies for the brief response but I’m mobile and out in my ward. “

Siriol Hugh-Jones, Green Party, Preston Park
“Given that I am a Green Party candidate, it won’t surprise you to know that I support the declaration of a climate and biodiversity emergency and would give it top priority. As to how this is achieved, I’d suggest a consultation process with transport and services providers plus businesses such as BHESCO and Brighton Energy Coop, “green” housebuilders (I recently attended the Green Architecture Day at Brighton University) and a Citizens Assembly for residents. On your third question, while I would like to minimise any delay, I am not sure we would necessarily be able to have a fully costed aciton plan within six months of the election. Some of this would depend on how long we allow for the Citizens Assembly process. But I agree that time is of the essence! I look forward to working with you further to achieve this.”

Tom Druitt, Green Party, Regency
Do you support the declaration of climate and biodiversity emergency? “Yes”- “1)” [top priority]
How will you engage with voluntary/community groups and residents? “With a B&H citizens assembly on climate change”
How will you engage with business and residents? “With a B&H citizens assembly on climate change”

“Realistically it’ll be 9 months [to produce a costed action plan] as part of the budget setting process for the first budget in Feb 2020; I think the timeline needs to be as follows: citizens assembly called for the autumn, ideas debated and agreement reached on outline strategy; council officers then to go and draw up proposals to be published before Christmas, discussed in January and February with other parties, community groups, businesses and another meeting of the citizens assembly, for agreement at the budget meeting end at the end of February.

Important to engage the business community so alongside the citizens assembly we should also have a B&H Business Congress on climate change and get all the key players on board and engaged.

NB these are my ideas, not necessarily party policy at the moment; I know colleagues agree on the substantive issue but their ideas on implementation may be different!”

David Gibson, Green Party, Hanover & Elm Grove
Do you support the declaration of climate and biodiversity emergency? “Wholeheartedly yes- I was involved in raising this with the group of Green councillors who then proposed motions and amendments on climate and biodiversity emergency (prompted thankfully by XR and HA). It’s about everyone’s future so has to be a top priority.”
How will you engage with voluntary/community groups and residents? “I think this is crucially important and would make the engagement a joint project rather than another top down council directed approach. Identifying key partners and getting together with them at the outset to explore the best way to engage voluntary and community groups in the city. In particular, the question of how to inspire people to voluntary action. For some environmental action is intertwined with re-cycling and getting into a mindset that looks at wider initiatives that groups, individuals and the council can work on would be helpful. Many people link growth and increasing consumption with well-being and so growth becomes a sacred policy goal. This is wrong as all the evidence in countries like ours point to narrowing inequalities are the most effective policy to improve well-being. This needs to become the policy goal given the damage done to the planet by ever expanding growth. 10 years ago we showed the age of stupid at the Hanover Community Centre and then invited people to take action, giving rise to Hanover Action which has harnessed the energies of many volunteers to good effect. This is one approach that worked. There are many others, but the key is that the council works with voluntary and community groups on these and thereby ownership of (and responsibility for) the project does not simply reside with an overstretched council officer. “
How will you engage with business and residents? “Great things were achieved by the previous green administration working with the chamber of commerce to achieve 25% of all the voluntary living wage employers in the whole country in Brighton. So the potential of working with the business community is great. I would imagine a tool kit could be developed setting out steps that businesses can take. Also support packages to help business cut their carbon footprint would be important. As above the first step would be to forge it as a joint project with the key players in the business community”
We’d discuss similar ideas with the Chamber of Commmerce and other business organisations and get a plan together “I support this. I think further actions need to be ongoing and they can come as soon are costed and agreed by the policy and resources committee. However to have a costed plan for at the very least the next financial year by November makes good sense to me. This would enable the budget implications to be fed into the budget setting process in time for decision in February. So in a nutshell I do pledge costed actions (At the very least for the next financial year) within 6 months.”

Liberal Democrats
Thank you for your questions, we have decided it would be most sensible to reply as a group rather than individually to your points.

We absolutely support the declaration of a climate and biodiversity emergency – this is an issue that has been allowed to hit crisis point and we are devastated that the Tories since 2015 have done so much to frustrate the fight against climate change, such as banning onshore wind and scrapping the Green Investment Bank we established. As such we consider this crisis co-equal in priority to the most severe problems in the city, such as the housing and homelessness crisis that is causing so much misery.

Nationally we have a variety of policies outlined in our most recent manifesto including moving to produce a majority of energy from renewables by 2030 and legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse emissions to zero nationally over the next few decades.

Locally we would be seeking input (from individuals, community groups and business) on achievable methods to reduce CO2 emissions. We would use this input to formulate new policy and adjust existing policies to be more eco-friendly if necessary. Naturally we would then seek to get the council to implement these policies so far as we are able. Community groups in themselves also have a valuable role to play in addressing this crisis (as they do in other policy areas) and as such we are very open to the idea of the council working directly with existing community groups, such as the Brighton Energy Cooperative, to directly tackle these issues.

We would also be keen to promote our existing policies such as:

– a park and ride at Mill Road to reduce air pollution in the city
– increased provision of EV charging points across Brighton & Hove
– co-ordinating with the bus company to transition to electric buses (as The Big Lemon have done)
– attempting to renegotiate our recycling contact to accept more kinds of plastic so we can improve our dismal 27% recycling rate and heavily reduce the volume of waste we incinerate 
– running an in house composting scheme for the city
Our manifesto is available online at  http://liberalbrighton.org/manifesto

Regarding a costed action plan we’re happy to work on one as a group if elected, although our position is that it would be more effective to co-ordinate with other councils in the Greater Brighton area than to focus solely on the city itself.

For an example of why we think this much of our waste (according to a whistleblower including many recyclables) goes to the Newhaven incinerator. If we focus solely on the city this contributes to making the city carbon free but it also increases CO2 emissions overall, which is not very useful even if it helps with our city’s target.

As such although we’re happy to work on an action plan within six months, we would prefer to take longer to draw one up but to involve a variety of neighbouring local government areas in discussions – so we can affect more change overall.

Thank you for your best wishes for our candidates and good luck with your own campaigns, climate change is an issue that’s been neglected for too long.

Tracey Hill, Labour Party, Hollingdean & Stanmer
Do you support the declaration of climate and biodiversity emergency? “Yes I do and voted for it at Full Council. I’d say it was amongst the highest priorities that we have, alongside addressing the housing crisis, defending the NHS, campaigning for schools funding and continuing to provide services for the most vulnerable in the city.”
How will you engage with voluntary/community groups and residents & business and residents? “There’ll need to be a lot of engagement with different groups across the city to achieve the target, so this is a very big question to answer now! But we can’t reach the target without doing this so it’s critical.”
Will you pledge to produce a costed action plan within 6 months of being elected? I think 6 months is optimistic but we can certainly work towards it.

Brighton and Hove Labour Party
How will you engage with voluntary/community groups and residents & business and residents? “There will be a programme put in place which will involve engagement with the community and community organisations, otherwise it won’t achieve the target because it is a target for the city not the council. As a Labour council, we have worked really strongly with the CVS sector, continuing to invest in CVS to build community wealth, so we have many relationships to build on when tackling this target. There has been a big engagement exercise with the business community over the city’s new 
Economic Strategy, and sustainability and tackling climate change is one of the themes for action.”
As a party, will you pledge to produce a costed action plan to achieve carbon neutrality for Brighton and Hove within 6 months of being elected?
“We could say yes because it is what people want to hear. But that would probably be misleading because of the scale of the project, and determining what would be the most effective actions to take. Carbon levels are continuing to fall year on year – but we have to build on this and go faster. So a Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Investment Fund has been established, and a report has already been taken to the council’s Policy Resources and Growth Committee about how we will work on this across all council departments and across communities. The next report which councillors will use to begin to prioritise a programme for becoming a carbon neutral city is going to come to Environment Committee as early as three months after the election in July, which is really positive, and due to the scale of what needs to be done the programme would come to very regular Environment Committees.”
Do you support the idea of solar panels on all viable council buildings? “Yes we want to increase the amount of solar PV on council buildings. 
This is in our manifesto, alongside a commitment to do an energy efficiency audit of all council buildings.”
What energy efficiency standard is the minimum you would accept on new council houses? “We have really high standards in our own new council homes and generally work towards Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, with insulation and other elements of the building works exceeding Building Regulations standards. This saves council tenants money as well as being the right thing for the planet. We are also developing a sustainability strategy and have ring-fenced budgets for energy efficiency improvements in our existing stock. In terms of housing across the city, we are being hampered by government’s weakening of the standards in their Planning Policy Framework, because we need to be able to achieve high standards in private developments too. We have an ambition to enforce Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in private rented housing and have pledged to set up an enforcement team for private sector housing.”
How will you encourage more people to cycle, walk and use public transport? “We have put money aside for a Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan, 
so we can promote alternative ways of getting around the city. We have protected all 19 of the city’s subsidised bus routes, so no community 
has lost its bus service. We are pledging to provide a Park and Ride, so that more people leave their car and come into the city by bus. We work 
very closely with the bus operators as well, helping promote bus use, and the city has the highest journeys per person outside London (171 
journeys per person), and is one of the few places in the country where bus use in increasing. We are fully supporting Active Travel via work 
with schools, businesses and with travel advisors out and about speaking to 1,000s of households.  An example is the Safer Routes to School work 
in Hangleton and Knoll. Valley Gardens will be an exemplar scheme in the city centre – new cycle paths, new bus lanes, wider pavements, safer 
crossings, more public space for pedestrians.”
How would you incentivise electric – and, conversely, de-incentivise petrol and diesel – cars, vans and buses? “As above rolling out ECV infrastructure for cars and taxis, securing funding like the funding for 76 clean air technology buses and 22 clean air taxis, protecting bus routes so there is a strong bus network, and giving people attractive more sustainable options. We offer a resident parking permit discount for low emission vehicles, and also low emission trader permits, which is a big incentive for electric vehicle owners.”
Would you charge more for 2nd and 3rd parking permits and re-invest to give extra income for supporting electric transport infrastructure?
“We have already achieved significant funding for electric transport infrastructure, including £300,000 for 200 on street electric charging 
points for cars and £468,000 for rapid charging points for electric taxis, which are now rolling out. However, we also say in our manifesto 
that we will review the policy for parking permits because there may be additional flexibilities that could be achieved in the scheme.”
Would you support weekly recycling collections (switching refuse to fortnightly if necessary)? “No, we don’t think that is the best approach for the city. Environmental groups are increasingly saying that recycling is not the answer to the plastics crisis or climate change, and that we urgently need to reduce our use of packaging and only use materials which have a constructive use once recycled. We have campaigned on this and will continue to do 
so, while doing everything we can to maximise the recycling rates in the city with the infrastructure that we have.”
What measures will you take to protect biodiversity in the city? “Among many other actions, we have pledged to stop use of chemical herbicides, and encourage everyone in the city to do the same. We are also pledging in our manifesto to plant more trees, create green arteries through the city to support biodiversity and invest in biodiversity in our parks. We have also particularly mentioned keeping our Blue Flag beaches, and working with the Conservation Authority to protect marine life, so protecting marine biodiversity.”

Elaine Hills, Green Party, Hanover & Elm Grove
Do you support the declaration of climate and biodiversity emergency? “Very much so. As a Green, dealing with climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are central to what we stand for. I couldn’t be more supportive and am pleased that there is momentum to address these issues in a meaningful way. Top Priority
How will you engage with voluntary/community groups and residents? “We need to get together committed representatives from a range community groups, charities and local businesses along with individuals to achieve a workable plan. Extinction Rebellion have done a great job in engaging people. We need to build on that energy and translate it into some achievable action.”
How will you engage with business and residents? “We’d discuss similar ideas with the Chamber of Commmerce and other business organisations and get a plan together”
Will you pledge to produce a costed action plan within 6 months of being elected? “I very much agree we need a costed action plan with clearly defined goals, and markers. If elected I would I would press for this to be done within six months.”

Beverley Barstow, Women’s Equality Party, Hanover & Elm Grove 
Climate change is an environmental and social issue; the most vulnerable and marginalised of us are the hardest hit in environmental emergencies. Women are one of the many marginalised groups who will suffer the most in a climate change disaster. In order to adequately address the devastation a climate emergency could cause, it is vital we represent the needs of women. Representing the needs of women has proven to lead to successful and long-term solutions to addressing climate change and creates a more resilient and effective way of preventing the social inequalities and human catastrophe an environmental emergency can bring. I will bring equality to the council and ensure the needs of marginalised and vulnerable groups are addressed in a climate and biodiversity emergency.
I absolutely support the declaration of climate and biodiversity emergency. It is a top priority and would be best addressed collaboratively, across party lines, to ensure it’s taken seriously. If I am elected, I will seek to engage with other parties to address the emergency.
Collaboration should not stop with the council, and I hope to unite the residents of Brighton and Hove on the issue. Hanover Action Group is a great example of how residents can work together to bring positive and lasting change to their community, and our environment. As a resident of Hanover and Elm Grove for 25 years, I know the passion and knowledge our community has brought to this issue. I will support my local community and make sure the council mobilise the local knowledge and support the community’s excellent campaigning on the issue. I will support a citizens assembly in Brighton and Hove and collaborate with my fellow councillors to respond to their needs and concerns.
As an independent business owner, myself, I understand the priorities and demands of running a business in our city. As a councillor, I will use my knowledge to engage with local businesses and offer guidance and support in achieving our target of carbon neutrality by 2030. I would like to collaborate with local business owners who have successfully implemented environmental policies and assess how to bring them into the mainstream.
I pledge to work with my fellow councillors to achieve a coastal action plan as soon as possible. It will be a top priority of mine and I believe that, working collaboratively, across party lines, we’ll be able to get this city carbon neutral by 2030!

Green Party
“Yes, we support the declaration of a climate and biodiversity emergency. It was a Green Party Councillors’ motion in December 2018 that secured the Council’s commitment to declare such a climate and biodiversity emergency in the first place. Then in the 2019 Council budget negotiations, Greens secured agreement to invest over half a million pounds in the council’s sustainability budget. £690k identified by the Greens will go towards biodiversity protection and a new ‘carbon reduction and sustainability fund,’ with initiatives such as renewable energy projects, community energy, solar panels, work to protect species and habitats and sustainable transport improvements receiving a significant boost. The Green budget amendments also sought to increase the number of staff members working to deliver sustainability projects, after Greens reversed cuts to the team made under previous Conservative and Labour council leadership.
In our manifesto we commit to making the city carbon neutral by 2030. We would give this top priority if we form the next Council administration. If we don’t tackle this, nothing else matters.”
How will you engage with voluntary/community groups and residents & business and residents? “The key areas for carbon reduction are clear: housing, transport, energy production and consumption, food and farming. But to reach a costed action plan, we will need to rapidly:
– draw in sector experts from within and beyond the city, to advise on policy and practice changes
– engage with residents, businesses, other public sector agencies, and community and voluntary groups
We believe that a deliberative democratic approach, such as a Citizens Assembly, will give the city the best shot at creating a plan which is robust and deliverable, and should help to embed carbon reduction as a shared, bottom-up priority. As part of the process of assembling the evidence for citizens to consider, we believe that a Climate and Biodiversity Crises Summit between the Council and businesses, NGOs, Voluntary organisations, Community organisations, residents’ groups, etc, should be part of the process.
We would want to ensure that:
– delivery of the resulting actions is the responsibility of a body which can make actions happen, not just a talking shop;
– governance of the carbon reduction programme is robust, with ongoing monitoring and review overseen by stakeholders from across the city.”
Will you pledge to produce a costed action plan within 6 months of being elected? “Within six months we would hope to be developing an emerging, outline plan with partners and city residents, identifying quick wins and a clear direction of travel, to inform the 2020 budget discussions. But, urgent as the situation undoubtedly is, there’s no benefit in trying to tackle it without the necessary groundwork. If we’re to have an effective citywide partnership, we’ll need to give it time to come up with potential actions, rather than being a talking-shop, and that will take some time.”
Do you support the idea of solar panels on all viable council buildings? “Yes. We would want to draw upon the expertise of community partners including Brighton Energy Co-operative and BHESCo, as well as in-house knowledge, to look at technical viability and innovative financial models for installing energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies. It may not just be solar PV, other technologies for both power and heat may be appropriate – and using less energy in the first place is the clear priority. 
We would also want to look at how we can use the council’s bulk buying power to drive down costs for solar and other technologies for businesses, residents and community groups too. The council’s buildings are a tiny fraction of the work we need to do!”
What energy efficiency standard is the minimum you would accept on new council houses? “We would seek to improve on the Council’s current standards, by drawing on best practice from around the country. We are aware that a small number of Passivhaus homes have now been constructed in the social sector, and that is the direction that we would aspire to move in. New build Home Energy Efficiency standards  have been significantly undermined by the Government’s scrapping of zero carbon homes policy. New builds are only part of the stock however; again we would look to good practice elsewhere, including the Energiesprong retrofit approach where appropriate.We also intend to encourage district heat networks (supplying cost effective, low carbon heat through a network of insulated pipes) and community energy projects, so residents have warm homes and lower energy bills.”
How will you encourage more people to cycle, walk and use public transport? “We will:

  • Improve sustainable transport infrastructure including cycle-lanes and bus-lanes, whenever and wherever funding allows.
  • Step up our insistence on sustainable transport being factored in to all planning applications, to the maximum the law allows.
  • Work more closely with schools and businesses to ensure travel to school and travel to work are as sustainable as possible. This may include the idea of charging businesses which allow employees to drive to work, and park there.
  • Investigate a sliding scale for parking permits, increasing as the number of cars in the household increases.
  • Oppose cuts to, and fight for more frequent, and higher-quality train services.”

How would you incentivise electric – and, conversely, de-incentivise petrol and diesel – cars, vans and buses? “We will:

  • Expand clean air zones.
  • Look for funding to increase the number of electric charging points across the city.
  • Continue to work with the bus and taxi companies to encourage the replacement of their petrol/diesel fleets with electric vehicles.
  • Continue to amend parking charges in favour of electric vehicles, including discounted pay-by-phone charging for visiting electric vehicles.
  • Look to phase out diesel and petrol vehicles from the Council’s own fleet wherever practicable.”

Would you charge more for 2nd and 3rd parking permits and re-invest to give extra income for supporting electric transport infrastructure?
“Yes, we would look at this as part of an overall approach towards incentivising electric vehicles.”
Would you support weekly recycling collections (switching refuse to fortnightly if necessary)? “Yes. Recycling is relatively low down the hierarchy of reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle, but it is vital we make recycling as easy as possible for residents. Weekly recycling collections drives up recycling rates and drives down the amount of residual waste. We will also revisit the expensive PFI contract signed by a previous administration with Veolia in 2003, which limits the range of materials we can recycle.Recycling is just the beginning though: Greens have been at the forefront of campaigns inside and outside the council to cut down on the use of single use plastics in the first place, through council procurement and at public events.
And despite it being voted down twice by other parties when we were previously in administration, we would look again at introducing a food waste collection. It’s ridiculous to be dumping so much food waste into the Newhaven Incinerator.”
What measures will you take to protect biodiversity in the city? “We will:

  • Promote wildlife corridors across the city.
  • Work with partners to plants large numbers of trees across the city.
  • Ban the use of pesticides and herbicides on all Council-controlled land.
  • Ensure measures such as swift-bricks are included as standard in all appropriate new-build housing.
  • Work with partners to keep the beach and sea free from plastic and other potentially hazardous waste.
  • Work with our tenant farmers to ensure the Council-owner downland is free from dangerous chemicals, and that farmers leave wild corners for wildlife.
  • Encourage more wild areas and diverse trees in our parks.
  • Protect our areas of rare calcareous grassland.

Amanda Evans, Labour Party, Kemptown
“Apologies that it has taken me a while to reply. In haste, as it is election day tomorrow, I am happy to answer your two questions with A) YES and B) TOP priority, but cannot commit to fuller answers on the more detailed questions I’m afraid…

If elected tomorrow, I do want to seriously address these issues in detail ASAP – it IS an absolute emergency, in my view, and I would  
want to engage with all the campaign groups in this area, as well as residents.”
Full text of enquiry to candidates:
Dear candidates, 

As a prospective candidate seeking to be elected as a councillor for Brighton and Hove in forthcoming elections, we would like to know your views on the fact that Brighton & Hove has recently declared its recognition of global climate and biodiversity emergencies. 

As the current leader of the council stated at Policy, Resources and Growth Committee on 21 March 2019: “We have to be committed to [this] as a council for a long time to come. And that it will increasingly become a more and more important part of our budget setting process and of our governance itself.  We need to understand what the impact of every decision we are taking is, on our target of achieving carbon neutrality as quickly as possible … This isn’t a nice-to-do, this is a must-do, this is a must-do-now.”

We would like to collate responses from all candidates, so as to share information with the voting public on attitudes to this important issue, in particular in response to the following TWO key points:

A. Do you support the declaration of climate and biodiversity emergency?

B. What priority do you give it? (1) Top priority; (2) A major priority but not the most important; (3) A lesser priority compared to other areas that require council action.

Additionally, if you want to support the city to seriously address ‘climate emergency’, we would invite you to commit to undertake more detailed consideration of the following THREE questions:

1.  How will you engage with voluntary/community groups and residents to achieve carbon neutrality for Brighton and Hove by 2030?

2. How will you engage with business and residents to achieve carbon neutrality for Brighton and Hove by 2030?

3. Will you pledge to produce a costed action plan to achieve carbon neutrality for Brighton and Hove within 6 months of being elected?


In addition, we welcome any other substantive ideas that candidates may have to take forward this crucial issue.

With thanks for your consideration – and good luck for 2 May!