Greens criticise lack of transparency in council budget “backroom deal”

28 February 2023

Cllr George Wheeler

Plymouth’s three Green Party Councillors have voiced their dismay at a joint move by the Conservative administration and the Labour group which silenced other parties. 

The Green Party’s priority in this budget process has been to secure the funding needed to ensure that our public services deliver for all Plymothians and to robustly tackle the climate and ecological emergency. 

Throughout, Plymouth Greens have engaged with this process, working cross-party and in good faith. However, during today’s meeting, they were dismayed at the way in which ideas and motions were silenced by both the Labour and Conservative parties. The two parties engineered a move to a vote on Labour’s budget amendment before all Councillors had the opportunity to table motions and scrutinise decision-making. 

Cllr George Wheeler, Councillor for St Budeaux, said: “This ‘backroom dealing’ is damaging to democracy. By cutting short the debate, Labour and the Conservatives have denied Plymouth residents the chance of representation through their elected Councillors.

“Austerity has seen sixty pence in every pound of Plymouth’s Revenue Support Grant being cut - a loss to the city of around one billion pounds. We therefore call upon Plymouth City Council to urge the National Government to reinstate this grant to put power back in the hands of Local Government so that we can make decisions that work best for our community.” 

Cllr Lauren McLay, Councillor for Plympton Chaddlewood, commented: “We all acknowledge the need to balance the books. However, in the midst of a crippling cost of living crisis, which is hitting our most vulnerable residents the hardest, this budget falls dramatically short of providing the level of support and services that all of our residents deserve.

“There are many points of Labour’s amendment we welcome, including extra funding for the council tax support scheme, the introduction of a Green Investment Fund, additional monies for wildflower meadows and dedicated funds for the public toilets in St Budeaux, which the Green Party’s Councillor George Wheeler has been spearheading for years. The Green Investment Fund is a step in the right direction but we would like clarity around its deployment as it merely covers the council's own buildings. If Plymouth is to reach our 2030 net-zero target and make meaningful progress to address the climate emergency, we need serious additional investment and the courage to embrace more innovative, community-focused solutions.”

Healthy democracy relies on fair and proper debate and scrutiny. The views of residents cannot be represented when their elected Councillors are silenced during meetings. Plymouth Green Party urges Labour and the Conservatives to work more constructively with other parties to ensure this budget is deliverable and that the most vulnerable in our city are supported.

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