25 March 2006

Simon Burgess in Insight magazine.

Excellent interview in the latest Brighton Insight with new Labour Council leader, Cllr Simon Burgess.

He outlines his vision on the environment, housing and transport and talks about being a vegetarian.

He also points out that 87% are now happy with the refuse/recycling service in Brighton and Hove compared to 50% a few years ago.

The Insight also has an excellent balanced article about the proposed new incinerator/ energy recovery facility at Newhaven. The UK incinerates the least of it's waste in the EU (less than 9% compared to Switzerland that incinerates 47%) and new plants have improved dramatically efficiency wise, reducing emissions to a bare minimum (less than 3% of total waste). The plants themselves are carbon beneficial and will produce electricity for 16,500 homes. Nobody wants an incinerator near to where they live, but nobody wants a waste dump either and an incinerator can be less harmful to the environment. Pandering to the NIMBYs on every single issue is fine for opposition parties like the Lib Dems who never have to carry out any policies, but it does the honesty of the debate no justice (in a recent leaflet the Lib Dems even claimed credit for Gordon Brown's free local bus travel for pensioners, the cheek!). The truth is, we need a range of solutions to our waste problems and incineration is part of that solution.

I'm planning on posting a few more posts on local issues over the coming months, in particular about Cllr Roy Pennington and Lucy Potter, the Labour candidates for Regency in the 2007 elections.


  1. Simon Burgess is weak and has no backbone. You don't stand a chance with him.

    As for Roy (who?)Pennignton it would be nice to hear that he actually does something in this ward.

  2. Unlike Dawn, Roy is well known in this area. He is active in many resident associations. He regularly organises events and recently organised and chaired a meeting about proposals for the Royal Alex Hospital site redevelopment and has organised a petition on parking in the ward.

    The big question is, is Dawn Davidson going to stand? As you have been using the same photos of her on your leaflets for some time and she has not been seen around here for ages, I doubt it very much. As for claiming it was the Lib Dems who introduced free travel for pensioners, have you no shame and no respect for the truth? Everybody knows Gordon Brown announced it in his budget, who are you expecting to fool by lying like that?

  3. You say: (in a recent leaflet the Lib Dems even claimed credit for Gordon Brown's free local bus travel for pensioners, the cheek!).

    This is very untrue.
    Gordon Brown failed to provide local Councils with enough money to fund the entire scheme, and the Council's Budget had to pick up the difference.
    The Lib Dem and Labour Groups on the Council proposed a joint Budget (for the third year running), which included meeting the difference in funding for this.
    Labour cannot carry a single vote in the Council and its varioius Committees as it is in minority control and has to work with another party to get anything through.
    In this case the Tories also voted against it and the Greens abstained (and so didn't support this public transport measure either), and with Labour one vote down (after the Bodfish fallout), the vote was even closer than expected.
    Without Lib Dem support this would not have gone through.
    For you to claim otherwise is not cheeky but a lie, and one which will causes difficulties for your friend Mr Burgess.

  4. In answer to your next posting.
    Gordon Brown announced NATIONAL bus travel for pensioners in his Budget. Your post refers to LOCAL bus travel for pensioners, announced before the General Election last year.

    This is the truth, and I will not listen to lectures on the truth from the Labour Party. Check with your friend Mr Burgess if you do not believe me.

    Your comments about Cllr Davidson are distasteful and unpleasant.

  5. Ok, you may have supported Labour on extending the scheme, but that is not what you say in the leaflet is it?

    You are making threats again aren't you? The Lib Dems are such nasty pieces of work when they get campaigning. I dread to think what level you will stoop to. You make me sick.

    You have 3 councillors, the Greens have 6, The Tories and Labour have over 20 each. I suppose you are going to side with the Tories (like you do in other areas).

    Everybody in Regency is soon going to get to know that a vote for Lib Dems here is just helping the Tories. You have little power.

  6. "Your comments about Cllr Davidson are distasteful and unpleasant."

    In what way?

  7. "Your post refers to LOCAL bus travel for pensioners, announced before the General Election last year."

    Which was also announced in a Gordon Brown budget.

  8. "Your comments about Cllr Davidson are distasteful and unpleasant."

    Says Mr Anonymous who calls Simon Burgess 'weak with no backbone'. You are the one resorting to personal insults. All I have said is that Dawn is never seen around the ward.

  9. It is not an extension, this is a new scheme.

  10. The free travel was initially only going to be in Brighton & Hove (the govt funding doesn't cover county wide) when it starts on 1st April but it has been extended across the whole of Sussex county.

  11. Incorrect. Local is County. Last week's announcement was for national.

  12. I know last week's budget was for national travel, but last year he announced the local travel in his budget. Don't you remember?

    Until 2008, when it becomes a national scheme (stops less than 15 mile apart), the govt funding does not cover county wide, local councils have to make a decision to fund it countywide.

  13. Out of interest; what are the Greens' reasons for abstention?

  14. Of course I remember, you are the one who doesn't seem to understand this. The point you keep failing to understand is that Brown didn't give councils enough money to fund the introduction of the scheme.

  15. Brown only gave enough money for each council area, which would be Brighton and Hove.

    I understand this could make the scheme difficult for those on the borders of the scheme (this will be fixed in 2008 when it goes national).

    The Council have decided to fund the scheme county wide by adding some money out of their own budget, this is sensible. I am glad the Lib Dems backed Labour in doing this, why the Greens didn't I would like to know.

    The problem with tribal politics (and all the parties are guilty of this) is that good policies become second best to party point scoring and pander to NIMBYism.

    The Lib Dems in Lewes and in Lambeth in London are good examples of this. I also think the 'park and ride' proposals for Brighton feel foul to this sort of point scoring nimbyism politics.

    Labour are only a few seats short of control of the council. Regency is going to be crucial. The Lib Dems are obviously targetting Regency (spreading from Brunswick and Adelaide) but what the voters need to understand is more Lib Dem councillors make a Tory/Lib Dem council a reality and the voters don't want that! The only way to stop it, is for Regency to re-elect Cllr Roy Pennington and elect Lucy Potter in place of Cllr Dawn Davidson.

  16. You are the most tribal person I've ever come across.

    And are you really sure that a Tory - Lib Dem council is the likely outcome of the city elections? and is this the view of your leadership?

  17. "You are the most tribal person I've ever come across"

    You are wrong about that.

    "And are you really sure that a Tory - Lib Dem council is the likely outcome of the city elections?"

    It is if the Lib Dems get more seats.

    "and is this the view of your leadership?"

    I wouldn't know.

  18. The Tories don't agree with you...

    (From the Tory website)

    A vote for Lib is a vote for Lab

    Conservative Group Leader Garry Peltzer Dunn has expressed disappointment with the Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats after they meekly backed a Labour budget for the second year running.

    The Lib Dem Group on Brighton and Hove City Council helped Labour vote through their budgets for 2005 and 2006, and helped Labour vote down Conservative proposals to protect people’s incomes, enhance local democracy and suspend the King Alfred project.

    Councillor Peltzer Dunn said: ‘I am very disappointed that the Lib Dems have chosen to neglect their opposition duties for the second budget running. When they don’t want to criticise anything Labour does, you have to wonder if a vote for the Liberals is actually a vote for Labour.’

    Conservative Finance Spokesperson Brian Oxley added: ‘Whilst the Lib Dems may talk about everything they support Labour on, we are supporting local taxpayers against ever higher Council Tax.'

  19. Park and Ride didn't fall foul of tribal politics. It was simply a terrible idea. The wrong policy, in the wrong place at the wrong time. If it hadn't been in the manifesto I'm sure that some Labour members would have voted against.

    Unfortunately, this is Labour's idea of sustainable transport. It may possibly have increased the number of cars from outside Brighton driving through the South Downs, to stop at a large car park built on the South Downs. I fail to see how that helps the people of Brighton and Hove.

  20. The park and ride would have reduced traffic coming into the centre of Brighton. That is how it would have helped the people of Brighton, just like the park and rides have helped Oxford reduce traffic by 18%, York by a similar amount and similar in other cities.

    Like Oxford and York, Brighton has a significant employment/tourism pull, so therefore a captive number of drivers entering the city, a P&R scheme will work well for Brighton just like these cities if priced appropriately (so as not to attract those who currently travel by bus) and coupled with a small decline in city centre parking spaces.

    However, I would state that congestion charging would be an overall 'greener' solution but it would be difficult and expensive to achieve and is there really the support for such a scheme in Brighton? Sadly I think not.

  21. I believe the aim of the council was not to reduce the number of cars coming into Brighton, but to increase the number of tourists coming into Brighton.

    At least that was what the council officers report to the council stated would be the result of a park and ride.

    Check another source for Oxford's figures - they are thinking of reducing park and ride because of the amount of extra traffioc brought into the area.

  22. Would more tourists be a bad thing?

    Do you have any sources that are negative about Oxford park & rides?

    Here are more sources about the conflicting and duplicitous attitude of Lib Dems towards park and ride schemes, bus lanes, city centre parking etc.

    "Take Clapham Park, a New Deal for Communities (NDC) estate. It was chosen as the worst in Lambeth, most in need of the £56m given to residents to shape their future. I have been following its progress from the start. For five years unpaid local heroes have devoted up to four evenings a week to running elections for a board and start-up community schemes. Programmes are up and running to cut crime, create activities for young people, and improve health, education and employment. Crack houses have been shut down, wardens are on patrol and the results are good.

    "The residents hired an award-winning architect to draw up a master plan to redesign the worst side of the estate. It would add extra social housing, build playgrounds, schools, community centres and parks, selling private homes to pay for it. There were endless consultations with residents: plans were redrawn over and over until everyone was pleased - including the Government Office for London, the Greater London Authority, the mayor, the deputy prime minister and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. The final plans were put to a vote of residents, who were assured they would not be decanted elsewhere, and would stay in new homes on the estate. After five years of hard work, it was tough to get people enthused by the vote. There was opposition from some who didn't want the council to transfer the property to a housing association. (It was a hard argument for the residents since the government offers no choice: transfer the stock or moulder and rot.)

    "On the day, 70% voted - participation unknown in local elections - and the plan passed, after a long and painful struggle for the residents. They thought the master plan would finally start to materialise from the dilapidations of the past and had hope of a new beginning. But no. Lambeth council, which is run by Liberal Democrats with a few Tories, is suddenly threatening to turn down the plan at the last hurdle. The planning department, despite working with the NDC for the past three years, has issued planning guidelines for the area. Apparently, the Clapham Park scheme no longer fits this new template. To the horror of residents, the council has arbitrarily demanded two main roads, north/south and east/west, cut through the estate in the name of a new planning fad called "permeability". The south circular and another road already bisect the estate, and young people refuse to visit community centres on the opposite side, a split created by physical boundaries.

    Redrawing the plans would take four months and cost £400,000, and the roads would steal some of the private housing, leaving a £30m hole in the budget. If work doesn't start by February or if major changes are made, the plan must go to another vote on the estate, but the board fears it could not get people out to vote again. The £56m programme may be sunk on the whim of a handful of Lib Dem local councillors, all voting the party line against what they see as a Labour-initiated scheme, after a few minutes' discussion. (The last council meeting examining the scheme was dominated by how it had let £3m be stolen by a fraudster it had hired.) It is rare for citizens to get a chance to vote on planning matters that affect their lives. It is one of the strengths of NDCs that they are led by residents. Rejecting their wishes is an odd advertisement for the Lib Dems' "new localism"."

    This is just party politics for party politics sake. Oppose everything because it will win some votes. People would know where they stamd and get things done if they elect Labour councillors because it would mean a Labour controlled council. The Lib Dems are just spoilers.

    They always seem to be in favour 'in principle' but oppose it because of 'lack of public consultation'. Which is of course a euphemism for NIMBYism.

  23. The main beneficiaries of park and ride schemes are businesses, and in the case of Brighton that will include many locally based businesses. Those who don't benefit include local people who don't own businesses, as their environment is not improved in the city centre (very little change in vehicles in the centre, as any capacity generated is filled very quickly), or on the outskirts (as they now live next to a huge carpark). In addition, you may be completely Brighton-centric, but if we draw shoppers from other areas, what are we doing to their local economies?

    All park and ride does is encourage more car travel. At least two studies (and admittedly, there aren't that many out there) have found that a significant number of people actually drive from close to the city centre, to the outskirts to park and then take the bus into the centre to do their shopping.

    Your views reflect the fake environmentalism of the Labour Party which has been so obviously exposed on a wider scale this week by both the Budget and the climate change review.

  24. "Your views reflect the fake environmentalism of the Labour Party"

    Thats rich coming from a party that backs windfarms in it's manifesto but is yet to vote in favour of one at a local level. You are just the nimby party. There is no party that is more 'fake environmentalist' that that.

    Under Labour there have been real improvements in the environment.

    Recycling up from worst in Europe to one of the best.

    Banned fur farming and testing of cosmetics on animals.

    Congestion charging and 20% increase in bus use in London.

    Free bus travel for over 60's and disabled.

    The climate change levy and more than doubled Kyoto targets for cuts in greenhouse gases.

    Cleanest rivers, beaches, drinking water and air since the industrial revolution.

    On target for 10% of electricity produced from renewables.

    Under Labour people get concrete results not a load of duplicitous talk from the Lib Dems who say one thing at national level and do the opposite in practice at local level.

  25. Neil, I think you've got me confused with someone else. I'm Green.

    Labour have done as good as nothing for the environment.

    I agree with you about the Lib Dems record though.

  26. Anon: I like the Greens but I have to ask; why did their 6 councillors abstain over the free local travel for over 60s?

    Imagine just for a moment that we have a Green government (I think i can safely say it won't happen in our lifetimes) but use your imagination; Do you seriously believe the Greens would not have to compromise massively on it's current policies, first to win power and secondly because a lot of their policies are too idealistic and wouldn't work in practice?

    What do you think?

    Labour could do a lot more, but think back to the alternatives - The Tories! According to Friends of the Earth they have the worst policies for the environment of ANY party in the whole of the EU.

    Think of the 2,100 votes Anthea Ballam got and the 8,000 votes Paul Elgood got in Hove and remember that Labour only beat the Tories by 400 votes in that seat. Were people doing their best for the environment by switching from Labour to Green or Labour to Lib Dem when it nearly elected a Tory?

    Same in Kemptown, the 2,800 votes Simon Williams got for the Greens halved Des Turner's (a vociferous anti-war Labour MP) majority bringing the Tories dangerously close to winning.

    The Greens did well in Pavilion, almost beating the Tories into second place, but on a four way split there was always a danger the Tories could sneak it here as well.

    The Greens do well in Brighton centre but they have no support at all in the other parts of the constituency, they have probably peaked in their vote here. With a Tory resurgence in the suburbs at the next election, even Pavilion could be under threat from a four way split. The same is true in some wards in the council elections, including Regency.

    Until we get a better electoral system (which realistically only the Labour party is going to be in a position to deliver) then we have to vote Labour for environmental policies. Join the Labour party and have some real influence on practical policy, this is the party that can make a real difference both to the electoral system and the environment.

  27. Neil, the six Green councillors didn't abstain over that particular issue, they abstained on the amended overall budget vote (at least, reading through the previous comments, I think this is what is being referred to).

    I believe (don't quote me) the abstentions were to indicate that they felt the budget wasn't green enough, but they didn't think it was so bad they should vote against (as the Tories predictably did - tribal politics, as you mentioned). A pretty reasonable position all in all.

    Now your turn - why did Labour vote against introducing the Renewable Energy Fund Green amendment? Word has it that it was the right idea from the wrong party, and we should see something very similar in the Lab/Lib budget next year...

    Budget amendment votes link [Word doc].

    I don't think it's unreasonable to imagine a Green government in our lifetime. The Labour party didn't exist a hundred years ago.

    Although it's an invitation to send someone to our manifesto to crawl all over it, for the most part our policies are as practical as Labour and Tory policies, and I suppose yes, they are idealistic, but surely that's not always a bad thing. I think the Greens have compromised a lot over the last 15 years and may have to a little more in some areas - such is politics, as Labour members well know - but what I do know is that some core principles won't go.

    In Brighton and Hove every Green voter is doing the best they can for the environment, because we're the only party with a serious intention to protect it at the moment. We have consistently increased our vote, and considering that green issues are gaining greater and greater prominence, I'd be surprised if we'd peaked in Brighton and Hove. I think you know that the Greens could be in power locally by next May.

    I'm surprised you're bringing up this whole idea of wasted votes. We almost certainly would have got second place in Pavilion in 2005 if it hadn't been for David Lepper's dishonest letter saying that voting Green would let the Tories in, sent out, was it a week before the vote?

    As the results showed with more votes we could have thrashed the Tories into third place, setting them back for another 5 years. As it is Lepper's desperate plea for meant the Tories could claim second place again, this time reducing Labour's margin of victory. His actions left them in a stronger position for the locals and the next genral election. The BBC website still claims a 6% swing from Labour to Conservative. They gained 100 votes. We more than doubled ours.

    I hope Labour remember next time, because we're in the same position in Kemptown as we were in Pavilion in 2001 and in Hove as we were in Kemptown in 1997.

    One last point, we don't have to vote Labour for environmental policies - they really don't have any of any use. Being a little better than the Tories on the environment is roughly equivalent to being a bit less of a tosser than Charles Clarke. You're still a total c.

  28. Green Anon: "the six Green councillors didn't abstain over that particular issue, they abstained on the amended overall budget vote"

    I should have guessed as much, it was a Lib Dem who posted that, being disingenuous with the truth, yet again.

    "Now your turn - why did Labour vote against introducing the Renewable Energy Fund Green amendment"

    I'll find out and get back to you on this.

    "I don't think it's unreasonable to imagine a Green government in our lifetime. The Labour party didn't exist a hundred years ago."

    It's not impossible, but my point would be they would have completely compromised on policy by then, unless the world really is about to end. I'm not prepared to wait till 2070 for a Green government anyway (for one thing I'll probably be dead), I want to see things happen now, which is why I'm in the Labour Party.

    I'm with the Greens 100% on environmental issues (and other stuff like citizen's income, PR), but the UK is only responsible for 2% of greenhouse gases, how can the Greens do anymore than Labour in trying to get international agreement on reductions? Whatever you think of Blair, he has been world leader in driving climate change onto the agenda.

    "I'm surprised you're bringing up this whole idea of wasted votes. We almost certainly would have got second place in Pavilion in 2005 if it hadn't been for David Lepper's dishonest letter saying that voting Green would let the Tories in, sent out, was it a week before the vote?"

    It wasn't being dishonest, I honestly thought myself that the Tories could sneak it in Brighton Pavilion on a 4-way split. Nobody knew what the result would be. The boundaries are changing for the next election and more Green voters are going to end up in Kemptown and Hove constituencies where voting Green will definitely bring a Tory MP. The Tories are only 400 votes behind Labour in Hove and 2,000 votes behind in Kemptown, with the Greens and Lib Dems nowhere. They just hoover up progressive votes and let the Tory in.

    Now I'm not specifically blaming the Greens and Lib Dems for this, it is the electoral system at fault and Labour have had plenty of time to do something about that. They promised a referendum, I'm still foolishly hoping they might honour it. I'm campaigning as hard as I can in the Labour party on this, the CLP in Pavilion has passed a resolution in favour of a more proportional system and David Lepper has signalled his support.

    "One last point, we don't have to vote Labour for environmental policies - they really don't have any of any use. Being a little better than the Tories on the environment is roughly equivalent to being a bit less of a tosser than Charles Clarke."

    I notice you didn't question the list I left in the comments here of all the things Labour has done on the environment. They are not small achievements. Under the Tories we were going backwards on the environment, at least we are going in the right direction under Labour, even if it is slow progress. I concede Brown's budget was next to useless, the measures on 4x4s and insulation were laughable and Labour's inaction on cheap flights is disgraceful but it is wrong to claim Labour are no better than the Tories, there is a massive difference.

    The Greens may be right on the environment, but it is unrealistic to think they would be any better than Labour at curtailing emissions in the US, India, China and that is where it really matters.

  29. So abstaining on the whole Budget is a good thing?

    'If the Tories and Greens had their way there would be no schools, old people's centres or action to tackle climate change. brighton and Hove would eb closed for business'

    No I don't take this quote from a Lib Dem leaflet, but a Labour one!

  30. Anon,

    Abstaining on the whole budget (as you can't pick and choose which bits to vote for and against) is neither good, not bad. It's neutral - only becoming "good" or "bad" depending on your perspective, surely?

    The Labour comment you refer to was a shame though.

  31. Anon: Which Labour leaflet is that?