Conservatives call for new relationship between Council and Trade Unions

Conservatives are calling for a fundamental review of the role that Trade Unions play within Brighton & Hove City Council after figures released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed just how extensive their influence is within the organisation.

  • 7 members of staff working full-time for their Trade Union whilst being paid by the Council, costing taxpayers £278,000
  • A further 161 ‘local workplace representatives’ who also receive paid time off to undertake Trade Union activities. This includes 3 full-time union representatives in Cityclean.
  • 19 Union Learning Representatives who receive paid time off
  • There is no central monitoring of the amount of paid time off taken by Trade Union officials meaning that the Council cannot give an accurate cost to council taxpayers of Trade Union activity.
  • There is no central recording of conferences attended by Trade Union officials.
  • The ‘Trade Union Facilities Agreement’ between the Council and the recognised Trade Unions, which sets out the various paid time off arrangements, has never been formally reviewed despite it being written into the Agreement that it should be subject to ‘regular review’
  • There are flagrant breaches of the Facilities Agreement by the Trade Unions such as displaying material on noticeboards in public areas of Council buildings urging staff to take strike action.

The recent Peer Review of Brighton & Hove City Council by the Local Government Association concluded that the Council’s relationship with the Trade Unions leaves a lot to be desired. Just 23% of Council staff themselves think that the Council and Trade Unions have an effective working relationship.

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, who uncovered the figures said: “It is clear that the current relationship between the Council and the Trade Unions has completely broken down. We need sensible and realistic Trade Unions who are willing to work constructively with the Council to help introduce the modernising reforms to Council services that are happening in other councils of all political colours up and down the country. Instead, here in Brighton & Hove we have highly politicised full-time Union officials whose default reaction is to try and block any sensible measures that the Council puts forward. I personally don’t believe that these Trade Union bosses have the support of the majority of ordinary union members. Nationally, just 8% of Unison members voted to support the Council strike in July and only a third of our staff actually walked out on the day.  I think that residents who are suffering  as a result of the current bin dispute that has been rumbling on for the past year or so, will be shocked at how much of their council tax is handed over to officials to foment this and other disputes. I am calling on officers immediately to give notice to terminate the current Facilities Agreement and draw up another one which is more suited to a modern, flexible 21st century organisation. If they do this, I will back them all the way.”

Mike Backs Graham Cox’s Clean-up Campaign

Mike Weatherley is backing a campaign to clean-up Brighton & Hove which has been launched by Cllr Graham Cox, the new Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Hove and Portslade.

In his capacity as a Councillor in Hove, Graham has been in daily contact with Cityclean at Brighton & Hove City Council in order to push for rubbish to be collected and for fly-tipping to be tackled. More information on the campaign can be found on Graham’s new website

Commenting, Mike said: “Graham has been pushing Brighton & Hove City Council to tackle the litter problem and I support his campaign on the issue, including calls on Labour to push for the GMB Union to call off their planned strikes. Graham has a fantastic website that clearly highlights why he would be an excellent Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade. I hope that anyone who has any questions about the new Conservative candidate for the 2015 General Election will check out Graham’s website and get in touch with him directly.”

Cllr Graham Cox, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hove and Portslade, added: “The level of rubbish that is building up on streets across Hove and Portslade is simply unacceptable. More refuse collection strikes are planned and so I would urge Labour to call on the GMB Union to call off this disruptive action.”

Another Fall in Unemployment Welcomed by Mike

Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has once again welcomed another fall in unemployment locally and reiterated that the Government’s economic recovery remains strong.

The Office for National Statistics has confirmed that the number of unemployed claimants in Hove and Portslade in August 2014 was 1,256. This figure is 617 lower than that of August 2013 and 76 lower than in July 2014. Overall, the jobless total is down by a massive 44% since the Conservative-led government came to power in 2010. The latest figures represent a rate of 2.3% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64.

Commenting, Mike said: “I am delighted that we have seen another drop in unemployment nationally and that there has been a huge fall in unemployment locally. These figures highlight how the Government’s economic plans are making a significant difference to the country.”

Cllr Graham Cox, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hove and Portslade, added: “The fact that unemployment has continued to drop in Hove and Portslade is excellent news for the Brighton & Hove. It is really encouraging that over one million more people are now in full time work since the last General Election.”

Conservatives urge striking refuse drivers to return to work

Conservatives are urging striking refuse collectors to return to work and have condemned the Labour and Green Groups on the Council for failing to stand up for residents whose service has been severely disrupted.

The GMB Trade Union has called the one day strike and work to rule to try and force the Council to put refuse lorry drivers on a higher pay grade. This is in spite of all jobs across the Council being fully-evaluated last year to ensure equality of pay across the whole organisation.

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, said: “There is absolutely no justification for the GMB bosses to bring yet more bin misery to the city’s long suffering residents. This is all about a handful of truck drivers who are not happy that some of their supervisor colleagues in the street-cleaning service now earn as much as they do following the job evaluation process. However, the silence of the two left wing political parties only gives the Trade Unions further encouragement. It has been left to me as Opposition Leader to appear in the media to explain the Council’s position, which I agree with. I am pleased to see that, at last, the Green Council Leader has finally issued a statement condemning the strike today but frankly it’s too little too late. And we haven’t had one single public utterance from the Labour Party since this dispute began. With their strong connections to the GMB Union they should be using their influence to persuade these strikers to get back to work for the good of the city. To many people, their silence will give the impression that they are more interested in seeing their political rivals in the Green Party take a bashing than they are in seeing clean streets for the city’s residents. This sort of behaviour belongs in the 1970s and in no way reflects the views or wishes of the vast majority of reasonable trade union members, or indeed residents and visitors to our city. The Council should not give in to their demands.”

Conservatives condemn latest Cityclean strike action

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, has commented on the news that GMB Trade Union bosses are to commence yet more strike action over the next few days.

Cllr. Theobald said: “There is no call for this – there has been a proper evaluation of the drivers’ jobs and the Council is quite right to ensure equality of pay across the whole organisation. It would seem that the local GMB leadership just can’t wait to take their members out on strike and cause maximum inconvenience and disruption to the general public. This sort of action belongs in the 1970s and in no way reflects the views or wishes of the vast majority of reasonable trade union members, or indeed residents of this city. The Council should not give in to their demands.”

Conservatives join in Brighton Speed Trials success

Conservative councillors have thanked the organisers of last weekend’s Brighton Speed Trials for putting on such a safe, successful and well-attended event.

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, and fellow Councillors Ann and Ken Norman joined the 4,500 spectators who gathered along Madeira Drive and Marine Parade to watch the historic event.

The Brighton Speed Trials were first held in the city in 1905 but the Council’s anti-car Administration threatened to pull the plug on this year’s event. Ken Norman joined with the organisers to mount a huge international campaign to save the Trials. An online petition on the Council’s website attracted 12,430 signatures – more than for any other issue.

Ken said: “I would like to thank the wonderful Brighton & Hove Motor Club for all the hard work they have put into putting on what turned out to be such a successful event. Following the tragedy in 2012 they had to jump through even more hoops than ever this year in order to satisfy the Council over the safety of the Trials. The Speed Trials are part of Brighton’s history and heritage and it would have been a huge loss to the city if the Council Administration had got their way.”

Geoffrey Theobald added: “The fact that so many people turned out on Saturday shows just how much it means to residents and visitors. Events such as this provide a fantastic boost for our economy and the local cafes, restaurants and other businesses were all absolutely buzzing with people from what I could see. I am proud of the part that the Conservative Group, and Ken in particular, was able to play in enabling the Trials to take place this year.”

Sam and Ed’s comments on Travellers in Preston Park

These are mine and Ed’s thought on the recent traveller fiasco in Preston Park at the moment. I have been in regular contact with the Traveller Liaison Team and will continue to do so until this is sorted.

We are extremely disappointed that travellers have returned to Preston Park yet again. On Saturday, we saw these caravans whilst out in the ward and went back Sunday to see that more had arrived.

It is such a shame that residents and visitors feel they can’t use one of the city’s flagship parks, due to the selfishness of people illegally setting up camp. The caravans are sited in a popular recreational area, causing maximum inconvenience and disturbance to families.

Ideally, Preston Park would be designated as a a sensitive site, but the Green’s and Labour did not support The Conservative’s motion which Councillors put before the council twice last year.

Hangleton, Surrenden Field and now Preston Park in the matter of 14 days. When will this unfair intrusion end?

I hope that Brighton & Hove City Council will act immediately on this important community issue.

Brighton & Hove City Council Candidate 2015
Preston Park Ward
Telephone: 01273 729243
Brighton and Hove Conservatives
109 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2AF

Mike Submits Industry Response to Search Engine Report to Prime Minister

Mike Weatherley, Intellectual Property Adviser to the Prime Minister and the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has submitted the industry response to his Search Engines and Piracy: A Discussion Paper that he published in May, to his colleague the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister.

To read Mike’s report, Search Engines and Piracy: A Discussion Paper, in full, click here. To read the industry responses to Mike’s paper, click here.

In a speech made on 1st September to the AGM of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, highlighted that in terms of stopping the revenue stream for pirates, “I completely agree with Mike Weatherley when he says that the search engines also have to play their part. They must step up and show willing.” To read the speech in full, click here.

Commenting, Mike said: “I have been really pleased with the positive way in which industry has engaged with me on this issue. Sajid Javid’s comments to the BPI underscore the Government’s commitment to tacking piracy and working with Search Engines. I look forward to the Government’s response and know that industry will be following this matter closely.”

Conservatives welcome decision to drop Israeli boycott motion

Senior Conservatives have welcomed the decision by Council officials to block former Green Councillor, Ben Duncan’s, attempts to introduce a Council boycott of Israeli goods and services.

Cllr. Duncan was going to move a motion at the next Full Council meeting calling for the boycott but it was ruled out of order. Last month Cllr. Duncan also requested that the Council fly the Palestinian flag from its buildings to show solidarity with the Hamas fighters in Gaza.

Westbourne Ward Councillor and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hove, Graham Cox, said: “The Council quite rightly has a duty to foster good community relations and should not be involving itself in such controversial and inflammatory matters. If allowed to proceed, this motion would have damaged relations between faith groups, religions and minorities and risked increasing community tensions in Brighton & Hove. Last week, I met with the Sussex Jewish Representative Council and they are feeling upset, frightened and frankly very worried about what the future holds. This comes on the back of last month’s defacing of the Hove Hebrew Congregation Synagogue.”

Conservative Group Leader, Geoffrey Theobald, added: “I’m very pleased that this motion has been thrown out and I certainly would not have voted for it. Cllr. Duncan’s total lack of sensitivity never ceases to amaze me – he would do well to remember that he was elected to serve all the residents in his Ward and not to create divisions amongst them. Also, as Councillors we are elected to ensure that residents receive good quality services such as rubbish collection, education, housing, social care and so on. We should be concentrating on these issues rather than debating and passing motions on matters of foreign policy over which we have no powers.”

Mike Highlights Local Anti-Semitism to Prime Minister

Hove Synagogue GraffitiMike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, has written to his colleague the Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister, in order to highlight the problem of anti-Semitism in Hove, including graffiti on a Hove synagogue.

In his letter, Mike said: “It is deeply saddening that a synagogue in Hove was targeted by anti-Semitic vandals earlier in August. I had assumed – wrongly – that Jewish community in my constituency was safe and free to worship and live their lives without fear of attack. Over the past few weeks, I have heard from a number of concerned constituents who feel that the anti-Semitism that is taking place cannot be ignored any longer. I stand by these residents and look to the Government for assurances on what is being done to address this serious situation.”

Commenting, Mike said: “I have been absolutely disgusted by the anti-Semitic abuse that has taken place in my constituency. I am confident that the Prime Minister take this matter seriously as it is unacceptable that any resident feels threatened. I have also highlighted the issue of Kosher food, as it is important that stockists do not feel intimidated into changing what and how they sell their products.”

Cllr Graham Cox, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hove and Portslade, added: “I am pleased that Mike has highlighted this issue with the Prime Minister. Anti-Semitism is a terrible crime and it is important that the Jewish community in Hove not only feels safe but that they actually are safe from any form of harassment.”

Picture Curtesy of Sussex Friends of Israel