Conservatives celebrate Albion success

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Conservatives supporting the Albion at a recent Full Council meeting

Conservative Group Leader on Brighton & Hove City Council, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, has expressed his delight at the decision by Brighton & Hove Albion to hold an end of season victory parade along the seafront on Sunday May 14th.

On behalf of the Conservative Group, on Tuesday he also wrote to the Club’s Chairman, Tony Bloom, congratulating him, and everyone involved with the Seagulls, on their achievement in securing promotion to the Premier League.

Cllr. Theobald said: “4 days on from that historic day and it still hasn’t really sunk in what the club has achieved. To say that it has been a rocky road since 1997 would be an understatement and this makes their promotion to the top tier all the more remarkable. I’m delighted that the club will be holding a victory parade and I’m sure that half of Sussex will turn out to salute their heroes! I am already looking forward to exciting times ahead next season welcoming the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea to the AMEX!”

Brighton and Hove Conservatives Welcome General Election

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The Conservative Group of Brighton and Hove City Council has today welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to call a General Election on 8 June.

Leader of the Conservative Group Councillor Geoffrey Theobald commented “I wholeheartedly agree with the Prime Minister’s statement that we cannot continue with the divisions within Westminster and threats to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union over Brexit. A General Election at this stage, prior to detailed negotiations with Europe, will give the government a clear mandate from the people of our country to get the best deal for Britain and I have every faith in Theresa May that she will do exactly that.”

“The Group is delighted that Simon Kirby intends to stand again in Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven as he has served as a great MP since his election in 2010. We will also be firmly backing the fantastic individuals campaigning to be the next local Conservative MP in Hove and Portslade and Brighton Pavilion who will be announced shortly.”

Residents of the city can ensure they are registered to vote by visiting www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and make their views known on 8 June.

Patcham Councillors Write to Transport Secretary Over Highways England Inaction on Patcham Roundabout

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The Rt. Hon Chris Grayling MP – Secretary of State for Transport
Department for Transport
Westminster
London

10th April 2017

Dear Chris

Highways England’s traffic island at the main A23/A27 gateway to the city of Brighton & Hove, which is passed by many thousands of motorists every day, is a complete eyesore. We are sure that you will have noticed this on your recent visits to the City.

Well over a year ago, Highways England cleared the tall, unruly and dense vegetation previously on the roundabout in order to improve sight lines, and hence road safety, for drivers approaching the roundabout, but its appearance remains dreadful.

As the local Patcham Ward councillors, we have initiated meetings between Highways England and Brighton & Hove City Council yet, despite repeated promises by Highways England that they would allow the roundabout to be replanted with something more suitable, nothing has happened.

As you will be aware, the Council is unable to do anything until they are given a license by Highway’s England. And as they continue to ignore the City Council’s requests, we are asking that you intervene as a matter of urgency in order to unblock this impasse.

We have even managed to source local businesses who would be willing to sponsor the works but, frustratingly, the Council is unable to take them up on their offer due to Highways England’s inaction.

This weekend we had the hugely successful Brighton Marathon and shortly the city will host England’s largest arts festival – the Brighton Festival and Fringe. As elected representatives of this city we are frankly embarrassed that the first impression of Brighton & Hove that many of the visitors to these great events are given, is of this unsightly mess.

We would be most grateful if you would give this matter your urgent attention.

Yours sincerely

Cllr. GeoffreyTheobald, Cllr. Carol Theobald and Cllr. Lee Wares

UBER “NOT PLAYING BY THE RULES” SAY LOCAL CONSERVATIVES

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The Conservative spokesperson for Licensing in the city has spoken out against Uber’s apparent disregard of the spirit of the commitment made by them to operate in Brighton and Hove.

Councillor Lee Wares, who leads for the Conservative Group on the Licensing Committee commented “Uber’s commitment to the City and me as one of the Councillors who granted their operators licence was simple; that they would only use Brighton and Hove licensed drivers and vehicles. The reason this is important is that drivers and vehicles have to comply with the Council’s ‘Blue rule book’ which determines the safety standards of the vehicle, the training and background checks of drivers, identification, the provision of CCTV and the ability for the Council to inspect at will any vehicle and any driver. Where vehicles or drivers fail inspections, or drivers are subject to complaints, the Council can take them off the road.”

However, since Uber’s operator’s licence was granted, the City has been flooded with vehicles and drivers not licenced by Brighton and Hove. It is therefore impossible to know who is licenced or not and with the Council having no ability to inspect, who has been checked.

Whilst it recognises that Brighton and Hove’s existing local taxi trade can be the subject of complaints, the Conservative Group does acknowledge that they operate to some of the highest set of rules in the country. The Group therefore strongly believes that Uber should fulfil the commitment it made at the Licensing Committee and only use Brighton and Hove licensed drivers and vehicles who comply with the Council ‘Blue rule book’ to ensure both passenger safety and that taxi and private hire vehicles in our city operate on a level playing field.

In the meantime, Cllr Wares has highlighted “Resident’s freedom to use vehicles operated by Uber exists, however it should be noted that the Council’s ability to mitigate risks to their welfare does not. It is important that the standards we operate in this City are the highest they can be and I shall press Uber to achieve this.”

Cllr Wares added “Uber could, if they wished, block out any vehicle on their App covering the City that is not licensed by Brighton and Hove. It is in their gift if they wish to play by the same rules as everybody else”.

Redevelopment of Sackville Trading Estate

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Photo Credit to Google Maps

Conservative Hove Park Ward Councillor, Jayne Bennett,  has spoken about new plans to redevelop the Sackville Trading Estate and Corralls coal yard in Hove.

The plans include 600 new homes, 50,000 square feet of offices and 20,000 square feet of ‘cultural industrial space’.

Jayne stated: “We do need new homes but they have got to be in proportion. They need to be in character with the area and there needs to be the infrastructure to support it. We know that the site is going to be developed and it needs to be developed but the local roads could not cope with a development of that size. The traffic lights at Sackville Road and Old Shoreham Road have been over capacity for years.”

Conservative Calls For Developers To make Their Economic Viability Assessments Public

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Cllr Robert Nemeth, Conservative Group Economic Development & Culture Spokesman, has called for developers to make their economic viability assessments public. This is following recent high profile examples of developers claiming that they cannot afford to meet the Council’s requirements to provide affordable housing on site.

Planning legislation, known as Planning Gain, allows local planning authorities to require developers to build a certain percentage of social housing on new sites.

However, developers have been able to avoid the social housing obligation by claiming that it is not economically viable for them and inevitably many make this claim, resulting in less affordable housing.

If developers have to make their economic viability claims public, this will allow public scrutiny, assisting Brighton & Hove Council to judge which developers genuinely cannot afford to meet their obligations.

Robert Nemeth stated that the Conservative Group could not support social housing plans where they affect developments of between 5 and 9 units, because they are counterproductive and can result in no homes at all being built.

He believes this will help to maximise the amount of affordable housing being built. 

Conservatives Welcome Government’s Huge Social Care Funding Boost

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Conservatives have warmly welcomed a ‘game changing’ funding boost for social care in Brighton & Hove of £10 million over the next 3 years.

As part of last week’s Budget, the Chancellor Phillip Hammond, announced that councils and local NHS organisations would receive an additional £2 billion to help ease pressure on social care services largely caused by the country’s ageing population. Brighton & Hove’s share of this funding will be over £10 million including £5 million for the coming year.

In a separate, but equally welcome, announcement, the Chancellor allocated £2 million to Brighton & Hove City Council to help small businesses in the city following the business rate revaluation carried out by the independent Valuation Office Agency.

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, said: “This extra funding for the Council is enormously welcome and shows that the Government recognises the scale of the challenge currently facing the social care sector and the NHS in this city and across the country. And I’m sure that the local businesses whose rates have increased as a result of the Valuation Office Agency’s revaluation will appreciate the help provided to the Council to cushion the blow.”

Cllr. Ken Norman, the Conservative Group Health & Social Care Spokesman, added: “This really is excellent news. The Council identified pressures on its social care Budget of around £6 million for next year so this extra funding of £5 million is a real game changer, coming alongside the measures already agreed in the Council’s Budget. I hope that Council officers and the NHS can now work together to spend this money efficiently and effectively in order to tackle issues such as ‘bed blocking’ which have been causing so many problems. I was also very pleased to hear the Chancellor announce a review into the long-term funding of social care – this issue is so important that it should be beyond party politics, and the Government should be commended for trying to get an agreed way forward.”

Notes for editors:

Cllr. Norman can be contacted on 07795336000 and Cllr. Theobald can be contacted on 07753636203;

www.brightonandhoveconservatives.com

@BHConservatives

ENDS

Cllr Geoffrey Theobald: Morgan’s Bizarre Budget Rant – A Response

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Cllr Geoffrey Theobald

I am responding to yet another press release/letter from Council Leader Warren Morgan who asks why the Conservatives aren’t ‘up in arms’ after the Government’s Budget (Argus 13th March).

Why would we be up in arms Cllr. Morgan, when the Chancellor has just awarded us an extra £10 million funding for social care in the city? Why would we be up in arms about the huge investment in new Free Schools, when another one of these (which you Cllr Morgan have backed) will soon be opening in this City, providing much-needed new Secondary School places? Why would we be protesting about the £500 million a year investment in post-16 technical education for our talented young people who don’t want to follow the academic route? And why would we be up in arms about the £2 million which the Chancellor has just committed to help small businesses in this city following the business rate revaluation carried out by the independent Valuation Office Agency? (although, contrary to the impression given by Cllr. Morgan, overall business rates in the city will fall by 2.5%, because a significant number of small businesses will see a reduction).

What we certainly were up in arms about Cllr Morgan was your Labour Administration’s attempts to decimate the city’s highly valued Youth Service. And thanks to our hard work and perseverance, and the passion and dedication of the young people that use the Youth Service, this has now been saved, along with grants to the voluntary sector and funding for respite breaks for families with disabled children that Cllr. Morgan was also trying to cut unnecessarily.

Instead of his constant doom and gloom mongering, perhaps Cllr. Morgan would like to join me in celebrating the city’s all-time record high employment rate, the highest wage increases in the country for the city’s workforce and the multi-million pound investment in major projects in the city from the Government’s Local Growth Fund?

This bizarre rant from the Council Leader shows just how far detached from reality and the interests of ordinary working people the Labour Party has become under Jeremy Corbyn. So much for this divided local Labour Party having the city’s best interests at heart.

Conservatives force review of licensing to protect local businesses

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Cllr, Lee Wares

At yesterday’s Brighton & Hove City Council Licensing Committee meeting, the Conservative Group secured a review of the Council’s policy towards licensing of mobile street traders.

It follows a case where a burger van has a license from the Council and has been operating outside Hove Town Hall, just yards from the busy Church Road shopping street. In addition, the van has been parked halfway over the pavement on a section of the Norton Road covered by double yellow lines.

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, and local Central Hove Ward Councillor, Andrew Wealls, both raised the issue with Council officers. Cllr. Theobald said: “I’m very pleased that a review has been agreed as this case has flagged up a number of problems, not least the fact the van is parked on a double yellow line, partly on the pavement, all day. If I were to do that, I would quite rightly be ticketed and probably towed away. And all this, in full view of the Council and Police at Hove Town Hall!”

Cllr. Wealls added: “This van is in direct competition with a whole suite of restaurants and cafes on Church Road yet, unlike these shops, it doesn’t have to pay any business rates or rent. So, whilst we support all entrepreneurs, including van traders, this particular situation is clearly not a level playing field. In addition, I have been told by council officers that the regulation of street trading covers infrequent and itinerant trading. This trader has been parked in the same road for months – that is neither infrequent nor itinerant.”

Conservative Group Licensing Spokesman, Cllr. Lee Wares, who secured the review at Committee, added: “The current policy states that mobile traders are not permitted in the town centre but permits can be given in the outskirts of Brighton and Hove. A mobile trader parked 10ft the other side of the demarcation line in Church Road is not on the outskirts of the town and flies in the face of the purpose of having zones.”

Conservatives secure the future of city Youth Service

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People power

At last night’s Budget Council meeting, the Conservative Group on Brighton & Hove City Council secured the future of the city’s Youth Service in addition to substantially reducing the size of the cut to the community and voluntary sector and providing increased funding for respite breaks for families with disabled children.

Councillor Andrew Wealls

Further successes at the meeting included securing £50,000 to invest in new playground equipment at Mile Oak Rec in Portslade – promised by Labour before the election in 2015 but still not delivered – and funding for new street tree planting and maintenance across the city to help in the fight against Dutch Elm Disease.

Conservative councillor Andrew Wealls said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the outcome and particularly for the young people who have campaigned so strongly and effectively to save the Youth Service. We’ve also managed to reduce the size of the cut to the community and voluntary sector substantially and support respite breaks for families with disabled children. These 3 issues are all very close to our hearts as Conservatives and I’d like to thank all councillors for helping us to protect these vital services.”

Conservative Group Leader, Geoffrey Theobald, added: “It is a shame that so many vulnerable people have had to endure months of uncertainty around the future of the services that are so important to them. The fact that our fully costed and deliverable amendments were agreed puts paid to the line pedalled by Labour that they had no choice but to decimate the Youth Service because of cuts in Government funding. If only they had worked with us on the Budget from the outset, all the heartache could have been avoided.”

Notes for editors:

Conservative achievements at the Budget Council meeting were:

  • Restoring £440,000 to the Youth Services Budget which Labour had proposed to cut by £645,000
  • Increasing funding by £150,000 for the Direct Payment scheme to secure short respite breaks for families with disabled children
  • Reduce Labour’s proposed cut in the budget for support to the city’s vitally important Community and Voluntary sector by £148,000
  • Investing £50,000 in new playground equipment in Mile Oak Rec, Portslade
  • Increasing the budget for street tree planting and maintenance by £14,000
  • Reducing the money spent on councillors’ ‘Special Responsibility Allowances’ by £43,000
  • Helping to tackle air pollution by removing the discount on resident parking permits currently enjoyed by owners of diesel cars

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