Like many millions of people across the country I was glued to the coverage of the Rio Olympics and thoroughly enjoyed celebrating the wonderful performances of so many of the British athletes across such a wide range of disciplines. At the time of writing, we have moved up to second in the overall medals table, ahead of China (population 1.4 billion) – an astonishing achievement. When I cast my mind back to Olympic Games of 20 or so years ago, when we were lucky if we got up to 2 or 3 gold medals, the improvement is one of our country’s true success stories.
Without wishing to turn this political, I do think that a lot of credit must be given to Sir John Major, the Prime Minister who established the National Lottery, the proceeds of which have done so much to stimulate both grass roots and elite sport in this country. 1.7 million more people now play sport or exercise once a week than they did in 2005. Sport is now so much a part of our national culture and identity and that can only be a good thing for our future health and well-being. In addition, sport brings people together like nothing else and I strongly believe that it is a fundamentally good thing for our society.
This Olympic spirit of togetherness does not seem to have rubbed off on the Labour Party! Whilst we see heart-warming pictures of North and South Korean athletes posing together for selfies, it seems that Labour’s warring factions, both nationally and locally, are unable to put their differences aside.
I do wonder how all this internal squabbling and navel gazing is impacting upon the Labour Administration’s running of Brighton & Hove City Council. No doubt Council Leader Warren Morgan will say that he hasn’t taken his eye off the ball and it isn’t having any effect, but he does seem to be spending an awful lot of time writing long articles about why Jeremy Corbyn is not the best man to lead his party. Cllr. Morgan is very fond of saying that his Administration will be judged on how well they “get the basics right”. Well, after 15 months at the helm my judgement would be “easily distracted – could do much better”.
Take recycling as an example. Over the last year the rate has dropped to a new low of under 25% making us the worst performing Council of our type. The city’s ‘street community’ continues to grow in spite of Labour’s pledge to eliminate rough sleeping. Performance in areas such as GCSE grades for children receiving free school meals, numbers of children on protection plans, delayed discharges from hospital, admissions to residential and nursing homes, air pollution and staff sickness levels all remain extremely poor when compared to other councils.
Indeed, in a recent report to the Policy, Resources & Growth Committee, almost half of the Council’s 100 or so key performance indicators were on either red or amber, meaning ‘off target’. This situation has to change, and residents need a Council Administration that is fully focussed on the job in hand, not one which seems to be more interested in tearing itself apart. Currently, the Council has neither Momentum nor Progress.
Written By Councillor Geoffrey Theobald OBE, Leader of Brighton and Hove Conservative Group