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Brighton Greens paid a 'high price' for equal pay

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The outgoing leader of Brighton & Hove City Council has blamed the Green Party’s “lack of self-discipline” for contributing to its failure to keep control of the council.

The Greens lost minority control of the council to Labour in last week’s local elections, shedding nine of their 20 seats.

The result followed a year in which the city had seen long running industrial action by refuse workers in a row over the introduction of equal pay for male and female council workers.

Jason Kitcat, who stepped down as council leader and a councillor ahead of the vote, told LGC while settling equal pay for workers was “absolutely morally and ethically necessary”, it did “have a high price attached to it politically”.

He said: “I think also some of our lack of self-discipline over the last few years didn’t help our cause in communicating the huge number of achievements we’d done and the awards that we’d won for the improvements that we delivered for the city.”

Mr Kitcat also said having the local elections on the same day as the general was a key factor in the local result. “In our experience elsewhere when that’s happened in London our local vote gets squeezed because people come out to vote for the big two parties who don’t ordinarily vote in local elections, so that’s a challenge for us,” he said.

He said that while average turnout for a Brighton & Hove council election was about 30%, last week’s vote had seen turnouts of 60% or 70%. “High turnout is obviously great but there were different people voting and that does have implications for the resources, particularly for smaller parties which can’t create the larger media air war that Conservatives and Labour can afford to do,” he added.

Cllr Pete West, one of 11 Greens in the newly-elected council, agreed the party suffered from “the general election effect”. “This is a set-back but something we will return from,” he added.

There was better news for the party in Bristol, where it won seven new seats and held an eighth. It now holds 13 seats on the city council.

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