Brighton local council elections : May 2007

I live in the Preston Park ward in Brighton for the May 2007 elections.

A couple of days a go I had received anything from any party so went for a look on the net.

What do I consider when deciding my vote?

  • Policies of the LOCAL party
  • My perception of their ability to run the council
  • Candidates of my ward (Preston Park)
  • Not as a protest vote or as a message to the national parties

My choice is Labour: They have done a good job in the last few years (though no party has overall control, they have the majority). I like the fact that the council has been progressive, the sucess of the Jubilee library as one of the first PPP projects to produce such an impressive building can not be over rated. In fact the whole area around the library has been handled well and created a pleasant area of town.

Likewise, plans for the marina (several of them), the King Alfred centre redevelopment, the Brighton centre and the New England Quarter near the station have all shown they are capable of allowing developments that are impressive, well thought out and radical. By this I mean they think of public spaces, impressive buildings and affordable housing where as other councils seem to just sell of the land to the first bidder often leading to nasty looking buildings and car-centric spaces. These developments help to ensure that Brighton stays as one of the most popular places in the south of England and attract new business and people to help boost the local economy. I was also slightly proud that Brighton was the first to make radical changes to it’s school admisions policy. Love it or hate it (seems fair to me), I liked the fact we took the lead! Though I was not impressed by the dirty tatics Labour used to get it through.

People are often cynical of election material, as promises that are never met (the same is true with the Divid Cameron’s annoucements!), but i find it important as it sets the general direction that a party would head in.

The Conservatives have not put anything through my door or seem to have an up to date website (odd as Brighton is not a lost cause for them so why are they not bothering?). I can’t comment on their policies though I would worry about them giving in to NIMBYs when it came to ambitious plans, opting for safe (read boring) options for new developments and being impressed more by big cheques when deciding on new developments, rather than the right mix of social spaces and affordable housing.

The Greens are more impressive this time around compared to the last. They have some good ideas, they say that “We support the principle of liberalisation of licensing hours” in regard to later opening hours for pubs, but would inform local resisdents of new applications (presumably more so than the current requirements), this seems sensible.

They talk about animal rights, I’m pleased to see this sounds like sensible plans rather than extremist or uninformed, though they talk about animal experiements and the Universities, again, the talk is moderate, but could be a slippery slope to stronger action. My problem with the greens is that their ideas are often not pratical. One comment I read said they were against park and ride schemes (presumably because it still involves a car) perhaps forgetting that many people outside of Brighton do not live near a train station or bus stop.

Another example is the New England Quarter Development, this scheme is impressive, the Sainsburys is almost totally underground (including small car park) with flats built on top and lots of pedestrian space around it. But the Greens weren’t happy, a big nasty supermarket! Even though it is a trillion times better than the one it replaced (which I swear Sainsburys HQ forgot even existed), the old one being on a busy main road (London Road), small paths and – while at one point years a go was a major shopping road – is now basically full of pound shops, and other not very impressive odds and ends. The Greens had an issue with the supermaket moving a few hundred yards, in real live nothing can be done to save London Road and the old store was useless.

Finally theLib dems are okay but nothing special, and their plans on the website are more long term and natioon (replace the council tax) than others.

I know at the top I also said that I consider my actual candidates, which I wont mention here as I think this is long enough, annoyingly there is little on the websites and printed material to really draw any conclusions.