Tory Leader says Brighton & Hove City Council borders on “being dysfunctional”

Cllr Lee Wares

Cllr Lee Wares

Labour Councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council’s Licensing Committee used their votes last week to reject the Conservatives’ call for a wholesale review of the Council’s street trading policy.

In response to concerns raised by local businesses, the Conservatives had previously tabled a request asking that the zones where street traders could operate be reviewed.

Labour had originally supported that request but in a U-turn last night, they decided to ignore the pleas of local businesses.

Conservative Licensing Committee member Cllr Lee Wares, said: “I am very disappointed that Labour decided to throw out our proposed review of street trading. It was obvious that officers did not want to do the review and they won the day over Labour Councillors; I guess we saw last night who is really running the City. Street traders can operate, whilst making no financial contribution to the City, right next to businesses that pay business rates and rents. It simply isn’t fair. The policy, which is supposed to protect local businesses, is flawed – we all know it, but Labour are just not interested.”

Cllr. Tony Janio

Cllr. Tony Janio

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Tony Janio, who was a substitute member of the Committee last week, added: “In all my years as a Councillor I have rarely seen a Committee meeting as surreal and chaotic as this. Things we thought we had agreed beforehand were changed at the last-minute and the whole atmosphere of the meeting was very unprofessional. This is no way to run a Council, particularly when we are deciding on issues that affect people’s businesses and livelihoods. I would say it is bordering on the dysfunctional.”

Cllr Wares added: “Labour couldn’t even agree with our proposal that street traders should not be able to park their vans on double yellow lines. Residents will no doubt be very surprised to learn that this is allowed to happen under the current policy. Instead, Labour want to consult with street traders first! Double yellow lines are there for a good reason – road safety – something that seems to have escaped the Labour Party.”

Cllr Jackie O’Quinn

Cllr Jackie O’Quinn

Cllr Jackie O’Quinn, Chair of the Licensing Committee, said: “Each year there are between 15-18 street traders operating from vans outside the city centre. The number fluctuates because of ice-cream vans in the summer. There have been a series of complaints about just two of these vans parking on yellow lines so the committee had to debate how to tackle this situation. The committee voted to consult on amending conditions so that trading cannot take place on double yellow lines, and it was this sensible option Labour and the Greens backed, rather than an unnecessary and costly wholesale review of the trading zones as proposed by the Conservative members.  So the committee made a proportionate decision which is very much in the interests of the business community in the city. I would also like to state that Labour has never seen the need for a wholesale review of street trading so there was no U-turn on this issue.”

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