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Hastings Green group enters co-operative alliance with Labour to run council

Green Councillors

The Green group of councillors on Hastings Council has made the decision to enter into a co-operative alliance with Labour to run the council.

Hastings Borough Council was left in No Overall Control following the 5 May local elections. Greens won three seats from Labour, meaning that the 32-seat council now consists of 15 Labour, 12 Conservative and 5 Green.

Under the agreement, Green councillors will take two of the eight cabinet positions. Julia Hilton (the Green group leader) will take the portfolio of climate change, environment and active travel, whilst Green councillor for Tressell Glenn Haffenden will take on Urban Environment.

It was not a decision taken lightly by the Green group, and there had been intensive discussions for several weeks. In the end, the group felt that taking the huge step of entering into a co-operative alliance with Labour would best serve the town. It allows Greens to ‘be in the room’ – that is, to be part of the decision-making process, where previously all decisions could be made by Labour alone.

The agreement commits both Labour and Green groups to working together in the best interests of Hastings Council and its people, in a co-operative, open and participatory manner. It commits to involving residents, businesses and the voluntary sector, keeping them informed and reflecting their views in developing policy and in commissioning and delivering effective and efficient services. Both groups have agreed to work on the basis of ‘No surprises’, and to work to make decisions by consensus. The agreement and its working processes will be reviewed in six months.

The agreement also commits to viewing all decisions through the lens of climate change, and to coming up with a fully worked-through and costed plan on how to deliver on the council’s commitment to make the town carbon neutral by 2030.

The group is hopeful that serious Green input into decision-making will help the council to address the very serious environmental and justice issues we face locally, nationally and internationally. It may be a risk, but it is also a huge opportunity. The Green group intends to work in a respectful way with councillors of other parties in order to do the best for the people of Hastings.

Across the country, Greens are now working successfully in alliance with both Labour and other parties and have been successful in making positive change and as a result, increasing their vote share. Two of the councils in East Sussex, Lewes and Rother, are already being successfully run by cross party alliances.

Julia Hilton says, “This will constitute a totally new way of working for Hastings Borough Council, and will require a lot of commitment and trust on both sides. The agreement is founded on the democratic principles of trust, equity, openness and fairness, and I hope the work of the council will reflect these principles.

I am particularly excited that the agreement includes a commitment to viewing all decisions through the lens of climate change. I also welcome greater transparency in how the council works, and much greater input from local residents into decisions. It may not always be plain sailing but I am hopeful that we can put aside our political differences and work together in the interests of the town.”

Read Julia’s speech to the first council meeting of the new term below, or view the webcast here (1hour 15mins in).