Brighton cuts approved after stormy meeting

Brighton budget meeting protest
Image caption Unions protested against the cuts before the Brighton and Hove council meeting

Councillors in Brighton and Hove have voted in favour of cuts to the city council's budget of £23m after a stormy six-hour meeting.

Union members protested outside the meeting at Brighton Town Hall on Thursday night and police were called into the public gallery to keep order.

A Labour and Green Party coalition defeated plans by the Conservative-led council to cut council tax by 1%.

A controversial plan to remove a cycle lane in Hove was also defeated.

And the opposition parties voted down plans to reduce residents' parking charges by 5%.

Council leader Mary Mears said: "There is a Labour and Green coalition in the city and we knew they would vote against the council tax reduction and against the reduction in the residents' car park permits.

"That actually equates to a £1.5m of real money that would have gone back into the city economy."

Ahead of the budget meeting, more than 3,000 people signed a petition opposing plans to remove the cycle lane in Grand Avenue and The Drive, at a cost of £1.1m.

Ms Mears wrote in her blog that the cycle lane, installed by the previous Labour council, was not well used and had seen 42 people injured between 2008 and 2010.

Protesters outside the meeting and in the council chamber were angry over fears that 200 jobs would be cut.

'No certainty'

Ms Mears said the council already had 240 vacancies and expected to redeploy some staff.

She said fewer than 80 people were expected to be made redundant and many of them would be voluntarily.

The budget was finalised after Labour councillors abstained from the vote.

"If we had voted the whole budget down we would have been back in that chamber," said Labour leader Gill Mitchell.

"There would have been no certainty for council tax payers, the council cash flow would have been at risk and we could have ended up in an even worse situation."

A council spokesman said it would now work through the final details of the budget for 2011-12 .

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