Cllr Warren Morgan to step down as Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council and Leader of the Labour & Cooperative Group.
Cllr Morgan will not seek re-election at the Labour and Co-operative Group Annual General Meeting in April, and will stand down as Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council in May, 2018.
After fifteen years representing East Brighton ward, Cllr Morgan will also stand down as a ward councillor in May 2019. He will remain as Chair of Policy, Resources & Growth Committee until the last committee meeting of the council municipal year on May 3.
Cllr Morgan would have preferred to remain until he had served five years as Leader of Council in May 2019, but had lost the support of many in the Labour group on the city council, especially those on the left.
Activists from socialist pressure group Momentum held him partly responsible for the party’s suspension in 2016 and his threat to stop the national Labour conference returning to Brighton over a row last September about anti Semitism won him few friends.
Before the local elections in May next year all councillors will have to stand for re-selection by the local membership and Cllr Morgan decision to step down was accelerated because he feared he would not be selected again.
Local Labour activists want to put a radical socialist agenda to voters in next years elections and Cllr Morgans departure will make that more likely.
Following Cllr Morgans decision to step down Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, said on BBC TV: “I think our council has a very good socialist agenda to start with. I hope it will be even more socialist, the people of Brighton will want that. We will see what leaders come forward, but I understand there are some good candidates in the offering.”
One of those candidates could be Nancy Platts who was only elected to the council in February at a by-election following the decision of Lloyd Russell-Moyle to stand down after being elected as the MP for Brighton Kemptown & Peacehaven at the 2017 general election. Nancy, formerly Jeremy Corbyn’s trades-union liaison, fought two unsuccessful parliamentary campaigns against Caroline Lucas in 2010 in Brighton Pavilion and Simon Kirby in 2015 in Brighton Kemptown & Peacehaven.
Cllr Morgan said: “It has been the privilege of my life to have been given the opportunity to serve as leader of the place where I was born and which I call home. However that time must now come to an end.
“Despite the enormous financial and infrastructure challenges facing the city council, leading it has been a role I have enjoyed and found hugely rewarding, even in only being able to achieve a fraction of what I would have wished to.
“None of what I have achieved as Leader of the Labour & Co-operative Group over the past five years, or as Council Leader over the past three, have I achieved alone. I have been incredibly lucky to have as a group of friends, a team of talented councillor colleagues, and a set of dedicated council officers alongside me. Any mistakes have been entirely my own.
“Together I believe we have achieved an enormous amount under near impossible circumstances given the funding, housing and political pressures we face.
“I made it a priority for the Labour administration, on taking office in 2015, to tackle the city’s housing crisis. It is not easy, but we have succeeded in completing more new council homes in one year than at any time in the last thirty, and an innovative new partnership project to deliver a thousand homes affordable on the National Living Wage is about to begin. I put tackling the crisis of rough sleeping at the top of our agenda; whilst the problem continues to grow, we have ensured thousands have been helped from a life on the streets.
“I have been proud to have played a small role in securing a future for the Madeira Terraces, alongside some dedicated community campaigners. As I said last week, our city’s heritage is not something to be remembered, but something to be lived. I hope I see the restoration completed.
“The council under my leadership has made significant progress on a number of major projects; the new King Alfred leisure centre, the replacement conference centre and concert arena for the Brighton Centre, the expansion of Churchill Square shopping centre, the Circus Street development, the Preston Barracks regeneration scheme and more. Together they total over a billion pounds worth of investment in new jobs, homes and economic growth that will secure the city’s economy for the future. Two decades of inaction and delay are at an end.
“On a personal note, I was so happy to have been able to play a part in the celebrations to mark the Albion’s promotion to the Premier League, and to award the Freedom of the City to Chris Hughton and Tony Bloom.
“I would like to thank all those who have worked with me and supported me over the past five years, and I wish my successor well in taking on the immense and difficult challenges of the years ahead.”
Brighton & Hove City Council Chief Executive Geoff Raw, said: “It’s been a great privilege to work with Cllr Morgan and I’m both grateful for and hugely impressed by his unswerving commitment to this council and the city.
“It’s ‘business as usual’ as we continue to deliver on our priorities and services for residents during this time of change.
“Annual Budget Council last week has given us a clear financial framework for 2018/19 and we’re finalising our plans on this basis; moving forward without interruption.”
A new leader will be elected in May 2018.