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Brighton: Green Party accused of ‘squabbling’ in equal marriage rift

September 18, 2012
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Geoffrey Theobald, the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council, has criticised the Green Party for being preoccupied in dealing with one of its councillors, who caused a deep internal row, after she voted against the party over the issue of equal marriage.

Last Tuesday, an inquiry by the Greens recommended that Christina Summers be expelled from the party due to her wider conduct.

During a Brighton and Hove City Council debate on 19 July, Ms Summers said: “When you touch marriage, you’re touching family, and you’re hitting at the very heart of God, and I have an enormous problem with that”.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton and Pavilion, spoke to earlier this month about her “disappointment” at Ms Summers’ conduct.

The Argus reports that Ms Summers was officially “kicked out” of the Green group on the council yesterday evening – at present she has not signalled her intention to stand down from office, and so will remain as an independent.

The paper also alleges that Ms Summers took part in an anti-abortion vigil outside a clinic in the city.

It means the political makeup of the local authority is currently 22 Greens, 18 Conservatives, 12 Labour, one independent and one vacant post.

Opposition councillors are now seeking to see if the decision means the Greens will lose their casting vote on several important committees.

Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald remained unsympathetic to the party’s recent difficulties and said: “Rather than wasting all their time on internal squabbling, the Greens should be getting on with running this city.”

Labour group leader Gill Mitchell also expressed similar discontent, saying: “We are very concerned about the conduct of the Green Administration”.

“As a responsible opposition we felt that it was right to give them the opportunity to run the council but a series of events has now proved that they are not capable.”

Speaking on behalf of the Brighton and Hove Green Party, executive member Rob Shepherd said in a statement released yesterday:

“A majority of Green councillors confirmed the removal of Councillor Summers from the Green Group of Councillors and so from [today] she will sit as an independent councillor, though she will remain a member of Brighton and Hove Green Party.

This follows last week’s presentation of a report by the inquiry panel convened for the purpose.

Mr Shepherd added: “Councillor Summers will have a right to appeal through the party’s processes but we do not yet know whether she will take up that right, nor do we know whether she will wish to remain an independent councillor.

“That is up to her.”

Ms Summers has been notified by the national Green Party that she has until Friday 21 September to appeal.

More: brighton and hove city council, Caroline Lucas, Christina Summers, conservatives, England, green party, Labour, the argus

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