I’m lucky enough to live and work in and around Brighton, a place that I think is quite unlike anywhere else.
A small fishing village, subverted by a playboy prince, radicalised by red brick academics, fought over by mods and rockers, and currently thriving thanks to geeks on bikes.
It is also the first city in the country to have both a Green Council and MP.
It’s clear, we think a little different.
Caroline Lucas, the MP, is a star. Whether you agree with her politics or not, I don’t think anyone can doubt her integrity, commitment and skill. In fact she’s won many awards for her work, including being the ‘most influential MP’, ‘the most ethical politician’, and ‘MP of the year’. To be honest Brighton is lucky to have her.
The council on the other hand isn’t quite so warmly regarded. A word of advice, if you want a peaceful ride, don’t ever mention them to a taxi driver. You’ll likely induce a ten minute rant on cycle lanes, one way systems, parking restrictions, and rubbish collection.
Their reputation was sealed with a long running and damaging pay dispute with the local refuse collection teams. Most people don’t remember or know the rights and wrongs of the dispute. But as the rubbish piled high in the streets, everyone remembers the Green council was in charge and by most reckonings, handled it badly.
Occasionally, when I’m feeling in a feisty mood, I’ll take on the Taxi drivers. If the council is taking steps to minimise the impact of cars, thats because the voters wanted it. The voters wanted something different. That is an unarguable logic.
Now you can argue about how well they executed their policies. Have they made mistakes? Of course they have. Have they suffered from a lack of experience in power? Probably. Would they do things differently in the future? Almost certainly.
And there’s the point. If you want something different the established norm, that’s hard. It often requires different people, different mind sets, different processes. By definition its a journey into the unknown. Will some things go wrong? Yes. Will you fail? Probably. Will you ruffle a few feathers, (particularly those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo)? Of course. Because you are not relying on what you know, or what has happened before. But if you were happy with that you wouldn’t have wanted change in the first place.
However, if you’re doing it for the right reasons, with enough support, and you learn quickly from your mistakes, the chances are you’ll make it. And when you do, people will admire you all the more, because of the journey you’ve made, and what good you’ve brought.
‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new’
So good luck to them. The Green council is not failing, it’s just learning.