Cllr Samer Bagaeen represents Hove Park on Brighton and Hove Council. He is Professor of Planning & Resilient Systems, University of Kent.
When I raised the issue of low uptake of COVID vaccination in the Green Party wards in the city of Brighton and Hove, Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, hit back with lightning speed stating:
“It is highly irresponsible to politicise such an important public health issue as vaccine take-up.”
The Greens have, through their leadership of the Council, consistently blamed the Conservative Government every time the pandemic data has taken a turn for the worse. Lucas is, of course, herself on record doing so many, many times. All of a sudden the shoe is on the other foot – and the Greens in Brighton and Hove cannot explain the low take-up of vaccines in their heartland, blaming instead a “young and transient population”.
In my last piece I noted how Lucas, played her latest hand of pandemic politics. In a recent Parliamentary question after the G7 Summit, Lucas attacked the Government over vaccines, referring to the efforts of the minister as “shameful, incompetent, a failure and disaster”. She said the Government’s pledge to donate 100 million doses of vaccine to the international effort was ‘too little too late’ and spoke of her ‘moral imperative’ to do more.
With the Green Leader of the Council never missing an opportunity to cast blame on the Government in his regular column for Brighton and Hove News, I asked a very legitimate question: are the Greens performing well enough in their own back yard to justify this brazen approach?
Publicly available data published online from Brighton and Hove City Council suggested that Lucas and the Leader of the Council should focus their efforts much closer to home. The data showed vaccine take-up problems in the city’s Green heartland. Published statistics from Brighton and Hove City Council on vaccine take-up among the over-50s suggested that certain areas of the City were not performing well at all and lagging badly behind the rest of England.
As all over 50s have now been offered two doses of the vaccine, it was possible to look at the picture in this demographic to provide an take-up percentage. The breakdown showed a wide divergence of take-up across Brighton and Hove, with several regions of concern. While outer suburbs such as Patcham, Woodingdean, and Rottingdean and Hangleton had vaccine take-up rates of well above 90 per cent for its population of over 50s; the inner city areas of Brighton and Hove had worryingly low take-up rates in the low 70s. Brunswick, an area represented by the Green Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Council, had the worst vaccine take-up rate for over 50s, of just 72 per cent. There were similarly low take-up rates for over-50s in St Peters’ and North Laine and Hannover.
Overall, Brighton and Hove City Council is performing below the national average for vaccine take-up. The city’s rate of vaccine take-up among adults is 68.3 per cent (29 June 2021), below the UK average of 84.6 per cent.
For the past few days, Brighton and Hove has had Covid-19 rates above the national average as the far more transmissible Delta variant takes hold here. As is the case with many other metrics, such as recycling rates or performance on climate change, the Green Council is lagging badly behind the national picture.
More work clearly needs to be done – by the Green Party – to improve this vaccination rate among the over 50s in Brighton and Hove.