New council leader Jason Kitcat promised to listen more to businesses at a breakfast meeting in Brighton this morning (Friday 25 May).
And he acknowledged the controversy over higher parking charges which his party, the Greens, put up earlier this year.
Councillor Kitcat spoke about his transition from business to politics – and some of the differences between the two worlds.
He said: “The thing about being a council is you can’t pick your customers.
“You have to serve everyone. And the people who need you most are often the ones with the least disposable income – not the ones you would choose as a business.”
Councillor Kitcat worked for digital and new media businesses before becoming a member of the first Green administration last year.
He said that his background was in programming and he first came to Brighton 12 years ago to set up a business.
He said that building websites for school and university alumni had proved to be a good move but said that it hadn’t all been plain sailing.
He said: “There was a disastrous attempt to create an online dating site. The less said about that the better.”
And despite his rapid rise to leader of the council – he took over the role last Thursday (17 May) – he said: “I’m still learning.”
He said that he had already held several meetings with businessmen and women in the city and added: “I will be talking to more businesses. We haven’t always been as good as we could have been on that front.
“We haven’t always got things right and we won’t always agree. Can I say it – parking! But we need to talk even if we’re not always going to agree.
“I don’t have all the answers but the door is open. And I hope we can keep talking even if we don’t always agree on things.”
Councillor Kitcat was speaking at the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce Inspirational Breakfast at Carluccio’s in Jubilee Street, Brighton.
The chamber is holding its annual State of the City event on Wednesday 20 June at the Sallis Benney Theatre in Grand Parade, Brighton.
One of the speakers will be council chief executive John Barradell and although the event is free, seats should be booked at http://www.businessinbrighton.org.uk/event.