The Weekly Review 4
In the Headlines
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Here’s something to consider: Conservative councillor Samer Bagaeen, a professor of planning, said that “The greenfield sites could have been removed from the City Plan Part Two when the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee met last month”. Bagaeen goes onto say: “It is clear to me, as a councillor, as a planner and as someone who reads data, if these were taken out of City Plan Part Two, the plan would remain intact and above housing target. This council does not need to take the position that it is taking on allocating land for a small number of dwellings in the urban fringe. It is a conscious choice to do so.” If councillor Samer Bagaeen is correct in assuming that the ruling party in the council have chosen to build on greenfield sites, then one has to ask, does Green mean green anymore, or are there more things at play here?
This might be the case with the Save Whitehawk Hill Nature Reserve campaign, which argued for Whitehawk Hill and the racecourse to be retained as green spaces. The campaign failed to convince the government planning inspector, yet residents in Patcham were able to persuade a government planning inspector that the land next to Horsdean Recreation Ground should not be allocated for housing. They claimed that the loss of habitat should outweigh the benefits of the proposed 10 homes. Why does a proposed development of 5 high-rise blocks plus a car park on Whitehawk Hill Nature Reserve, that would clearly have a greater impact on wildlife, get turned down by the government planning inspector?
Does “allocating land for a small number of dwellings in the urban fringe” mean what it says, or does small mean medium to large? The residents of Saltdean might argue that the ‘small number of dwellings’ now being constructed on Coombe Farm, in Westfield Avenue North, is anything but small. In 2020 Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh, who also represents Rottingdean Coastal ward, voted against the scheme. She asked how a development with 215 bedrooms could generate just 17 primary school places, according to figures provided by officials. And she asked why there was no detail of developer contributions for schools, recreation, parks and transport. She said: “In two years’ time, people living in this new development will be coming to me as the local councillor asking why there are no places at the local schools and no spaces at the doctors’ surgery”. Developers rarely give sufficient money to the community in order that schools can be built (“The cost of a new primary school can be in the region of £10 million”) Their raison d’être is profit.
One of the best quotes around the Coombe Farm development came from the planning agent Chris Frost, a director of Future Planning and Development, for Gold (Saltdean), owned by Bradley Gold, from Kent. He said that the new scheme was designed to enhance views to and from the national park. How ridiculous, it’s a linear development in a valley; if you are at the southside of the development you’ll only see the next house north of you.
The greenfield sites issue, in City Plan Part Two, was defended by Green councillor Leo Littman, who chairs the council’s Planning Committee. Littman was reported to have said to the Argus that the policies would “protect what needs protecting” in the years ahead. He went on to say: “I’m not saying that the plan is perfect. Sadly, in at least one respect, I consider it to be far from perfect. I would love for us to be able to protect every single blade of grass on the city’s urban fringes from development – but we can’t”. Councillor Leo Littman is correct, the council can’t save every single blade of grass, it can’t even save a nature reserve; probably because it has to meet a ridiculous housing quota set by central government. If they don’t meet the quota they will be fined thousand of pounds, which they cannot afford to lose. This is your council, trapped between a rock and a hard place where no grass grows.
Information partly sourced from The Argus
Andy Winter’s column on Thursday 6th October commenting on how the council seem to be letting the city go to the dogs caused some of the Green councillors, namely councillor Tom Druitt to kick off, as most of our representatives do these days, on Twitter. On reading Winter’s opinion piece, Tom Druitt accused Mr Winter of “crass, knee-jerk populist journalism with very little relation to the truth”. It probably didn’t help matters when Winter also accused Green councillors of “emulating politicians like Trump”. Druitt said: “I’m all for debate, but not this rubbish. A huge number of councillors are working very hard and don’t need this crap.” (Not a great choice of words, Mr Druitt, when discussing graffiti and weeds). Winter responded by saying: “I am disappointed that he has attacked the messenger rather than respond to the message”. The main issue in Winter’s piece is that the state of the city is a disgrace and the Greens would be better advised to respond by saying how they will fix the mess, especially the weeds and the graffiti. We suggest that councillor Tom Druitt must be somewhat blind to the reality of the escalation of graffiti in the city if he thinks that Andy Winter’s column bears “very little relation to the truth”. Another point made by Winter, that might have got up Duitt’s nose, was: “The Green Party could be in for a drubbing at the next local elections in May”. Well man up, this is politics today.
There is, however, a worrying issue here that the exchange between Andy Winter and Tom Druitt highlights, and that is the way councillors’ respond to the despair that people feel about the way the city is in decline. A former council leader said that all councillors should be able to accept criticism and feedback from residents. Residents who have to live in the mess cause by anti-social behaviour have to be listened to.
Mr Winter, as you may be aware, on the issue of graffiti the council have a strategy, which to date has had little success. Cityclean will be targeting this autumn seven streets in the city in order to remove graffiti. The Brighton Society is producing a number of short videos to monitor Cityclean’s progress.
Our suggestion to concerned citizens of Brighton and Hove is: When the city is going to the dogs it’s time for people to bark even louder.
Information partly sourced from The Argus
Picture of the Week
The Brighton Society is not anti-murals, it is anti-inappropriate murals, that are out of context with the public realm.
The Kemp Town branch line mural is a good example of a mural that has context within its location. The colour palate is sympathetic to its surroundings, it helps to preserve a connection with the city’s heritage, and it discreetly faces into the park.
The Bonchurch Road mural on the other hand is an example of a mural that has nothing to do with the city. This silly ‘Bartington’ mural is inaccurate on two counts. One: the cartoon figure is Homer Simpson, not Bart Simpson. Two: the mural is in Bonchurch Road not Hartington Road. This is one of the many inappropriate murals on the walls of properties in the city.
Welcome to Cartoon City, formerly known as Brighton and Hove.
Tweet of the Week
The Sussex police response to the Film of the Week – Pavilion Bus Shelters 13th October 2022
Film of the Week
The Follow Up
The issue raised by Jean Calder in The Weekly Review 3 where she speaks out about the lack of clean public toilets in the city has been taken up by the Conservatives in the city. Here’s an edited version from The Argus, Saturday 15 Oct, page 5:
The Tories are furious at the closure of 17 public toilets. Of 57 in city, 17 are to be closed till next April due to lack of staff and rising costs. They include – Royal Pavilion gardens, West Pier Arches and The Level. Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth says: “It is unacceptable, public toilets are one of most basic services for a council to provide, there needs to be a proper explanation why this is happening, as it is not properly explained. There’s no compensatory facilities put in place”. A council spokesman said: “We do this every winter, but more this year due to rapidly rising costs and staffing pressures. Some are waiting for refurbishment. “We are very sorry for the inconvenience.”
Are notices on the closed ones with directions to another? Though it might be too late if there aren’t.
Information partly sourced from The Argus
Look after the land and the land will look after you, destroy the land and it will destroy you. – Aboriginal Proverb
The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too. – Luther Standing Bear
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. – Aldo Leopold