Monthly Archives: November 2014

£26m funding gap could mean up to 300 Council job losses

From The Argus – full report here

UP to 300 jobs could go at Brighton and Hove City Council as the authority attempts to make savings of £26 million in the next financial year.

The city council yesterday published initial proposals about how it would save millions of pounds in one financial year, with seven figure savings proposed for children’s services, adult social care and support for vulnerable people.

Union leaders accused the Green-administration of “fudging” the budget by opting for “more salami slicing”, leaving the deep and difficult cuts and radical service overall until after the elections in May.

But Green finance lead Councillor Ollie Sykes said the party was “putting the city first” in the budget and proposing radical measures.

Councillors now have three months to hammer out a deal about whether to increase council tax by 5.9%, 1.99% or freeze it as they try to balance the books.

Last year the council agreed to make £22 million of savings, although the authority is set to miss those targets by £4.4 million.

The equivalent of 300 full-time posts could go through voluntary redundancy, natural wastage and not filling vacant posts, although Cllr. Sykes said a council tax rise of 5.9% could save up to 90 of the posts currently set to go.

Among the most significant savings would see £2 million saved in a review of support services for vulnerable people including the homeless, substance abusers and domestic violence victims.

The authority is proposing to make £2.5 million cuts in children’s services including cutting fostering and adoption staff to save £263,000, changes to out of school care including ending the Moulsecoomb summer play scheme and cutting school taxis for children with special educational needs.

Another £1.6 million savings in adult care could include cuts in the number of beds at older people resource centres and a reduced home care service, while £2 million in savings have been outlined in learning disability care.

Radical proposals to remove all on-street pay and display parking meters by 2017 could save £225,000 while a review in pay and display and permit tariffs would save a further £571,000.

The council proposes to start charging non-residents £5 for entrance to Brighton Museum from June which is anticipated to cut the venue’s current annual visitor numbers of 340,000 by up to 75% but to save the council £200,000.

Staff would be cut from the mayor’s office to save £100,000 a year while the Brighton Centre will get motion sensors in toilets and meeting rooms to save £5,000 a year in electricity.

The removal of the head of housing, the post from which Jugal Sharma was dismissed from this week pending his appeal, would save £100,000.

Owners of empty, unfurnished and uninhabitable properties could also lose council tax discounts which currently cost the council £1.3 million a year.

Cllr. Sykes said overview and scrutiny panels could be disbanded, changes made to the Older People’s Council, savings made in councillors’ pay and even the potential culling of half the total number of councillors.

The picture for the council is set to get even tougher in future years with the council’s bill set to rise by £58 million over five years to £439 million by 2019/20 with rising costs and demand.

But by 2019/20 the council will get just £39 million in Government funding, compared to £103 million in 2014/15. It will leave a shortfall of £102 million. Other funding comes from council tax, business rates, rents and charges.

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£450m plan for Brighton seafront

From Brighton & Hove Independent – 

City councillors have been briefed about a hugely-ambitious blueprint to transform the seafront, from the Brighton Centre to Black Rock.

The confidential proposals are expected to cost at least £450 million and generate up to 2,000 jobs.

Plans envisage the demolition of the Brighton Centre and the Kingswest complex – widely regarded as two of the ugliest buildings in the city – to allow the expansion of Churchill Square Shopping Centre down to Kings Road.

Crucial to the viability of the plans – drawn up by council officers, in consultation with Standard Life Investments, which owns Churchill Square – could be a 20-storey apartment block at the bottom of West Street.

A new conference and entertainment centre, with seating for up to 10,000 people – twice the capacity of the Brighton Centre – is being proposed for the long-derelict, council-owned Black Rock site near Brighton Marina.

One well-informed source said: “The Brighton Centre is long past its sell-by date. And, despite some initial reservations about the distance, I think Black Rock could be a solution.”

The new venue, which would be capable of attracting global conferences and world-class performers, would be linked to the city centre by a rapid-transit system. Although nothing has been ruled in or out, the possibility of a high-speed monorail is not thought likely, according to one source.

The grand design would also provide opportunities to enhance Madeira Drive, including The Terraces, while also giving a welcome boost to Brighton Marina.

Standard Life is understood to have been the catalyst for outline proposals that have been discussed in private by a three-person working party of councillors, headed by Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, the Green chair of the council’s economic development and culture committee, and including Councillor Alan Robins, for Labour, and Councillor Vanessa Brown, for the Conservatives.

A special meeting of the city council’s powerful policy and resources committee has been fixed for 10am on Tuesday, December 16.

Green councillors and Conservative councillors were briefed on Monday; the Labour Group was briefed on Tuesday evening. All were urged to keep the commercially-confidential information under wraps.

Standard Life Investments, one of Europe’s most successful asset managers, has been keen to secure a degree of cross-party support for the project before investing millions of pounds – possibly £10 million – just to develop the plans further.

It does not want a once-in-a-generation development opportunity to be mired in the sort of political bickering and heel-dragging that delayed the go-ahead for the i360.

Proponents accept that the draft plans require much more work before funding can be considered and before possible development partners can be sought.

But they have been heartened by about 50 applications from developers who might be interested in coming forward with plans to build 400 homes and a new leisure centre on the site of the King Alfred Leisure Centre on Hove seafront. It is estimated such a development could cost £40 million.

Brighton and Hove City Council placed advertisements in Estates Gazette, the property trade publication, and in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) last month, with a November 10 deadline for submissions.

Witness appeal from Sussex Police

27 November 2014

Help us identify two men wanted over series of scams on pensioners.

Two men are wanted by police over a series of frauds in which hundreds of pounds have been stolen from pensioners.

Officers would like to speak to them about a series of offences over the last week in Brighton and Hove and across West and East Sussex.

In each case the offenders have claimed to be either police officers or bank workers investigating frauds and have told the victims that someone has used their card fraudulently.

On Monday 17 November a man called a 74-year-old woman at her home in Rottingdean claiming to be from her bank’s fraud department and tricked her into telling him her bank details.

The man told the woman to phone the number on the back of her card but had not hung up the call so although the victim thought she was calling her bank, she was in fact speaking to him again.

A courier arrived at her home minutes later saying he had been sent to collect her old card. The woman gave the man her card and it was then used in a number of shops across Brighton to make purchases worth hundreds of pounds.

The courier was described as black, 5′ 7″ or 5′ 8″, of average build and about 30.

The card was used in shops by a man described as being of Middle Eastern appearance who was 25 to 30 and of large build. He was wearing a baseball cap and hooded top.

CCTV of two men who police would like to speak to has been released.

To view the image on our website, please click here.

Police received a number of calls yesterday (Tuesday 25 November) from members of the public reporting that they have been contacted in the same way.

Officers are currently trying to determine how many have given their card details and lost money to the offenders. Calls have been made to residents in Worthing, Steyning, Hassocks, Eastbourne, Plumpton, Portslade, Hove, Rottingdean, Saltdean, Woodingdean and Brighton.

In one of those cases today, shortly after midday, a man phoned a 94-year-old woman in Kemp Town and persuaded her to give him her bank account details and then her card to a courier.

Her card was later used to withdraw £500.

Detective Sergeant Cheryl Lewendon said: “Unfortunately some of the residents provided the man with their bank details and hundreds of pounds was stolen. Unless we catch those responsible it is likely that they will target more elderly or vulnerable people.

“There could be other victims who because of their vulnerability do not realise that they have had money stolen from them and have not reported it to us yet.

“I would urge anyone who knows anyone who could be vulnerable to this kind of scam to contact them to check that they have not handed over their details in such a way.

“If you have been contacted by the men, even if you were not tricked into giving them your bank details, please contact us.”

Anyone with information should email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk quoting serial 1327 of 17/11, call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

For your local officer’s contact details, information about local events and meetings and actions being taken regarding your priorities click here.

Sussex Police

Vogue Gyratory to be closed for five nights

Click here for the Lewes Road Local Sustainable Transport Fund Newsletter

From The Argus

Vogue Gyratory 3

 

The Vogue Gyratory in Lewes Road, Brighton, will be shut to southbound traffic between Monday December 2 and Friday December 5, from 8 pm until 6 am.

It is one of the final steps in works since July to redesign the junction, which have caused heavy delays. Southbound traffic heading for the city centre will be diverted up Coldean Lane and down Ditchling Road. There will be access-only arrangements as far south as Coombe Road.

There will be no access in or out of Hollingdean Road, Bear Road or Upper Lewes Road. For the first three nights, there will no vehicle access in or out of the Sainsbury’s car park after 8pm. The store will be open as usual until 10pm.

There will be no changes to northbound traffic. New traffic lights are due to be installed the week after the resurfacing, the final stage in the improvements to the scheme.

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said the resurfacing would have been needed regardless of the changes to the gyratory.

The authority has written to 1,000 local addresses about the plans and has also been talking with local businesses, a spokesman said.

Lead councillor for transport Ian Davey apologised for the disruption but said once finished the junction would be “safer” and “more pleasant.”

Rampion plans progress

Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth

Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) is pleased to see that EON is progressing with the Rampion windfarm with the announcement that it will be using 116, 3.5MW turbines, with a tip height of 140.2 metres in a smaller array than originally planned.   The wind farm will provide enough electricity for 290,000 homes and save 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

BHFOE is also welcoming that fact that since the start of the initial consultation, the width of the wind farm has been reduced quite significantly.  In the latest plans, the field of view has reduced from 33 to 10.6 degrees when viewed from the Heritage Coast and the distance of the closest turbine (to the Heritage Coast) has also been increased.  These changes, along with the fact that EON has selected a turbine which is only 140 metres tall, mean that the visual impact from the…

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