Monthly Archives: December 2014

First Base centre helps homeless over Christmas

From The Argus – full story here

CATCHING up with loved ones is tradition in the festive season but for homeless people with no relations it can be a lonely time. Thanks to a day centre in Brighton and Hove people on the streets have somewhere to go each day for support and comfort. 

CLOSE to a thousand homeless people each year need essential services provided by the First Base Day Centre.

It is estimated around 965 rough sleepers visited the centre in Brighton in the financial year between 2013 and 2014.

Although services are helping people off the streets and back into work and housing, vital funds are still needed to help finance everyday essentials such as food, washing facilities and healthcare.

Simon Hughes, manager of the centre at St Stephen’s Hall in Montpelier Place, said staff see around 60 people there every day during the summer months and around 100 getting involved in activities.

He said: “There are about 22 new people found rough sleeping every week in Brighton and 24 or 25 which are helped to move on from that. It is not always the same people we are seeing.”

Mr Hughes said many people who seek help have often experienced some kind of trauma in their lives, such as a family breakdown, a history of abuse, mental or physical health problems, injuries or job loss. These ordeals can lead to homelessness as well as physical, mental and emotional health problems.

He said: “Some of the most common health problems we see are chest infections and people often need treatment on their feet.”

The facility works with other homeless groups across the city but is the biggest support centre in Brighton and Hove. It aims to help people get back on their feet by building confidence and self esteem.

Brighton Housing Trust covers running costs and funding is received from Public Health England, the Big Lottery, and Heritage Lottery Fund but donations are still needed for everyday essentials.

Mr Hughes said: “We carry out intensive work and address issues to help people move off the street into rented or supported accommodation or to re-locate where they may have family links. We run courses and encourage them to interact with other people again.”

“Figures are rising nationally but locally, due to working together more effectively and helping people get access to services, we are seeing numbers reduce year on year.”

“We can do a lot with this funding and we are grateful but it doesn’t cover everyday essentials like food, toiletries and refreshments. Things like shower gel, laundry powder, toothbrushes, toothpaste, tea, coffee and toilet roll all cost money and are much needed. We would appreciate donations of these items, or money we can put towards buying these.”

Formerly the Brighthelmstone Grand Saloon, the centre opened 30 years ago and has been operating in its present form for four years offering specialised services.

Now it runs an 8am to 11am morning session where breakfast, showers and lunch is available. Clients pay £1 for food when they can.

Visitors can surf the web, charge their phones and use secure lockers for their belongings.

A medical room acts as a GP surgery and doubles up as a sexual health clinic as well as a base for optometrst, hygienist and dentistry services.

Many use the centre as a postal address so they can have items, such as prescriptions, delivered.

Dogs can sit and wait in the hallway while their owners revive themselves.

There are creative writing, film and art workshops between 11am and 3.30pm and some are run by former homeless people who benefited from their time at the centre.

A Regency history project, where members studied historic buildings in the city, and a photography competition, have also been held there.

Work experience is on offer in the kitchen with food hygiene certificates and catering courses available to build up job skills and it is hoped the centre will introduce security guard training courses soon, Simon said.

First Base is the only dedicated service open on Christmas Day for people who have nowhere else to go. A lunch was organised in the run up to Christmas, leaving the actual day a bit more relaxed.

Mr Hughes said: “For some the festive season can be a happy time but for others it can be quite traumatic so we have to get that balance.

“There were other meals organised across the city on the day which we informed clients about if they wanted to attend.”

For information call the First Base Day Centre on 01273 326844 or email first.base@bht.org.uk.

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London Road finalist in Great British High Street award

London Road Area Local Action Team

London Road was finalist in the 2014 Great British High Street awards – “Local Centre” category.

The awards are part of the “Great British High Street” initiative associated with Mary Portas’ government-backed drive to revitalise the High Street. Penny Mordaunt MP, minister for shops, presented the awards at a ceremony 11/12/14 in Westminster.

6jF9ffXTazT4UZow2D61SbOGh4Cvtg-mL5nHDM4jEW0 Philip Wells – LAT Chair, Penny Mordaunt MP – minister for shops, Ann Townsend – Chair Town Team : award ceremony 11th December 2014

The regeneration of London Road has been rapid and  obvious to all, and has bucked the trend for revitalisation which experts have said takes decades to achieve.

There has been a combination of factors coming together to bless London Road – the re-launch of the Open Market, the prospect of 351 students spending money (?) where there was a huge empty building, the arts-led revival epitomised in the Emporium, Council initiatives such as…

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Brighton’s growth outstrips the national average

From The Argus

Economic growth in Brighton and Hove is outstripping the rest of the country.

The economy expanded by 5% in 2013 compared to 3% regionally and nationally, official figures show.

The value of goods and services produced per head went up by 3.75%, while the national figure was 2.5% and the South East 2%. The top sectors driving growth were production, which increased by nearly 20% – or £55 million.

Of this, manufacturing accounted for an extra £21 million and an increase of 14%.

Information technology grew by 15.5%, adding £55 million to the economy. Public administration, education and health rose by 7.2%, boosting the city by £96 million.

Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the economic development and culture committee, said: “This is very encouraging. National studies have identified Brighton and Hove as having potential to lead the way out of recession because of its strengths in the high-tech industries of the future.

“The council and neighbouring authorities are busy trying to encourage that through initiatives like the City Deal.

“The signs are that we’re as attractive to businesses as we are to tourists.”

He added: “But we must remember that these growth figures do not tell us how increased wealth is distributed.

“Making sure that the economy is as inclusive as possible, offering opportunities to all, continues to be our goal.”

Tony Mernagh, executive director of the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership, said: “It doesn`t surprise me in the least that Brighton has performed so well.

“Our productivity has been increasing at a phenomenal rate since the 1990s, albeit from a low start.

“We have the key ingredient to economic success – a fantastically creative and well qualified workforce thanks to our two universities, the fourth best qualified in the UK.”

Burning The Clocks expands to full weekend

FREE, drop in, Play Workshop : Let’s Build A City Of Lights! : 10am to 3pm, Saturday 20 December. Phoenix Gallery Brighton, 10–14 Waterloo Place, Brighton BN2 9NB.

Effigy Display: 4pm, Saturday 20 December 2014, Outside St. Peter’s Church.

Parade: 6.30pm to 8pm, Sunday 21 December 2014, Starting at New Road.

To celebrate its 21st year, Burning the Clocks expands to a full weekend festival for the first time. On Saturday 20 December, we are running a free, fun play experience with Lights and Shadows for children at Phoenix Gallery (10am to 3pm). They will also present a fully lit display of the main effigy with a live performance of the new score for Burning the Clocks 2014 on the lawns of St. Peter’s Church from 4pm to 7pm.

By adding an extra day of events to Burning the Clocks, we are hoping to provide more opportunities for Brighton residents and younger family members to participate. Arts Council England are supporting this daytime event, as they noted the importance of providing opportunities for greater engagement with the community and the art.

John Varah, artistic director at Same Sky said: “The purging nature of the event has been integral from the very first parade, but a great deal of work goes into the various elements that make up Burning the Clocks. These extra events allow us get close to the great works our artists have created and appreciate them before they go on the parade. Having a more controlled environment for our Saturday event also allows us to guarantee a live performance of the new score, one of the elements most drastically affected if it’s a stormy solstice.”

With a title the goes along with the parades theme of The City, the Let’s Build a City of Lights! workshop specifically invite young children birth to age 5 and families to play with various shadow puppet screens, build a cardboard city of lights, play with light toys and make luminaries for the effigy display at St. Peter’s church. Running from 10am to 3pm, the workshop on Saturday 20 December is free to attend and does not require booking, just turn up at Phoenix Brighton.

The effigy display allows participants to get closer to the main lantern and a number of supporting luminaires before they are brought to life in the parade and finally added to the fire which closes the event. In addition, the new Burning the Clocks score created by Jamie Sturrock will be performed live when the installation is ready from 4pm outside St. Peter’s Church.

For more info have a look at the Same Sky website.

City 4th best place to live without a car

From The Argus

BikeLane_1200.jpg-pwrt2

Brighton and Hove has been named as the fourth least car dependent city in the country.

Access to buses and trains along with cycle and walking networks make the city one of the easiest to get by without a car, the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) said in its latest report.

In its 2012 biannual report, the city was placed second – two places higher than in 2014. In 2010, its inaugural report, the council was ranked third.

This time round, the city was topped only by Liverpool, Manchester and London.

Councillor Ian Davey, lead member for transport, said: “It’s really good to see that we’re still being recognised as one of the top cities in the UK for helping residents be less dependent on cars.

“We’re competing with some big names, and we were beaten only by cities who have the powers and funding for their own transport authorities, like Transport for London.”

The report ranks cities across four categories: accessibility and planning, buses and trains quality and uptake, cycling and walking as alternatives, and driving and car use.

Brighton and Hove rated strongly on frequency and quality of public transport and accessibility.

However, it fell down on cycling and walking alternatives, despite a number of costly schemes.

Recent initiatives to make the city less car dependant include the introduction of 20mph zones across most residential streets, the redesign of Lewes Road with cycle and bus lanes and the recent reworking of Vogue Gyratory.

A spokesman for the campaign said: “Despite the city falling places, it is more the case of others doing better than Brighton slipping.

“The likes of Manchester and Liverpool have had long-term projects paying off recently and that has improved their standing greatly.”

Cllr. Davey added: “We clearly need to continue to work on improving safety on our streets to make walking and cycling better options for residents.

“Our work to reduce speeds, improve crossings and redesign dangerous junctions is already seeing the number of people killed and injured on our roads fall. But there is still much more to do.”

£540 million Brighton seafront development plans approved.

From The Argus

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Brighton Centre

The £540 million redevelopment of Brighton seafront has been given unanimous cross-party political support.

Councillors from all three main parties spoke of their excitement at the overhaul of Churchill Square, the Brighton Centre, Kings West and Black Rock sites as they backed the scheme.

The plans, discussed at a specially-arranged policy and resources committee yesterday morning, would see a new 10,000-seat exhibition and live performance venue at the seafront Black Rock site and the extension of Churchill Square down to Kings Road.

Transport links were highlighted as a potential problem – but a park and ride scheme could be introduced to overcome it – as well as social housing.

But Councillors were warned that the greatest risk was to take no action and flag behind rival cities.

Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of the economic development and culture committee, said: “Now seems to be the perfect moment, everything seems right.

“If we don’t seize the moment, I think future generations will say we were lily livered. Now is not the time to be uncourageous. This is a huge opportunity to have an integrated transport system, not just from Black Rock to the stations but beyond to the King Alfred.”

Council officers warned the agreement was far from a “done deal” and a lot of work was needed to engage with residents and businesses.

It is hoped that local economic partnership Coast-to-Capital which has shown initial interest in the proposals will partner the project.

Labour group leader Warren Morgan said: “I think we have the opportunity to secure the city’s financial future for decades to come and to secure Brighton and Hove as a tourist, conference, event and shopping destination and venue for the 21st century.”

The plans would be part of a major overhaul of the city’s seafront, alongside the redevelopment of the King Alfred Leisure Centre, the construction of the i360, the regeneration of the Kings Road Arches and the expansion of Brighton Marina.

Council officers told the committee they hoped that all these projects would also attract further investment and development along the city’s coast.

The meeting heard that the Brighton Centre established the city’s reputation as a conferencing city but was now outdated.

An upgrade would cost up to £105 million – a price tag unlikely to be met by the council.

Green councillor Bill Randall said that the city needed to “reinvent ourselves and up our game” after being overtaken by conference venues in Harrogate, Manchester and Birmingham.

Nick Russell, director of developers Venue Ventures, has previously worked on the 13,500 capacity Leeds Arena which opened in September last year and has already hosted major acts including Elton John, Dolly Parton and The Who. Mr Russell said the new Brighton arena would attract bands that city residents currently travel to London to see.

Labour councillor Les Hamilton said, as well as bringing top acts back to the city, he the new venue also needed to attract top, international conferences.

Cllr. Kitcat said a vibrant conference industry was important for the city both nationally and internationally. He said: “I hope we can up our ambition with this and seeking to do something different that is greater and better.”

Cllr. Bowden said it was vital that there was also an entertainment element to the new arena to boost revenue: “The entertainment side is as important as the conference side, possibly more.”

Leeds Arena, now known as The First Direct Arena, was nominated for the 2014 Carbuncle Cup recognising the ugliest buildings in the country.

Conservative councillor Lynda Hyde stressed the importance of good design and praised recent projects to convert the former Co-op store in London Road and the new American Express offices in John Street, while reminding the committee of the failings of star architect Frank Gehry’s “wobbly towers” of the failed King Alfred development.

James Stevens, head of development at landowners Standard Life Investments, told the committee that the current layout behind Churchill Square including Canon Place and Russell Road was “obscene” and that the overhaul of the area would create an “unprecedented” opportunity to improve the public space.

He said: “This is not just about putting in more shops but creating that connectivity from Western Road to the sea.” He said the extended site would not be “just another vanilla shopping centre” but be “distinctive and complimentary to the Lanes”.

He said it would include more catering and leisure in a bid to increase the time shoppers spend in Churchill Square, which currently lagged behind similar shopping centres. Mr Stevens said work over the next 12 months would search for solutions to the transport problems including a possible park and ride and more bus routes between Brighton Railway Station and Black Rock.

Conservative councillor Ann Norman said transport was a “critical” issue, as the Brighton Centre was currently on the “perfect site”. She said: “A park and ride facility has got to be a priority for any new administration.”

Coun Randall said: “It will move congestion away from Churchill Square and on to the seafront, a positive in reducing pollution and congestion around Churchill Square and the Clock Tower.”

Labour councillor Jeane Lepper said the development of Black Rock could also boost businesses in Brighton Marina. Council funds would have to pay for conferences to be held temporarily elsewhere in the city after the Brighton Centre closes and before the new Black Rock arena opens.

Green councillor Ollie Sykes said the Brighton Centre should remain open until the “last minute”, after previous redevelopment plans caused bookings to drop off because of doubts surrounding its future.

Coun Lepper said the process should be progressed more quickly than other major projects in the city, describing the plans to develop Preston Barracks in Lewes Road into retail, employment and academic centre and 350 new homes as like “wading through treacle”.

Committee chairman Cllr. Kitcat said the process would be “more like a foxtrot” while strategic director Geoff Raw said a planning application for Churchill Square could be submitted within 12 months, with a further report back to councillors by early 2015.

Mr Raw said: “This development creates the opportunity to invest in the seafront in a way that would be very difficult if we were just looking at these sites on their own. There is no guarantee to leverage money from Government, but this does give us so much more opportunity to persuade Government.

“There are all sorts of practical considerations for placing a building on the seafront but also creating something iconic, something distinctive to add to Brighton’s rich and valuable cultural heritage.”

New stadium hotel plan approved

THE committee approved new arrangements for leases on council land for a proposed hotel at the American Express Community Stadium at Falmer and the redevelopment of City College Brighton and Hove.

The majority of discussions took place behind closed doors because of the business sensitivity of the financial details involved.

The lease on land next to the American Express Community Stadium, which the stadium owners want to develop land into a four star 150 bedroom hotel, restricted usage to just 30 days a year.

Albion executive director Martin Perry told The Argus yesterday that with the new lease agreement, which removes that restriction, a planning application could be submitted next year, but work would be unlikely to start before September’s Rugby World Cup fixtures.

A lease agreement was also reached over the City College site in Pelham Street, Brighton, at yesterday’s meeting.

The college came to the city council for assistance amid fears that neighbouring property owners could hold up the redevelopment which has already received planning consent or hold the college “to ransom”.

Under the agreement, the council would take a 99 year peppercorn lease out on the site to ensure the project can go ahead.

The scheme is predicted to bring in £79million of investment, 141 construction jobs and up to £1million additional local spending per year.

What the development means in numbers

New exhibition centre

  • 10,000 max capacity with mix of seating and standing or 8,500 capacity all-seated.
  • VIP hospitality and boxes.
  • Main conference hall capable of hosting between 500 and 1,500 delegates.
  • Additional meeting rooms for 1,250 delegates.

Development of the Brighton Centre and Kings West

  • 238,000 sqft of additional retail
  • 45,000 sqft of restaurants and cafes
  • 30,000-40,000 sqft for cinema use

Estimated boost to council finances.

Churchill Square site:

  • Net Additional Business rates – £3million a year
  • Additional council tax – £300,000
  • New Homes Bonus (payable for 6 years) – £400,000

Black Rock site:

  • Net Additional Business rates – £500,000
  • Additional council tax – £200,000
  • New Homes Bonus (payable for 6 years) – £200,000

Total forecast of additional annual revenue £4.6million

Total development value of £540million

  • Broken down into Churchill Square site £375million
  • Black Rock site £165million
  • 2,000 new full time equivalent jobs
  • 1,200 construction jobs