Monthly Archives: September 2017

Save Hertford Schools

A campaign message from Save Hertford Schools

We are campaigning to resist the Local Authority’s proposal to reduce the pupil entry to Hertford Infant and Nursery School to single form entry (30 places) from 2019.

Here’s an initial couple of things you can do to actively help the campaign – sign the petition (and get others to do so too) and come to a meeting next Thursday…

Our Petition is now live.

Like any petition, the more signatures we can gather the better.
So please sign it and ask you friends and relatives to do so too:
https://phantom.brighton-hove.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?id=552

Public Consultation Meeting

Thursday 5th October | 3.30pm | Hertford Infant School
Please come along to this meeting if at all possible. It is important that there is seen to be significant strength of feeling among the community about these proposals.

We have a Facebook page where you can keep up to date with the conversations about the campaign. There’s even a brilliant song specially written in support of the campaign by Robb Johnson.

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Tree replacement in Springfield Road

A group of SRRA members is embarking on a pilot project to replace trees in Springfield Road that have been lost or are in danger due to disease.

The Council Arborealist has identified five trees as needing replacement.

If successful the initiative could be extended to other streets in the area.

We will be raising funds in the near future so watch this space, if you would like to help please reply with your email address and we will be in touch.

£300m plan to regenerate Preston Barracks approved

From The Argus

The £300 million transformation of a Georgian barracks site is set to go ahead after developers were given planning permission.

The University of Brighton proposal was unanimously approved by Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee yesterday.

Developers U+I will carry out the work to regenerate Preston Barracks in Lewes Road and the university’s Moulsecoomb campus.

The regeneration of Preston Barracks is predicted to generate £500 million for the city economy and create around 1,500 jobs, according to the university’s vice chancellor Debra Humphris.

Plans for the site, which has been derelict for 20 years, include building 369 homes, 1,338 student bedrooms and a new home for the university’s business school before 2021.

Professor Humphris said: “The university has been part of the city for 150 years.

“This development will go a considerable way to reducing pressure on local housing and reduce the need for cars and travel.

“We are committed to improving sustainability. It will provide a stunning new gateway into the city.”

The designs have undergone months of public consultation resulting in a number of objections. Among them are questions over the project’s viability, air pollution created by increased car parking and traffic, transport and congestion, lack of affordable housing and the effect it will have on Saunders Park View and Coombe Road residents.

During the meeting yesterday, Rebecca Barkaway, a member of the Coombe Road Area Local Action Team, said: “We are being transformed into the university’s campus.

“In an area that is already overwhelmed by a student community this just seems a step too far.

“We want to see investment in local provisions.

“We believe the 369 non-student houses should have a covenant placed on them so they don’t become HMOs.

“We also want to see money spent on improving the Saunders Park area.”

Environmental campaign group Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) objected to the proposed increase in parking across the development.

The group argued it would lead to increased traffic and air pollution. The group claimed that if built the development would keep air pollution levels above the legal limit.

More than 400 responses were received supporting the development before the meeting.

The original proposal was revised to include 19 additional homes, a reduction in the height of certain buildings, additional community facilities and a transport plan.

A new pedestrian bridge across Lewes Road will be built as well as new squares and crossings which are designed to improve pedestrian access.

Cycle docks and more than 1,000 cycle parking spaces are included in the plans, as well as 30 spaces for bicycles used as part of the city’s new bike hire scheme.

In March, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner requested more money to cover the cost of more officers and staff set up costs, investment in IT operations, additional vehicles and the cost of supporting additional officers, as a result of the proposed development.

Andy Taylor, who represented the commissioner at the meeting, repeated the submission for £217,336 to fund the cost of extra policing to accompany the development.

The planning committee agreed not to support the request for more money to fund extra policing.

Richard Upton, deputy chief executive of U+I, said: “This is a major milestone for the Preston Barracks project, one of the largest and most ambitious regeneration projects to have been brought forward in Brighton for a number of years.

“We have the opportunity to transform this area of Brighton, which has been derelict for 20 years and deliver a huge number of benefits to the local community and the wider city.

“Our Circus Street project is also moving forward at great pace, regenerating another important part of the city.

“We will deliver world class, imaginative urban design on each project, building on the bohemian audacity of the Prince Regent and leaving a lasting legacy that befits such an inspirational city.”

Reported Crime Statistics July 2017

Sussex Police have released reported crime statistics for July 2017, the latest figures available.

Click on the map for detailed information:

Here is a brief summary of the crime information for the past two months:

June 2017 July 2017
All crime 74 114
Anti-social behaviour 28 40
Bicycle theft 4 4
Burglary 3 5
Criminal damage and arson 2 4
Drugs 0 18
Other crime 0 2
Other theft 5 7
Possession of weapons 0 1
Public order 3 4
Robbery 3 3
Shoplifting 2 0
Theft from the person 0 0
Vehicle crime 6 3
Violence and sexual offences 18 23

Please visit https://www.police.uk/shape/AnxkDj/ for more information including outcomes for these crimes and contact information for your local policing team.

Brighton happiest place in UK

From The Argus

Palace Pier Brighton- The Longest Day 21 June 2017

Brighton has been named as the happiest city in the UK.

The city came out on top of a nationwide survey into the satisfaction of the nation, with more than a third of residents choosing the word ‘happy’ to describe their lives.

At the other end of the scale, just 16 per cent of Edinburgh residents described their lives as happy, favouring the words anxious and depressed.

Kerry Collinge, from company 9NINE Super Seed, which commissioned the study, said: “Brighton residents have found themselves topping our happiest city chart.

“Maybe it’s the sea air and sunny weather that keeps them smiling.’’

Oxford was the city which had the highest level of general life satisfaction while Edinburgh came bottom once again.

The study found just one in 10 Britons rated their life satisfaction at nine or above.

The study, which quizzed 3,000 Brits, also looked into the ways we boost our mood and found three in five look to bed for comfort in hard times, while more than half lean on family for support.

Forty three per cent of those surveyed play their favourite music when they need to raise their spirits, and reading a book proved more popular for boosting our serotonin levels than sex.

Typical British weather is most likely to get us feeling down in the dumps, with 40 per cent claiming that inclement weather has a negative effect on their emotions.

Nearly half of the women polled in the study thought time to relax was important for their well-being, while 35 per cent of men preferred sex as a way to unwind.

When it comes to having a bad day, women are twice as likely as men to be brought down by living in a messy home, with 37 per cent claiming that untidiness has a negative effect on their mood compared to 18 per cent of men.

Most Brits believe that they will be at their happiest at the age of 33, and just over a third believe that their best years are now behind them.

An optimistic fifth think that they are currently having the time of their lives.

When asked to describe how often they feel in a positive mood, 58 per cent said that they are usually happy people, and only six per cent said they rarely or never feel happiness. A quarter of Brits describe themselves as anxious, and only one in seven consider themselves confident.

School catchment area consultation starts

From The Argus

School Catchment Map

Parents dismayed at the prospect of shrinking catchment areas for popular schools are considering moving house for the sake of their children’s education.

Changes being discussed next week may mean pupils starting secondary education in 2019 are no longer eligible for the school their parents had expected them to start at.

In some cases parents The Argus spoke to said they had moved homes to be in a certain school’s catchment area.

On Monday, Brighton and Hove City Council’s Children, Young People and Skills committee will debate catchment area changes proposed by a cross-party working committee. Councillors are expected to approve the plans to go to a public consultation this autumn.

The changes are necessary in part because the opening of an anticipated secondary free school has been delayed.

A bulge in the school-age population is making popular schools in the centre of the city, especially Dorothy Stringer and Varndean, increasingly oversubscribed while outlying schools have more capacity.

The changes will affect children starting Year 7 in 2019 and take into account factors including accessibility and whether children have older siblings at a school. They are anticipated to only last for two years.

The University of Brighton Academies Trust is expected to open the Brighton and Hove Academy at the Brighton General Hospital site in September 2019, although the school will operate without a catchment area in its first year.

The changes affect four main geographical areas. In the west of the city, part of the Hove Park / Blatchington Mill catchment area (map above, purple) will instead feed into the Portslade Aldridge Brighton Academy.

In the north, the bright green area switches from the Stringer/Varndean catchment to Patcham High.

In the centre, the two dark green strips will change from Stringer/Varndean to Hove Park/Blatchington.

And in Elm Grove, the area coloured fuchsia on the map is also removed from Stringer/Varndean and instead pupils will be most likely to head to Longhill School.

A statement issued jointly by committee chairman Councillor Dan Chapman, Labour, and committee opposition spokeswoman Councillor Vanessa Brown, Conservative, reads: “We want to be able to offer families greater clarity about which secondary school their child may go to. Our catchment area based system has largely served the city well since it was introduced in 2008. However, increases in secondary pupil numbers mean some catchment areas no longer have enough places for each child in their area.

“Until the new school opens we need to make light-touch temporary adjustments to our catchment areas to make things work better. Whatever proposals are put forward by the forthcoming committee will be subject to extensive public consultation before a final decision is made in the New Year.”

The city’s two secondary faith schools, Cardinal Newman and King’s, have their own admissions arrangements and are not affected by these proposals.

Ruth Sharma is a full time mum whose house in Hartington Road, Brighton, is in the very centre of the patch fated to switch from Stringer/Varndean to Longhill. She moved to the property with her husband six years ago in part because of its location in the sought-after catchment area.

Her son Zac is currently in year five at Elm Grove school so would be one of only two years of schoolchildren directly affected by the proposal should it be approved at council and by the subsequent public consultation.

Mrs Sharma said: “That’s really bad news, it’s very disappointing. Dorothy Stringer is great, but my opinion of Longhill is that it’s not great and the new school, well it’ll be new. And it’ll be quite a long way away.

“We thought about moving out of the area but we decided to stay because we’re in the right catchment area for the schools.

“But this could move the needle, we could even think about moving out of the area because of this.”

By law admissions arrangements have to be agreed 18 months in advance, meaning decisions on 2019 admissions need to be made by early 2018.

IT DOMINATES SCHOOL GATE CONVERSATIONS

THERE are a lot of slightly negative buzzwords used to describe the middle-class parents found at the school gates of Elm Grove Primary and behind the well-maintained doors of the hills of Hanover.

“Sharp-elbowed” is one, “yummy mummies” another.

Really all these pointed comments mean is that, like all of us in our own way, this a community which puts its children first.

And in an area where a modest three-bedroom terrace sells for more than half a million pounds, these parents have invested heavily in maximising their children’s chances of going to the best schools.

But now, changes to catchment areas which will affect children starting secondary school in 2019 and 2020 are in danger of leaving the morning’s muesli spilled all over the kitchen floor.

The plans have been submitted by a cross-party working group of the Brighton and Hove City Council’s young people education and skills committee and seek to solve the problem of oversubscription of good schools in the centre of the city while a new secondary school which will alleviate overcrowding is created.

The plans, if approved on Monday and passed by public consultation, would move this neighbourhood from the Dorothy Stringer and Varndean catchment to the Longhill catchment.

Dorothy Stringer and Varndean were both rated “good” by Ofsted in their latest inspection.

Indeed, Dorothy Stringer was even listed by society magazine Tatler as one of the top 20 most desirable state schools in the country. Earlier this year the magazine wrote: “It’s not only the ‘coolest’ but also the ‘best in town’.”

To the east, Longhill School was told it “required improvement” by inspectors.

The difference is not lost on parents of school-age children.

Anna Challacombe, 40, is a vegan yoga mat designer who is currently renting a property for herself and her three young children in Eastern Road, having searched without success to find a suitable location in Hanover.

She said: “I’m thinking of moving to Hanover but this will definitely affect my decision.”

She has been eyeing the relocation with the express intention of moving her ten-year-old son and six-year-old twins from the Longhill to the Stringer/Varndean catchment areas.

She said: “I had better make sure I move to the right area. If I moved now I’d be really conscious of where I’d be looking to rent or buy.

“Rental values will be affected and it’s hard enough already.

“The area you want is going to be smaller. It’s going to be harder and more expensive for me to find somewhere. All the people who would be looking across the road will be looking over here.”

Ruth Sharma, a Hartington Road resident whose son may be directly affected by the changes, said: “It’s not great, is it. That’s really bad news, it’s very disappointing.”

She moved to the street six years ago, choosing the location because its place in the catchment area of sought-after schools.

She explained: “We thought about moving out of the area but we decided to stay because we’re in the right catchment area for the schools. But this could move the needle, we could even think about moving out of the area because of this. This could tip the balance.”

Tamlyn Smithers, a supply teacher at Brighton College, has a seven-year-old son at Elm Grove.

They live in the area designated for the Stringer/Longhill change but she is not yet concerned. She said: “Schools have reputations but by the time he goes there’ll be a different head teacher, hopefully there’ll be a different government. There are people wondering whether we should we move, should we be trying to move? But I’m not considering that yet. I’m going to try and wait and see the lay of the land for my boy.”

She said conversations at the school gate had been dominated by talk of the proposals. She said: “This is affecting friends of mine with older kids. People have been really concerned. With what we pay to live here, it’s a nice area with nice schools, but that doesn’t mean we have no social conscience about everyone else’s quality of life.”