Posts Tagged ‘brighton and hove’

He hates the Palace Pier and Julian Caddy just doesn’t love Brighton and Hove

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

It could almost be a parody: “London based arts chief takes seaside town to task for being too much like a seaside town.” (I know we’re a city now…)

But it’s real. Read it all here. Julian Caddy is the MD of the Brighton Fringe Festival and he thinks Brighton needs a better class of tourist. We need a Michelin starred restaurant on the Palace Pier, “proper restaurants” on the seafront, say farewell to Primark and JD Sports and, oh, no more fish and chips.

And he’s not shy. “I PERSONALLY hate the Palace Pier in its current form. It is a blot on the seafront that perpetuates a culture that brings Brighton down and entrenches its reputation as a cheap, out-of-date seaside destination.”

I feel sorry for anyone who hates our pier. I love it. I wish we had two. Even three, like Blackpool. I love the coin drop machines, the Dolphin Derby, the chips and the helter-skelter. I wonder if Caddy has ever stood at the end of that pier and watched the sun go down with a drink in his hand? He’s probably on the train back to London by then. More fool him.

Our Palace Pier. It is tacky but it survives and it prospers. The West Pier was the best pier but we lost it. Only a snobbish outsider would sneer at our Palace Pier. It must and can and will evolve and the new proprietor brings hope there. But he’s wrong to single it out for criticism. Of all of our Brighton assets, it’s doing well.

But that’s not his problem really. He doesn’t like the people who come to visit us. He bemoans “the people willing to spend their two pence on those machines, via Sports Direct and Primark on their way back to their coaches.”

I love those people. If he wants a tacky pier, he can find tackier, trust me, I’ve been there. Great Yarmouth springs to mind. And yet tacky is still fun. My life would be poorer without that pier. I recall a lot of snogging on long sunny afternoons when I was still snoggable. Back in the day.

And Caddy has previous. Under his leadership, the Brighton Fringe has become much more expensive for folks to stage a show (who remembers Umbrella?). Indeed, too many Brighton arty types don’t bother to show their gems and whimsy in May these days because of the fees. And that’s a bad thing. The Fringe used to be a much more inclusive event. Sky-high fees have driven out local talent.

Humphrey Lyttleton once described the people of Brighton in an I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue opening monologue as an “eclectic mix of white middle class people.” But that denigrates the tale of our two cities. Caddy sees a distinction between the North Laine and the seafront. But we do actually have genuine problems with poverty beyond the muesli beltway.

Brighton and Hove is so much more than that bit of land between station and sea. As anyone from Hangleton, Woodingdean, Portslade and even Hove will attest.

Keith Waterhouse said that “Brighton is a town that always looks as if it is helping police with their inquiries.” Brighton has to be raffish. It must be a bit dodgy. It’s the kiss me quick, dirty weekend vibe that gives us our edge. We’re tolerant of everything except gluten.

Gentrification, like Caddy promotes, will actually diminish the town’s charm. We all want nice things but we must also have a simmering shinky-shonky appeal. Brighton must always be a town for sex and drugs and rock and roll. That’s why George IV came here in the first place.

I suspect that Julian Caddy underestimated Brightonian pride when he penned his snobbish article. And that begs a question. Why is he in charge of the Brighton Fringe Festival when he clearly doesn’t like the city I love and won’t even live here?

Brightoniana: Is this Brighton?

Friday, June 28th, 2013

I have a modest but growing collection of Brighton and Hove ephemera that includes documents, postcards and now a stereo card. It was an inexpensive purchase on eBay and I must confess to being slightly unsure it is Brighton at all. What do you reckon?

brighton(Click to embiggen.)

Some facts. There are no marks on the card itself that would indicate location. The seller says that he got it in a batch of Brighton cards and thus listed it as such. In terms of date, it can’t be before 1850 and is likely from the 1860s or 1870s which saw the peak of stereo card popularity.

As for the image itself. I thought at first that the chalk cliffs heading off could be the seafront looking east before it was developed and the cliffs covered and Madeira Drive laid out. But post 1850 would be a bit late for that, I think. There would be building up there by then. And doesn’t the geography look just a little too steep? Another thought is that it could be Rottingdean?

Anyhow, have a gander and give me your thoughts.

BHCC Budget: Why Labour abstained

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Brighton town hallA few people have asked me why Labour abstained last night on the budget vote for Brighton and Hove City Council. Here’s my best stab at setting a context and explaining the decision. I must say though, that over the last few years, as I’ve learnt more about local government, there are lots of things I don’t like. Frankly, council structures and procedures often don’t help but hamper.

The good news first

Firstly, yesterday saw some very good news for Brighton and Hove. The Green and Labour groups (and a few stragglers) managed to make some very serious amendments to the Conservative council’s budget. Not least we saw a reversal of the council’s proposal to reduce council tax by 1%, reduce parking permit fees by 5% and also scrapped a £1.1m plan to remove a cycle lane in Hove that was only introduced three years ago. That’s about £2.7m that stays in the budget. These various amendments squeaked through, because the council is very finely balanced even if Greens and Labour cooperate. That cross-party cooperation is cause for optimism.

Options and risks

Then the amended budget faced a vote last night. Labour abstained, Greens voted against. And as a result of Tory support it passed. The amended budget was preferable but still included serious Tory cuts, many of which I fear are inevitable in the current political climate.

Other options were available. Labour could have a voted against too and (most likely) defeated the whole budget including the good amendments. That would mean that next week, another budget council would sit and have to agree a budget all over again, starting from scratch. The Green argument is that we could cooperate again and get more of what we want. I agree that’s possible. But it’s risky. There’s no guarantee that Labour and Green groups could spend a week or so and find consensus again on a whole host of things. A week is a long time in politics. The arguments we’ve seen online since the vote show that our parties are still on the first date when it comes to forming an ongoing, trusting relationship.

There are other risks too. The Conservatives could have proposed a different budget next week. A worse budget. One which the opposition could spend time amending back into what we’ve got now at great effort. To West Wing fans, I’d call this “doing a Haffley”. Possible, but perhaps unlikely.

Risk 3. A deal could be struck. The council is finely balanced. Those canny Tories could call off the one Liberal and one independent councillor with some sort of inducement which would make the numbers very tight. They could also, conceivably, offer a deal to the Greens or Labour. The budget would be settled in those no longer smoke-filled rooms. Not ideal.

So, the way I see it, we could end up with a budget next week that’s “better” or pretty much the same as the one that passed yesterday. Or worse, you could end with a more debilitating budget or indeed no budget at all.

The real pickle

No budget at all? That’s when it becomes very serious. In such a situation, that nice Mr Pickles from the Communities department sends his civil servants down and they impose a budget upon the city. No votes. No amendments. No deals. And who knows what that would look like? Even the Greens recognised at their national conference last week that passing a budget is a council’s (and councillors’) legal responsibility.

Abstaining offered an imperfect solution. But it does strike me that it’s better to set a budget with these excellent amendments, than risk something worse. Not least, because this isn’t the end of the process. Roll on May and the city council elections. The voters willing, we’ll see a Green and Labour coalition in City Hall that can propose and pass an equitable budget without all the rather depressing process and party positioning that the current situation makes sadly inevitable. Also, and I do think we have to accept this fact, the Conservatives are currently the biggest group on the city council by far right now. They have, in a sense, the right to set the tone of the budget and they like cuts.

Future less imperfect

I appreciate why the Greens voted against and I also undertand why Labour abstained: but neither action offered a perfect solution. I agree with the pragmatists. A budget has to be set and it was. Energy spent in recrimination and blame would be better saved for campaigning to defeat as many Conservatives as possible at the ballot box in a few weeks time because until then we’re always trying to treat the symptoms rather than find a cure for the cause.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Labour party and a candidate for the city council elections in May for Regency ward. I was not privy to or part of Labour group discussions that led to the decisions they made.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Elsie esq.