Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, a long-standing supporter of the British Airways i360, comments on Council Leader, Warren Morgan’s, u-turn as the attraction nears its launch date: “Having been a strong advocate of the i360 project and all that it will bring to our city from the beginning, I am delighted that it will soon be open for everyone to enjoy. However, I do find it somewhat ironic that the Labour Group Leader is now issuing press releases extolling the virtues of the project when he vehemently opposed it when it was signed off by the Council. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the support of the Conservative and Green Groups the i360 would not have got off the ground. So I am delighted that Cllr. Morgan now appears to have changed his mind and has bought into all the financial and economic arguments for building it that we have always been convinced of. The British Airways i360 is one of many exciting new developments for the seafront and will undoubtedly encourage tourism as another fantastic attraction in Brighton and Hove. “
Councillors Geoffrey Theobald, Carol Theobald and Lee Wares have condemned the theft and act of vandalism of 100 year old pathway from the Peace Gardens in Patcham after tonnes of large, heavy York stone paving slabs were dug up and removed leaving the gardens in a total mess on Thursday night.
The Peace Gardens were purchased by the Council in 1928 and thought to be a memorial to peace following the Great War of 1914-1918. Last year the gardens were awarded Fields in Trust status protecting the them forever. Over the years, residents have carefully and lovingly, alongside the Council, maintained the gardens.
Councillor Lee Wares said “in the week following the 100 year Centenary of the Battle of the Somme it takes a very evil and wicked person to carry out such an atrocious act. The theft in itself is bad enough but to destroy an area that people use to reflect and remember their lost ones is utterly despicable. It must have been a carefully organised theft to have taken up and removed tonnes of paving stones in the middle of the night without attracting attention”.
Councillor Carol Theobald commented “it is a very sad day and I know personally the many residents and volunteers who give their time to keep the gardens in a beautiful condition. There are many tributes and memorials in the garden in the form of benches and trees. I know everybody will be heart-broken at what has happened”.
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald added “This is a shocking theft and not one that you would ever contemplate happening. The Council do not insure such things and for now, I don’t know how we will be able to restore the gardens. We will work with Cityparks to try and restore the garden as soon as possible and I only hope that the Police are able to catch these vile people and bring them to justice”.
Conservative Group Leader on Brighton & Hove City Council, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, has welcomed the news that Theresa May MP is likely to be selected as the new national Conservative Party Leader and hence Prime Minister. Cllr.Theobald said:
“As a long-standing supporter of Theresa May I am very pleased that she has been given a clear run and is highly likely to become the next Leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. In my view she is head and shoulders above the other candidates who put themselves forward and has exactly the sort of experience needed in these uncertain times for our country. I hope that we can all now get behind Theresa as she starts the difficult process of negotiating with our partners in the EU and I am confident that she will come back with a deal which will give businesses and investors the stability and confidence they need to secure the country’s future.”
New Horsdean traveller site
Vale Avenue Green
With the imminent opening of the Horsdean traveller site and the spending of £2.4m to create the perfect environment, Patcham Ward Councillors are very concerned at the condition of the sports field and the adjoining green space at Horsdean Recreation Ground.
To facilitate the construction of the traveller site, wide, deep excavations were dug to lay drains and water supplies through Horsdean Recreation Ground and the neighbouring green space in Vale Avenue in which trees had been planted. It was promised to residents and the local councillors that the reinstatement work would take a month to complete after which “nobody would know the work had ever happened”.
Seven months later, the restoration of the sports field and adjoining green space are still unfinished and Councillors have now been told that there is no money left in the project budget to reinstate the damaged areas to the high quality provided on the traveller site and that it will be a year or more before the disturbed areas will recover.
Cllr Lee Wares said “after months of discussions, debates and procrastination, we now know that there is no money left in the project to properly deal with the areas. It was promised that reinstatement would be such that everything would be left as it was found. This is no longer the case and it will be a further year or more before the areas even begin to return to the condition in which they were before”.
Cllr Wares added “we are told that reseeding the sports field is the best solution and that turf wouldn’t work, this is despite the traveller site having lush lawns laid ready for immediate use. We are told that pink large aggregate used for sub bases on roads is suitable for the dug up paths, in comparison with the properly laid out tarmac paths that have been laid across the traveller site”.
Cllr Geoffrey Theobald said “it beggar’s belief that millions of pounds have been spent with no provision for proper reinstatement in the areas outside the travellers site. The new traveller site is perfect, manicured and groomed ready for occupation. As against this, Horsdean Recreation Ground is used by thousands of residents and hundreds of children and adults playing sports and has effectively been turned into waste land. It has taken years of hard work by Cityparks and volunteers to create safe and suitable playing fields at Horsdean Recreation Ground but we are now back to square one”.
Cllr Carol Theobald commented “it’s a real kick in the teeth for the residents who not only paid for the development through their taxes but invested their goodwill in accommodating the works for the benefit of the development. This is not the result that they or we expected. I hope that this situation will be reconsidered and what local residents were promised will be delivered”.
Cllr. Ann Norman
Conservatives on Brighton & Hove City Council have managed to obtain cross-party support for the Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland Count Them In campaign. The campaign calls for additional questions to be included in the next Census in 2021 which will capture much needed data on the Armed Forces Community – particularly Reservists and Veterans – who are otherwise largely hidden from official statistics.
This information will help local authorities, charities and statutory bodies to more accurately identify areas where service life presents a disadvantage, which will in turn enable the Government, councils and the NHS to better allocate resources and deliver on their Armed Forces Covenant commitments.
Conservative Group Lead on Armed Forces Issues and member of the Brighton & Hove Civil Military Partnership Board, Cllr. Ann Norman, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve managed to get cross party agreement to support this campaign. I brought it forward, having been approached by the Royal British Legion, because I agree with their assessment that there is a glaring gap in knowledge about this often hidden community and the problems they face. It is really not right that we have more information about Jedi Knight followers in the UK than we do about the Armed Forces Community. The more councils that sign up to support this campaign the more likelihood we have of succeeding in getting these vitally important questions onto the 2021 Census return.”
Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, has responded to an attack from Council Leader, Warren Morgan on his blog, about the Group’s handling of Labour’s proposed closure of Hove Library.
Cllr. Theobald said: “Resorting to threats and personal insults is frankly not the conduct you would expect from the Leader of an important City Council, and it damages Brighton & Hove’s reputation with the outside world. I’m afraid that these are the tactics of a desperate man who has completely failed to make his case for selling the Carnegie building and building an extension on the gardens surrounding Hove Museum. Indeed, with just days to go before the decision is to be made, we have yet to see the final report.
He is now trying to frighten residents by threatening to close up to 12 branch libraries across the city. Let me make it abundantly clear to Cllr. Morgan – the Conservative Group will not allow this to happen.
Indeed, his argument is coming crumbling down around him. At the very same meeting as the Hove Library issue is due to be debated, we are being asked to endorse a report that shows that the Council underspent its Budget by £4.8 million last year, despite dire warnings from Cllr. Morgan that the Council was on the verge of going bankrupt and faced a deficit of well over £8 million.
This surplus of £4.8 million would be enough to keep the Carnegie Building open for another 30 years!
And we must ask ourselves why Cllr. Morgan has chosen this moment to reveal that he has been having talks with a cinema chain about selling them the Carnegie Building? Especially when he knows full well that officers have advised that this building is entirely unsuitable for a cinema.
I have always had a completely open mind on this issue. My only criteria was that the residents of Hove should not receive a diminished library service as a result of any changes. If Cllr. Morgan had come to me in the first instance when the plans were still on the drawing board – rather than being presented as a fait accompli – we could have thrashed out a scheme that we could all have supported.
We have always been willing to support genuine innovation and radical thinking in order to provide Council services that deliver the best outcome for the residents of this city. We will not however be blackmailed into supporting something that has clearly not been thought through properly – particularly when it means selling off an iconic building that the residents of Hove love and are genuinely proud of.”
Patcham Ward Councillors are delighted to learn that Highways England is open to ideas for the future look of the Patcham A23 roundabout.
In response to an initial letter from the Ward Councillors, Highways England have responded to the Council saying that they want to start discussions about the future of the roundabout which was cleared of vegetation in February for safety reasons.
Cllr Lee Wares said “An opportunity exists for the ugliest roundabout in Sussex to be transformed into something more stunning or iconic that reflects the nature of our great City and we are urging the Labour Administration to grasp it with both hands. Of course there will be constraints and regulations to abide by but why not, for example, hold a competition for the children of our City to produce ideas to express what they think Brighton and Hove means to them?”
Cllr Wares added “So much emphasis is placed on public art and displays in the City and making our seafront attractive and quite rightly so but, let’s begin the experience here in Patcham”.
Cllr Geoffrey Theobald said “Hundreds of thousands of people pass this roundabout and I would hope that Highways England would agree to sponsors for the site to help fund something exciting and imaginative. We should not let this opportunity pass us by and end up with a wasteland covered in weeds or a few shrubs”.
Cllr Carol Theobald commented “I’m pleased that Highways England has recognised the importance of this site and are open to discussions. However, it’s not before time – we contacted them about two months ago try and get something done and have had to chase it up on several further occasions.”
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald (Patcham Ward) has been re-elected unopposed for a sixth year as Conservative Group Leader for the forthcoming municipal year at the Group’s AGM this week.
Existing Group Deputy Leaders Dee Simson (Woodingdean Ward) and Andrew Wealls (Central Hove Ward) were also re-elected unopposed, Andrew for a second year and Dee for a fourth year in a row.
Andrew has been the Group’s Finance Spokesman for the last year and Dee is the Group’s long-standing Community and Voluntary Sector lead and is highly respected in the sector.
The Conservative Group is the Official Opposition on Brighton & Hove City Council, holding 20 out of the 54 seats. Cllr. Theobald became Group Leader following the local elections in May 2011.
Cllr. Theobald said: “I am delighted that my colleagues have given me the honour of leading the Conservative Group for another year and I would like to thank them for their support. I have a united team behind me, including two excellent deputies, and our new intake of councillors is already making a big impression.”
Cllr. Wealls said: “I would like to thank my colleagues for their support. We have had a great deal of success this last year with the Labour Administration now following our lead in starting the process of reform and modernisation of many of the Council’s services.”
Cllr. Simson added: “It is great to be given another vote of confidence by my Group colleagues and I am looking forward to the year ahead. With all the changes coming in across the Council we shall certainly be aiming to keep the minority Labour Administration on its toes.”
Cityclean have advised that Highways England have agreed to them having night time lane closures on the A23 and A27 to pick up all the rubbish on the verges. This will happen on the 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th April. Litter picking will take place on the A23 between Patcham roundabout and the pillars and on the A27 between Falmer and Southwick tunnel. It will also include all the slip roads.
Cllr Lee Wares said “this is very welcome news and has been needed for a long time. As a lot of the major roads pass through Patcham Ward, you can imagine the volume of complaints and enquiries we receive. Not only is rubbish extremely unsightly, it can be a significant risk to motorists with debris and rubbish capable of blowing around in the wind. One shudders at the thought of a piece of plastic wrapping across somebody’s windscreen at 70mph”.
Cllr Carol Theobald added “we have raised this many times in the past and I’ll be delighted once it has all been cleaned up. The litter is not a good advert for the City and whereas we would like this done more frequently, a big clear up before the summer season is excellent. Hopefully Patcham roundabout will be included”.
Cllr Geoffrey Theobald commented “I commend Cityclean and Highways England for working together on this and arranging the work. Lane closures on major roads are not easy to organise but very necessary to keep our workforce and roads users safe. We know there is a degree of inconvenience to motorists, but at night it should be minimal and I think we would all accept it will be a small price to pay to get the gateway roads to our City litter free”.
The Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove City Council has criticised a Motion to be proposed by the Labour Group at this week’s Council meeting as ridiculous and cynical.
Conservative Finance Spokesperson, Councillor Andrew Wealls said “It is ludicrous that Labour has called on the Government to better support the retail sector when small businesses themselves have welcomed the tax reforms and raised threshold for business rate relief announced in the Budget.
“Not only that but the government’s commitment to raise the National Living wage and basic rate Income Tax threshold represents a pay rise of over a thousand pounds per year for full time minimum wage earners in the retail sector. Additionally the government is investing another £25m in recruiting young people into apprenticeships and is committed to delivering three million apprentices by 2020.”
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, Leader of the Conservative Group commented “Four years ago Labour Councillor Gill Mitchell produced a report on how the council could better support the retail sector. They have done nothing since then. We suggest the Labour administration works hard and utilises the Council’s own localism powers to better support the local retail sector, instead of pointing the finger at central government and cynically asking them to do things they have already done.”
He added “If Labour is serious about helping to increase trade and opportunity for our city’s shops then why did they oppose our Motion to offer free parking before Christmas which would have undoubtedly encouraged more people to venture into the city and spend in our local shops? This on top of making it more difficult for people to park with the hugely flawed pay-by-phone system and increasing parking charges suggests quite the opposite that Labour does not care about our local retail sector at all.”
Councillor Theobald’s comments refer to the findings of the 2012 ‘Support of the Retail Sector’ Report of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel, chaired by Councillor Mitchell which are yet to be implemented. Recommendations included, among others “increasing the flexibility of [the Council’s] approach to parking, utilising special offers and targeted support through parking regulations to promote specific retail areas”; “developing and implementing a Citywide Retail Strategy”; and “exploiting new ‘localism’ powers to support retailers through increased flexibility and responsiveness.”
The Labour and Cooperative Group Notice of Motion on the Retail Sector seeks agreement to “request the Chief Executive to write to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills urging the Government to give us every assistance in supporting the retail sector in Brighton and Hove, including having a strategic approach nationally to improving wages and terms and conditions in the retail sector, encouraging career progression in retail and ensuring the creation of high quality apprenticeships within retail.”