Withdean Ward Councillor Raises Awareness of Education Trust Fund

Nick Taylor, the newly elected Councillor for Withdean ward, has written to local schools raising awareness of the Education Trust Fund.

The Fund is overseen by Brighton and Hove City Council and aims to give support to applicants to cover the costs associated with education. This can include school trips, books, travel and equipment.

There are strict eligibility criteria for the Fund and it can only grant small amounts but any parent who may need assistance should contact their local school or the City Council.

Councillor Taylor said, “As a newly appointed Trustee of the Fund I was concerned that there was a lack of awareness among parents about the support available. I would hate to think that deserving cases are not coming forward because they simply do not know that the Fund exists. I have therefore written to schools that educate children from Withdean ward to help raise awareness so that schools and parents are aware of the potential support available. Trustees can only help the neediest of cases and funds are limited but all of us trustees want to help those who need our assistance.”

The Education Trust Fund holds money from benefactors who have granted money to assist with the education of residents of Brighton and Hove.

Schools receiving letters are:
Westdene Primary
St Bernadette’s Roman Catholic Primary
Balfour Primary
Stanford Infants and Junior Schools
Varndean Shool
Dorothy Stringer

The Trustees of the Education Trust Fund include:
Cllr. Mo Marsh (Chair)
Cllr. Vanessa Brown
Cllr. Daniel Chapman
Cllr. Amanda Knight

Give all children a ‘fair’ chance says Conservatives in call to action to Fairness Commission

The Conservative Group has called on Brighton and Hove Fairness Commission to tackle the root of most of the issues around poverty and inequality in the city – the inequalities of educational and training opportunities for our children and young people, in a letter submitted to the Fairness Commission this week.

Highlighting the gap in achievement between children who are eligible for free school meals and those who aren’t, the Conservative Group stressed the need to eliminate this by looking at schemes and policies across the country, describing the gap in achievement at Key Stage 4 as being “depressingly wide”. Their letter states “31% fewer children eligible for free school meals achieve 5 A*-C grades including English & Maths at GCSE than their more advantaged counterparts” and calls for further investigation into possible solutions.

The Conservative Group has also called for the Commission to review outcomes for ethic minority children and children for whom English is their second language.

Other issues covered in the Conservative Group’s submission letter include further work to address the needs of minority groups and long-term unemployed; a review of paid and voluntary training schemes, support for improved mental health in the city; and an assessment of the Council’s ongoing reorganisation of youth services with regard to minority groups.

Importantly, in addition to opportunities for children and young people, the Conservative Group has asked that the Commission does not forget the needs of our older generation, referring to a report by the ‘Campaign to End Loneliness’ calling for loneliness to be considered a public health issue. To this end the Conservative Group has called on the Commission to ensure that older people have adequate access to council, external or voluntary services.

Leader of the Conservative Group, Councillor Geoffrey Theobald commented “Although there are many important issues to cover in ensuring Brighton and Hove gives equal opportunity to all its residents, we have mainly focussed our submission to the Commission around children and young adults. This is because we firmly believe in the importance of building aspiration in children and giving them opportunities to achieve regardless of their personal circumstances and background – which only serves to improve society in the future. To this end, we wish the Commission well in their work and look forward to updates on their progress.”

The letter has been submitted to the Fairness Commission who will use the evidence gathered to make recommendations to the council and its partners to increase opportunities for the city’s residents in a report expected in summer 2016. The findings will also inform the council’s budgets with an aim to ensure that resources are being used to tackle inequality.

Conservative criticise Labour free parking scrooges

Ebenezer Scrooge

Conservatives have expressed disappointment at the Labour Administration for not supporting their proposal to help local traders by offering free Christmas parking and by suspending all non-urgent roadworks in the city during December.

The Group’s Notice of Motion calling for free parking at certain under-used Council car parks on Small Business Saturday and the 3 Sunday’s before Christmas was voted down by the Labour and Green groups.

Group Transport Spokesman, Cllr. Tony Janio, said: “I am bitterly disappointed with the Labour party scrooges who have put the block on free Christmas parking. This time last year when we put this same initiative forward, they enthusiastically backed us – residents and the local business community will simply not understand this u-turn. Their excuse was that the Council doesn’t have enough money to implement free parking, but this ignores the fact that it would bring more people into the city and hence more money into the local economy.”

Fellow Committee Member, Cllr. Joe Miller, who seconded the Motion, added: “this was an ideal opportunity for the new Labour Administration to shake off the anti-motorist tag the city has gained in recent years under the Greens yet, by voting against our motion, they have blown it.”

Improvements to City Gateway Junction Have Immediate Success

City Gateway Junction Improvements Image 1Working with the City’s Traffic Officers, Conservative Ward Councillor for Patcham and Hollingbury, Lee Wares has brought about immediate success along the A23 London Road by the A23/A27 roundabout junction.

Legal, but unclear road markings, made it potentially confusing for those parking on London Road alongside Patcham Place to know where you could and could not park. This led to fines being issued, dangerous pedestrian crossing points and congestion as vehicles had to navigate between traffic islands and parked vehicles.

Cllr Lee Wares said “with a little bit of thought and the spending of a relatively small amount of money redefining road markings, a huge difference to pedestrian safety and traffic flow can be achieved. Kerb space for parking wasn’t diminished and we didn’t have to introduce a controlled parking zone to fund it”.

He added “as a gateway in and out of the city taking traffic from the A23 and A27, it is imperative that this junction is as clear as possible. Frequent inappropriate parking has seen large vehicles get stuck and traffic backing up as a consequence. Also, it never felt fair that fines were being issued to drivers who might have been unsure of where they could park. Now it is obvious.”

City Gateway Junction Improvements Image 2“Pedestrian safety is also paramount and no longer will we have pedestrians having to dart between parked vehicles to cross this fast stretch of road”.

Cllr Geoffrey Theobald commented “this small but high impact project goes to demonstrate that low levels of investment on well thought out solutions can make a significant difference. If we could apply this approach across the city we could make such a positive difference to those that wish or need to drive whilst keeping pedestrians and other road users safe”.

Conservative welcome Second Brighton rail line decision

Brighton & Hove City Council Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, has welcomed the decision by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to specifically explore the feasibility of building a second main train line between Brighton and London to ease the severe problems with reliability and capacity on the existing line.

Responding to a letter from new Conservative MP for Lewes, Maria Caulfield, George Osborne said: “As part of the Summer Budget, I have announced the extension of the scope of the Lewes–Uckfield study to look at improving rail links between London and the south coast, including upgrades to existing routes, consideration of the Brighton Main Line corridor, and re-examination of the Department for Transport’s feasibility study on BML2.”

Cllr. Theobald, a long-term supporter of BML2, said: “This really is very welcome news indeed and I would like to thank the Chancellor for his foresight in extending the feasibility study to include BML2. It is clear from his letter that he recognises, not only the benefits to long-suffering commuters of a second Brighton mainline but, equally importantly, the potentially massive economic benefits to the south east as a whole. Maria Caulfield deserves a lot of credit for continuing to pursue the case for BML2 in the face of a vociferous and often misleading campaign by her predecessor, Norman Baker, against it. As a former Brighton councillor, Maria can see the wider benefits that BML2 would bring, not just to her constituency. I very much hope that the study will now proceed apace because the current mainline is clearly very close to breaking point.”


Brighton and Hove Conservative’s offices in Sackville Road, Hove have again been targeted with graffiti. This is one of a number of “attacks” over recent months directed at the local Conservative office. During the recent elections the office window was sprayed with paint and they have been again. Billboards have been vandalised and dog’s mess has been left outside the entrance with a number of undesirable “things” posted through the letter box.

Local Party Chairman, Cllr Lee Wares said, “We believe in freedom of speech and expression but it is inexcusable for that to be in the form of criminal damage. It is also particularly unpleasant and concerning for staff.” He added, “The country exercised its democratic right to vote in May and returned a majority Conservative Government. I accept that will not please everybody and clearly not the person who spray painted our offices but, this is not the way to create change or prevent us from delivering on our manifesto promises”

Conservative Opposition Leader, Cllr Geoffrey Theobald said “We don’t always like the outcomes of elections and that is the same for us and many residents of the City who now have a minority Labour Administration. However, in our democratic country there should be healthy debate and not acts of anti-social behaviour and criminality”.

The Police are investigating.

Councillor Lee Wares
Patcham and Hollingbury
Member of Planning Committee
Member of Licensing Committee
Member of Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Brighton and Hove City Council
King’s House
Grand Avenue
Tel: 01273 291996
Email: lee.wares@brighton-hove.gov.uk


Conservative Cllr Lee Wares has learnt from Council staff that the projected cost of extending the Horsdean traveller site is likely to rise from £1.7m to £2.4m, an increase of £700,000. Although the original £1.7 million would have been covered by a Government grant, the £700,000 overspend will now have to be met by council taxpayers.

The existing site of 23 transit pitches will be converted to 12 permanent pitches and 21 transit pitches. With minimal works proposed to the 21 transit pitches, the new 12 permanent pitches are thought to now be costing around £2.4m; a staggering £200k per pitch.

Cllr Lee Wares said “it is an unbelievable amount of money to be spent on essentially creating 12 concrete hard stands each with a toilet and shower hut; for £200k you could build a fabulous four bedroom house”.

This extra £700,000 also appears to exclude the costs associated with any temporary site that might be established should Horsdean’s redevelopment take place.

As the Horsdean site is directly over a man-made adit (tunnel) that collects water drawn by Patcham pumping station, the Environment Agency requires expensive drainage systems and pollution control measures to be installed (as well as flood defences) to protect the City’s drinking water supply.

Cllr Lee Wares added “These measures however are not the end of the matter. The Environment Agency has dictated that no fuels, paints, bleaches, cleaning detergents and other like chemicals and products must be used or stored on site. This is to prevent the pollution control measures being degraded as well as the risk of contamination of the drinking water supply. However, this, practically, makes it impossible for travelling families to use the site”

“I’m also concerned that once all this money has been spent, the 21 transit pitches that could accommodate 100-150 people will only be served with four toilets as opposed to the permanent pitches that have a toilet each. It’s hardly a healthy, proper and reasonable solution for the travelling community”

Conservative Group Leader Cllr Geoffrey Theobald said “This is a totally unacceptable situation. Not only will risks remain to the City’s water supply but Council taxpayers will have to fork out an extra £700,000. Cllr Wares has rightly asked the Administration to suspend this project immediately so that urgent reviews of the health risks and funding can be investigated. With the project apparently due to start in 4-6 weeks’ time it is astonishing that no Committee has been briefed or asked for funds by Council officers”.

Cllr Lee Wares further advised that despite numerous requests for information from the Council, specific details have not been provided. This has now forced him to submit Freedom of Information requests. He added “it is really worrying when Councillors have to resort to making FOI requests”.

Armed Forces Mental Health Champion. Brighton & Hove.

Brighton & Hove Civil Military Partnership Board, comprising Brighton & Hove City Council, NHS Sussex Armed Forces Network, Royal British Legion and other partners across the city are pleased to launch the results of a project to provide pathways to services for ex armed forces across East and West Sussex. The project, funded by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme, and researched and designed by Joining Forces, cover pathways for services offered by public, private and voluntary organisations and include information on employment; social care; rough sleeping, physical health, mental health and housing. The resources are available online at http://www.sussexarmedforcesnetwork.nhs.uk/pathways/ and in hard copy by request to scdt.admin@nhs.net

The project aims to bring services together across the county and provide ‘at a glance’ information in particular for front line organisations working with ex armed forces across Sussex.

Conservative pressure over travellers pays off

Pressure from the Conservatives over unauthorised traveller encampments has paid off as the Council reveals it is considering the use of new Public Spaces Protection Orders to stop repeated and damaging incursions on sensitive sites in the city.

Woodingdean Ward Councillor, Steve Bell, has been pressing Council officers to make use of the new powers that were introduced by the Conservative-led Government last October. The Orders prohibit particular behaviour in specified locations where this behavior has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of residents. This could include camping, driving on and damaging grassed areas and making too much noise. Breaching the Orders is a criminal offence with a fine of up to £2,000.

Cllr. Bell said: “I’m delighted that the constant pressure we have been putting on over the traveller issue finally seems to have paid off with some concrete action by the Council. The tipping point for me was the recent incursion by travellers on the Cemetery in Woodingdean which showed a complete and utter lack of respect for the local community. Anything that makes it easier for the Police and Council to take action against these encampments has to be welcomed and I will be looking to ensure that a wide a range of sites as possible are included in the Order.”

Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, added: “As a Group we have been arguing for years that certain sensitive sites in the city should be totally off limits for travellers and have always been thwarted in our attempts by the Green and Labour Parties. I urge the new Labour Administration to bring this in without delay so that residents don’t have to put up with repeated and very costly disruption in the areas covered by this Order.”

Conservatives say keep public loos open

Conservatives are urging the new Labour Administration not to close public toilets in Brighton & Hove after they announced they are considering cutting the budget for this vital service by £160,000 a year.

As part of a review of provision in the city, Labour is also considering charging customers for use of public loos.

Conservative Group Environment Spokesman, Tony Janio, said: “It is a common complaint I hear from residents and visitors to the city that there simply aren’t enough good quality public toilets. This is one of the most basic services that councils should provide, particularly ones such as ours that rely so heavily upon tourism, and so I would urge the new Labour Administration not to try and close any down. This would hit the elderly and vulnerable particularly hard and many of them will simply be forced to stay in their homes if they are not confident in the knowledge that there are public loos within walking distance when they go out.”

Conservative Group Leader, Geoffrey Theobald, added: “This really isn’t what residents wanted to hear from the new Labour Administration, just a month into their period of office. The previous Green Administration tried on several occasions to close down public toilets or reduce operating hours and we consistently put forward Budget amendments to try and reverse this. Indeed, at this year’s Budget the Conservative Group was successful in getting a temporary stay of execution for the proposed £160k cut but it appears that Labour is intent on opening up the closure agenda again.”