Conservatives on Brighton & Hove City Council are calling for the Council’s Labour Administration to abandon its plans to slash the number of Park Rangers employed in the City from 9 to 3.
There has been widespread condemnation of the plans from residents, volunteers and conservationists culminating in the presentation of a deputation at today’s Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee meeting at Portslade Town Hall by a group of volunteers.
Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, who introduced Park Rangers when he was Cabinet Member for the Environment in 2009, said: “These proposed cuts to the Park Ranger service are a false economy and threaten all the great work that has been achieved in recent years in terms of conservation and improving the city’s highly valued parks and green spaces. We urge the Labour Administration to seriously rethink their plans ahead of the Budget Council meeting next month.”
Cllr. Tony Janio, the Conservative Group Spokesman on Environment, Transport & Sustainability, added: “Without a properly staffed Park Ranger service the army of wonderful conservation volunteers that we have in the city will simply not be able to carry on with all the excellent work they currently do, particularly around protecting our internationally important chalk grassland habitat. They are one of the main reasons Brighton & Hove managed to secure the prestigious UNESCO Biosphere status and to put that at risk would be sheer folly.”
Nick Taylor, the Conservative Councillor for Withdean ward, has written to Southern Rail boss, Charles Horton, to urge improvements for the rail service between London and Brighton.
This comes after repeated delays have caused frustrations for residents of Withdean ward and Brighton and Hove. This is also on the eve of a rail conference organised for Sussex MPs with Southern to discuss improvements to services between Brighton and London.
Commenting on the matter Nick Taylor said: “I decided to write to Southern to add my concerns to the growing chorus of complaints for delays and cancellations which is affecting many residents locally and across the city.
The MPs will all get their say on the 18th January so as a local Councillor; I wanted the opportunity to express the concerns of local residents.
It is so frustrating when you cannot get to work on time or get home to tuck your children into bed. The time in the evening commuters spend is precious and they do not want to spend that time waiting at stations in the cold weather.
I very much hope Southern will get their act together to deliver the services that commuters expect and pay for.”
At its last meeting of the Full Council, Councillors put aside political differences to vote for a Conservative proposed Notice of Motion regarding multiple births.
The Notice of Motion was proposed by Conservative Councillor Nick Taylor and seconded by his ward colleague Councillor Ann Norman.
The Motion called for NHS England to investigate and to make use of extra resources for tackling the high level of still births and neonatal deaths for multiple births.
The Conservative Group accepted an amendment to the Motion which requested that the Health and Wellbeing Board investigates this matter further as part of its work programme.
Speaking at the debate, Councillor Taylor, who is also a triplet himself, said: “As a multiple I was lucky. All three of us had healthy weights. Nor did any of us suffer from complications or abnormalities. I therefore feel a great sense of vocation in standing up for those multiples who do not have luck on their side.”
Despite the advances in technology and practices multiple births still account for 7% of stillbirths and 14% neonatal deaths, despite accounting for only 3% of births. In addition, multiple births place a greater strain on the expectant mothers and require greater care and support.
Commenting after the debate, Councillor Taylor said: “I was so pleased to see that every Councillor voted to support the Notice of Motion that I proposed. I was very happy to accept the amendment to my original Notice as I felt that it was a concrete call to action for the Council”
“I hope this is the first step that we all take as a Council to investigate and to bridge this gap in outcomes for multiple children born in our city.”
A petition championed by Conservative Councillors Vanessa Brown and Jayne Bennett has been launched to reintroduce scratch card voucher parking amid ongoing concerns from the city’s residents and visitors regarding the current pay-by-phone parking system.
As highlighted in recent press, a significant proportion of the City’s residents and visitors are experiencing difficulties due to the increased use by the Council of pay-by-phone parking. This particularly affects many elderly people and those without, or who have difficulty using, mobile phones. To make their lives easier, the Conservative Group is calling for the reintroduction of scratch card vouchers as a means of paying for parking in the city.
Under Brighton & Hove City Council’s rules, if a petition reaches 1,200 signatures a debate can be had at the next Full Council meeting.
Talking about the need for a debate on the issue, Cllr Brown said “We felt we had a duty to organise a city-wide petition regarding the difficulties that the elderly and those without mobile phones are experiencing with the Council’s new pay-by-phone parking system. We will also be organising a protest at a future committee meeting to highlight people’s strong feelings on this issue.”
Cllr Bennett added “This is about giving residents and visitors a genuine choice over how they pay for parking in the City. If you agree then please sign the petition and help to secure a debate.”
You can have your say by visiting www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/petitions and clicking on the ‘Reintroduce scratch card voucher parking’ petition. For further details on being part of the protest regarding the pay-by-phone parking system, or to submit a paper response to the petition, email email@example.com.
Patcham and Hollingbury Local Action Teams have received £300 of ‘Safer in Sussex’ funding from the county’s Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne.
Commenting on the grant award Cllr Lee Wares said: “We are delighted our Local Action Teams have been awarded this funding, which will enable them to publicise their meetings and encourage residents to be more involved in helping improve and protect the local communities.”
Commending Cllrs Geoffrey and Carol Theobald and Lee Wares on organising
this successful bid, Mrs Bourne said: “The ability to promote the Local Action
Teams is a great example of an innovative local project that aims to make our
communities safer. Since launching the ‘Safer in Sussex’ funding scheme in December 2013 I have made over £1m available to more than 150 local crime reduction and community safety initiatives.”
Mrs Bourne went on to say: “In May this year the scheme was expanded to provide financial support to local victims’ services. In the most recent round of funding awards, over £200,000 was allocated to services that help residents who have been affected by crime to cope and recover. I am delighted that the scheme to attract such a strong response, which tells me local organisations and community groups care about – and are committed to – helping keep Sussex safe. I look forward to visiting the Patcham and Hollingbury Local Action Teams and following the progress of their project over the coming months.”
Ward Councillors Geoffrey and Carol Theobald and Lee Wares have introduced a project to their Ward to help residents get to know their neighbours and particularly those that could be vulnerable, isolated or might need a helping hand every now and then.
Cllr Lee Wares said “we were made aware of the project run by Know my Neighbour (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the Christmas Card they have produced sponsored by East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service. It is a simple concept of somebody sending one of the free Christmas cards to a neighbour telling them who they are and how to contact them”, he added “we all probably know somebody who would benefit from having a friendly neighbour nearby that they could call on when they need a little help. Duringwinter this could be just checking in on them or picking up the shopping or medicine”. “It is up to the person receiving the card to decide if they wish to accept any help”.
Cllr Carol Theobald, who sits on the East Sussex Fire Authority said “this is a great way to be able to try and tackle social isolation and I’m delighted with the support given by the Fire & Rescue Service”.
Cllr Geoffrey Theobald added “we all lead busy lives and in many instances letting our neighbours know we are there to help them isn’t through a lack of desire but sometimes knowing the best way to offer help. The Christmas cards provide a way”.
Cllr Lee Wares advised that cards have been left at Treats café in Ladies Mile Road, CJ Deli in Carden Avenue and Old Boat Corner Community Centre in Carden Hill.
Conservative Group Leader on Brighton & Hove City Council, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, is calling for a second Brighton to London rail mainline – BML2 – to be made the centrepiece of the Greater Brighton devolution bid to Government.
The Greater Brighton Economic Board, of which Cllr. Theobald is a member, comprises the Leaders and Chief Executives of Brighton & Hove City Council, Lewes District Council, Mid Sussex District Council and Adur & Worthing Councils. The Board has recently submitted a bid to Government for more powers to be devolved to the local area, including over transport investment, and Cllr. Theobald believes strong emphasis should be placed on BML2 in the negotiation process.
Cllr. Theobald said: “All the areas such as Manchester and Birmingham which have been successful in their negotiations with Government for greater powers have had a bold and ambitious vision for their areas. By putting the very obvious case for a second direct rail line from Brighton to London at the forefront of our bid, I firmly believe that we can join these municipal powerhouses. The Government is clearly very keen on investing in new rail infrastructure through projects such as HS2, Crossrail 1 & 2 and HS3 so I do believe that we would be knocking on an open door, or at the very least, one that has not been bolted shut. BML2 would bring about enormous economic benefits to both Greater Brighton and Greater London and would at the same time ease congestion and give passengers a direct and reliable alternative when things go wrong on the current Brighton to London line.”
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:
St Bernadette’s Roman Catholic Primary
Stanford Infants and Junior Schools
The Trustees of the Education Trust Fund include:
Cllr. Mo Marsh (Chair)
Cllr. Vanessa Brown
Cllr. Daniel Chapman
Cllr. Amanda Knight
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.
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.”