Dog group, library markets, HMO landlord awards and a give button triumph at council innovation awards
A clutch of novel ways of making Brighton and Hove a better place to live – and saving the council some money at the same time – have been recognised at the inaugural city innovation awards.
The city council’s call for ideas for new ways to run services and bring in money drew more than 150 entries from residents, businesses, community groups and council staff.
Yesterday, the winners across five categories were announced at an awards ceremony at the Hilton Metropole, with each receiving a £1,000 prize.
Individual category – Vic Stevens’ idea for awards to recognise responsible HMO landlords
Young person’s category – 16-year-old Josh White’s idea for an online platform for young people to share ideas
Community and voluntary sector category – Rhian White of Brighton Dogwatch to improve facilities for dog owners
Council staff category – older people’s housing manager Peter Huntbach’s idea for a give button on the website
Business category – Emily O’Brien of the Brighton Food Partnership’s idea for using libraries and community spaces as new market places
The ceremony was hosted by TV personality Annabel Giles, who said “It’s very Brighton to come up with a nice competition that we can have a bit of fun with.”
The council’s chief executive Geoff Raw said: “There’s an old adage of Albert Einstein, if you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.
“There are so many challenges facing our community across the city and beyond. We will keep investing and keep innovating.
“It’s great for so many people to put their effort into these ideas.”
Peter Huntbach explained that his website giving button was for residents to easily share their ideas to improve services.
He said: “You might have this great idea, but not know where to go in the council with it.
“I once worked with Duncan Henderson of Cycling Without Age. He wanted to take older people out on a rickshaw, but he didn’t know who to contact. He ended up going to his MP, who went all round the houses before coming to a public health board meeting, and eventually to me, and we were able to take some residents out.
“If there was a give button on the website, he could have used that. It helps break that sense in the community of them and us – the council and residents, when we could be working together to make Brighton and Hove a better place.”
Josh White said of his scheme for an online youth platform: “The idea is that it helps to create a sense of community and a buzz around Brighton.”
Vic Stevens said his idea was inspired by living on Vernon Terrace, which has a high concentration of HMOs. He said: “Groups of my neighbours have been starting to green up the fronts of the buildings.
“If the council gave an annual award for that kind of thing, it could be transformational and really make a difference.”
Emily O’Brien said of the idea of putting small marketplaces in libraries: “I like the idea that you could pick up some vegetables with your library books. If you can’t get out and about, it helps to be able to access fruit and vegetables locally.
“People who could benefit from using libraries, but who might have historically been put off going there, could be encourage to use them.”
And Rhian White said the award was great recognition for the work the Dogwatch group was already doing. She said: “What we want to do is help the most vulnerable dogs in the city, ones which have been lost of abused – to make things better for them, and the people who care for them.”