Opinion – From budget battles to crowdfunding success and from building new homes to Albion’s promotion, it’s been quite a year!

Posted On 25 Dec 2017 at 4:01 am

In keeping with a chilly January, the year started with us announcing that the majority of parking charges in Brighton and Hove would be frozen for another year.

Some of our target 500 new council homes were completed in Portslade and we put forward proposals for “Rail South”, giving commuters and businesses a voice in how services are run.

Our plans to put the Royal Pavilion and our museums into trust took shape.

As work began on the new Hanningtons Lane off North Street, in February we secured £12 million in funding towards preparing for the new arena and conference centre at Black Rock.

We got through one of the most difficult budgets in council history as we worked to keep services going in the face of an over £11 million reduction in funding from government.

As spring began in March our successful anti fly-tipping campaign, our new multimillion-pound Brighton and Hove Community Fund and work on our new Economic Strategy all blossomed.

April saw approval for more new council homes at Hobby Place in Whitehawk, the launch of our plans to restore and improve Brighton Town Hall and the rollout of new contactless machines making it easier for people to pay for parking.

The idea of a “Southern Accelerator” centred on the city, rivalling the Northern Powerhouse, was put forward.

As the city celebrated Albion’s promotion to the Premier League, in May the council awarded the Freedom of the City to manager Chris Hughton and chairman Tony Bloom, before helping to organise a huge parade and party on the seafront.

Meanwhile we abolished fees for child funerals and council tax for care leavers.

As we prepared for the summer, more bins were installed along the seafront, while new wheelie bins for recycling were rolled out to many neighbourhoods.

All tenants in our council high-rise blocks got hand-delivered letters with key information in the wake of the Grenfell disaster and the council signed up to the British Sign Language Charter.

The council became a founding member of the new Transport for the South East body planning road and rail for the future.

The summer kicked off in July with the launch of the Madeira Terraces crowdfunding campaign and the successful sale of King’s House.

Councillor Warren Morgan

One hundred more new homes were given the go-ahead, the popular bike share scheme was launched and work began on the Circus Street project.

An extra £100,000 was put into the city’s parks and £50,000 on work to tackle domestic violence.

August saw the launch of our “Streets Ahead” campaign to reduce litter and our “Make Change Count” campaign to help rough sleepers.

We signed the Small Business Charter, joined the Fast Track Cities initiative on HIV and our schools saw great exam results again.

A busy September included the go-ahead for the Preston Barracks scheme and the joint housing venture with Hyde to build 1,000 truly affordable homes.

Action on HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) through planning enforcement began, work on Mile Oak playground started, a new A&E at the Royal Sussex County Hospital was approved, funding to buy back council homes sold under the “Right to Buy” was agreed and £150,000 went into saving supported bus routes.

In October a big improvement in our recycling rate was revealed and a new swimming pool on Madeira Drive was given the go ahead.

November saw work begin on yet more council homes in Hollingbury, the launch of our new million-pound children’s fund and calls for fair pay for public sector staff and fair funding from government.

The Madeira Terraces crowdfunding campaign hit its target, raising over £450,000 from residents and businesses.

In December we held the first Rent Smart conference to improve the private rented sector, saw a big improvement in our planning service recognised and almost 60 new council homes at Kite Place were finished.

We opened our shelter for rough sleepers and the “city tracker” poll revealed that resident satisfaction with the council is at a five-year high.

This has been our 2017. Thanks to council staff, residents and partner organisations who have helped us achieve so much. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Councillor Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. rolivan Reply

    Cllr Morgan you still haven’t told us why you decided to go into partnership with Hyde when you told me that the Council are not developers when I proposed the idea of the Council doing the same with Kings House.Also what happened to the extra £10m plus from the sale of Kings House and the refurb at Hove Town Hall.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all at Brighton and Hove News.

    • Mike Reply

      I think there’s an obvious answer to the question you posed to Warren Morgan; the Council has no business speculatively building hundreds of homes for sale (potentially at a profit but possibly at a massive loss if they mess it up) when a commercial developer with the right skills and ability to manage the risks can do it much better. Jointly funding and sharing risk with a housing association to build 1000 low cost affordable homes is far better aligned with the Council’s housing duties and also better fits the Council’s risk profile and risk appetite (very low). What on earth leads you to think the Council could manage the risk of speculatively building circa 600 flats and a new leisure centre. They don’t have the people and skills for this and they couldn’t ever get them if they tried. Let Crest or another housebuilder take the risk and if they do it well make the profit. There is high potential the King Alfred scheme will be half built as a property market downturn sets in – that’s a scary place to be when you’ve got hundreds of millions locked up in an 18 storey tower which you can’t stop building. Not something that a Council should be doing in my opinion. Whereas demand for affordable housing goes up in a recession – it’s counter cyclical as that’s the precise time that more affordable homes are needed. To provide a safety valve / net for people who lose their jobs …

  2. rolivan Reply

    I think you need to read what I said as you clearly have the 2 buildings mixed up I am talking about Kings House and you are talking about The King Alfred.You obviosly think it is ok for The Council to put up £60m for a joint venture but not do the same with Kingss House.Perhaps you have a vested interest?

  3. Fishwife, 49 Reply

    It’s wholly disingenuous to claim that “more bins were installed along the seafront”: in actual fact, the barrel-shaped bins were removed from all the other areas of town, meaning litter has increased in the places that tourists and dignitaries are unlikely to see.

  4. Mike Reply

    I had confused the two however my position wouldn’t be changed either way. For the avoidance of doubt I have no vested interest other than being a council tax payer – and not wanting to front the risk of building hundreds of high priced flats in a big tower at a risky and uncertain time. I feel better about the council doing something about providing the type of housing that real people in the city can afford rather than building hundreds of expensive flats that most people here can’t and won’t ever be able to afford. That’s what house builders exist for – not local authorities – as far as I’m aware anyway.

    • rolivan Reply

      If the Council are not speculators then why do they have a portfolio of over 2000 properties, they are not all for Council Housing?They also own hundeds of acres of Farmland which yields very little.Times are changing Councils will now have to find ways to increase revenue.I see Cllr Morgan hasn’t come back to reply to how much Hyde are paying for their share of the Land that the 1000 properties are going to be built on?

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