Traders and residents call for action to make Brighton shopping street safer

Posted On 02 Dec 2012 at 11:05 am

More than 120 people shared their concerns about drug dealing, drunkenness and violence in a Brighton shopping street at a community meeting on Friday evening (30 November).

The new Police Commissioner for Sussex, Katy Bourne, was among those attending the meeting about problems in the St James’s Street area at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church.

Many of those present indicated that they didn’t feel safe on the streets after midnight.

Katy Bourne

Council repairs

They agreed to create a new local action team (LAT) for the area and 30 people volunteered to be part of a working panel from which a committee will be elected.

Community activist Chris Cooke is stepping aside from his current role as chairman of the LGBT Community Safety Forum to be acting chairman of the new LAT.

Mr Cooke, who was chairman of the old LAT for the area, has also resigned as a member of the Labour Party so that he can be neutral during the process.

Mrs Bourne, a Conservative, gave the new LAT a grant of £250 to help it with its plans.

Concerns were expressed that the old LAT had become a battleground for party politics rather than somewhere for debating the concerns of residents and traders.

Hopes were expressed that the new LAT would be free of party politics.

Mr Cooke said: “The new LAT will work closely with statutory authorities and other agencies to effect the changes the community has voiced loud and clear at the public meeting on Friday.

“It’s a fresh start and the action group will be independent, transparent and politically neutral.

Chris Cooke

“On Friday we witnessed residents take charge of their own community and I cannot wait to get the process started with the new team.”

Members of the established political parties were present.

One of them, Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, agreed to write to local supermarkets urging them to be more community focused.

He will remind them of their responsibilities to local people, especially around the responsible sale of alcohol and providing support for community events such as the Pride Village Party.

Some of those present were unhappy about cyclists going the wrong way down the one-way street, although this has recently been legalised in several streets in the North Laine area.

They called for the area to become a pedestrian priority area on Saturdays for a test period. It was hoped that this would help gentrify the street and cut crime.

Reported crime in the area has gone up by more than 40 per cent over the past 12 months and a recent violent attack was one of the reasons given for calling the meeting.

New lighting has been ordered by Brighton and Hove City Council and should be in place in the new year.

The deputy leader of the council, Phelim Mac Cafferty, was asked to relay the pedestrian priority proposal back to his colleagues.

He was one of three Green councillors present on Friday along with Queen’s Park ward councillors Geoffrey Bowden and Stephanie Powell.

Councillor Gill Mitchell, leader of the Labour group on the council, also attended as did former Labour council leader Simon Burgess.

Others present included Chief Inspector Bruce Mathews, who runs the Safe in the City Delivery Unit, and the manager of the council’s Community Safety Team Peter Castleton.

A local businessman Christopher Gull was the independent chairman of the meeting and the LGBT Community Safety Forum provided funding and support.

  1. Anonymous Reply

    is it safe to walk the streets ?

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