Barred from Brighton Town Hall – the young people asking why youth services are being cut

Posted On 15 Dec 2016 at 6:36 pm

Dozens of young people were told they could not enter Brighton Town Hall this afternoon when one of them asked a public question about cuts to youth services.

They were told that they should have booked tickets in advance despite the unusually high number of empty seats in the public gallery at the Brighton and Hove City Council meeting.

They had come to hear Boudicca Pepper, 17, ask a public question about the proposed £1.35 million cut to youth services at a meeting of the full council.

But the college student added: “None of the members of the community supporting the youth service who came with me today were allowed into the meeting.”

Before the meeting, Councillor Tom Bewick, who chairs the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Committee, took time to speak to those protesting outside the town hall.

Immediately after Miss Pepper spoke, another member of the public, Nigel Furness, asked why the public “have been excluded from partaking in the democratic proceedings” unless they booked a ticket in advance.

Councillor Les Hamilton alluded to the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox earlier this year and said that risk assessments were being carried out before each meeting.

He said that proper provision was being made for people with disabilities and that even when the public was seated in the gallery of the newly refurbished Hove Town Hall, it was suitable for all.

Mr Furness said: “There have been spontaneous demonstrations outside today but people have not been admitted.

“It’s not democratic. I hope that this is nothing to do with the very nasty rumours I’m hearing that the Labour administration is looking at excluding the hoi polloi by returning to a cabinet system.”

His question about the prospect of a return to the cabinet system of decision-making went unanswered.

But Councillor Hamilton said that tickets would be required on only a very few occasions, for example, where large demonstrations were planned.

He added: “On the majority of occasions there will not be the need for contacting anybody in advance and obtaining a ticket.”

Miss Pepper also said: “We are to see very deep, damaging cuts in the budget – the loss of the city’s youth service being a prime example of a cut that in the long term will end up costing the city a lot more both financially and socially.

Councillor Warren Morgan

Councillor Warren Morgan

“What the residents of the city want to know is, what is the council actually doing to demand back the funding from central government?

“There must be a plan or our city will bleed.

“Reassure us that you are doing everything possible. You must say no, as it is not enough to just ‘make the sums fit’.”

Council leader Warren Morgan replied to her. He said: “I do take every opportunity to speak up for our city, our residents and services.”

Councillor Morgan said that he wrote and spoke extensively in the media and on his own blog. He said that he had worked with the Local Government Association, spoken directly to the Communities and Local Government Secretary and even started a petition.

He added: “I look forward to support from across this chamber, across this city and across politics.”

Councillor Morgan said: “It certainly isn’t the case that we are excluding or ignoring young people.”

He urged young people to speak up directly to the government and to contact their MP.

“There are no cuts left,” he added. “If not youth services, it will be one of the other 700 services we provide that we have to cut. The situation now is desperate. The situation now is critical.”

  1. Hjarrs Reply

    How ridiculous, this seems little more than an excuse for the Labour Party to keep out those that do not agree with them. Likewise, their move towards cabinet style council is again to lock out others. To be fair they treat there own members in a similarly shabby way.

  2. Valerie Paynter Reply

    The Labour Party’s delusions of self-importance are crude and self-aggrandising to a nearly Trumpesque level in this city. They run a private club that happens to stand for election and too many of them just want to swagger about with power and bait the Tories. Very immature.

  3. Valerie Paynter Reply

    Is the faint sound available on the webcasting of Full Council ALSO about distancing the Administration from public scrutiny?


      I was thinking much the same myself, Valerie, as I sat in the public Gallery. I could barely hear the proceedings! I was in Eastbourne until now, so have been unable as yet to view the Website, but I also noticed that the lighting was gloomier than I can ever recall and, whereas I know I am awaiting a cataract operation, I really don’t think that my eyesight has detirieorated quite that catastrophically over the last few weeks since my previous visit to the public gallery of Brighton Town Hall. So much for our “inclusive” City!

      • Daniel Harris Reply

        They hadn’t turned on the speakers thats why, Good Old Richard got that sorted.

  4. Warren Morgan Reply

    These young people were not excluded from the Town Hall by “the Labour Party” or councillors. The question was originally tabled by a Green candidate from August’s by-election – we had no notice of any representations by young people other than those outside who Tom spoke to at length.

    • Valerie Paynter Reply

      This is a comment that is unworthy of you, Warren. YOU, the LABOUR PARTY and LABOUR CLLRS are the Administration and who is allowed into the public gallery is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. You ARE excluding people and creating a Democratic Bypass Administration (and I include the way Planning is now run in saying this).

  5. Mitchie Alexander Reply

    It is true that the question came from me and i am very pleased that a local teen was asked to read the question on my behalf as unfortunately i was not able to attend myself due to illness. But at the end of the day if there were seats left after the ticket holders had taken up their seats then whoever was responsible should have let the young members of the public in. The working class youth of our city are being pushed under the carpet once again. COME ON … if this was a group of middle aged middle class ladies …of course they would have been let in if there were available seats!

  6. CB Reply

    Yes it is critical, when we abandon the young of the City, their future carers, engaged workers, tax paying citizens, perhaps our future politicians. Do we tell College and University students the same, currently taking courses in Youth Work and relevant qualifications to forget it, those skills are no longer relevant in this City and the wider UK? The signal is, youth work is no longer valuable nor viable. Well, if that is the thats the case, The Universities of Brighton and Hove should probably take youth work off the curriculum

    We can teach its importance to Overseas wealthy students, but the message is that, those multi-faceted skills matter not at local level!

  7. Daniel Harris Reply

    I a labour member personally went down stairs and told the security there were spaces for up to 6-7 people. That was a fact and the security made up some mumbo jumbo.

    I know Labour Members are extreamly concerned internally with these cuts and many are distancing themselves from the proposals. Tell me this Warren Morgan – Why are you cutting 750k from Temporary Accommodation? Why Substance Misuse Services?

    Someone I knew a member of the LGBT Community and someone who was battling hidden homeless and addiction issues, was found dead on Brighton Beach a few days ago.

    They say they want ideas but when we give them they are not listened to. We know there is much procurement fraud in the city and so does Warren, tackle these people not the vulnerable and young.

    If you are a YOUTH I saw as a Labour Member to Join Labour its like £1 a month, become active in the party and help to educate other members, thats what we need a driven youth and more activists to resist cuts.

  8. Arthur Reply

    I’d give up on Labour if I were you Daniel. They will never let anyone but their own centrists and business associates have any power.

  9. Jan Cosgrove Reply

    Cllr Bewick has failed to respond to my email pointing out that, contrary to what he has said, youth services are statutory, not discretionary. These cuts will not be lawful.

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