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