North Portslade candidate spotlight

North Portslade candidates explain why they want to be a councillor. They also answer questions sent in by the public via social media.

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Nine candidates are standing for the two Brighton and Hove City Council seats in the North Portslade ward.

Why do you want to be a councillor?

Peter Atkinson is a nurse standing for Labour:

Peter Atkinson

I was elected as a councillor in 2015 and have been on a steep learning curve ever since. I asked to sit on the Housing Committee as I felt that affordable housing, renting or buying, was becoming more and more difficult for local people.

Hopefully, some of the Labour council’s plans are now beginning to make a difference. I also sit on the Environment Committee. I have worked as a nurse since 1979 and have always had a strong sense of community and public service.

I am very keen to stand again as a local councillor and I do feel, through local casework, that I have made a difference and got things done. I have lived in Portslade for 22 years with my wife, Melanie, and our two children.

For the past 20 years I have acted as a senior workplace representative for Unison and have developed organisational and representational skills which I have brought to the role of a councillor.

I regard myself as a democratic socialist and would see it as a great honour to be able to continue to serve the people of North Portslade. It is not a safe Labour seat and we need to earn every vote.

Elizabeth Craig is a senior lecturer in law, standing for the Liberal Democrats:

Elizabeth Craig

I have lived in North Portslade for more than 15 years. This is a great place to live but during that time I have also become aware of various obstacles to ensuring its full potential.

With the approval by the Labour-led council of controversial developments, I want to make sure that there is greater transparency and accountability in key decision-making processes and to ensure a better environment and quality of life for all residents of North Portslade.

Sharon Hamlin is standing for the Greens.

Ian Patrick Harris is a musician standing for the UK Independence Party:

Ian Patrick Harris

Brighton has changed during the 30 years I have been here – and not for the better. I would like an education system which is more about teaching facts and figures rather than promoting idealogical agendas. Ethics and morals can be best left to the families of children.

I would like to advocate for a non-partisan police force. The police should concentrate on solving actual crimes rather than virtue signalling. Brighton and Hove is a jewel of a city and I’d like it to retain its bohemian cultural dynamic nature. Let’s look after the people of Brighton first.

Emma Hogan is a doctor working in an NHS hospital, standing for the Conservatives:

Emma Hogan

The reasons I want to become a councillor are borne out of my work as a hospital doctor working with people who have become mentally unwell. Recently, on one of the wards there were only two patients out of 20 who had a home to go to.

Shocked? I know I was, but rather than waste energy complaining about it I thought I would try to tackle the problem from the other side. I firmly believe that one of the best ways we can all help the current mental health crisis we face is to make our local living space the best it can be.

Patricia Ann Mountain is retired and standing for the UK Independence Party:

Patricia Mountain

Local councillors provide a bridge between the community and the council. I want to be that bridge, representing local voices. I want to speak up for the unheard. I would be on hand to assist all constituents in North Portslade with any urgent, pressing or worrying issues they may have. I would be ready to help all individuals or groups. With the exception of some excellent ward councillors in the city, who I know work hard for local people, Brighton and Hove City Council is famous for being incompetent and, in the main, out of touch with the concerns of the electorate.

Anne Louise Pissaridou is standing for Labour:

Anne Pissaridou

I have lived in Portslade for over 12 years working as a school governor and I help run the local food bank. I oppose Tory cuts and will fight to protect local services.

Alexander Sallons is standing for the Greens.

What are you views on the design and impact on traffic of the Valley Gardens phase 3 project in Old Steine which includes making Madeira Drive one-way by the Palace Pier?

Peter Atkinson and Anne Pissaridou: The designs are currently being drawn up to a detailed design stage. All comments and issues raised are being addressed and we hope to see a detailed scheme which meets the needs of all residents and businesses/visitors expected. Those detailed designs will have to ensure that the city keeps moving while addressing the impacts of the climate change emergency and supporting a modern city where sustainable transport routes are protected and enhanced.

Elizabeth Craig: It is Lib Dem policy to oppose phase 3 of the Valley Gardens project at this stage, given local objections and concerns about the scheme. Again, there is a real problem here with lack of transparency and inadequate consultation.

Sharon Hamlin and Alexander Sallons: The Valley Gardens project was envisaged as a desperately needed green lung for the city centre and to improve walking and cycling. Phase 3 covers the area that is the city’s “accident black spot”. It’s a critical opportunity to cut serious injuries, many to cyclists.

The last Green council administration won £8 million of external funding to pay for the project. Labour’s delays to the scheme threatened this hard-won cash and left the  council scrambling to get the project to completion.

In this late and rushed process, there was inadequate consultation with residents and local businesses. Greens have pushed for better acknowledgement of the concerns raised. We have won assurances over new cycle lane provision and have heard that organisations such as Bricycles and Friends of the Earth now on board.

Emma Hogan: Having stated my views on the local living space above, I think it is important to consider the update and regeneration of central areas. I believe that there are many ways this area could become more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians but the current plan does not seem to achieve this in a safe way.

From what I understand, it seems that the design as it stands would benefit from input from the local residents and businesses to ensure that the best possible plan goes forward.

Ian Harris: UKIP are the party of small government and I would like to see considerable oversight before any council that I’m part of considers any new disruptive and expensive vanity projects. Councillors often cause more trouble than it is worth when they concern themselves with the idea of their legacy.

Patricia MountainThis scheme has been knocking around for years. Public consultation by the council is a joke. Let’s just mention the roundabout. After the initial consultation over 60 per cent wanted to retain the roundabout. It works perfectly well.

It looks as if the buses will unload into cycle lanes – another obvious concern if this is the case. Regarding the bike lane, it goes right through the pedestrian area?

My greatest hope is that Madeira Drive and the Terraces will be restored to their former glory. I do not see how one-way only traffic would work with only one exit for all traffic.

There is a huge problem with dog owners leaving waste behind, either in bags or just out in the open in parks and street. What will you do to tackle dog owners not picking up poo?

Peter Atkinson and Anne Pissaridou: Our new enforcement officers who have been brought in-house are out and about in neighbourhoods and targeting those whose anti-social behaviours are affecting all our lives. >We need to both educate and enforce our way out of this problem and we want that message to get through to all who choose to leave dog mess across our city.

Elizabeth Craig: I am very aware of this as a big issue where I live and would focus on ensuring better enforcement of current regulations against persistent non-compliers. There needs to be better co-operation between council officers and local communities to effectively address this problem.

Sharon Hamlin and Alexander Sallons: We need to ensure that the city’s enforcement officers (following the abandonment of Labour’s disastrous outsourcing experiment) make tackling owners who do not pick up their dogs’ waste a priority, alongside fly-tipping.

It is not just about “sticks”. We need more “carrots” too. More designated bins – especially in areas popular with dog walkers – will help dog walkers who intend to do the right thing.

Ian HarrisI have seen dog poo bins overflowing with waste. We need more collections. Also, the problem, that I see, is dog walkers picking up dog waste, in plastic bags, and then uncomprehendingly littering hedgerows with a confetti of gift-wrapped faeces. Such activity should face on-the -pot fines.

Emma Hogan: As a dog owner myself (see the lovely picture of Megan and Jackie), I am all too aware of the waste on the street but the answer is simple. More bins. I am now well qualified to show the council where these should be.

Patricia  MountainBefore I am called a dog hater I must emphasise I am an animal lover. Under the Dog Fouling Act of 2016 councils are responsible for keeping the streets clean. Some dog owners do not realise it but dog waste is an environmental pollutant. It can be dangerous, making its way into our water supply if not disposed of correctly. More public awareness is required.

On-the-spot heavy fines should be introduced. Fines could be imposed by traffic wardens and our newly appointed litter police who could carry coloured spray cans to mark the offending dumps.

The council is planning more electric vehicle charging points. To what extent do you support this and will you commit to electric vehicle only parking spaces?

Peter Atkinson and Anne PissaridouWe fully support the installation of electric vehicle charging points (EVCPs) and in fact it is the Labour council that successfully bid for £300,000 funding from the government to allow the installation of 200 EVCPs. Test sites are already in operation.

It was noted at committee last June that the scheme might need to allow for mandatory parking bays for electric vehicle charging in the event, for example, it becomes clear that electric vehicle owners are having problems accessing advisory bays, or to adapting over time to increased demand.

Elizabeth Craig: The council should do all it can to facilitate the use of electric vehicles as these are ecologically friendly and are becoming but there needs to be proper monitoring of sites and their use as well as adequate public consultation to ensure that existing resources are used efficiently and supply is provided to meet demand.

Sharon Hamlin and Alexander Sallons: We are fully committed to rolling out electric vehicle charging points, both on street and in car parks. The speed and scale of the roll-out needs to significantly increase.

Charging points need to be installed sensitively so that they do not obstruct pavements or cycle routes and we need to look at innovative options for using eg existing street lamps to act as charging points.

We support the policy of reserving spaces by charging points for electric vehicles. We also need to put in place further incentives to help people switch to zero-emission transport, whether that it is by moving to an electric car, or by making journeys by electric bus, cycling or walking.

Ian HarrisElectric charging points are fine and spaces to do so within reason. Once again, with my desire for small government, there should be considered oversight in deciding whether it adds to the area and whether there is enough demand for it from regular residents rather than projected demand.

Emma Hogan: I am in full support of any move towards cleaner air and reduction of emission of toxic gases. I would hope that the increased installation of electric charging points would encourage the public to consider purchasing an electric vehicle and I would support electric vehicle only parking spaces as long as there remained provision of other spaces while people still rely on their petrol and diesel cars.

Patricia MountainElectric cars are the future I am all for making preparation when we know what’s coming down the tracks. Sadly the council in the past have not been particularly far-sighted.

Yes, of course there must be allocated parking around these charging points, we cannot have a diesel or petrol vehicles blocking access. I would not like to see the council going over the top and allocating a large percentage of parking spaces to electric vehicles at this present time. It will be many years before motorists can afford to switch their cars to electric and the council must consider the current needs too.

If you design with children in mind you also make it good for older people and create a healthier and more inclusive place that everyone can enjoy. How are you going to make the city safe and attractive for children to move around independently?

Peter Atkinson and Anne PissaridouWe need a range of measures to be delivered across the whole city. Better protected cycling and walking routes are key to this as well as a safe reliable public transport system. We are also committed to setting up a fund to support improved community safety and neighbourhood policing measures to give people confidence in the safety and responsiveness of their local communities.

Elizabeth CraigThe Lib Dems recognise that one of the key issues threatening our quality of life is climate change and as a national party we have a strong track record on environmental issues. As local councillors, we would work to reform our city travel infrastructure to revolutionise public transport by supporting greater numbers of electric buses, introducing a permanent park and ride scheme and expanding the cycle lane network.

To ensure a better and more inclusive environment for all, I would consult extensively with local residents to identify the key challenges and obstacles that prevent us tackling these.

Sharon Hamlin and Alexander Sallons: Improving pedestrian routes, road crossings, cycle routes and bus services all make the city safer and easier for children, older people and others with mobility difficulties to navigate.

We would also like to see better enforcement of speed restrictions on our roads. Cars are the number one cause of death and serious injury for children and young people and we would like to see our streets made as safe as possible for everyone.

In addition, tackling anti-social behaviour and drug related activity give children, parents and older people more confidence that moving around the city independently is safe.

Ian Harris: It is sad to say, but the days when children could leave the house and play out, all day, with their friends has gone. We now find ourselves in a “low trust” society. Perhaps a lot of this can be due to Brighton now seen as a transitionary town, that people pass through, rather than one that generations grow up in and identify with.

Perhaps a consequence of population increase, globalism and people not having patriotic loyalty to the area that they live and grow up in.
Someone tell me. We can’t turn back the clock.

Emma Hogan: Children need to be safe when moving around the city and it is important that young children have independence growing up. Many parents are working hard and often unable to travel with their children.

To this end, I would be keen to introduce an oyster card system (“Zip card”) for children up to the age of 11 just as they have in London allowing free travel across the city. Having a system such as this would also be likely to increase parent’s peace of mind that their children are safe.

Patricia MountainThe days when children moved around independently have long gone. In today’s world parents are worried sick to let their kids roam and explore as past generations have done and older people are nervous of going out alone.

Our city is becoming more dangerous. UKIP will seek to improve the visibility and effectiveness of policing in Brighton and Hove. Some drastic measures are required.

The council has created attractive chill-out areas and some excellent play areas for kids but with so many people having such little respect for others the true effect intended is wasted.

Children in Portslade should have playgrounds that are working and safe. Too many have old or damaged equipment. What do you plan to do to support young children to be able to enjoy play equipment in our parks?

Peter Atkinson and Anne PissaridouUnder a Labour government the value of play was recognised, and Labour gave significant funding to local councils for playground equipment. Locally Brighton and Hove got £2 million. This was great news but since then government commitment has not been the same.

So the council had a report in 2016 looking at how we could keep our playgrounds as great places to play despite funding pressures and many playgrounds across the city have been benefiting from improvement works, from Victoria Recreation Ground in Portslade to Saltdean Park.

Elizabeth Craig: I have recent taken up running and have become increasingly aware of how badly how local playgrounds compared to other areas of the city. North Portslade residents deserve to be treated fairly and I would fight for prioritisation of resources to areas that have been under-resourced in the past.

Sharon Hamlin and Alexander Sallons: Our playgrounds are a vital resource for families. For all those of us with children and no garden or a small garden they are a regular and essential part of our lives. If equipment is left broken for long periods of time this is disappointing for children at best and at worst can be dangerous. We need to understand that this is not a trivial issue and respond much more quickly when play equipment needs to be repaired or replaced.

Ian HarrisOf course, I would get the parks department to look at maintaining the play equipment on a regular basis. Our children should play in safe and well-maintained areas. Perhaps even we could encourage private enterprise to sponsor, provide and maintain equipment themselves.

Emma Hogan: I am aware that there was a recent spend of £100,000 by the council with some of the money going to Victoria Park in Portslade. It has been a few years since the Mile Oak Road Park was revamped (2006) and it would benefit from an overhaul. I would be keen to speak to the users of the park to find out exactly what they would like. I would be keen to encourage groups to use the green space itself and perhaps encourage sports groups to hold regular drop-in sessions for the children.

Patricia MountainPark-keepers should be re-introduced – sadly, in a much different role from the past. CCTV would be needed with a hotline to a roving security firm. Sadly today public spaces need to be monitored to ensure people abide by social laws. Without it we see the mindless damage caused to the equipment in our play parks and elsewhere.

We need to stop gangs from taking over playgrounds and drug dealers using our parks to carry on their vile trade. Park security personnel would help to deter and identify dog poo offenders too, thus protecting the health of young children.

There is a general lack of council housing available across the city and many people who cannot afford market rents. How will you help people get access to a council house or flat?

Peter Atkinson and Anne Pissaridou: We are committed to building an additional 800 council owned homes for the lowest possible rents within the next four years. This comes on top of our living wage housing scheme with Hyde Housing and our innovative “right to buy back” scheme where we are buying back council homes that were lost under Mrs Thatcher’s “right to buy” scheme.

Elizabeth CraigAs revealed in recent press coverage, Brighton and Hove Lib Dems are proposing a new 1,500 home development on part of the council-owned land currently occupied by Hollingbury Golf Course. This is an ambitious proposal but housing in the city is reaching crisis point and previous administrations have failed to tackle the problem effectively. This proposal will of course be subject to full consultation. Do let us know your views via our online survey at liberalbrighton.org/hollingbury. My key priority if elected will be to listen to what the people of North Portslade think and act accordingly.

Sharon Hamlin and Alexander Sallons: The Green council (2011-15) built Brighton and Hove’s first council houses in a generation, oversaw the delivery of 508 affordable homes and set in motion construction projects that are still transforming the city today, including the new homes in the North Laine.

In addition, we renovated council homes to make them more energy efficient, saving residents money and we installed solar panels on 300 council homes. We will improve on that legacy by developing 1,500 homes over four years on mostly brownfield sites including those above car parks and shopping centres. We will seek to buy the Brighton General Hospital site to avoid its privatisation.

We will also
• spend unused borrowing resources towards delivering 600 new council houses (the current Labour council has built fewer than 200)
• increase the help available for those struggling with housing costs
• increase the social housing stock by buying off-plan from developers

Ian Harris: I would prioritise housing for those who have lived and grown up in Brighton and Hove. If you have been a citizen of Brighton and Hove, for generations, then you should rise to the top of the ladder.

Also, I would look to the universities looking after the housing of their students and not taking up vast amount of housing from the centre. Before they create more courses, curriculum or any expansion, they need to suggest how they are going to accommodate the extra students.

Emma Hogan: This is one of the reasons I am looking to become a councillor. I do not have a straightforward answer. However, a doctor recently visited my ward from the Netherlands. He could not believe that many of our patients have extreme difficulty finding appropriate accommodation, thus also contributing to a worsening of their mental health.

He was clear that this was not the situation in the Netherlands (not solely because of higher taxes) but due to implementation of certain strategic models. If I was voted on to the council I would look at other countries’ models of allocation of social housing.

Patricia MountainWe need a rent cap. Excessive rents from private landlords have got to be addressed. I quote from the UKIP local manifesto for Brighton and Hove: “UKIP will pursue a building programme of council homes, prioritising local people, putting an end to queue-jumping by those from outside the area.”

I advocate module buildings. They can be erected quickly and, before people start going on about cardboard boxes, ask the thousands waiting for a place to call home what they think. The vast car parks attached to the supermarkets … we should build above them, include roof gardens and balconies.

The other candidate standing in North Portslade ward is Hannah Felton for the Conservatives.

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