Local people are the real losers from the council’s King Alfred abdication

Posted On 11 Oct 2019 at 2:55 pm

Even though the dust needs to settle and I need to reflect on the last five years (not wasted) I think people in the city should understand what Brighton and Hoe City Council – officers and members – have done.

They have denied the city a new leisure centre to replace the one that is simply a disgrace.

They have denied the city some incredible community spaces and of course turned away nearly 600 new homes that would have included a fantastic mix of affordable, private rental and private sales.

Why did they do that? I firmly am of the opinion that it was NOT about the legal position of changing Crest for Legal and General (L&G). In my mind, that was a misdirection.

I firmly believe it is because they want 100 per cent housing on the King Alfred site. I truly believe that to be the case.

Why else would they have let another development fail, the sixth in 50 years.

After winning the bid back in 2016 the political environment in our city, and indeed in the country, changed for the worst. Suddenly I found myself facing two different sides of the same coin.

On my left were the officers and members. Too many were too left wing, with no financial ability, no entrepreneurialism and no vision.

Too many were self-serving and without any real feel and giving precious little thought – to the community spirit and community needs of Brighton and Hove.

On my right were the housebuilders who proved themselves to be capitalists in the extreme. They were all about the numbers and the profits and had no interest at all in community.

And in the middle we sat, trying to bring the left to the middle and the right to middle and doing all we could to get compromise from both.

I thought we could do that. I genuinely believed that we could temper their extreme views. But it seems I was naïve in that.

All that aside, I would still always put myself forward in life and take on projects that I feel are important and perhaps impossible. That’s what life is for.

We should not sit on the fence and watch it. We should jump in and fight for what we want.

Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose – but we should give it a go nonetheless and I do not regret the last five years.

I am bitterly disappointment but not bitter. In this instance the real loser is the city as the council officers and members have passed up a golden opportunity to serve the community instead of themselves. And they should hang their heads in shame.

Rob Starr is the co-founder of the Starr Trust.

  1. Lewis Searle Reply

    Rob Starr seems to be only interested in himself. Good decision from councillors to re open the procurement

  2. David viscount Reply

    Agree we don’t won’t flats on the king Alfred site the area can’t cope with it

  3. Sam Reply

    Lewis Searle, what evidence have you got that Rob Starr is only interested in himself? Have you any idea how much money he gives to help young people through the Starr Trust? Just spend 5 minutes looking at the starrtrust.com website. All this on top of running local businesses that employ dozens of staff. Please don’t just fire off such ill-informed knee-jerk responses.

  4. Chris B Reply

    The flats were demanded by the council as a way of paying for a new swimming pool and leisure centre, and because thousands of new homes are required to be built in Brighton and Hove to meet future need.
    Rob Starr served up what the council asked and, even though Crest Nicholson has a track record of wriggling out of commitments to build affordable homes, Rob Starr lined up Legal & General and they were happy to include more than 100 affordable homes as well as some much-needed retirement flats.
    So Labour and the Greens have turned down homes for local people who need a place and we’ll probably end up with empty premium properties owned by Russian investors and the like, just like we have at the Marina. Meanwhile the current site racks up millions of pounds in losses for us as taxpayers!
    The unseemly haste with which the council ditched a sound scheme, even if personally I’d prefer fewer flats on the site, has something of a political stench about it. If I were Mr Starr, I’d weigh up whether to sue the council if they won’t reconsider. Our local politics stinks.

  5. grainne o'huit Reply

    What are Labour playing at? And I thought the Greens were always moaning there wasn’t enough affordable housing being built. Now they’ve sabotaged this scheme! Hypocrites!

  6. Belle Reply

    The council should hang its head in shame. It’s as though it was looking for a reason to ditch the scheme rather than trying to find an honourable way forward. Thank you Rob Starr for your efforts. I didn’t much like the design, but I admire what you were trying to do within the constraints.

  7. Baz Reply

    we need more affordable housing – £20k for house or £200 a month rent

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