Councillors to look again at whether businesses should pay for licences to use parks

Big businesses using Brighton and Hove’s parks, greens and seafront lawns may have to apply for a licence to use council-owned open spaces in the future.

The prospect follows a request from two Green councillors which sparked a heated public debate.

Hannah Clare and Phélim Mac Cafferty were concerned about the damage being caused by heavy vehicles and equipment and the harm being caused to lawns and railings.

Councillor Mac Cafferty said that they did not want to “go after sole traders with a yoga mat and skipping rope” but companies driving large vans on to Hove Lawns and unloading bulky equipment.

He said that the request to look at licensing businesses using parks and lawns was made after he and Councillor Clare heard from people in their Brunswick and Adelaide electoral ward.

Their ward includes landmark squares and terraces – including Brunswick Square, Palmeira Square and Adelaide Crescent – as well as a stretch of seafront lawns.

Councillor Mac Cafferty spoke out at a “virtual” meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee.

He said: “The vast majority of city centre residents live in flats with no access to a garden. Their only garden is Hove Lawns or St Ann’s Well Gardens.

“These residents find chunks of parks taken up with trainers and exercise companies – and obviously that is disappointing.”

Labour council leader Nancy Platts agreed that it was a concern but, she said, the council needed to support businesses going through changes at a challenging time.

Councillor Platts said: “I will ask officers to monitor the situation where there are health and safety concerns. If it interferes with legitimate use of the parks, then we can look to take action.”

Officials have been asked to prepare a report looking at what measures might be necessary which will be discussed by the council’s Licensing Committee and its Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.

  1. Mark Reply

    Hardly room to move with all the equipment. The other day I had to walk around a guy doing squats. I realised on that walk the council were missing a trick to collect more money from Covid challenged businesses. Good to see we can stuff it to these liberty taking path blockers.

    Perhaps we could charge for public access to hove lawns too, then tax breathing.

  2. Tom Reply

    I like the principle but would rather the money went ot “Freinds of” groups or Brighton Green Spaces Forum so it can be spent directly on the parks rather than being swallowed up in the wider council budget.
    Outside of the big investments in Valley Gardens Friends Of groups are the ones driving improvement in our open spaces. £1000 in fees to them could provide tress, planting or play equipment, but wouldn’t touch the sides of a council budget.

    • Cllr Hannah Clare Reply

      Hi Tom, that’s actually a really interesting suggestion thank you. I’ve noted it and when the report with more detail comes back possibly later this year, I’ll see if it’s something they could consider

  3. Get a job Phelim Reply

    Says Phelim who has never run a business. I remember how his and Ollie’s actions damaged ours

  4. Jane B Reply

    Good to see people exercising and using personal trainers on the lawns. It is hardly a disturbance.

  5. Tim Johnson Reply

    There can be no question that any person or organisation wishing to use our public lawns and parks for commercial purposes should be required to obtain and pay for a licence and sign an agreement to make good or pay for any damaged caused. Licence fees should then be used solely to pay for the upkeep of those spaces. This is nothing to do with Covid-19 just common sense to ensure ongoing public enjoyment of these facilities. I suspect many others will be as surprised as I was to learn that this is not already established practice in our city. It certainly is in many if not the majority of local authorities in the UK.

  6. Billy Reply

    Another comic internet-fed mess here.
    Nobody is intentionally trashing public spaces. People are instead trying to exercise during the Covid19 period, with the gyms and indoor leisure facilities still shut down. It’s good to see inventive use of outdoor public space.
    Those gyms and indoor exercise facilities also re-open soon, and then we’ll see less organised exercise in outdoor spaces. As it is, the current government strategy encourages organised local outside exercise – so, only an idiot would try and fine that.
    And this is a temporary thing, replacing the usual annual events on Hove Lawns – such as Paddle Around The Pier, which I have missed this year.
    Nothing these people are doing is damaging park areas.

    If we get too weird about outdoor exercise then next we’ll be asking those teenagers playing footy with their mates on Hove Lawns to pay a fee.
    As we move out of lockdown and furlough, with shops, restaurants and other businesses closing down, our local councillors should instead be concentrating on where our jobs are coming from.
    Let’s hope our council can start thinking of the bigger picture. At the moment it feels like they they are several weeks behind what is actually happening, and instead concentrating on some fantasy ideological agenda of their own.

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