Police investigate ‘theft’ of historic Brighton seafront street lamps

The police have been asked to investigate how two historic Brighton seafront street lamps ended up for sale on the internet.

Green councillor Marianna Ebel shared the news at a virtual meeting where councillors debated how to protect other “heritage assets”.

Councillor Ebel said: “Theft is a police matter after all.”

She was responding to a motion by Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth which was prompted by the incident involving the old lanterns last year.

Councillor Nemeth asked for a report into the possibility of setting up a group to help list all council heritage assets, whether in their original position, in storage or undergoing repair.

In November, Brighton and Hove News reported how 19th century cast iron dolphins – from Amon Henry Wilds’s grade II listed Victoria Fountain in the Old Steine – were dumped in a field at Stanmer Park and other items were on sale at a salvage yard in Burgess Hill.

Councillor Nemeth said: “Stories of items going missing and often popping up as garden ornaments go back years and do not tally with the aims of a city that wishes to promote and protect a beautiful public realm in which we all have a stake.

“Creating some sort of list or register seems to be an obvious solution.

“This proposal is about publicly accessible predominantly exterior items that fall within the ownership of the council.

“The list should include all manner of different items and be blind to ‘listed’ or ‘locally listed’ status.

“It would be separate to existing lists of museum items and the asset list of the council generally.”

He suggested items as varied as seafront railings, boundary stones, historic street signs and area nameplates.

The old cast-iron lamp posts are part of the appeal of Brighton seafront

Fellow Conservative Mary Mears backed Councillor Nemeth and said that a concerned resident who contacted the council about the lanterns being for sale on Facebook was told that it was “fake news”.

Councillor Mears said: “For this council to allow a volunteer group to be set up to review our assets shows openness and transparency to the residents of our city and sends a very clear message that this council cares.”

Labour councillor Amanda Grimshaw said that the council could offer items that were no longer wanted to local museums.

It could, she said, also allow the public to buy unwanted street furniture that had been removed if it was not wanted for public display.

Councillor Grimshaw said: “The city’s residents and visitors are looking to the council to act in the best interests of the city’s historic fabric.

“Local government bears the greatest part of the responsibility for care and conservation of our historic environment.

The listed dolphins once formed part of the Victoria Fountain in the city

“Many items fall into assets of established community value and assets that give an area a sense of place and neighbourhood feel.

“Many may already be included in the historic environment record and the council’s list of local heritage assets. This could be added to further.”

She told a meeting of the full council on Friday (22 January) that it would be foolish to ignore the concern that residents have for historic assets, citing more than 52,000 members of the Brighton Past Facebook group as an example.

A report is due to be prepared for the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee about the possibility of setting up a list of community assets.

  1. Profits from Our Heritage Reply

    How much of the West Pier ended up on Ebay and Auction sites?

  2. Paul F Williams Reply

    When are they going back up again.
    And are they going to replace the stolen/lost ones?
    How do they intend to safeguard heritage assets in future so this NEVER happens again?
    We demand answers, Council!

  3. Nick Moore Reply

    If historic items go missing from the Seafront then the Sussex Police will have camera footage which can be interrogated to see when and possibly how these items went missing!

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