This past week I’ve been thrilled to see the city reopen safely, with some of our vital retail, hospitality and culture venues able to reopen, much to the relief of many employed in these sectors.
It has been wonderful to see so many people enjoying the city again, with more visitors over a warmer weekend.
We also recognise that this may bring some challenges to residents. We know that often the warmer weather brings an increase in litter and anti-social behaviour. That’s why we are already taking action.
I’ve spoken to the head of Sussex Police locally about working together on crime as we reopen and to AirBnB about how we tackle loud party houses and ensure residents can access clear information and raise concerns about noise.
The council continues our work with deep cleaning the streets with the highest footfall for 12 nights.
Seventy 70 extra bins have been provided on the seafront, with additional crews to empty bins and collect waste.
Marshalls are speaking to the public too – and public toilets have been opened longer to help ease queues.
When it comes to our seafront, we have been reminded once again about the impact that plastic pollution has on our beach.
Campaigners spotted tiny polystyrene balls washed up on the beach, which are toxic and don’t degrade. They cause untold harm to marine life.
At a local level we want to help. Many residents have raised concerns with me about the limited number of plastics we recycle. This is why we’ve launched a consultation to broaden the recycling of additional plastics including pots tubs and trays.
This isn’t just a problem for our council – it’s also why Greens have been lobbying the government to write litter laws that will tackle waste, especially environmentally toxic single-use plastic, at source.
More support is needed from government to help effective recycling too. The Environment Bill is not only delayed but it doesn’t do enough to protect our precious oceans.
The incident on the beach last week reminds us that the UK government needs to take more robust action and follow the example of Costa Rica and ban the sale and import of polystyrene.
So while we as the council do our bit to manage waste, we also want people to do theirs. Please do not leave litter and waste on our beaches. If bins are full, please take your litter home with you.
At the same time, the best way to stop plastic waste is prevention and we’d ask you to consider what disposable plastic you buy in the first place.
With our carbon-neutral 2030 plan, we’re working with businesses on reducing plastic waste on the seafront.
We have already begun consulting with businesses on schemes to end circulation of single-use plastics. This includes looking at waste reduction for outdoor events too.
I would be happy to speak to any businesses who want to discuss waste reduction and how they can play their part.
The carbon-neutral 2030 plan also details how we want to manage and protect our shoreline. We are working with other councils along the coast to restore the once-vast kelp forests too.
Kelp grows really fast and can suck up carbon dioxide at a remarkable rate so it’s seen by scientists as particularly important.
Having lobbied for a new byelaw, we welcomed its recent introduction which will stop trawling close to the water’s edge, so that kelp forests and marine habitats can regrow.
This year our environment deserves an even sharper focus as we head towards the UN climate change talks happening in Glasgow in November.
As our city recovers from the pandemic, we continue to ensure that such a recovery also helps our climate recover too.
But we are not quite there yet – to recover well and sustainably we cannot lose sight of the fact that we are not yet beyond covid-19.
Vaccination in all areas of the city is progressing well and you can now explore that data on the council’s website.
That data shows me that residents in my ward in particular is lower than others – and I’m already working with the NHS and public health teams to understand why this is and get messages to support people to get their vaccinations.
We are also working with the NHS to bring the mobile vaccination units to communities across the city.
Finally, I want to thank the people of Brighton and Hove who have shown magnificent strength battling covid-19 and have allowed us to begin reopening.
Individually, we all need to continue to play our part. Please continue all of the measures we are now used to – wear a mask, wash your hands and maintain social distancing.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty is the Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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