The bank holiday weekend coincided with brilliant weather, the end of the Brighton Festival and the start of the Brighton Fringe – and a return to a programme of arts, culture and music events.
It also saw hundreds flock to our city to experience the best of what Brighton and Hove has to offer.
As people avoid travelling abroad this year, I know that more visitors will be coming to Brighton and Hove this summer, which is why we’ve put real effort and additional funding into safely welcoming their return.
Throughout the year, we’ve been working hard to prepare and to improve our city for our residents and businesses, too.
Our work means that there are now more bins on the seafront, additional rubbish collections and more toilet facilities.
We have a fast response contract in place to remove graffiti on the seafront and more money to remove other graffiti too.
This week, as we joined in the nationwide Great British Spring Clean campaign, the third deep clean in a year took place in high footfall areas of the city stretching from the North Laine to Hove and Portslade.
This week council teams removed 1.3 tonnes of rubbish from the A27 – the third time in a year – and began repainting seafront railings and shelters.
As masses of people flocked to our seafront, council teams have also been working hard to prevent littering, sending out a clear message that we need everyone to take responsibility for our environment.
While teams can’t be everywhere at once, we know that it’s vital we stop litter polluting the sea and green spaces.
After a challenging year I know many residents and local businesses have worked tirelessly to offer the warmest welcome to visitors.
With the opening of new venues and incredible efforts across our communities, I’m proud that the city has been rated a top tourist destination by companies ranging from Travelodge, Condé Nast and the Telegraph.
It’s clear our city remains a very popular destination with so much to offer. As we reopen the city safely, our efforts to keep the city clean are one part of how we can recover well from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Vaccination is a key way we can continue on the path to a positive recovery from the pandemic – as, with the presence of highly transmissible variants, we are simply still not there yet.
Challenges are still to come and our public health team continues to prepare and scrutinise the data in our city.
This week I was out with council teams knocking on doors in Brunswick raising awareness of the community vaccination unit in the area.
This is part of the work to make vaccination accessible to more people – so, as in previous weeks, across this month there will be more mobile vaccination sites that can also take “drop ins” for people who are yet to make a booking.
There is much more of this to do but I am glad to see so many continue to take up the offer of their first or second dose.
It is a testament to the dedication of so many in our city that we are pulling together to build a positive future out of the pandemic – and it’s vital that everyone in our city is supported.
This week, I also want to raise the issues facing our European Union residents as the government’s “settlement scheme” ends on Wednesday 30 June and crucially secures the right to continue living in the UK.
After this date, even those who have permanent residence status will need to have applied to maintain their rights – and confirmation of “settled status” will be needed to prove everything from your right to use the NHS or rent a home.
We’ve been really clear that we want our EU friends and family to stay – but with the government failing to adequately promote the settlement scheme and confusion over the rights of EU citizens, we will continue to encourage those living here to apply.
Worse still, we’ve already seen the signs that the government has once again failed to consider the impact their botched approach to leaving the European Union is having on communities and the economy.
Disturbing news about EU citizens being detained at the border or threats of deportation mean the necessity of applying to secure your rights is real.
We’ve put support in place to help – including for those who don’t have access to a computer or smartphone and may be struggling to apply.
Our EU residents and our connection to Europe and the world are another integral part of what makes Brighton and Hove such a special place to live, work and visit. I will never fail to champion our city or those who call it home.
For more information about the settlement scheme, click here.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty is the Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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