In what has been another hugely challenging year for Brighton and Hove’s young people, their families and teachers, I want to celebrate the incredible achievements of students in our city receiving their results.
The impact of the covid-19 pandemic on young people, families and schools has been profound, with the effects of lockdown, school closures and remote learning still being felt – particularly for more disadvantaged pupils.
So I am clear that the results last week should represent a victory for each and every young person working on their education throughout the pandemic, regardless of grades and expectations.
We are proud of every single one of you. And even if you didn’t get the results you want, you always have choices.
It’s only fitting that after such a difficult year we want to make sure adequate and appropriate support is in place for the city’s young people to seize opportunities no matter their results.
In the next few months, Brighton and Hove City Council will make nearly £120,000 available to local businesses to help support the take up of apprenticeships in the city.
Earlier last month, we opened the city’s new Youth Employment Hub. Located in Kemptown, the hub is helping young people to explore their options, plan their futures and reach their education, employment and training goals.
Bringing advice, coaching and practical support – like computer access and workwear options – all under one roof, the hub is yet another important way we assert that young people deserve a brighter future and strong support. For more information, click here.
I know that to recover well from the pandemic we need to build better opportunities for employment too.
The city is frequently seen as the prime location for emerging start ups, especially in ground-breaking creative technology. The tech innovation hub Plus X is fostering Brighton’s start-up and scale-up economy too.
Building on this, I’m thrilled to see that a survey of 250 large central London businesses rated Brighton and Hove the top location to open a new place of work post-pandemic.
As more people seek a better work life balance, healthier choices and the end to commuting, I’m not surprised that our brilliant city comes out on top.
We will continue to encourage businesses to choose the city for their satellite offices – and as a location where talent can be harnessed and new jobs and opportunities created.
New developments like Circus Street will also help us seize the potential for more job opportunities and good quality employment.
With 30,000 sq ft of modern workspace, community spaces, new homes, student housing, new retail and workshops, a focus on active travel and green space a core part of the plans, the development has in the past week again been long-listed for an esteemed design award.
I know too that staying focused on opportunities for our city also means keeping a close eye on how to tackle the challenges that could derail our city’s positive progress.
In the past week we were yet again given another stark warning about the impact that climate change will have on current and future generations, as the key United Nations report on climate change labelled rising global temperatures a “code red for humanity”.
I’ve said repeatedly that after the experience of the covid-19 crisis, we can’t bounce residents into the worst of the climate crisis.
Without a focus on this and on our recovery from the pandemic, we know hard work to support our communities could unravel.
That’s why, though we’re held back by a lack of action from global leaders, we continue to do everything we can to support positive action to reduce emissions locally and to ensure a recovery from the pandemic is a recovery for our environment too.
On top of the £27 million investment made in the last budget to support climate initiatives, the city’s carbon-neutral action plan sets out steps to drastically reduce emissions by 2030 in energy, housing, waste, travel and transport and food.
We’re investing £5.2 million in insulating council housing– creating jobs, reducing our carbon footprint and alleviating fuel poverty.
Despite councils only accounting for around 3 per cent of national carbon emissions, local action is vital.
Tackling climate change is also about stronger, healthier communities – whether that’s better housing, better paid jobs, greater access to green spaces and safe active travel, boosting renewable energy and lower energy bills.
Put simply, addressing the climate crisis is a win-win for all. There’s much more work to do. But in the absence of bold action from world leaders, we’re determined to do what is right for our communities.
As our young people receiving their exam results look to the future, we need to ensure they have a better world to inherit.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty is the Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.