OPINION

What’s in a name? And what other political and electoral changes are afoot?

Posted On 06 Feb 2022 at 4:55 pm

As well as preparing for a meeting of the full council this week, I have been fascinated to read the recommendations of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

The LGBCE is looking to redraw ward boundaries across Brighton and Hove before the local elections next year to better serve shifting population patterns.

These were published on Tuesday (1 February) after a first round of consultation took place towards the end of last year.

It invited submissions from members of the public, political groups, parish councils, local community organisations and councillors.

Spacewords Brighton

Of course, in describing it as fascinating reading, I have to admit that councillors are more likely than other residents to have a geeky, almost obsessive interest in this subject, and to be found poring over the new suggested map.

We have been noting which street has been taken out of one ward and added to another and who might find themselves living in a newly created or renamed ward, etc.

And this is borne out by looking at the submissions received during the first consultation period and seeing how few there were from ordinary residents.

This is understandable in many ways – after all, will most folk hold a strong opinion about being told they now live in a newly created “Fiveways” ward rather than the old “Hollingdean and Stanmer”?

xmas collections

Their flat or house hasn’t moved or changed – and probably their polling station won’t either – just what their little bit of the city is called.

But there are things that might matter to some including, I suspect, residents of the southwest end of my ward.

Most of those living in streets like Dorset Gardens, New Steine, Upper Rock Gardens and St James’s Street consider that they live in Kemp Town, despite the ward being called Queen’s Park.

The latest proposals would create a new ward containing bits of three others – to be called “Kemptown and Marina”.

This is a change that I would have thought some people at least would have strong views about.

If you’re one of them, or even just interested to have a look at the city-wide proposals and take part in the second and final consultation, you can follow the links and have your say here.

Councillor Amanda Evans is the deputy leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Silas Reply

    Let’s hope there’s a big change afoot in may 2023, when hopefully, sensible Independent councillors get voted in. Councillors who don’t waste time and taxpayer money pushing their own deluded dogma upon the city, but do their best for the taxpayers, businesses and visitors in Brighton. I think we’ve all had enough of the current bunch of lying, hypocritical fruitcakes

  2. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Some of us, maybe many of us, think that, whilst probably the majority of councillors do whatever they can on behalf of constituents with problems and things like that, when it comes to the council as a whole entity political dogma takes over, especially so with the Greens.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less what my ward is called or where its boundaries end up. I daresay that, whoever the councillors may turn out to be, they will do their best at ward level. What I do care about is that when it comes to policy, decision-making and basic services that we all pay for, whichever party is in charge of the council at the end of the day concentrates on serving the taxpayers and residents, delivering those basic services, and not pandering to their own political agenda, which is all we ever get with the Greens, who showed when previously in power that they hadn’t got a clue how to run a council, yet here we are, several years down the road and they’re back again, albeit because Labour shot themselves in both feet with internal issues and lost their numerical advantage.

  3. Helen burtenshaw Reply

    I don’t care about boundaries, or what ward I’m in. I care about the group who will deliver the simplest of services. I won’t be voting green ever.

  4. BAHTAG Reply

    Whilst the comments above make valid and interesting points they don’t seem to get close to a major aspect of more than 20 years of malaise in our City council.

    This dates from the shadow-year of 1996-97, in preparation for the City’s Unitary Authority commencing on April 1,1997,
    when Labour had a majority, even before the national New Labour landslide of 1997.

    And a major aspect of that was giving a ‘Golden Goodbye’ to senior and highly professional officers of Hove Borough Council (thought unlikely to be willing to compromise their neutral professionalism by bending to every whim or dogma of the Labour councillors).

    That ‘Early Retirement’ of the excellent Hove officers, on extremely generous terms, cost us taxpayers very dearly; and was accompanied by the recruitment of officers judged to be supporters of Labour (and thus not as politically-neutral as senior public service officers should be!).

    Thus in the years from 1997 a cabal of Labour cllrs colluded with their hand-picked officers to spend the rivers of taxpayers money which flowed into our City from a financially-imprudent New Labour central government.

    And sadly much of that money was wasted on vanity projects, such as a Jubilee Library on PFI costing about three times as much as needed (whilst still being flawed, due to design omissions as the generous budget was still insufficient; not actually being as energy-efficient as was boasted (with far too few PV solar panels + batteries, and needing supplementary heating in cold weather, plus some A/C in summer!); and not even sited close to bus-stops for the main routes (to aid those with poor mobility etc).

    And also on what has become an overly-expensive 40% share of the Newhaven Incinerator contract – which, as almost,certainly our council’s largest single emitter of GHG pollutants, will now require a further mountain of taxpayers money to exit from, and to develop clean alternatives, in time to meet our council’s target of ‘Zero Carbon’ by 2030!

    Thus, and with the benefit of hindsight, it can be seen that the least-worst years of our City council’s 25 years (on March 31, in about 7 weeks) of operations were the three years when Councillor Mary Mears was leading her minority Administration.

    Not three perfect years, but with the crucial achievement of ‘daring’ to investigate and to correct abuse by Town Hall officers of the very significant powers delegated to them by our over-trusting (and/or lazy/incompetent?) Councillors.

    But that generally excellent progress by Cllr Mears and her team came to an end with the Greens coming to power in 2011!

    And ever since then one can perceive a constant ‘war of attrition’ being conducted by (some) Town Hall officers to wrest ever more powers away from our elected Councillors, by various tactics.

    Partly by making the work of Cllrs ever more arduous, by the same sorts of ‘non-cooperation’ that we citizens experience; and by veiled threats that Cllrs should not descend to ‘micro-management’ of our council!

    And yet, in these days of digitisation, do any Cllrs have ‘read-only’ access to any of the council’s computer systems, so that they can discover the truth for themselves, and without burdening busy officers to provide it? Or not, as often seems to be the case!

    Thus, until we once again elect an Administration able and willing to work at re-training our officers to serve, rather than to rule, the dire mis-management of our City seems unlikely to be remedied any time soon!

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