OPINION

What is Brighton and Hove not doing to tackle climate change?

Posted On 31 May 2022 at 6:53 pm

I am regularly asked by children and adults alike, as a councillor and as a built environment professional, “what is the single most important thing that Brighton and Hove is doing to tackle climate change?”

It is a difficult question to answer because if I broaden the question to include reducing inequality and poverty (things the city is not doing), then then answer is applying for grants from government.

This applying for grants is neither innovative nor is it forward looking. Everyone is doing it.

When I’m asked if the city is doing better that other towns and cities because it has a Green administration, I struggle to give a positive answer. This one is also a “No”.

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We only need to look at the Conservative-run Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole which scored a brilliant A from the Climate Disclosure Project earlier in the year. That was when Brighton and Hove under the Greens first managed a D and then a mere B on the second attempt.

As a city planner, I have argued, on these pages when writing about Toads Hole Valley, how embracing low-carbon master planning could deliver big carbon savings and healthier, more attractive places to live with minimal impact on cost of building and delivery.

This is not how the city does its planning. We do not engage master developers nor lobby our landowners in the city for higher quality and better standards.

This is both a failure of planning but it is also a failure on the part of the council’s senior leadership whose job it is to represent the city, be present in all the important gatherings, especially the ones the city hosts, and to lobby investors for investment rather than apply for government grants when we do not have sufficient project managers on the books in the city to manage and deliver these projects after we get the grants. The council excels at wasting money as documented elsewhere, eg, home to school transport.

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Brighton and Hove recently hosted the South Coast Development conference whose content and its conversations only served to remind us of the opportunities that there are on the south coast and also some of the challenges that we face.

The built environment industry looks set to play its part in driving and supporting development and economic growth in the region and it’s a role that we need to take on whole heartedly and collaboratively as a city for this to work.

This means that when senior officers speak at these events they stay on to speak with investors and their own communications specialists (like the ones doing the eastern seafront).

And that the council’s political leadership should do more than merely turn up and sit at the very back of the room checking emails before leaving after a few minutes.

Senior political and technical leadership has a job to do for the city and that is to host, navigate and empower some useful relationships that will bring investment to the city. This leadership is not delivering at the moment.

As an aside, putting a water fountain right in front of the entrance to Brighton station in the path of commuters moving in and out of the station should not be the best we can do. The city and our residents deserve better.

Councillor Samer Bagaeen speaks for the Conservative group on climate change and the Carbon Neutral Member Working Group.

  1. Pippa Hodge Reply

    To clarify – “wasting money on Home to School Transport” refers to the commissioning of a private consultant and the ensuing fiasco that ended up costing our city a significant amount of money, not the funding of this statutory service per se.

    • mart Burt Reply

      The Home to school transport was working well until someone thought they could do it cheaper. It was a complete shambles as we all know. Also, of interest was how a contract suddenly landed on a bus operators’ door, funny how they were only company who could supply a minibus at short notice despite the fact I know of at least two operators who had drivers and vehicles available, coincidence that operator just happens to be a councilor.

  2. Jen Reply

    This article is incomprehensible! Why isn’t he holding the Conservative government to account for not reducing poverty and inequality, rather than blamings the local council who have limited impact in this regard? Why on earth would he suggest applying for grants to support the vulnerable is a bad thing? What on earth does any of this have to do with climate change?

    I often see this guy commenting on local Facebook groups, he complains about everything and appears to be totally clueless about issues he should fully understand, given he is a councillor.

    • Jon Reply

      Conservative councillors keep writing columns have latched on to the Climate Disclosure Project D grade as evidence but the D grade is given for not providing any data . The Tories are all about bonfires of regulations , going it alone, being independent and pumping raw sewage into the sea suddenly this US non-profit that no-ones head of is telling them what to do

  3. Jen Reply

    Dr. Samer Bagaeen is from a minority background and very educated man. That is the high caliber the local Conservatives are setting. The LP and tree huggers offer cadidates with low skills like ppl working in procurement.

  4. James Taylor Reply

    Why doesn’t Cllr. Bagaeen with his expertise sit on the planning committee? It seems like a perfect fit but for some reason, he doesn’t want to or the Conservative group won’t let him.

  5. Jason Reply

    If this councillor were to conduct some actual research, using real world data rather than government propaganda, he’d soon realise the world is COOLING rather than heating.

    The climate never stops changing. The medieval warm period, when temperatures were significantly higher than they are now, was a time of plenty, not something to cause fear and panic.

    We all know governments LIE all the time, and this is no exception.

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