Call for council buildings to become ‘warm hubs’ this winter

A councillor has called for council-owned buildings to be opened up to people struggling to heat their homes.

Independent councillor Anne Pissaridou is concerned that older people and families will find themselves isolated and struggling to heat their homes when energy prices rise again next month.

Councillor Pissaridou has written to the Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Phélim Mac Cafferty, suggesting a venue in her North Portslade ward.

She said that the Pavilion Nursery building could provide a warm drop-in for people to have a “cup of tea and a chat”, with the nursery moving into Mile Oak Primary School.

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Councillor Pissaridou said: “I am very worried indeed because the poverty in my ward is high.

“There are loads of people who will help in the community. Portslade community organisations and bodies come out and help because they see the need. It’s a brilliant community.

“During covid, a lot of people, especially the elderly, were very isolated – and I see it again. I see them huddled in coats and blankets rather than putting the heating on.

“Once you get socially isolated, that’s a downward spiral. If we can keep people in touch with everybody – ‘come and have a cup of tea, come and have a chat’ – people come up with solutions.

“The social isolation is such a big worry of mine because I’ve got lots of elderly people living along there and a lot of single-parent families who are struggling.”

Councillor Pissaridou said that she had been in touch with the Ageing Well community project and a soup kitchen to try to start co-ordinating volunteers if the council backs the idea.

She had been planning to submit her letter to a meeting of the full council in October but feared that would be too late.

She asked any community group interested in getting involved to contact her by emailing

The council said: “The energy and cost of living crisis is already extremely hard for many people in our city.

“We’re looking at all possibilities available to us to help people. We know only too well that the heaviest burden for this crisis falls on those who are least well off.

The Pavilion building in Graham Avenue in Mile Oak

“The government’s Household Support Fund, council tax energy rebate and energy bill discounts have provided and will provide some support. A third round of the Household Support Fund from October to March is currently awaited.

“While draft guidance has been issued, we are waiting for the government to confirm the level of support to be provided. We will prioritise distribution of this fund as soon as it is confirmed.

“In the meantime, this summer we’ve been providing free holiday clubs as we recognise just how expensive the holidays can be for the poorest families.

“The Community Hub we created to support people facing hardship during the pandemic is continuing. The hub helps people to access welfare support, food and essentials and also helps people access the right advice on welfare benefits, managing money and bringing down their fuel bills.

“We’ve increased the amount available to help people pay for essential goods like fridges and ovens. We’ve improved our Council Tax Reduction Scheme to help more people.

“And we’ve also improved pay for lower-paid council staff, abolishing the lowest pay scales, benefiting 3,800 staff, most of whom live in the city.

Councillor Anne Pissaridou

“Working alongside Citizens Advice Brighton and Hove and Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, we’ve launched the Brighton and Hove Cost of Living Crisis Fund.

“More than £35,000 has been donated and will help those suffering the most during this crisis.”

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The council added: “We’re rolling out an insulation programme for warmer, healthier council houses. We have also increased the council’s enforcement team so that we can take action on landlords renting cold, leaky homes in the private rented sector.

“We are exploring all options to provide the best support we can and are looking around the country for innovative ideas such as using community facilities as ‘warm spaces’ in the winter.

“However, we know that what people really need is support to heat their homes and feed themselves and their families.

“We all need clarity from government on the support they will be offering both to individuals and councils.”

  1. Robert Pattinson Reply

    When i was younger we did not have central heating or double glazing, we used to get ice forming on the inside of the window.
    I know times are hard but you can do measures yourself to keep warm. Concentrate on one room if you can to keep warm. I used to love hot water bottles when i was younger.
    Certain foods are also good to keep warm and very cheap such as broth.
    The council should be offering things to keep the vulnerable warm at home such as hot water bottles, NOT electric blankets they will just add to bills.

  2. Phoebe Barrera Reply

    Wow – ex-Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou popping her head above the parapet – must be getting near the time for council elections. Did anyone see the announcement of her not being Labour anymore?

    Shame that her local political party had disassociated themselves from her due to claims of antisemitism which, in turn, led to Greens taking control of the city council.

    Let’s also not forget that Anne, as then chair of the ETS committee, instigated both the OSR cycle lane extension, and the weedkiller ban, without approval from other members or consulting affected ward councillors.

    • Paul Temple Reply

      Yes if Anne thinks her local residents will forget the OSR cycle lane fiasco or totally disorganised weedkiller ban she is sadly deluded.Might not be worth her standing in 2023…

      • Phoebe Barrera Reply

        Interesting that she only claims credit for something almost 10 years ago when she was a Labour councillor in Wish ward. She was such a success that she lost her seat in the 2015 elections and then took over the safe Labour ward in
        North Portslade from Penny Gilbey in 2018.

        The rest of her “accomplishments” seem to be from the entire council, rather than her.

  3. Cllr Les Hamilton Reply

    The obvious solutions are to use the community space at Hazelholt and Paddock Court. Buildings that will be warm in the interest of residents. This is not the case at the Pavilion.With respect a proposal not thought through.

    • Phoebe Barrera Reply

      Sounds typical of anything dreamt up by our beloved Anne Pissaridou 🙄

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