Even with national problems, locally we have to do the right thing
I have submitted a request to the chief executive of Brighton and Hove City Council for an emergency extraordinary meeting of the full council to be held within a week.
The purpose of the meeting would be to discuss legal avenues available to the council to make urgent interventions to remove vulnerable children from hotels and take them into care.
We are demanding the meeting to consider legal advice to close the hotel in Hove to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and to ensure these children are put into care placements under the National Transfer Scheme.
We are also calling for an independent inquiry to be held to investigate the role of the council in the safeguarding catastrophe of vulnerable children being kidnapped and trafficked.
The “Cost of Living Summit” we called for, following on from Labour’s motion to call a “cost of living emergency” in October, finally took place this week.
As we had envisaged, it included representation from across business (both small and large), community, voluntary sector, public sector organisations, faith communities, council officers, MPs and councillors.
We had interesting presentations from the chair of the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Improvement District.
They set out the size of the local economy in Brighton and Hove and shared several interesting facts and figures, including that 91 per cent of businesses in the city are small and micro businesses.
The results of a vox pop – a quick survey – were also shared with us. They revealed that small businesses’ asks were around rate relief, easier access to shops, including park and ride, energy rebates and help with childcare costs.
The Food Partnership set out the huge increase in demand for food across the city. The key message was food poverty is caused by … poverty.
That means high rents, high energy costs and low wages and is a symptom of the overall malaise not an illness all by itself.
The council is only able to support the food relief effort via the government’s “Household Support Fund” because the council itself is having to make significant cuts to services in next year’s core budget.
The presentations were wrapped up by BHESCo, the local energy co-op, who told us about the help they provide through the warmer homes schemes.
We saw some shocking photos of mould growing in what was formerly social housing, caused by cold, as well as people having tents inside their homes just to keep warm.
The highlight was the group discussions to share ideas as to what we could do to come up with solutions and answers.
Everyone was in favour of closer relationships, working together, saving money on offices and back-office functions, sharing expertise and training between bigger and smaller organisations – and meeting up again to continue the conversation.
There were a couple of brilliant new ideas – so watch this space!
Friday (27 January) marked Holocaust Memorial Day. The theme this year – “ordinary people” – made me want to share this wonderful quote from Eli Wiesel with you …
“What is abnormal is that I am normal. That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life – that is what is abnormal.”
Councillor Carmen Appich is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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Brighton & Hove has recently had a bad press in some quarters, but this report details an etirely humane and hopeful approach to the issues that are ours to deal with. So very well done, Carmen Appich: I’m no longer a Brightonian or even the Hove equivalent(!) but value a genuine desire for honest assistance to others above fine gold.
If Ms Appich is so passionate about the issues in B&H (and I agree with your comments about her approach), why is she standing down at the May elections?