8 min read

🗳Rottingdean election, seal protection, a Fringe and Festival show selection and more🎭

Plus Montford tributes, planning disputes and changes to the model of bus serving on certain routes.
Picture of a sunset over Saunders Park
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Good morning, and welcome to this week's Seagull briefing! We've had a very busy long weekend—some of us were on the bar at a festival in Dorset—and we're all very excited for Brighton Festival and Fringe to start this week! If you'd like to get involved with our Fringe coverage, it's not too late—email [email protected] with requests for shows you'd like to see and some writing samples and we can have a chat.


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🗞News This Week🗞

Seals, Saltdean, saying goodbye to bendy buses.

In The Seagull this week:

  • Sara Darling brought us a love letter to Brighton's West Pier, with beautiful photos from James Bloomfield:
A love letter to Brighton’s West Pier
There are many reasons to fall in love with Brighton, writes Sara Darling.

Beloved bendy buses to weave their last goodbye

Picture of a 25 bendy bus
Source: Les Chatfield

Brighton residents will be familiar with the "bendy buses" that carry passengers along the 25 and 25X routes. Sadly, the 2023 academic year's cohort of students (the route's main users) and anyone moving to Brighton after 2022 will have to make do with double-decker buses.

More than ten years after their debut on our streets (12 years ago as of Wednesday 27th April, in fact) the 22 buses that make up the fleet will be replaced. The Citaro model, manufactured by Mercedes, are now 15 years old and hard to find replacement parts for. Their fuel consumption is also very high, according to Brighton Area Buswatch chair Andrew Boag, and they do not meet the Ultra Low Emission Zone requirements.

Despite the bendy buses being able to carry 140 people, compared with around 90 on a double decker, the usage on the 25 and 25X routes has significantly decreased since the pandemic—to the extent that the high capacity is no longer needed, say Brighton Area Buswatch. (Interestingly, the N25 night bus is the only service in the city to have increased its passenger numbers compared with pre-pandemic figures.)

Farewell, bendy buses. You'll be missed.


Saltdean neighbourhood planning

Picture of Saltdean with the lido in the foreground
Source: Malcolm Rose

Saltdean residents have applied for neighbourhood planning powers, which comes as an increasing number of neighbourhoods seek to take charge of their area's planning. Neighbourhood planning is a way for local people to take a lead in planning the future of their area, and can be led by a parish council or a neighbourhood forum.

A consultation started last Tuesday (April 26) to gain formal approval for a neighbourhood forum and a neighbourhood area, and will run until Tuesday 7th June. A spokesman for the council said:

Neighbourhood forums are open to anyone who lives or works in the area they cover. Once designated, neighbourhood forums can prepare a neighbourhood plan, setting out local planning policies for their area. Neighbourhood plans must broadly conform with the City Plan.

Once approved neighbourhood plan policies will be used to help decide the outcome of planning applications in the area.

The proposed neighbourhood area covers West Saltdean and has three borders with other authorities: East Saltdean (part of Lewes District Council) to the east, the South Downs National Park Authority to the north and Rottingdean Parish Council to the west.

It would be the sixth neighbourhood forum approved in the city, following previous successful applications from the Hove Station area, Hove Park, Brighton Marina, Hangleton and Knoll and Coldean.

Rottingdean Parish Council is also a designated neighbourhood planning body.

Members of the public can view the applications and make comments online through the council’s consultation portal.


Why are there seals on the beach? We just don't know

Seals found on Sussex beaches including Hove beach are confusing wildlife experts. One, a grey seal pup, was found last Monday in Hove and treated for puncture wounds on its flipper; another was rescued in Eastbourne the Friday before, and at least two more have been helped by East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) recently.

Trevor Weeks, an advanced medic with WRAS who helped get the Hove seal to WRAS' hospital at Whitesmith near Lewes to be treated, said:

The seal was definitely in need of treatment for the wounds but was rather feisty.

Grey Seals are not that common on the East Sussex, Brighton & Hove coast line.

We do see them from time to time and we rescue a grey once every couple of years normally, but to get two in three days in unusual.

We really are not sure quite what is going on and why we are suddenly getting so many popping up on our local beaches, which have also included at least two other Grey seals which have been moulting."

He said they expect to rescue one every two to three years, not two in three days, and that grey seals are not very common in East Sussex. WRAS is currently fundraising to move into better facilities, which will be bigger and hopefully have better ability to look after seals.

If anyone sees a seal on the beach which they are concerned about they are urged to call British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546.


🖋 NIBS 🖋

  • Four more Changing Place toilets, for people with disabilities, will be coming to Stanmer Park, Wish park, St Ann's Well Gardens, and the Ledward Centre. Changing Places toilets are bigger than standard toilets, with enough room for a wheelchair, and have specialist equipment inside including hoists, curtains and changing benches for adults. The four toilets, funded with a £330,000 grant from the government, will double the number of Changing Places toilets in the city. The others are at the Shelter Hall, The Colonnade, The Level and The Brighton Centre.
  • Selma Montford, co-founder of the Brighton Society, has died at home aged 87. She was a leading figure in city conservation, and was awarded an MBE in 2006 for “services to urban conservation in Brighton and Hove”. This was due to her work in preventing building demolitions including the Brighton Bandstand. She was also a strong advocate for affordable housing, supporting BHT Sussex since its launch in 1968. The Brighton Society has published a tribute here.
  • Brighton and Hove City Council officials have advised the Planning Committee to refuse planning permission for a shutter to the Cowley Club in London Road.  We've written about their campaign in the past, as they have encouraged residents to email the council in support. The report says  shutters would 'harm the appearance of the building... obscure the shop front and window display when down, creating an unsightly, passive appearance to the frontage, harming the visual amenity of the building and surrounding area and the vitality of the wider shopping street, Furthermore, the shutter housing would be poorly located and would fail to respect the architectural features of the shopfront resulting in an unsightly feature even when the roller shutter is retracted.' It will be voted on by the Planning Committee this Wednesday at 2pm.

This edition of The Brighton Seagull is sponsored by Cybersyn, a friendly digital analytics consultancy based right here in Brighton. ‌‌‌‌


💥The Big One💥

Rottingdean Coastal by-election

Picture of Cranleigh Avenue, Rottingdean
Source: Simon Carey

What's happening? The Rottingdean Coastal by-election, for the vacant Brighton & Hove City Council seat, is taking place this Thursday!

Why is this happening? The by-election has come about after Conservative councillor Joe Miller, resigned for 'personal reasons'.

Where does Rottingdean Coastal cover? We mentioned that here!

Who are the candidates? Brighton and Hove News have put together some excellent profiles of them; in no particular order:

Where can I find out more about them? If you want to talk to them in-person, Brighton and Hove News is hosting a hustings tonight in collaboration with the Local Democracy Reporting Service. Doors are at 6.30pm for a 7pm start at Rottingdean Village Hall. Book entry by emailing [email protected] with 'Hustings' in the subject.

👉Finger On The Pulse👈

Fringe and Festival, food 

🎶🎭🤣Fringe And Festival: This week sees the beginning of the takeover of our culture section by the Brighton Festival (high-minded capital-c-Cultural events of various kinds) and the Brighton Fringe (lots of comedy, theatre etc). The Festival this year kicks off with the Children's Parade on Saturday 7th at 10:30, starting at Jubilee Street and proceeding to Madeira Terrace, a Brighton tradition that we've not been able to celebrate for 2 years. This week in the comedy stakes we've got Dave Fensome, Fran Kissling, Troy Hawke, Anoushka Rava and past Seagull favourite Nathan Cassidy with three different shows. Cassidy's Bumblebee was The Seagull's favourite comedy show of the Fringe last year, so we would recommend running, not walking! There's also a tour of London Road—which might not sound thrilling, but we're pretty pumped for. We've got a fairly dense calendar of coverage planned—in fact, for the next month we'll be sharing weekly reviews and previews of shows in a separate weekly publication, so look out for the Seagull pop-up Fringe coverage newsletter dropping into your inboxes soon! Full show listings for the Festival are here, and the Fringe here.


Swoop in

If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected] And if you want to contribute:‌‌‌


☕️ Where to eat? 🥪

☕️Coffee: Black Rain on Lewes Road is a coffee roastery and cafe serving blends to please the most refined coffee fan's palate. They also bake their own delicious vegan cinnamon and cardamom buns!

🍱Dinner: Kusaki on Circus Parade is a splendid vegan restaurant offering marvellous cocktails, and plant-based spins on sushi and other traditional Japanese dishes. We'd recommend going for a "bits and pieces" approach, loading up on small plates and sushi, and the "Kaizen" cocktail.

🍻Pint: The Lord Nelson on Trafalgar Street is a delightfully green-tiled Victorian establishment (they need to keep an eye out for wandering Charlie Southalls) with a cozy interior, which plays host to a splendid Irish music night every month on the last Thursday.


🔜 Next Time 🔜

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