Seagull Weekly Briefing 09/05

All the big headlines from across the city.

Seagull Weekly Briefing 09/05
Source: The Brighton Seagull 

Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Monday Briefing. We hope you enjoyed the special election article we published yesterday, all about the biggest news of the week: the local election!

You’ve lost that lovin’ Phélim: Seagull 2023 Election Special
Team Seagull takes a look at the election results from Brighton and Hove.

Some of you might be wondering: what happened to the audio version of the Briefing? Well, we've set it up as a podcast: you can get it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you listen to them; links to those (and the RSS feed) are available here.

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

News This Week

Pietro Addis sentenced to 15 years in prison

Pietro Addis has been sentenced to 15 years for killing his grandmother, restaurant owner Sue Addis, escaping a life sentence due to his age and 'immaturity'.

The 20-year-old was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court by Judge Christine Laing KC on Friday; he will be in prison for 10 years with an extended sentence of five years, and is expected to serve at least two thirds of the ten year sentence before parole can be considered.

If, upon being released, he was to commit any other offences before the end of the 15 years, he would have to carry out the rest of the sentence in prison.

He was found not guilty of murder back on Friday 3rd March due to 'diminished responsibility'. At Lewes Crown Court, the jury deliberated for just six hours before finding him not guilty.

The court heard during the trial that he suffered from a 'brief psychosis' and delusions that his grandmother wanted to kill him.

Pietro Addis was 17 when he killed Mrs Addis, owner of Donatello and Pinocchio, popular Brighton restaurants, by stabbing the 69-year-old 17 times in the bath in her Withdean home.

Judge Laing spoke about how Sue loved her family, including Pietro, describing them as a 'great source of joy'. She said:

It is perhaps the greatest testament to her that she leaves behind loving and understanding children and grandchildren prepared not only to forgive you for what you have done but also continue to support you.

She said despite his clear love for his grandmother and remorsefulness, he would still be a danger to the public. She spoke about his reluctance to discuss what had happened, and how he has talked about leaving the country when he is released, describing it as him trying to escape his actions.

She continued:

You have not yet fully appreciated the seriousness of what happened and just how much work is needed. At this point, I cannot be satisfied you will remain drug-free on your release. You will still be a relatively young man, keen to catch up on lost time.

The Addis family said:

We don't want him to lose most of his life. The biggest punishment is knowing what he's done. We want him to have a go at life, and mum would, too.

More than 100 jobs at risk as Brighton seeks to save £17 million

Source: Michael John Wilson

The University of Brighton is about to make more than 100 members of staff redundant in efforts to save £17.9 million.

The local University and College Union (UCU) branch said up to 400 people have been told their jobs might be at risk. Union members have blamed the expensive campus redevelopment where, coincidentally, the university spent £17 million on buying the site of a former gym.

The university said the redundancies would help to 'strengthen its position' regarding the ongoing tuition fee freeze and rising costs due to inflation, and hopes compulsory redundancies will be a 'last resort'.

Financial accounts for 2021-22 show the university spent £17 million purchasing a site on its campus from Virgin Active as part of a redevelopment project, having closed another of its campuses in Eastbourne.

Ryan Burns, a senior lecturer in media studies and secretary of the UCU branch, said the announcement of redundancies had come out of the blue when staff received an email inviting them to a meeting on 4 May, where it was revealed 80-97 staff positions were at risk.

UCU chair Mark Abel told The Seagull that they've 'made an application for a [strike] ballot following a unanimous vote of members, and will be pushing for it to be authorised ASAP'. He said staff morale had already been low and there was little faith in senior leadership. He continued:

UCU calls on the Vice Chancellor and the Senior Management Team to resign. If they have mismanaged the University to such an extent that these cuts are truly necessary, then they should take responsibility. If the Vice Chancellor insists on staying in post, the Board of Governors will be forced to consider dismissing her.

We will do everything in our power as a union to defend our members and this University from this attack from above.

A spokesperson for the university said that the purchase of the site of the former Virgin Active health club was funded by 'a schedule of disposals including the closure of our Eastbourne campus'. They said this allows them 'to finance the proposals without additional borrowing or affecting the money the university has available to manage its day-to-day activities'.

They continued:

As a provider of high-quality, skills-based education, there are significant opportunities for us to continue to strengthen our position as we look to the future. The proposals for change we have shared with our staff today will help us to do that.

This is a very difficult and concerning time for our staff and we will be doing all we can to support those colleagues affected by these proposals.

Want to read more stories like this? Subscribe for our weekly email newsletter here.

🖋 News in Brief 🖋

  • The council has planted 19,919 trees and tree whips across Brighton & Hove in the past year! They say they chose a diverse range of species to enhance the city’s woodlands, parks and streets with species such as oak, hazel, wild cherry and black walnut. The trees chosen will improve habitat diversity, provide seasonal interest and offer greater resilience and support for the city’s tree collection.
  • Brighton Festival started on Sunday with the annual children's parade! Around 5,000 children from 80 schools and youth groups took part, with handmade sculptures paraded through the streets, for this year's theme 'one world, learning and growing from each other'.
If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected].

The Big One

Trust in Southern Water down the drain

Source: Surfers Against Sewage

What's happening? Data released last week by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) has revealed that just 17% of Brighton and Hove residents think it's safe to swim in open water, amid ongoing concerns at the levels of sewage pollution.

That's pretty low! It gets worse: 76% of people in the city are put off going in the sea because of sewage pollution, 82% don't think water companies are doing enough to tackle it, and 73% think the water quality regulation in place currently is inadequate.

How many people in Brighton go in the open water? According to the data, not many at all. 57% never swim in the sea, 87% never paddle-board, and 43% never sit, stand or walk in the shallows. 76% of people say sewage pollution puts them off going in the sea, 7% more than the overall total (69%). People in Brighton generally find it less safe to swim in the sea than the rest of the UK does (38% nationally don't find it safe, compared to 49% in Brighton and Hove).

Do people like having access to the sea? Generally, yes! 63% agree that access to 'blue space' is beneficial for their physical health, and 45% agree limited access to 'blue space' is detrimental for their mental health.

What do people think about the work being done to tackle sewage pollution? 82% of people in the city think water companies aren't doing enough, compared to 6% who do. On top of that, 73% of Brightonians and Hoveites think the water quality regulation currently in place is inadequate, and 86% think water company regulators need to do more to make sure water companies reduce sewage pollution.

What about our local representatives? People in Brighton are slightly happier with the work of their MPs than the rest of the country, with 12% saying their MP is doing enough to tackle sewage pollution compared to 10% nationwide. 50% say their MP should be doing more.

What are our MPs doing? Lloyd Russell-Moyle, MP for Kemptown and Peacehaven, told The Seagull pollution in the sea is so bad he's 'supporting the joint action with the Good Law Project to sue the government over their lack of action', alongside MPs Caroline Lucas, Dawn Butler and Richard Foord. He said:

In 2022, Southern Water, the water company for my constituency here, dumped five months of raw sewage in just eight days. The government's plans to clean up our waterways is a joke. It lets water companies get away with dumping sewage for another quarter of a century. This is why we're supporting legal action by the Good Law Project and others to put a stop to it before it's too late.

What is the Government doing? Not enough. 83% think the Government should be doing more to tackle sewage pollution, with just 3% thinking they're doing enough. Labour's recent Water Quality Bill—which would introduce automatic fines on water companies who dumped sewage, and set a legal target to reduce sewage discharges by 90% by 2030—failed to win support in the House of Commons.

What are SAS doing? SAS are seeking to convert public outrage into action by staging a mass paddle-out protest against sewage pollution, featuring simultaneous events at beaches and rivers across the UK on Saturday 20th May. The flagship protest in Brighton will feature an appearance by ‘The Floater’, a surfboard made using recycled materials and raw sewage collected from UK beaches.

Josh Harris, Head of Communications at Surfers Against Sewage, said:

Last year water companies paid out a combined £1 billion to their shareholders while dumping sewage into UK waterways almost 400,000 times. It’s time to put an end to this shameless profiteering. Water companies should not be allowed to profit from pollution, and our data shows that the public agree, with a huge majority calling for an end to industry fat cats pocketing bonuses whilst failing to meet minimum environmental standards.

And it’s not just the water companies that need to clean up their act. The Government and regulators should be enforcing high standards and holding water companies to account, but it’s clear to the public that they’re not doing enough. We’ve suffered decades of broken sewers because of our broken system, and now the public have had enough and are demanding an to end this sewage scandal.

What can I do to help? SAS are also urging the public to sign their 'Dirty Money' petition, which demands an end to water companies profiting from pollution. And, go to the protest if you can!

That's all for this week—please subscribe, and forward to friends who might be interested!