Seagull Weekly Briefing 11/12

Wish Park negligence petition, arms factory protest admonition, Kyle PR postcard deposition and more.

Seagull Weekly Briefing 11/12
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Weekly Briefing. Christmas prep continues at Seagull Towers—cards and gifts all over the place; remember, you've got just about a week to get everything posted off. Your weekly gift of news, however, is being delivered right now:

News This Week

Campaigners press Hove MP to back more representative voting system


Campaigners last week met Hove MP Peter Kyle to hand in postcards from constituents calling for a fairer and more representative voting system.

Brighton and Hove Compass, campaigners for a more progressive politics, helped 180 people to write ‘Postcards for Peter’, which contained clear backing for reform.

Peter Kyle supports the First Past The Post (FPTP) system, but in a conversation with him Compass argued that the voting system:

  • Denies representation to millions: in 2019, the Greens, Lib Dems and Brexit parties between them got over 16% of the vote, but only won 2% of the seats.
  • Wastes millions of votes: both those cast for losing candidates and those cast for winning candidates in excess of the number needed to win.
  • Makes votes unequal in value: the SNP needed only 26,000 votes per seat to win the seats they did but the Greens needed 800,000 votes just to elect a single Green MP.

Peter Kyle agreed that some form of voter reform is necessary and he said he is not
opposed to proportional representation as such, although he likes the existing system because of its explicit constituency link.

He also thinks the priority for change should be about delivering up the youth vote.

Both of the city's other MPs, Lloyd Russell-Moyle and Caroline Lucas, support a change in the system, something which is supported by the public too: the Social Attitudes survey in 2022 found that 51% of the population wanted the
electoral system to change

A spokesperson for Compass Brighton and Hove said:

Our broken political system no longer reflects the will of the people. The penny is beginning to drop that nothing works unless democracy works.

Renewing our democracy should be a priority issue for any incoming government. Peter Kyle and others should take heed of this message and lead from the front.

Activists shut down factory in Israel protest

Source: Natasa Leoni

Around 100 Brighton residents joined more than 1,000 workers, trade unionists, activists and concerned residents in simultaneously shutting down four arms factories across the UK, one of which is located in Brighton, which provide components for arms used by Israeli forces.

The group of Brighton residents, organising as Brighton & Hove Action for Palestine, claim the action was aimed at ending Brighton & Hove’s support for genocide, apartheid and occupation in Palestine as well as joining a national call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

The actions in Brighton and across the UK have been coordinated with actions blockading factories in France, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The blockades across the UK and around Europe have been organised by concerned residents, workers, trade unionists and activists in solidarity with the people of Palestine, following the ending of a seven-day truce in Gaza and a resumption of the brutal campaign of violence and terror waged in Palestine by the Israeli Government.

Brighton & Hove Action for Palestine is coordinating with the group Workers for a Free Palestine who have escalated their tactics by targeting four factories at once in different parts of the UK, in concert with actions by workers blockading factories which supply arms to Israel in France, Denmark and the Netherlands, on the same day.

Brighton & Hove Action for Palestine have stated their aim is to end Brighton & Hove’s support for genocide, apartheid and occupation in Palestine. To this end, the factory blockade follows the other actions the group has organised and taken part in, such as the vigil’s outside Peter Kyle MP’s office demanding he call for a ceasefire and the sit-ins that happened recently at Brighton station.

Meg, a resident from Brighton who took part in the protest, said:

Many people see Brighton and Hove as a city that is safe for marginalised people. Given this reputation, I think it is right for us residents to take a stand—we will not stand by as military equipment that is used to commit genocide is produced here.

We have full solidarity with the people of Palestine and are ready to take action against all those who support the Israeli states use of ethnic cleansing, occupation and apartheid.

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🖋 News in Brief 🖋

  • Fast food advertising at bus and taxi shelters is going to be banned in a move which leader of the council, Bella Sankey, says is to 'prioritise the health of our residents'.
  • Blocked drains are causing flooding, and in some areas like Nevill Close, drains haven't been cleared for years at a time due to parked cars. With around 800 blocked drains across the city last year, the council is working on a plan to improve this going forward.
If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected].

The Big One

Source: Simon Carey

What's happening? Councillors this week will debate a petition signed by 1,765 residents, concerning the neglect of public facilities at Wish Park and the impact it's having on the community.

What's the deal? Usually, there are a lot of recreational activities available at the park:

  • Football for children and adults with multiple clubs
  • Cricket all week during the summer
  • A Friends of Wish park group who organise events
  • Social networks around the cafe
  • Exercise classes

And the park is also used by local schools and nurseries.

What's the issue with the park? The petition writer says there has been a 'deterioration' of the park, in ways which were 'predictable and could have been avoided'.

Like what? Some examples include:

  • Outside gym equipment which was promised to be replaced and is yet to be
  • Dangerous football pitches now closed due to lack of maintenance/repair; children have suffered serious injury and council advises not expected to be repaired this season.
  • Cricket square disappearing as no longer maintained and fenced off, the public unaware and have started cycling and playing football on the square.
  • Planted areas becoming overgrown and dangerous—gardening group suspended as residents have become disengaged.

What has the council done to date? Not enough, say residents: they say they have tried to contact the council parks department to address these issues, but that 'no progress is being made' and that there are 'no plans to change the direction of neglect'.

What is the impact of this? The petition writer says that it's causing children and adults to miss out on exercise, with some children feeling isolated through lack of social contact. They say this is impacting 'the most vulnerable members of our community', a counter to the council's health and wellbeing strategy. There are concerns that without the active groups, the park will become less welcoming and safe, and possibly a target for antisocial behaviour.

What happens next? The petition will be debated at Full Council on Thursday 14th December.

What can I do to help? Email your local councillor to put pressure on them to support the petition.

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