Seagull Weekly Briefing 13/03

All the top stories in the city.

Seagull Weekly Briefing 13/03
Source: The Brighton Seagull 

Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Monday Briefing. We hope you enjoyed the five seconds of snow we had last week and the seven days of rain that followed. Let's hope for better this week!

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News This Week

Hanover pub to shut at the end of the month to make way for housing

Photo of The Hanover pub
Source: The Hanover

The Hanover in Queen's Park Road is set to be demolished, and will close its doors for the last time in just a couple of weeks.

Planning permission to do so was obtained by the freehold owners back in 2002; the timescale for building the houses is not yet known, but we do know that nine houses are planned for the site.

Anneesa Chaudhry, organiser of Local Vocal Parents Community Pub Choir at the Hanover, said:

We knew it was on the horizon and finally we now know that the Hanover Pub will be knocked down for housing and therefore closing within the month.

If you have a story/history to share or want to say thank you please do so and we'll share it.

The pub has been the home to The Local Vocal Parents Pub Choir and been extremely generous in enabling us to meet up and sing during difficult times. We always feel welcome and for me it's always felt like a community centre with a huge heartbeat.

Thank you to all of you for all you've done for our community Adam and your team.

There will be a 'Goodbye Hanover Pub' event on Thursday 23rd March from 8pm, where people are encouraged to join together, sing and share their stories of the pub.

The pub will close for good on Saturday 25th March.

Sussex Cricket announces first ever Sussex Women’s Premier League for the 2023 season

Source: Xavier Voigt-Hill

Sussex is set to get its first ever Premier League for women, made up of five different clubs in the county.

It is hoped by Sussex County Cricket Club, who play out of The 1st Central County Ground in Hove, that the club will lead to players playing for Sussex Women, Southern Vipers, Southern Brave, and England Women, and a higher quality and standard of cricket played.

Charlotte Burton, Women & Girls lead officer, said:

Providing a Premier League for Women’s clubs is something we have wanted to develop for a number of years and with the continued growth of Women’s and Girls cricket in Sussex, we wanted a structure in place where women can access more opportunities to play the longer format of the game.

It is an exciting time for Women and Girls cricket and through the work we do at schools with our two secondary school projects with Chance to Shine and the ECB, we hope to get even more girls coming into the game.

The Premier League teams will compete in 40 over and T20 competitions.

West Blatchington Primary School set to become academy despite controversy

Picture of West Blatchington Primary School
Source: Hassocks5489

West Blatchington Primary School is being turned into an academy as part of Pioneer Academy Trust.

Academies receive funding directly from the government and are run by an academy trust. Academies have more control over how they do things, for example they do not have to follow the national curriculum and can set their own term times. If a school funded by the local authority is judged as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted then it must become an academy.

UNISON, GMB and the NEU have all spoken out against the plans, with the NEU calling plans  'unnecessary' and 'irreversible' and the consultation process 'disingenuous and evasive'; the school say two-thirds of staff are supportive, 7% of staff were against it, and the plans had 'widespread support' from parents.

In a consultation report on its website, the school said it wants to 'secure its future by continuing to focus on providing the highest quality education for children', and work on becoming an Outstanding-rated school. It said developing an Autistic Spectrum Condition Facility is a priority, and wants to collaborate with South Norwood Primary School in Croydon, which also is part of The Pioneer Academy and has an Enhanced Learning Provision supporting children with moderate learning difficulties including autism.

Concerns have been expressed by the NEU that Pioneer Academy Trust have expanded by 40% in just three years, and almost half of their schools have not had OFSTED reports published. It feels the governors' decision to proceed in spite of this is a 'huge and entirely unnecessary risk to take even with a strong and clear time critical rationale to do so, which they do not'.

Councillors voted against the plans last week at the Children, Young People and Skills Committee Meeting, and wrote to governors of the school sharing concerns about how the move could affect the quality of education provided. The council was also concerned that no public meetings have been held about the plans, and said they should have done more to talk with families from disadvantaged backgrounds, and families where English is not the first language—this makes up close to a third of the school.

Concerns were raised by the chair of the Parent Carers' Council, Becky Robinson, who said she has heard nothing from parents, 'concerning' due to the specialist autistic spectrum condition unit in the school—a unit which she says 'belongs to the city'.

Matt Webb, education convenor of UNISON Brighton & Hove, said:

School governors have made it clear they don’t think they have to explain themselves to anyone, that they do not like or expect to be questioned or scrutinised and Mr Sharron has developed an unpleasant habit of threatening union officials for doing their jobs.

It’s little wonder staff feel unable to speak their minds at the school and why they have come to their unions to do so. We have challenged governors every step of the way to explain their intentions and they simply won’t do it.  They have clearly done a deal with Pioneer Academy Trust which they intend to do at any cost.

The community need to be aware that due to the actions of just a very small number of people, the entire community are forever losing the governance and control of their much loved and highly valued community school. The Governors privatise the school and have the nerve to call it 'exciting'; it is a sad day for Hove.

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🖋 News in Brief 🖋

  • You've got until this Friday to vote in the Brighton Restaurant Awards (BRAVOs)!
  • The council is offering grants of up to £25,000 for people on low incomes living in poorly-insulated private sector homes, to help with energy bill rises and to reduce emissions. The Warmer Homes funding is particularly looking to help households living in low energy performance homes not heated by mains gas: homes heated by electricity, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), or heating oil. You can apply until 31 May 2023 through the Warmer Homes website.
  • Also, just in case anyone else was wondering: the reason Bond Street Coffee has moved the cool seat in the window is because of a damaged window. Nobody panic!
  • Two out of King Alfred’s three boilers are now fixed, and they hope to reopen in time for Easter (Easter Sunday is April 9th, for those not counting down the days until it's chocolate egg day and the resurrection of our ⬆️ Lord ⬇️ and ⬅️ Saviour ➡️
  • 19 days until the Volks reopens!!!
If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected].

The Big One

Photograph of lifeguards on Brighton Beach
Source: David Hawgood

What's happening? The council is almost halving the number of lifeguards on the beach this year, in an attempt to balance this year's budget, a move which they say may 'disproportionately impact younger children and people experiencing mental health crisis.'

How much will that save? In monetary terms, the council is cutting £100,000 from the lifeguard budget, meaning a reduction in lifeguard stations from seven, with an additional three in the six-week summer holidays, to four, with an additional three in the six-week summer holidays.

What do the public think? More than 3,600 people have signed a council petition and a petition calling on the council to reconsider. Justine Stephens, who started the petitions, said:

Family beaches will bear the brunt of closures. The youngest and oldest in society, the less able and weaker swimmers, mainly our children, will be at most risk.

A lifeguard is viewed as ‘nonessential’ until you need a lifeguard, to save a life, then it’s vitally important.

Proposals will in particular adversely affect Hove residents who stand to lose 66% of last year’s service. Most beach users and hut owners won’t have a service to rely on.

How many people did lifeguards help last year? It's estimated by the council that 750,000 people used lifeguarded beaches and 143,000 went in the water. Lifeguards were involved in more than 70,000 preventative interventions on the beaches, helped reunite 171 missing people, responded to 92 major incidents, 38 of those being water incidents (one every 4 days during lifeguard season), handled 11 mental health related incidents, and saved 40 lives. This included sea rescues, CPR and critical care.

How much of the beach do they cover? Before the cuts, 10 beach areas across 13km of coast, from Saltdean all the way to Hove Lagoon, from May to September.

So where will the lifeguards be? It has been proposed by the council that they're focused on the following areas, based on the number of beachgoers and water users during the summer, number of previously recorded incidents, types of incidents, surf conditions, and presence of physical hazards:

  • West Street/Seafront Office (This location in 2022 had 34% of beach and water users, 40% of preventative advice issued, 23% of missing people, 27% of major and non-life-threatening incidents)
  • Palace Pier West (This location in 2022 had 11% of beach and water users, 6% of preventative advice issued, 8% of missing people, 18% of major and non-life-threatening incidents)
  • Palace Pier East (This location in 2022 had 24% of beach and water users, 24% of preventative advice issued, 8% of missing people, 17% of major and non-life-threatening incidents)
  • King Alfred (This location in 2022 had 8% of beach and water users, 5% of preventative advice issued, 1% of missing people, 7% of major and non-life-threatening incidents)

What about the rest of the city? During the six-week school holiday, Saltdean, West Pier/Bandstand, and Hove Lawns will have lifeguards due to having been flagged as medium to high risk by the RNLI.

Could the RNLI provide funding? It is hoped by the council that they could come to an arrangement with the RNLI for 2024, but they say there is not eno ugh time for this year and 'there would still be a need to resize the service' due to budgetary constraints.

Is there anything else we should know? The council said in its report:

A key element of the Lifeguard Service involves reuniting missing children with their families and identifying, intercepting and responding to incidents of attempted suicide or deliberate self-harm. As such, a reduction in the number of lifeguards may disproportionately impact younger children and people experiencing mental health crisis.

Is there anything I can do? Sign the petitions to tell the council what you think. Email your local coucillors and your MP, look out for your friends when you're on the beach, and educate yourself and others about the sea.

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