Seagull Weekly Briefing 15/01

HISBE temporary closure, new South Portslade councillor, council landlord charge imposure and more

Seagull Weekly Briefing 15/01
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Weekly Briefing. We hope the cold isn't causing you too many issues, and that you enjoyed the snow last week, even if it didn't settle. The cold hasn't frozen our fingers yet, though, so it's time for the news.

News This Week

Dog dies after being electrocuted by railway line

A dog has died after being electrocuted by a live railway track on the Volk's Electric Railway.

The dog was off her lead at the time of the incident, which happened at approximately 12:30pm on Friday 12th.

According to her owner, a student who wishes to remain anonymous, 'she was able to get onto the tracks coming off the beach through open railings, directly adjacent and level to the footpath, and was electrocuted'. She said:

I began CPR on her but nothing could be done. I am devastated, anyone who knows me knows that Livvie is my entire world.

She has got me through the hardest of times and I am devastated at the thought of carrying on life without her. I hope she knows she was the best girl I could have ever asked for, and I only find comfort in hoping her death was painless.

The Volk's Electric Railway has been closed since the start of October, and won't reopen until the spring. However, the third rail remains live during the winter months for maintenance work, which is ongoing throughout the off-season.

A council spokesperson said:

We’re very sad to confirm that a dog was killed on the Volk’s Railway today.

Our understanding is that it was electrocuted on the live rail while off its lead.

We believe this was simply a tragic accident, and have no reason to believe the railway’s equipment or staff were in any way at fault.

We understand the dog’s owner is very distressed and our hearts go out to them.

We have started an investigation to look into what, if anything, might be done to prevent similar accidents in future.

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🖋 News in Brief 🖋

  • For the next two weeks, people are invited to share their experiences with the city's libraries in an interactive installation at Jubilee Library. The council want to know what the libraries mean to people, 'to help inspire a new generation of library users'.
  • Don’t miss the deadline for school place applications for children due to start primary school in Brighton & Hove in September 2024! Applications have to be submitted by the end of today (Monday).
  • HISBE, a social enterprise supermarket in York Place specialising in sustainable produce, has been closed since the new year following a 'disappointing Christmas'. They explained that they owe money to staff, suppliers and lenders, and have paused trading 'because it’s the responsible thing to do in our circumstances'. They hope it will be a temporary closure.
  • There will be no direct trains between Brighton and London on Saturday and Sunday, as improvements are being made on the Brighton Mainline between Gatwick Airport and Purley. Services between Gatwick and London will be diverted via Horsham.
  • Josh Guilmant has been elected as the new Labour councillor for South Portslade, after a by-election on Thursday 11th January, called following the resignation of councillor Les Hamilton. The results for all candidates were:
Danny John Booth, Green Party - 149 votes
Benjamin James Franks, Conservative Party - 246 votes
Jamie Rutherford Gillespie, Independent - 44 votes
Josh Guilmant, Labour Party - 874 votes
David Timothy Maples, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - 53 votes
Georgia Arabella McKinley Fitch, Democratic Liberation Party - 49 votes
Kenneth Lloyd Rist, Liberal Democrats - 186 votes

The turnout was 21.8% out of an electorate of 7,380.

If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected].

The Big One

Council to start charging landlords whose properties aren't up to scratch

Source: The Brighton Seagull

What's happening? The council is starting to charge landlords who fail to provide private rented homes of an adequate standard.

Exciting! We think so too! The standard of private rented homes across the city is not consistent, and this will hopefully go a long way to improving that.

What is the charge? The aim is for the charge to cover the cost of taking enforcement action, with the charge made to the landlord where a responsible person does not engage with the council.

How much is it? The cost will be on a case by case basis, depending on the staff time involved and expenses incurred. The council estimate it will be around £500.

So what enforcement can be done? The council's private sector housing team can step in to request improvements: for example, requiring a landlord to repair a leaking roof or deal with a potential hazard, such as a missing staircase banister.

What happens if the landlords don't do the work they need to do? Then the council can take enforcement action by issuing an improvement notice. In these cases, a charge will be made for the cost of issuing the notice.

And if they still don't comply? Then the council will still consider prosecution or a financial penalty, as they do now.

What if they don't pay the charge? Then it will be placed as a local land charge to be recovered when the property is sold or until the invoice is paid.

What has the council said? Councillor Gill Williams, chair of the Housing & New Homes Committee, said:

We know there are a lot of responsible landlords, but we also hear time and again from residents about other landlords who fail to maintain their properties.

Under the Deregulation Act 2015, improvement notices can protect tenants from revenge evictions when they’ve complained about the condition of a property. This is an important focus of our work to make sure private tenants are protected.

We are introducing charges to cover the costs incurred by the council of enforcing improvements in this way.
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