Seagull Weekly Briefing 17/04
The need-to-know news from across the city this week.
Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Monday Briefing. The other evening Team Seagull made our own vegan kebabs, and they were, if not quite as good as What The Pitta, pretty close. Recipe is here—we'd recommend adding a bit of soy sauce to the marinade. You can get the soya strips from Infinity Food and we had it in a Mamoosh pitta we got from HISBE.
Today is your last chance to fill in The Brighton Seagull Subscriber Census—let us know what you think about The Seagull and be in with a chance of... influencing what we do going forward, I suppose!
News This Week
Tributes pour in for Dave's Comics manager
Stephen Bamford, manager of Dave's Comics, suddenly died on Tuesday 21st March, aged 52.
He joined what was then Dave's Book Exchange in 1997 to open a comic shop two doors down from its location in Sydney Street.
In a post on their website, Dave's Comics wrote:
The respectability of the industry relies on comic shop managers such as Stephen searching for and promoting titles that would otherwise receive no publicity. As graphic novels don’t fall into easy categories in the way novels do, so it pays to be constantly searching for new ways to present titles, forcing people to explore books that they may never have noticed. It was a mandate that led to his frequent (and infamous) re-shuffling of the shop layout.
So these were the secrets to Stephen’s success at Dave’s Comics: his belief in the fine art of sequential art coupled with an acute business acumen built upon thorough research.
The comments shared about Stephen on social media prove his legacy: stories of advice, employment, helping to find a rare item, long conversations on a range of topics, and people impressed by his attentiveness to regular's names and tastes.
Friend of The Seagull, Cherry, who worked at Dave's Comics as Small Press Manager, shared their thoughts:
I spent a lot of time in Dave's growing up and during my second year of my illustration degree, I was in the shop one evening with my best friend Alex when Steve, the director, happened to be in the shop, who listened to us talking about comics and watched the books I touched with a keen eye. He offered me a job on the spot.
I felt isolated at art school because of my passion for manga and comics but Steve always pushed me to make art in a way I liked and that meant something to me, and supported me the whole way through my first comic project. He had the most amazing and eclectic taste and knowledge in art, film, tv and comics and always had an informed, nuanced and valued viewpoint to offer me when I was stuck on a drawing or a project. I loved to listen to him gush about a cover artist he loved I'd never heard of from the 80s, or why the Twin Peaks reboot was a disaster, or why no film should ever be longer than 90 minutes. I loved how he wrote all his emails in giant purple text and I don't think a week went by where I didn't see him wearing his signature dungarees.
Steve poured his life into the magic that is Dave's and his passion and knowledge touched so many people and reading all the comments from friends and customers this last week has been so heartbreaking but so special. A lot of people knew Steve much longer and much better than I may have, but my few years working with him are a priceless, irreplaceable treasure, just like he was. He was a father figure, a mentor, a companion in comics and art, a confidant and a friend.
Dave's Comics went on to describe Stephen as an energetic and charismatic but shy and private person, who was a talented illustrator of abstract fantasy images and someone who enjoyed wood carving, an 'esoteric leaning' musically, and the opera.
He had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge in whatever subject drew his focus which, by his own admission, would see obsessive levels of research whether it be the days of silent film, the origins of religion, folk tales, or the early history of comics. He was also extremely keen on fitness which saw him run and lift weights regularly and plan a carefully controlled diet, which is why his death due to complications after an accident at home has left everyone so stunned.
Dave’s Comics was Stephen Bamford, so his passing will lead to a new chapter for the shop as the staff learn to adapt to a new way of operating. But there will be no way of filling his loss as a person.
Stephen Bamford is survived by his wife and brother.
Oral history project seeking Moulsecoomb memories
The University of Brighton is looking for residents’ Moulsecoomb memories for Mapping Mithras, an oral history and heritage project exploring the changes taking place around the University of Brighton’s Moulsecoomb campus.
The Mapping Mithras project, named after Mithras House which sits at the heart of the campus on Lewes Road, aims to capture local community, student and staff perspectives on Moulsecoomb's history.
Project organisers are looking for community input and volunteers to help collect memories in the form of oral histories which will help form both mobile and permanent exhibitions.
The project team will be offering free oral history training this spring to those getting involved with Mapping Mithras, as well as public events and building tours. They will draw on existing community archives and history groups located in the area, alongside Moulsecoomb’s public library and The Keep.
Dr Deborah Madden, principal lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science, said:
This project will explore the history of Mithras House and its precursor, the Allen West factory, and the local Lewes Road area. We want to encourage members of the community, both past and present, to share their memories and to help us collect the memories of others in this part of the city.
The resources we gather will open up social and community histories, alongside histories of neighbouring Bates Estate, Saunders Park and Bevendean. Saunders Park will be one hundred years old in 2024, so there is scope for this history to be folded into our project too. Together, we want to strengthen local connections through community research and oral history.
Working with local stakeholders including schools, community groups and businesses, we are looking forward to designing, developing and delivering a programme of creative activity that will highlight the area’s rich history and give creative expression to diverse voices and stories from our past.
The project’s outputs will be displayed at the University of Brighton’s Moulsecoomb campus. This website will provide regular updates. If you are interested in participating, contact project manager Nicola Benge here.
🖋 News in Brief 🖋
- Candidates confirmed for the election on May 4th! Find out more here.
- If you've always dreamed of having your own composter and water butt, it's your lucky day: the council is offering discounted purchases of them until 31st March 2024 (while stocks last) here. A 220-litre compost bin costs £12.50 and a 100-litre water butt is £10.
The Big One
What's happening? Rules are changing for Airbnbs, and the council are being held to account more and more about it by residents of the city.
Get into it. Resident Daniel Harris asked at a Full Council Meeting when they will 'put local people first', suggesting an Airbnb levy or tourism tax is introduced.
What are the new rules? Nationally, anyone converting homes in tourism hotspots into holiday lets will need planning permission, as part of new government plans. As part of this, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is considering if home owners will be able to let out their homes for eight nights maximum per year without needing permission to do so.
What have the council said? Councillor Martin Osborne, co-chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, said that the council would support a tourism tax, but that holiday lets are needed for people coming to stay in Brighton.
We take the point about the short-term lets market. We have done some work on this and commented on the government’s consultation.
They [the Government] are bringing in a register later this year which we obviously support. We would like to go further with changing planning laws so we can have this designation for ourselves.
How are people in Brighton affected by holiday lets? As we covered in The Seagull last September, not only does the council have no powers to license short term lets, but holiday lets have doubled in the last five years and are raising the cost of rent across the city. The increase in short-term lets has had major adverse consequences on the housing market, 'inflicting disruption, distress and exacerbating the housing supply crisis'.
How many holiday lets are there in the city? According to airdna.co, there are currently 4,310 active short-term lets available in Brighton and Hove. The picture above shows all of them: purple dots are full properties, blue is a room in a property.
What have other councillors said? Councillor Gill Williams, Housing Lead for Brighton & Hove Labour Group who has been very outspoken about restrictions on holiday lets, said that the number of empty homes has doubled in Brighton in the last 10 years, with almost 10,000 homes now unavailable to residents. She continued:
We welcome this news, which will grant local authorities long overdue powers to regulate the short-term holiday let market.
No one opposes putting a spare room up on Airbnb or renting out a flat while on holiday. We have no intention of regulating casual users.
What we need is better regulation of full-time commercial Airbnbs. They are taking family homes and flats and turning them into businesses without having to abide by the same rules that our long-established hotel businesses do.