Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Monday Briefing. There's loads more of you now than there were last week, so welcome everyone, come on in, the news is lovely and warm—we've got this, that and t'other.
News This Week
More support for rough sleepers in the city
Further support will be available for people sleeping on the streets this winter after the council was successful in a bid for additional government funding.
There will now be accommodation, open 24/7 during the winter, for up to 25 people who would otherwise be sleeping rough. This will run alongside other schemes, including the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) which provides accommodation for people when there is an amber weather warning or the temperature feels like zero degrees, and No Second Night Out, managed by St Mungo's, which provides a safe short-term place to sleep for up go 45 people.
People have already moved into the new accommodation, which was set up within a week of receiving the funds, and will work with the council to help find longer term housing for people who use its services.
Councillor David Gibson, Co-Chair of the Housing Committee, said:
It’s great news that we’re able to offer warm and safe accommodation to help more people stay off the streets through this winter. It’s fantastic that we were able to set up the accommodation and move people in so quickly – thanks to everyone who worked hard to make that happen.
The accommodation gives us a better opportunity to work closely with people and offer them support to end their homelessness. The ‘No Second Night Out’ offer is also a vital part of service helping people move off the streets. It’s short-term support set-up to offer urgent accommodation quickly for people who’ve had the misfortune to end up sleeping rough.
If you see or know someone sleeping rough and you're worried about them, contact Streetlink online or call 03005 000 914.
Transgender Day of Remembrance marked
A vigil for Transgender Day of Remembrance was held yesterday in Jubilee Square.
Organised by LGBTQ+ organisations and charities including The Clare Project, a charity supporting transgender people in the city, there were community speakers, a performance from Rainbow Chorus, and name rituals, followed by food at LGBTQ+ community centre The Ledward Centre.
People brought flowers, candles and signs in a show of solidarity with trans and non-binary communities, taking time to listen to the names of those killed in the last year and, as in previous years, the police were asked not to attend the event.
The Seagull stands in solidarity with our trans, non-binary and intersex communities.
🖋 News in Brief 🖋
- The council is considering introducing underground 'superbins' to the city to tackle existing problems with wheelie and communal bins. Councillors Wilkinson and Appich have called for a report to investigate whether the bins would reduce overflowing litter (and as a result, rats and flies) and help Brighton work towards becoming a 'Zero Waste City'. Underground 'superbins' have been used elsewhere in the UK, notably introduced by Labour in Liverpool, and can hold up to 5,000 litres of waste below street level.
- A team at the University of Brighton is researching how HRT affects people's sporting performance. They are looking for people who are physically active (doing aerobic or resistance training at least three times a week, or who play competitive sports) who have not yet begun HRT, or are about to begin HRT and plan to be on it for more than a year. If you fit the criteria and want to know more, email Blair Hamilton at [email protected].
- In case anyone was worrying alongside our editor that the canopy of lights that decorate the clock tower each Christmas weren't set to return, fear not: they will be fully lit by the end of the week. There was a problem with one of the bars holding the lights, and a new one is currently being made, The Seagull understands.
- Congratulations to everyone who took part in yesterday's 10k run! Our technical director did the 10k earlier this year and it was tough but fun.
- Only 130 days until the Volks returns! Members of Team Seagull had a grand time at the Brighton Model Railway Club Exhibition at Patcham Library & Community Centre, exhibiting some very nice Volks models and one of the Daddy Long Legs. Come along next year if you're curious.
The Big One
Pedestrianisation proposal provokes protest
What's happening? Disability rights advocates have criticised the council for discrimination and 'putting trader’s profits above people' due to its controversial and divisive approval of a traffic regulation order being imposed on Gardner Street and Regent Street.
What does this mean for the roads? Every day, from 11am to 5pm, Gardner Street will be closed to vehicular traffic, disabled parking bays will be removed from Gardner Street, and additional disabled parking bays will be added to Regent Street. It was voted through by the Greens, opposed by the Conservatives, and Labour abstained.
Why? The council say this will create a pedestrianised shopping and leisure area, allow businesses to expand their outside space, improve pedestrian safety, reduce noise pollution and improve air quality.
Sounds good in theory? The issue is that there are currently two disabled parking bays in Gardner Street, and the council has said that 'given the high density of businesses and residents in the area coupled with narrow streets there are no nearer suitable locations than those proposed'.
What have charities been saying? Possability People and BADGE (Brighton Access for Disabled Groups Everywhere) are calling on the council to reconsider its decision. They said they are 'shocked and dismayed', and that this will deny disabled people access to 'a popular neighbourhood and shopping area', as well as stopping a disabled resident who lives in the road from leaving their home during the day.
Possability People’s Chief Officer, Geraldine Des Moulins, said:
I don’t think the City Council has any idea of the impact of their plan to close Gardner Street is going to have on disabled people. In fact, all they’ve done is demonstrate how little they understand the needs of disabled people and the day to day realities of living with an impairment or long term health condition.
We are dismayed that on one hand, the council is saying it is committed to making the city more accessible for disabled residents and visitors with its Accessible City Strategy and disability panel, and then doing the exact opposite with its Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.
We are especially concerned for the disabled resident who relies on their car to live an independent life. What happens when their condition fluctuates, and they need to get to their GP? Or have other emergencies that need to be dealt with? Or just want to go about their day like everyone one else, but can’t, because their car is locked in?
What about the additional bays in Regent Street? As Geraldine Des Moulins pointed out to the council, blue badge holders can already park there (albeit not all day), and those who qualify for a blue badge have mobility issues affecting how far they can walk, if at all. The Seagull found that based on the current location of the disabled parking bays in Gardner Street, moving them to the same location in Regent Street could see people having to walk approximately 190 metres—200 metres is the yardstick to which mobility is measured against. Those with blue badges who are eligible for Personal Independent Payments (PIP) cannot walk 50 metres unaided, if at all.
How many people are estimated to be affected? According to Possability People, which promotes social inclusion for disabled people, there are 13,500 disabled people in the city who are reliant on their vehicles or wheelchairs as mobility aids.
What can I do to get involved? If you don't agree with the council's decision, support the charities opposing it and encourage the council to make the city more accessible for people with disabilities!