Seagull Weekly Briefing 23/10

Palestine protest, trans rights protest, extension of a free school meals scheme wait hang on this one doesn't rhyme

Seagull Weekly Briefing 23/10
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Weekly Briefing. Team Seagull have had a very cultural weekend—our political editor went along to see up-and-coming local band Jemp Lalion on Saturday (Assessment: 'really good') and our editor popped into the tunnel under the station to see the Brighton Digital Festival sorry, ~Dreamy Place~ installation Only a Few Find the Way (Assessment: 'nice to be able to wander round the tunnel a bit'). All this business hasn't stopped us from getting the news, though!

News This Week

Protest at full council meeting over Labour inaction on transphobia

Around 30 people gathered at Hove Town Hall on Thursday to protest the full council meeting.

Organised by Trans Liberation Front Brighton (TLF Brighton), they were protesting the council's Labour group, saying they wanted to 'expose Brighton Labour for the cowards and transphobes they are, while they refuse to condemn people like Rosie Duffield, and allow Alison Thomson (who compares trans people to dogs) to thrive in their local party'.

We wrote about Alison Thomson back in September, when recent transphobic tweets were seen on her account. The content included tweets with the hashtag #transwomenareMEN, a tweet calling trans women 'males who believe they are women', and a tweet saying that trans rights would 'destroy female rights'.

TLF Brighton said that councillor Leslie Pumm spoke to protestors 'for twenty minutes', saying 'he kept saying that he 'stands with the trans community''. According to the group, he claimed that the local Labour Party are 'thinking of investing in services for trans people' through Pride events.

They said:

We asked him, "Would you publicly condemn the actions of Rosie Duffield?" "Will you publicly condemn the transphobic actions of Keir Starmer?" "Will you remove Alison Thomson from your party?"

He said a flat-out 'No' to all of the above.

Council leader, Bella Sankey told The Seagull that the Labour council 'stand in solidarity with our Trans, Nonbinary and intersex communities', and that 'any expressions of anti-trans sentiment in any form will not be tolerated'.

Councillor Alison Thomson issued an apology, and was removed from her role on City Centre Renewal, 'while further investigation is carried out and subject to her completing training'.

New free school meals scheme for children educated outside school

Photo by Obi - @pixel7propix / Unsplash

The council is introducing a new Brighton & Hove scheme to make an 'equivalent support to free school meals' available for children from low income families who are educated other than at school.

The scheme will offer free supermarket vouchers for children of low income families who are unable to attend and receive education in school or in another informal setting.

The Brighton & Hove scheme has been made possible by reallocating money from preventative family help services, with increased Public Health funding being made available for family help services to cover the gap.

The council estimate the new scheme will benefit around 30 families in the city, and they will be backdating the free school meal vouchers to April 2023, the start of this financial year.

Councillor Helliwell, chair of the Children, Families & Schools Committee, said:

This issue was raised to us by an EOTAS [education other than at school] parent Pippa Hodge, and we agreed the lack of any national process or support felt unfair.

There is no funding, so we've worked very hard to identify a way of offering support locally. Any funding in our current budget situation is extremely challenging, so I'm very pleased we were able to prioritise this much needed support.

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🖋 News in Brief 🖋

  • Don’t miss the deadline for school place applications for children due to start secondary school in September. Applications must be submitted by the end of Tuesday 31st October. Nothing spooky about that! Apply online here!
If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected].

Dog of the Week

It's just a bit of fun!

This week's Dog of the Week is Billie! Nicknamed 'Billie Whiz, Queen of the Downs' by her owner Natasha, she's an eight-year-old podengo-cross from Portugal. She won 'Third Prettiest Bitch in Brighton' at the annual Pride Dog Show when she was two: she's the first prettiest bitch in our hearts. Find her at the next Acorn demo!

The Big One

Peter Kyle Palestine Protest

Source: Hermione Berendt

What's happening? Sixty people gathered outside MP Peter Kyle's office on Thursday, as part of a national day of action organised by Palestine Action, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

They criticised the MP for his his 'unequivocal support for the actions of the Israeli state and his silence on the plight of the Palestinian people', leaving a list of demands at his office.

Protestors say that Peter Kyle is 'in danger of being complicit in the death and destruction of innocent life in Gaza'.

What are their demands? That Peter Kyle:

  • Denounces Israel’s 'illegal use of excessive force' against the people of Gaza
  • Calls for an immediate ceasefire and the admittance of unconditional humanitarian aid into Gaza
  • Demand a stop to the 'reckless' arming of Israel

Has Peter Kyle said anything about the Israel-Hamas war? Not yet. He retweeted this post from Keir Starmer, calling for Hamas to release all hostages, and for the protection of civilian lives in Israel and Gaza.

What have Brighton's other MPs done? MPs Caroline Lucas and Lloyd Russell-Moyle have been much more vocal. Caroline Lucas wrote in The Metro that MPs should condemn the war, speak out against antisemitism and Islamophobia, and call for a ceasefire. Lloyd Russell-Moyle shared a letter from Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East condemning the war. Both MPs signed the EDM 'Protecting civilians in Gaza and Israel', something Peter Kyle has not done.

What have protestors said? Ahmed Ali, member of the public attending the protest and asylum seeker from Gaza, spoke about leaving his home and six-year-old son behind to find a safe place for his family to live. He said:

My mother, father, six siblings, nieces and nephews and my son are all currently trapped in Gaza. I am living in terror that any moment I will hear that they have been killed by the Israeli government. I cannot communicate with them because there is no internet and they have no water, food or medicine.

What my people are experiencing right now is horrifying, and the fact that the British government are endorsing Israel genocide of my people is heartbreaking.

I urge Peter Kyle to call on the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to condemn Israel’s war crimes, put pressure on Israel to call a ceasefire and for them to facilitate humanitarian aid entering Gaza.

I need them to ensure that my family and my people will survive.

Peter Kyle told The Seagull:

The actions of Hamas on Israeli people was truly atrocious. I, along with my colleagues in the Labour party, unwaveringly support Israel in their fight against Hamas terror.

However, all actions of self-defence must be carried out within international law and must not target civilians, or the health workers that are providing them with much needed critical care.  

Keir Starmer has stated that civilians must not be targeted and called for humanitarian corridors providing food, water, electricity and medicines. I hope the protesters from Brighton hear this message and feel their time and energy will be better spent protesting at the Prime Minister.
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