Seagull Weekly Briefing 24/05

Man's never been in TSB when it's shutdown, eh?

Seagull Weekly Briefing 24/05
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Weekly Briefing. We have a lot of readers who are activists for or employees of political parties and to them we say: sorry you're going to be spending a fair old chunk of summer out campaigning rather than having a good time. We will now also have to spend time covering it so we're in the same boat. One more thing we can blame Rishi for, I guess.

News This Week

Acorn shuts down central Brighton bank to secure fairer buy-to-let mortgages

Source: Acorn

Acorn Brighton's action at TSB last weekend has resulted in TSB changing the terms of its buy-to-let mortgages.

The union was calling on TSB to change their terms and conditions in buy-to-let mortgages sold by the bank that stop landlords from offering more than a 12 month contract to their tenants, so there is no limit on the lengths of tenancy contracts, allowing renters greater protection, security and stability.

As a result, TSB has gotten rid of its one-year contract limit, and has committed to working with Acorn to move to open-ended contracts.

More than 50 union members aged 17-70 occupied and shut down the bank branch, handing a letter of demands to the manager, as part of a co-ordinated day of action, with similar protests taking place at 30 TSB branches across England and Wales. 

Hundreds of members of the union marched on branches, delivering letters to branch managers and holding stalls and handing out leaflets to engage the very supportive public. Some branches of the bank were occupied and shut for the day.

TSB was the only major bank offering buy-to-let mortgages with a rule limiting landlords to giving 12 month tenancy contracts. 

Acorn said:

This shows the power ACORN has when we stand together—a massive multi-billion pound bank folded like wet cardboard after confronted with the unity and power of ordinary people standing up for themselves.

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🖋 News in Brief 🖋

  • Arts charity ONCA has announced its closure after twelve years. In a statement online, they said: "After 12 years of care-filled work, we have taken the extremely difficult decision to close. We want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has been on this journey with us so far and invite you to stay with us as we find ways to grieve our ending and stay in community outside of the formal organising of ONCA."
  • Assert Brighton and Hove, an autism charity, has closed down after twenty years because of funding issues. They said: "We are very sad to share this news, but we are also reflecting on the great services that have been delivered for many years, supporting thousands of people. Thanks to everyone that has made Assert such a fantastic place and valued service."
  • Electric vehicle charging in the city is becoming cheaper!
  • A city council by-election is to be held on the same day as the general election in Brunswick & Adelaide Ward: councillor Jilly Stevens is standing down due to ill health.

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 is Frank! He's six-years-old, he's a pomeranian-sausage mix, he likes sleeping under the duvet, and gets so excited when he goes to the beach that he screams at the sea.

The Big One

Gasworks application rejected

Source: The Brighton Seagull

What's happening?

Councillors have voted down an application for the Brighton Gasworks site.

Where is that? The application, made by St. William, was for a nearly five acre site near Black Rock, Brighton Marina and East Brighton Park.

How big would it have been? If successful, it would have resulted in 495 residential units being built, with 2,791sqm of commercial space, from three to 12 storeys.

What kind of properties? There would have been 26 studios, 142 one-bed flats, 265 two-bed, 48 three-bed, and 14 3- or 4-bed town houses.

What's there now? Currently on the site are two redundant gasometers, with supporting gas infrastructure. It is being used for storage, parking and light industrial activity.

What changes had been made to the plan? The plan had previously been revised based on council and resident feedback, including:

  • Reducing the height and altering the architecture of the buildings in the north of the site
  • Creating 70 fewer homes overall with a higher percentage of larger units
  • More views through the site with improved sunlight to public spaces.

Why was it rejected? One reason for the rejection is, based on the applicant's Financial Viability Assessment, no affordable housing could have been viably provided. Instead, 40% of the homes would have been sold to a 'registered provider of affordable housing'.

What was the public reaction? When this application went to a public re-consultation in February 2024, it received 1,733 objections and 58 comments in support.

What did councillors say? The planning committee met for nearly seven hours, and despite officers saying they are 'minded to grant planning permission subject to conditions', there was a seven to three vote against the plans, with concerns about affordable housing and the lack of family homes suitable for people working from home key to the decision.

Kemptown councillor Gary Wilkinson said:

As a Kemptown councillor I have spoken against the gasworks development and I am delighted that this application has been refused.

This is great news for local residents and an opportunity to re-think the whole approach to the site.

Having lived close to the gasworks site I agree with many in the local community that this would have been an overdevelopment and completely out of keeping with the character of the surrounding area. In addition I do not believe that it would have delivered the truly affordable housing that local people need or the right mix of housing.

Local residents and community action groups have been vindicated in their opposition to what would have been a huge blot on the landscape.
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