Seagull Weekly Briefing 30/05

👨‍🎓Student occupation, autism consultation, Elm Grove parking deputation and more🚗

Seagull Weekly Briefing 30/05
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Weekly Briefing.

We wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who came to our relaunch party on Friday! Team Seagull were utterly blown away by how many people came to support us, celebrate, and hear about our membership programme and website redesign. Thank you again to the wonderful sponsors of the event—Bagelman, Bird and Blend, Emmy and the Fox and Projects (whose MISSION programme was so important to our development; second cohort applications now open!), to our friends and family who kept us sane on the day, and every single person who has supported us up until this point. If you've been here since the start: thank you! If you're only just joining, hello, and thank you!

Click the link below to find out more about joining ✨The Flock✨ and how your help will allow us to soar to new heights:

🐦Support The Seagull—Join The Flock!🐦
We need your help to keep growing; sign up now.

If you haven't read our latest article, here it is! Lydia Wilkins spent the day with Give Street Project to find out about the wonderful work they do:

A Day With Give Street Project
Lydia Wilkins interviews the team at Give Street Project on their work, and why they hope they don’t exist one day.

And, of course, here's our latest Fringe and Festival coverage:

Fringe (and Festival!) Friday 2023: Week Three
Week three of Brighton Fringe and Festival!

Phew! That was a lot of links. Without further ado, here's the news!

News This Week

Brighton CCA to close with immediate effect

Source: Brighton Centre for Contemporary Art

The Seagull can confirm that the University of Brighton is closing the Brighton Centre for Contemporary Art (Brighton CCA) in Grand Parade is closing 'with immediate effect'.

The gallery opened in 2019, was free and open to all, and regularly held exhibitions, projects, events, commissions and research by international emerging and established artists.

Ben Roberts, Brighton CCA’s artistic director, said:

It is hugely disappointing that the University of Brighton has taken the decision to close Brighton CCA.

Since the programme was launched in 2019, the response from our peers, students and colleagues has been overwhelmingly positive and we are immensely proud of what we have achieved in this time; both using our resources to both support learning, and nurturing the cultural ecology of the city.

I’d like to thank my amazing team, our partners, participants, collaborators and especially the artists who have all contributed so much to the programme. We also recognise we are not alone in this, and send support and solidarity to colleagues and students continuing to fight the University’s wider proposed redundancy plans.

A spokesperson for the university said:

Given the competing demands on our resources, we now need to focus on our core business of providing the best educational experience we can for all our students, whilst continuing to meet our regional priorities and ambition through research and innovation.

Students occupy the Cockroft Building in protest over job cuts

Source: @b_happy_luv_art

Students at the University of Brighton are occupying the Vice-Chancellor’s office amid protests against staff redundancies.

The university announced last month that it is planning to make 110 members of staff redundant by the 20th of June. Staff had until Monday 22nd June to take voluntary redundancy. After that, compulsory redundancies would be made.

The students, ‘The University of Brighton Solidarity Group’, have been occupying the office in the Cockroft building since around 3am on Thursday 25th May. There is also a petition against the redundancies, currently at more than 4,200 signatures, which says:

As many courses rely upon the expertise each lecturer has on specific sectors of the field, applicants will be left without the specialised teaching they desire, therefore, affecting enrolment numbers. Without the combined expertise of all these lecturers it will simply be impossible for the university to maintain and deliver its high quality teaching.

On Sunday 28th May, day five of the occupation, the group reported that they have received one letter so far from the management team, which 'was comprised of just a couple of sentences' asking them to refer to legal documents.

The group also said that the university is seeking 'expensive legal action', and is paying for extra security to monitor students and the campus.

In a letter to the group from DMH Stallard, they have been asked to vacate the building, and told that the university have reported them to the police and intend to pursue disciplinary action under the student disciplinary procedure.

It also says that the university is concerned about a fire safety risk due the group 'securing the doors with fixed screws and batons', and that they do not have access to sanitary facilities as toilets on that floor are out of order.

Autism consultation launched to improve the lives of autistic people

The Autism Partnership Board has launched a consultation to allow autistic people, their carers and family, and those who work with autistic people to have their say on services available to them.

This is part of the board's plan to develop the Brighton & Hove Autism Strategy, which focuses on improving the lives of and celebrating the strengths of autistic people and is working towards making the city one that 'recognises and values neurodiversity'.

Responses to the consultation will help the board, which is led by autistic people and supported by the NHS, police, Brighton & Hove City Council and community groups, to develop six key themes to help shape the strategy.

Working groups around the identified themes will then be developed to help influence the autism action plan for the next five years, and the board hopes that autistic people will see the improvements from year one.

The survey focuses on autistic adults who do not have a learning disability, as there is already an Adult Learning Disability Strategy and a Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Strategy in the city.

Alice Conroy, autistic co-chair of the Autism Partnership Board, said:

This work represents a meaningful paradigm, culture and power shift, incorporating progressive thinking around autism and neurodivergence—prioritising the strengths and lived experience of autistic people and the view that autistic people are not broken, needing 'fixing', but experts and the experts of their lives and of their own experience.

The emphasis on listening to Autistic people and prioritising their views, offers true participation rather than tokenism and respects 'nothing about us, without us'.

There is often a lack of understanding of invisible disabilities and accessibility needs. It's exciting that through this work, there is a commitment towards systemic change and 'doing things differently' to improve the lives of Autistic people.

The consultation will run until Monday 19 June and can be found at Autism strategy consultation. Those who are unable to complete the survey can also share their experiences by email.

Ban on Elm Grove pavement parking from next week

A ban on pavement parking in Elm Grove is being introduced from next week, having been requested by local residents.

The ban was approved by the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee in January after a deputation was submitted by local residents.

A deputation is a speech given by a member of the public to a committee or full council. A deputation must signed by a minimum of 5 people and a maximum of 12 with the lead spokesperson identified. Anyone who lives or works in Brighton & Hove can submit a deputation to an ordinary meeting of Full Council.

A Traffic Regulation Order was advertised in March and signage has now been installed in the area.

The council is currently issuing motorists with a warning notice but, from Monday 5th June, cars parked on a pavement in Elm Grove could receive a Penalty Charge Notice.

Councillor Trevor Muten, chair of the Transport & Sustainability Committee, said:

The ban is designed to make walking safer for pedestrians, give residents better access to their homes, improve accessibility for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs and prevent damage to the pavement.

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🖋 News in Brief 🖋

  • One month left to get your COVID-19 vaccination: The offer of a Spring COVID-19 vaccination and of 1st and 2nd doses ends on 30 June for most people. Please make sure you get yours before then so you have the best protection against becoming seriously ill or needing to go to hospital if you catch COVID-19. Adults and children who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination can book an appointment online, through the NHS app, or by calling 119. The council website has more information.
  • Eight playgrounds are being refurbished as part of a £3 million programme this summer. In total, 45 parks will be revamped with the funding. Work on Queens Park, Hollingdean Park, Woodingdean Central Park, Whitehawk Way, Knoll Park, Woollards Field (Maggie’s Corner), Saltdean Oval Park and Rottingdean Recreation Park will continue over the summer, and is expected to be finished by winter 2023. Click here to find out what is planned for each park at one of the council's community update sessions.
  • Seabirds, a CIC that promotes sea swimming as a way to improve wellbeing, is partnering with Saltdean Lido and Mid Sussex MS Society to provide adapted swimming lessons for swimmers who struggle with pool steps but want to enjoy swimming. Find out more about their community swimming lessons!
  • And finally, we have to tell you about a play, The Seagull and the Cat, which is on today and tomorrow at the Rotunda Theatre Bubble in Regency Square. The team behind it, Pericles Theatre Company, specifically asked us to include this seagull-related news, and we couldn't possibly say no. It's their adaptation of a story by exiled Chilean-born writer Luis Sepulveda, who died from Covid in April 2020. They said: "He was a great fighter for human rights and protection of the environment, and this story has those as its theme, along with acceptance of difference and finding one’s true self." Find out more and buy tickets here!
If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected].

The Big One

Annual Council Argy-Bargy

A picture of the annual council meeting in the council chamber of Brighton Town Hall
Source: The Brighton Seagull 

What's happening? Last Thursday afternoon, Brighton and Hove's incoming and outgoing councillors gathered in the stuffy council chamber of Brighton Town Hall for the Council's Annual Meeting. The room feels somewhat antique and the names of Brighton mayors past, ones who got their names on things out in the world like Theobald and Deason and Stringer, hang from the walls. The meeting is a bit like the State Opening of Parliament: there's some pomp and circumstance, some silly hats and outfits—and the mayoralty changes hands.

Brighton and Hove's mayoralty is a ceremonial role which mostly involves attending a lot of civic events—it's a bit like being the city's head of state. Councillors are politically neutral while occupying the position—but still cover their casework. Deputy Mayors will support the Mayor and usually take over as Mayor the next year.

Labour's Jackie O'Quinn, last year's Deputy Mayor, was duly voted in as Mayor, though this was not without some controversy—new leader of the Conservative Group Alistair McNair broke the geniality of the meeting by complaining, in his compliments to the outgoing mayor, about the disruption of the prior convention that the mayoralty alternated between the three main parties. The Brighton & Hove Independents councillor Bridget Fishleigh requested clarification around the protocol for the alternating of mayoralty between parties, and a council officer noted that it's a convention that arose during the years of no overall control, but not a legal requirement. If the majority administration wishes—and they clearly do–they can change it.

More controversy attended the appointment of Deputy Mayor—Labour's Mohammed Asaduzzaman, one of the new intake of councillors this year, was nominated by Labour, but Conservative Samer Bagaeen put himself forward as an alternative candidate, though he was unsuccessful. The rest of the meeting's business, including the recognition of new Group leaders—and committee and outside appointments, arguably far more politically important than the mayoralty, and which required unanimous consent—was nodded through without complaint. The Seagull will be taking a closer look at those new committees soon.

How does this relate to me? While a lot of what happened at the meeting might not be immediately important, it sets the stage for the next four years of majority rule. Labour councillors have said they want to be a responsive administration—so if there's an issue you care about or something you want to see change in the city, present a question, petition or deputation to an upcoming council meeting.

That's all for this week—please subscribe, and forward to friends who might be interested!