Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull's Weekly Briefing! Shh, it's okay, we're back now—and not a moment too soon! We might have been quiet here, but we've been busier than ever behind-the-scenes, with lots of exciting plans being worked on in the background—which you can help out with, by joining the Flock:
News This Week
High Court rules Home Secretary’s policy of accommodating Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children in hotels unlawful
Someone get Suella Braverman on the phone—apparently it's unlawful to accommodate unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in hotels, news which shocks absolutely no-one.
The High Court made this ruling on Thursday 27th July, in a judicial review brought by the council against the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.
It ruled that from December 2021, this was done on a 'systemic and routine' basis, and exceeded the limits of the Home Secretary's powers. Home Secretaries have common law power to accommodate children in hotels, but this can only be used in emergency situations, not as a substitute for proper local authority care.
Council leader Bella Sankey said:
I welcome this landmark ruling that the Home Secretary’s policy of placing unaccompanied children in hotels for the past 18 months has been unlawful.
As a result of this policy, a dozen classrooms of children—including some of the most traumatised and vulnerable children in the world—have gone missing and, sickeningly for us, 50 children are still missing from the hotel used in Brighton and Hove.
Importantly the High Court also makes clear that the Home Secretary already has the power to require local authorities across the country to take children into foster care via a statutory rota system called the National Transfer Scheme.
Suella Braverman must now urgently enforce this system so that the hotels can be emptied and all local authorities can play their part in safeguarding children.
The news was received well by local groups Homes Not Hotels and Care4Calais, who welcomed the ruling and thanked the council for challenging the government: Hermione Berendt, a member of Homes Not Hotels and a lead volunteer in Brighton for Care4Calais, called this 'yet more proof that these hotels were never suitable for unaccompanied children'.
Seawater to be tested year-round
Big news, sea lovers: the quality of the seawater in Brighton & Hove is set to be tested all year.
Currently seawater testing is undertaken by the Environment Agency from April to September, with no routine testing at other times in the year.
This is being funded by Southern Water following discussions with the council, and will include more focused spot testing if specific concerns arise about particular beaches' water quality.
Southern Water and the council are also working on a feasibility study into the introduction of new drinking water fountains for parks.
Local young people from Green New Deal Rising stage ongoing weekly ‘sit-out’ in front of Peter Kyle’s constituency office
Climate activists have vowed to protest in front of Peter Kyle's constituency office until Labour Party Conference in October, to demand a Green New Deal and in the hopes of him committing to doing more for the environment.
The activists, from Green New Deal Rising, have criticised the Labour Party’s failure to adequately respond to repeated calls from young people for rapid decarbonisation, a just transition to a low emissions economy and investment in green jobs.
This is part of a national campaign by the group pressuring the Labour Party to ‘Be Bold’ in their manifesto pledges ahead of the next election, which will be December 2024 at the latest.
They are demanding that the Labour Party commit to passing legislation which expands public ownership, taxes wealth, delivers a green jobs guarantee and a living income, enacts a National Nature Service and make polluters pay globally in the first 100 days after the election.
It is hoped by the group that weekly protests will bring about the change they are hoping for by pressure on key Labour politicians, as well as by engaging the general public about the climate crisis.
Ilse Orson-Jones, a 17-year-old member of the group, said:
With broad support across the UK for a Green New Deal, Labour is failing young voters and refusing to show leadership to tackle the climate crisis.
We need to know that Labour will ensure that the health, education and other public services we rely on are properly funded.
We also need to see real commitment to tackling the climate crisis, making polluters pay, and creating opportunities so that every single person who wants a job in the green economy can get one.
Inspector backs council’s action to protect local pub
Big Charlie Southall update (the last one was over a year ago!), for those invested in the Montreal Arms: a planning inspector appointed by the government has upheld an enforcement notice served on Mr Southall in April 2022.
The notice was issued to prevent the removal of tiles from the façade of the pub in Hanover. This means he has to comply with the notice, which stated that removal of the tiles without permission had to stop, requiring him to put the tiles back where they had been removed or damaged by the work.
He has a year to comply.
Councillor Liz Loughran, chair of the Planning Committee said:
I am very pleased that the Inspector has backed the prompt actions taken by our Planning team to protect this historic building.
The Inspector rightly recognised that the tiles are an important part of the character of the Montreal Arms and made a significant contribution to the character of the building. The damage to the tiles has caused a great deal of upset for many in the local community.
Brighton & Hove has unique historic buildings and we are committed to protecting them by taking swift and effective action against unauthorised building work. This is a great example of how we will take enforcement action to protect our city’s heritage.
🖋 News in Brief 🖋
- Demolition at the Royal Albion Hotel is ongoing, and expected to take a few more weeks. If you are a displaced local resident and need to contact the council about the Royal Albion Hotel or accessing your property, call 01273 292000; Royal Albion Hotel guests who need to collect their belongings should email [email protected] or call the hotel to confirm their details and arrange a pick-up time; Madeira Drive and the Aquarium roundabout remain open; Pool Valley and part of the A259 is expected to remain closed for the next three weeks, diversions are in place; the National Express bus service can be accessed from the stop at the Old Steine (stop Z).
- For those celebrating Pride this weekend, we hope you have a wonderful time! Here's the parade route—it's looking like cloudy with light showers, so bring a mac with you.
Dog of the Week
It's just a bit of fun!
This is Hugo! He's currently living at Dogs Trust Shoreham and is looking for a new home: a family who can dedicate plenty of time just to him, or who can involve him in all aspects of family life. We're told Hugo adores human company, and needs lots of attention. He and our editor have that in common.
The Big One
No trains in or out of Brighton during Pride (well, the Saturday)
What's happening? Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) are not running any trains to or from Brighton on Saturday 5th August, the day of the Brighton Pride parade and on the 50th anniversary of the first Brighton Pride march.
Why? They say they can't get the extra drivers for the number of trains they'd need because of an overtime ban implemented by ASLEF train drivers.
Is this true? MP for Kemptown and Peacehaven, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, said he has spoken to ASLEF, who said it would be possible to run a full service to Brighton, but it would require drivers to be re-routed from the Cambridge or Peterborough lines on the day. He said:
It is clear that GTR is holding Brighton Pride to ransom in a dispute with their workers that they have caused.
I have launched this urgent petition to force GTR to reconsider, find a solution, and get the trains to Brighton.
So an estimated 100,000 visitors who would normally come to Pride, many of whom will have bought tickets for events and booked hotels, can't come by rail? Precisely.
What about the Friday and Sunday? Trains will run as normal on Friday 4th August and Sunday 6th August.
You mentioned MP Russell-Moyle—who else has spoken out? Council leader Bella Sankey, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, wrote a joint letter to GTR expressing their concern. They said:
Any possibility that GTR would not run any train services into Brighton mainline station from the surrounding region would have a disastrous impact on the safety and success of Pride. It would also deeply undermine your reputation as a company committed to the LGBTQI+ communities.
It is incredibly important that day travellers on Saturday 5 August are able to arrive and leave our cities in a safe, appropriate and managed way. Your trains are an essential part of that and you have a huge responsibility to ensure our cities are not cut-off for one its most important LGBTQI+ events of the year.
GTR will be well-aware of the timing of Pride each year and I would expect your company to have planned ahead, have mitigated possible risks, and put in place suitable provision. I understand that your position is that the service cannot be operated due to ASLEF’s ongoing overtime ban. However, I understand that ASLEF believe the service could still run by making adjustments to staffing rotas.
What have Pride organisers said? Paul Kemp, managing director of Pride, said that Brighton & Hove Pride has been talking with GTR and ASLEF since the overtime ban was announced, trying to find a solution. He said:
This will come as a huge shock for not only Pride and the LGBTQ+ community but all the businesses preparing to welcome guests to our city from across the UK and world. Many Pride visitors have already booked and paid for Saturday night accommodation locally, they will now have to change plans or find an alternative way to get into the city. It’s truly devastating news for everyone.
Pride always supports the right to protest. Reducing cars on the roads and getting people back on the trains should be a priority to tackle the climate crisis. But we would like to be clear that we don’t agree with GTR’s decision, nor the reasons given for completely stopping train services and the potential of adverse knock-on effects.
The Pride Community Parade, the official FABULOSO Pride fundraiser in Preston Park and the Pride Village Party will all be happening as planned; this Pride will be the 50th anniversary of the first Brighton Gay Pride march.
What have GTR said? Chris Fowler, Network Operations and Performance Director, GTR, said:
GTR has an extremely long-standing relationship with Pride and we are bitterly disappointed to make this unbelievably difficult decision. We know this will be incredibly frustrating and we’re really sorry to everyone who will be impacted, particularly in the LGBTQ+ community.
After exploring all possible options, and following discussions with the police, emergency services and local council, we simply cannot run a safe service with enough capacity for the extraordinary number of passengers that travel to Brighton for Pride. We can’t in good faith bring people into Brighton that cannot get home again, potentially leaving thousands of people stranded – safety must come first.
We hope by making this decision now it will allow people time to plan other options and we hope to be back supporting Pride with full services for the whole weekend next year.
Don't GTR normally have a float in the parade? Yes, which they've cancelled this year, with staff told not to wear branded t-shirts for their safety. They said:
Taking into consideration that this will upset many people... it will not be safe for us to take part this year and we are pulling our float from the parade.
I need travel advice. Pride have everything you need right here.
What can I do to help? Sign the petition here and join the 1,532 signatures!