🎱Snooker club closes while fuel poverty and rent rise📈

Plus Waitress, ward boundaries and waste collections missed—all in this week's Monday Briefing.

🎱Snooker club closes while fuel poverty and rent rise📈
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Good morning, and welcome to the Brighton Seagull and this week's Monday Briefing! It's way too hot to do anything, but we've just got a hammock at Seagull Towers, and this week's briefing was largely written from it. Hopefully you'll detect the relaxed tone in the three very data-heavy stories we're about to drop on you.

Please share this briefing with anyone you think would be interested, and if you think you've got a story to tell about our city, consider signing up to contribute to The Seagull here.‌‌‌‌‌‌

🗞News This Week🗞

30,000 people living fuel poverty, council recycling targets not met

One in eight homes in fuel poverty

A picture of a hand holding some coins
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Around one in eight homes across the city, or 30,000 people, are living in fuel poverty according to a council report published in May.

Fuel poverty is measured using the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) indicator.

There are three important elements in determining whether a household is fuel poor: household income, household energy requirements, and fuel prices.

A household is considered to be fuel poor if they are living in a property with a fuel poverty energy efficiency rating of band D or below, and when they spend the required amount to heat their home, they are left with a residual income below the official poverty line.

Based on figures dating back to 2020, the report lays out the effects of fuel poverty on the city's population—including the health risks that come along with it.

The report said:

Exposure to cold temperatures increases blood pressure and risk of blood clotting, heart failure, heart attack and stroke.

It also suppresses the immune system, diminishes the lungs’ capacity to fight off infection and increases constriction of the airways, increasing the risk of bronchitis and pneumonia.

When a house is damp as well as cold, mould is likely to occur. This increases the risk of respiratory illness, particularly asthma.

An average of 144 'excess winter deaths' occur every year from the winter of 2013/14 to 2018/19 due to the cold, and cold homes due to fuel poverty disproportionately affect over 65s, under fives, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

The report recognised the increase in fuel prices recently too, saying:

Energy prices have increased significantly in response to global wholesale cost price increases.

Since January 2021, 29 energy suppliers serving 4.3 million households have exited the market in Great Britain and customers have been facing less choice and fewer options to switch to better energy deals.

The energy price cap increased from 1 April 2022 for approximately 22 million customers nationally.

Based on average household use, those on default tariffs paying by direct debit saw an increase of £693 from £1,277 to £1,971 per year, while prepayment customers saw an increase of £708 from £1,309 to £2,017: an increase of 54%.

The cap on energy prices is estimated to increase by another 40-50% in October, making the average annual bill more than £3,000 per household. This is due to more wholesale natural gas and electricity price increases.

Further estimates say the number of households in fuel poverty across the country will increase by more than 50% in the next six months.

However, the report does show solutions: the government has given another £2.1 million from its Household Support Fund to Brighton and Hove City Council to directly support low-income households, covering from October 2022 to March 2023.

The government previously gave £2.1 million for the six months prior to this.

There are also local schemes like the Brighton and Hove Cost of Living Crisis Campaign, managed by Citizens Advice Brighton and Hove, Brighton and Hove Food Partnership and the council, with a JustGiving page closing in on £31,000 in donations to help people in poverty with food and fuel costs.

The money goes to prepayment vouchers, food parcels and food vouchers, slow cookers, microwaves and electric blankets.

There is also a Warmth for Wellbeing Programme ran by the council, which gives debt and benefits advice, and small grants for fuel payments.

Renting in Brighton "very expensive" shocker

Solo renting in Brighton and Hove? The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reckons you were spending a third of your pre-tax pay on housing costs before the cost of living crisis.

According to the ONS, the median monthly rent for a one-bed property in the city was £900 from March 2021-March 2022—compared to the rest of the country, where the median cost of a one-bed property was £700 in the same timeframe.

When looking at the median wage of full-time employees in Brighton and Hove, the average figure was £32,816 in 2021. Across England, it was £31,490.

This means the average middle-income renter living by themselves spent approximately 33% of their income on renting last year (compared with 27% nationally), and this is only set to rise with living costs going up.

The median rent for every property type in the city rose too, from £1,095 a month from March 2020/21 to £1,100 from March 2021/22.

The council says it plans to develop an information or advice hub for private renters, as well as considering options for a private tenants' forum, but these plans have been deferred 'due to Covid-19 priorities'.

Council fails to meet recycling targets

A picture of some bins
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Cityclean, the council's recycling team, failed to meet its targets for missed collections in 2020/21, according to a new report.

The team missed 651 residual waste bins per every 100,000 collections between April 2021 and March 2022, more than four times the target of 171, and worse than the same periods in 2019/20 and 2020/21 where 395 and 362 bins were missed per 100,000 collections.

Cityclean also failed to collect 1,008 recycling bins per 100,000 collections in 2021/22, almost three times the target of 337. In 2020/21 there were 754 bins missed per 100,000, and in 2019/20 1,089 bins were missed per 100,000.

The reasons for this are attributed to the pandemic, including:

  • A significant number of staff requiring to self-isolate
  • The need to social distance in cabs meant fewer people were able to be in a cab
  • An increase in the volume of domestic waste and recycling arising

The 'pingdemic' (and can't we all now admit that was an awful portmanteau) of summer 2021 also affected this, meaning a reduction in new staff and agency staff, as well as a national shortage of HGV drivers and Brexit making getting replacement vehicle parts more difficult.

On page 420 (nice) of the report, the council outlines ways to improve this going forward which include:

  • Improving the collections of  recycling by increasing the frequency of communical recycling collections
  • Providing better signage
  • Completing the business case and plan for implementing a Food Waste collection service

🖋 NIBS 🖋

  • The process of redrawing of the cities' ward boundaries still isn't finalised but we're getting there: there's another consultation before the final recommendations are published by the Local Government Boundary Commission. The proposals involve revised wards in areas in the north and areas south east of Round Hill including Whitehawk and the Marina. This stage of consultation closes on August 15th. To have your say, click here.
  • Councillors have unanimously agreed on new loan terms for the i360, which now owes more than £47 million to pay back its government loans, interest and missed payments. The new terms mean the council will carry out a 'cash sweep' every six months and take all i360's spare money, leaving them with enough to cover its operational needs. The first cash sweep gave the council £700,000 at the end of last month. It's expected £900,000 will come in this December, and £600,000 next June, with repayments continuing until 2046 at this rate.
This edition of The Brighton Seagull is sponsored by Cybersyn, a friendly digital analytics consultancy based right here in Brighton.

💥The Big One💥

Beloved snooker club closes.

Source: Victor Sarker

What's happening? The Annunciation Snooker Club is closing its doors for the last time on Friday 20th July.

No way! Way. The club has been in operation for approximately 80 years. We heard from friend of the Seagull and avid club member, Victor Sarker, who said:

I first learned of the club back at the end of 2019 and became a member at the beginning of 2020 (a few months prior to the major lockdowns due to Covid-19). Having lived in Brighton all my life it was a welcome surprise to find a local club tucked away in the Hanover area (Coleman St. adjacent to the Church of the Annunciation).
What made this club unique was how it was run by a committee, a group of dedicated members whose sole purpose was to maintain and support the local community purely for the love of snooker and billiards rather than to run a business for profit.

The club was open 24 hours, 7 days a week, and members were able to come in and play, bring food + drink from outside, and everyone always made sure the club and its equipment were well-maintained after coming down to play.

Through the club I've not only found a place to play the sport that I love, but it was a place where I was able to meet like-minded individuals that I could practice with and become good friends with. I had aimed to join one of the Annunciation snooker teams to play in the next iteration of the local snooker league (22/23), but this now seems extremely unlikely.

Why is it closing down? According to our sources, the initial news of the closure arrived at the beginning of 2022 when the church increased the club's rent fourfold. This was coupled with restrictions including a 10pm curfew and no outside alcohol.

Is this a common trend? Very much so. Victor said:

Sadly this situation is not abnormal as the rate of snooker/billiard club closures across the country continues to be high, and it's no simple task to relocate another premises and start again.

As for now, the majority of the Club members are having to find space to play at other Clubs and it is not known if the Annunciation teams will be able to continue to play in the local league.

👉Finger On The Pulse👈

lots of stuff happening, too hot to subhead

🏳️‍⚧️Trans Pride: It's Trans Pride on Saturday 16th July, and in addition to the big gathering itself (which is being headlined by friends of the Seagull Powderpaint, fresh from their return to live performance at the Cowley Club last month) they've got a programme of all kinds of things going on across the city before and after including sports, raves, film screenings and open mic nights.

🎭Theatre: Waitress is on from Monday 11th-Saturday 16th July at the Theatre Royal. Our editor went to see it in London and is going to see it again tomorrow, so I guess it must be good. I tend to find musicals quite annoying but I'm sure this is grand. [Editor here: Waitress is very good and a musical I think even self-professed musical haters would enjoy.]

‌🍿Cinema: Once Upon A Time In The West, the Sergio Leone spaghetti western classic, is being shown at the Duke of York's on Sunday 17th of July; get on that if you've not see it before!

🎭Spoken Word: David Sedaris will be at the Brighton Dome on Saturday 16th July, which will be a delight for those of us who spent our teenage years listening to This American Life.

If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected].

☕️ Where to eat? 🥪

☕️Coffee: Salvage, on Western Road, is a cafe with (as the name would suggest) an interior packed with recovered, reclaimed and renovated items of all kinds, much of it for sale. They also do wonderful food and drink, with a particularly splendid selection of teas 🍵

🍱Dinner: Semolina, on Baker Street, is [Jack Tinker voice] a real hidden gem, nestled unassumingly amongst pet shops and vape emporia just off London Road. It provides one of the best dining experiences in town, with a husband-and-wife team serving up an ever-changing seasonal menu.

🍻Pint: The Chimney House, on Upper Hamilton Road, has been delighting a friend of the Seagull (and her dogs) who recently moved to Prestonville with its superb locally-sourced food, collection of ales and dog-friendliness.

That's all for this week—don't forget to fill in our contributors form if you'd like to get involved, forward to friends who might be interested and if you've been forwarded this and enjoyed it (or are reading on the website), please subscribe!