Archive for October, 2009

Brighton & Hove White Nights!

Just a quick reminder that Brighton & Hove’s White Night festival is taking place overnight this weekend – just what we need as the nights start to draw in and the clocks go back, depriving us of an hour of sunlight!

Last year’s festival – the first one we have staged – was a huge success with over 15,000 people attending and this year’s promises to be even bigger and better. Dozens of indoor venues will be opening in the city, while around 20 outdoor locations are staging events and performances.  Elsewhere there are a number of night time trails and tours around the city.

This year we have also been working closely with Amiens in France, who held a corresponding ‘nuit blanche’ last weekend.

I am very proud of the fact that more people take part in the arts and cultural activities in Brighton & Hove than in any other English city outside of London. Events like White Nights (and the Brighton Festival which takes place in the Spring) help to explain why and so I would encourage everyone to go along and take in the atmosphere!

Brighton & Hove City Sports Awards

Last night I attended the City Sports and Physical Activities Awards at the Old Market in Hove. It was a really great night and I was hugely impressed by the range of sporting talent that we have in the City, particularly amongst some of our younger residents.

I want to do everything I can as Council Leader to encourage the take up of sport and other physical activities in Brighton & Hove and it is great to be able to give some official recognition to some wonderful local achievements in this field (excust the pun!).

The nights two main awards went to Paul Winter from Ovingdean (Sports Personality of the Year), who was placed first in the Triathlon British Ranking Age Group (50 to 54) series last year and represented Great Britain at the World Championships in Australia and Holly Thompson, age 10 from Portslade (Young Sports Personality of the Year), who has played tennis for three years and has won the county singles and doubles and is now competing nationally and internationally. Many congratulations to them both and to everyone else who won, or was nominated for, an award.

These are really exciting times for sport in Brighton & Hove. We recently opted into the free swimming for over 60s and under 16s scheme and the new Community Stadium at Falmer is also going to provide a step change in the activities and facilities on offer in the city.

I would also just like to mention the City Sports and Physical Activity Grant which is available for sports clubs to apply to the Council for small amounts of funding. You can apply for an individual in a club and/or to fund initiatives for current members. Or you can apply for funding to encourage new members to join in. Please do have a look and see if it would be suitable for you or, if not, pass it on to someone who could benefit.

e-petitions come to Brighton & Hove City Council!

From November 21st, Brighton & Hove’s residents will be able to submit e-petitions to the Council in order to register their views and ask us to take action on matters of importance to them. This is a really exciting development which was agreed by the whole Council at our meeting last Thursday. E-petitions have proven to be a real success elsehwere in the UK – most notably at the Scottish Parliament and on the number 10 Downing Street website. I’m convinced that they will prove to be just as much of a hit here (a recent Government survey found that as a city, we are one of the most switched on in the country in relation to wanting to get involved in the democratic process).

At the moment, residents can collect names and submit petitions manually at our various committee meetings (usually with the help of your local ward councillor) but the facility to now do this online should make things a whole lot easier.

I find that petitions are a really valuable way of keeping in touch with the issues that are concerning people in the city and are a vital part of an open and transparent democratic process. I will provide details of how to access the online petitions facility nearer the time.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to feedback any comments etc. to me then please do so via this blog or by e-mail – mary.mears@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Looking forward to the Brighton Marathon

brighton_marathonThe inaugural Brighton Marathon, which takes place on Sunday 18th April 2010, promises to be a fantastic occasion for the City and, from what I have seen and heard, residents are embracing it wholeheartedly. Last week was the Brighton Marathon charity partners’ launch and I’m sure that huge amounts of money will be raised for numerous local good causes.

As a council we were very keen for this to be an event for the local community and that is why we insisted on holding 1,000 of the places in the marathon for people from the BN postcode. Just as the London Marathon has become a real community celebration, so we want the Brighton Marathon to be too.

Talking about London, the Marathon is real boost to our lead up to the Olympic Games in 2012. We are planning an extensive programme of sports participation and cultural events and performances to encourage residents to become more active and involved in sport. The marathon will take pride of place alongside international events like the recent ‘White Air’ extreme sports festival and more local events including The Brighton & Hove Aqua Festival and the TakePart International Festival of Sport

And for the budding Paula Radcliffes amongst you, there is still an opportunity to take part in the race.

Brighton & Hove’s tenants deserve better from Labour

council houseI was very disappointed at the reaction that I got from Government minister, John Denham, to my plea for him to use the stage of the Labour Party conference to give the go ahead to our plans to put more investment into the city’s council housing.

His somewhat odd response was to accuse me of campaigning for a Tory Government in Westminster which would slash his department’s budget.

Mr Denham is quite correct that I am campaigning for a Tory Government – why wouldn’t I be, as Leader of a Conservative run Council?! I also think that a Conservative Government would not block our housing proposals as this one is doing. One of David Cameron’s pledges is to introduce a ‘general power of competence’ for Council’s – which basically means that they will be able to do anything for the benefit of residents as long as it doesn’t break the law. I think that it is high time that councils were set free from the Whitehall shackles and this will go a long way towards achieving that aim.

Brighton & Hove’s tenants have made it absolutely clear that they want to retain the Council as their landlord and for us to invest in improving their homes accordingly. The Government should not be standing in their way by blocking our plans for delivering this investment.

10:10 carbon reduction challenge

I am delighted to announce that I have committed Brighton & Hove City Council to signing up to the national 10:10 campaign to reduce our carbon emissions. If we are successful in meeting the challenge, the benefits are huge, not just in relation to tackling climate change, but also in terms of improving the energy efficiency of all the Council’s buildings and operations. If we can reduce our bills and expenditure, it follows that the savings can be passed on to council taxpayers.

Here is the text of the notice of motion which we are submitting to our Council meeting next Thursday which sets out the reasons for signing up:

This Council recognises the progress that has been made in recent years to reduce the Council’s and City’s carbon emissions and on wider sustainability initiatives. In particular:
• Launching a £6 million energy efficiency grant scheme over three years to help householders cut costs and carbon emissions
• Committing to installing a network of electric car charging points in the city
• Running a successful Carbon Management Programme, saving more than £50,000 to date in energy efficiency measures, with more to follow
• Committing the council and the city to tough, short-term targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions – by 12% over three years
• Helping secure £180,000 from the Department for International Development for Climate Connections, a three year city-wide public engagement project
• Committing to introduce a network of park and rides sites at key strategic locations in the City
• Launching an impressive bid at an internationally-recognised conference to become the world’s first Urban Biosphere
• Playing an integral part in helping the city’s Food Partnership secure a grant of £500,000 over four years
• Launching a major Be Local Buy Local campaign to support local jobs and the environment.

This Council welcomes the national 10:10 campaign to persuade every sector of British society to work together to achieve a 10% cut in their carbon emissions in 2010. The 10:10 campaign is receiving growing support from a wide range of organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors as well as from individuals and households.

Therefore, as part of its continuing drive towards achieving a low carbon Brighton & Hove, this Council resolves to:
• Call on the Cabinet, as soon as possible, to sign up to the 10:10 campaign to reduce the City Council’s carbon emissions by 10% in 2010/11.
• Request that officers consider bringing a report to the meeting of the Sustainability Cabinet Committee in January 2010 outlining the measures which will be taken to attempt to achieve this ambitious goal.


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