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I am a liberal, left-wing, political commentator, humane, idealistic, pursuing wonder. What has wonder got to do with politics you may ask? Is that not for the pragmatists? Read on...

Brighton’s progressive alliance offers hope for Labour

Hundreds of Brighton residents gathered to discuss building a progressive alliance to help Labour. Greens and Liberal Democrats said it is the only way to get a fairer electoral system in future.

Sussex Progressives have been campaigning for electoral reform for two years and the meeting at St George’s Church, Kemp Town on Thursday 19 May was the latest, in an uphill struggle for a fairer voting system.

Brighton Kemp Town is one of several conservative-held marginal seats across Sussex. Simon Kirby was re-elected MP with a majority of only 690 votes last year, while in Eastbourne Conservative Caroline Ansell beat Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd by 733 votes.

Green Party Candidate Davy Jones has already stood aside in Brighton Kemp Town in support of Labour’s candidate, Councillor Lloyd Russell-Moyle (East Brighton.) Lib Dem Paul Chandler has stood aside in Brighton Pavilion as a mark of respect for Green Candidate’s Caroline Lucas who has been the MP since 2010. Women’s Equality Party did not field a candidate.

Mr Russell-Moyle explained that Labour Party rules do not currently allow candidates to stand aside. But he conceded that in a few parts of Britain, one could make the case for Labour candidates to withdraw. Brighton Pavilion elected Caroline Lucas as their only Green MP in 2010 and it’s in the Isle of Wight or Bristol where the Green Party think they are most likely to elect their second MP.

Candidates discuss a progressive alliance

In Hove, Labour MP Peter Kyle, has categorically ruled out an alliance with the Green Party and decided to defend his majority of 1236 single-handedly, to give voters maximum choice out of respect for them, he said.

Making his pitch to become Brighton Kemp Town’s next MP, Mr Russell-Moyle said: “It is often a mantra of the Tories that only they can produce a strong stable government and only first part the post can achieve this.

Citing Germany as a country with a stable government and a strong economy, he said: “I believe our current electoral system is not fair or fit for purpose and I support a new kind of politics where single seat constituencies remain but no vote is wasted and all votes are represented.”

Co-convenor of Sussex Progressives Georgia Amson-Bradshaw explained why the current electoral system is unfair and undemocratic. She said: “Our dysfunctional, binary, first past the post system gave us the referendum vote. It meant that the Greens have one seat for one million votes.

“It means that in the recent local elections Lib Dem vote share went up, while their seats went down.

“It is the reason that in Scotland, Labour had 25% of the vote in 2015 and only one seat.”

Ms Amson-Bradshaw criticised the culture of “political tribalism” in the United Kingdom which she said undermines the common cause of progressive people because archaic, rigid party rules prevent candidates standing aside.

She said she is often tempted to despair: “But here in Brighton, I see glimmers of light. I see people on this panel with me, in the audience, who come to our meetings, people who have that courage, that generosity and that foresight.

“Make no mistake, this, here, is the beginning of something big. Here, in Brighton, and in certain other places around the UK, people are rejecting that status quo and are finding a new way.”

Ms Amson-Bradshaw campaigning for electoral reform with Lib Dem Paul Chandler

Green Party’s Davy Jones, who stood aside in Brighton Kemp Town to help Labour, criticised the national response from Labour and the Liberal Democrats and acknowledged some voters’ frustration when “their party” was not represented.

In his defence, he said: “It’s not the decisions of parties to stand down that restricts choice – it is our antiquated first past the post system. So if we want to change the voting system to a fair one, we have to vote out as many Tory MPs as possible.”

Conservatives were elected to govern the UK with just 37% of the vote. He said: “First past the post is a disaster for the left and centre because our votes are split while those of the right unite behind the Tories.

“With imminent boundary changes likely to give the Tories even more seats, “fair votes” is not just an issue for “sore losers.” It’s a basic issue for democracy and for ending one-party (Tory) rule.

“If we want a system that allows us to campaign against each other safely – without letting the Tories in – we need some form of proportional representation. And Labour needs to back it.”

Brighton and Hove Lib Dems pledge a penny on income tax to pay for the NHS

Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats have announced they would plug funding gaps for the NHS and social care by putting a penny on income tax, in their first major manifesto commitment of the election campaign. People go to the polls on Thursday 08 June.

A penny on income tax would raise an additional £31.5 million with £20m for the NHS and £11.5m for social care each year.

This is the party’s flagship spending commitment and its first major policy announcement for the election. The Liberal Democrats manifesto will also set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services.

At least 70% of Brits would happily pay an extra penny in every pound if that money was guaranteed to go to the NHS, according to an ITV poll last October.

Hove Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Carrie Hynds said: “Right now in our city we are seeing patients lying on trolleys in hospital corridors, urgent operations being cancelled and the elderly being denied the care they need.

“The Liberal Democrats are prepared to be honest with people and say that to secure the future of the NHS we will all need to chip in a little more.

“A penny in the pound would allow us to invest in improving local NHS services and supporting our mental health services that are in crisis.

“This conservative government has left our health and care services chronically underfunded – and while the crisis gets worse they just don’t seem to care.

“We cannot continue asking the system to deliver more and more, without giving it the resources to do so.”

Speaking about the national picture, Lib Dem Health Spokesperson and former health minister Norman Lamb said:

“The NHS was once the envy of the world and this pledge is the first step in restoring it to where it should be.

“A penny in the pound to save the NHS is money well spent in our view.

“But simply providing more money on its own is not enough and that’s why this is just the first step in our plan to protect health and care services in the long-term.”

Look out for the Liberal Democrats manifesto which will set out a ‘five-point recovery plan’ for NHS and social care services.

Paul Chandler said income tax will include a 1% rise on the basic, higher, and additional dividend rates of income tax in the next financial year.

When asked about the £70 million deficit in the budget of Royal Sussex County Hospital, Mr Chandler said: “Yes, the local NHS trust is in deficit – like many other trusts and so our additional money (estimated to be £4 billion) is intended to be on top of any measures that need to be taken to reduce current deficits.

“I suspect those deficits will be written off in due course by using contingency funds. The money that we are raising via a penny increase in the basic rate of income tax (about £4 billion) will be a committed and ring-fenced amount that will be added to the NHS base budget for every year.

“This contrasts with recent Labour budget increases on those earning over £80,000 which the party estimates will raise less than £2 billion a year (and which Labour has committed to spending several times over!)

“Additional funding for Brighton and Hove is calculated by assuming an even spread of the extra revenue across all the NHS trusts in England.”

Mr Chandler stood aside for the Greens in Brighton Pavilion earlier this month and stood in Kemptown in 2015.

Greens, Liberal Democrats and ex Labour PM Tony Blair all oppose Brexit

Reflecting on Brexit, Caroline Lucas said: “This General Election changes everything and the choices we all make matter like never before.” 

On Tuesday 2 May the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats agreed to fight for Britain to remain part of the single market. Both parties want freedom of movement to become part of the Brexit deal.

For the Liberal Democrats, this means that Britain should be an open, tolerant United Kingdom where the rights of EU citizens are guaranteed and British citizens can live, work, study and travel freely in Europe.

Green Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, said she adds protection of the environment to Britain remaining a member of the single market and for continued freedom of movement.

Mrs Lucas joins Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, in announcing a new pledge to give voters a referendum to ratify Brexit that will include the option to remain in the European Union.

A Labour Voice

Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair agrees with Mrs Lucas and Mr Farron. According to the Guardian he said that while the final exit deal had yet to be agreed, the perils of a hard Brexit were clear: “The single market put us in the Champions League of trading agreements. A free-trade agreement is like League One. We are relegating ourselves.” Brighton and Hove Albion supporters know what that feels like and they know the triumph of victory.

In an interview with Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer on Sunday 30 April, Mr Blair said: “If we really do Brexit and we do Brexit with withdrawal from the single market, you can forget her ideas (PM Theresa May) of a more cuddly capitalism. A low-tax, light regulation, offshore hub economy, that is where you will end up. This is the right-wing fantasy. It’s driven by the right of the Tory party and the cabal that runs the right-wing media in this country…”

“It’s certainly true we don’t have a God-given right to carry on as a competing party of government. But there’s no reason why Labour can’t become the repository of that new coalition of progressive forces that is available to us in today’s society and which is basically the same progressive coalition that brought us to power in 1997.”

A Liberal Democrat Voice

Liberal Democrat Caroline Hynds, Hove Parliamentary Candidate, is also fighting hard against Brexit. She said: “The Liberal Democrat position is clear and consistent. We have long been calling for a referendum on the terms of Brexit and believe the people should have the final say on the deal.

“Our party believes in an open, tolerant and united future with the UK staying in the single market, guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens to stay in the UK, and protecting our rights to live, travel, study and work in Europe.

“Caroline Lucas’ stance on this issue – fighting against hard, divisive Brexit, making the positive case for Europe and giving the people the final say – is an area in which we have much common ground, reflected in Lib Dem PPC (Prospective Parliamentary Candidate) Paul Chandler standing down in Brighton Pavilion.

“I’d like to see more from Labour on this as they are, after all, the official party of opposition, but Peter Kyle’s hands are tied by the policies of Jeremy Corbyn.”

A Green Voice

Mrs Lucas, arguing for public ratification of Brexit said: “This General Election potentially changes everything.  We are at a crossroads – and the choices we make in the coming weeks will have huge consequences for the kind of country we’re going to be in the future.

“And the biggest choice we face is clearly about Brexit.

“Though my party fought hard for Britain to stay in the EU, and I voted against an unconditional triggering of Article 50, we accept, of course, that the referendum was an instruction to the Government to begin Brexit negotiations.

“We do not accept, however, that the decision should be irreversible. The referendum should be the start, not the end, of the democratic process.

“And it’s therefore right that people should have the right to a say on the final deal in a ratification referendum – with the option to remain in the EU if they so choose.

Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion MP

“There are those who will say that this is contrary to the ‘will of the people’.

“But the claim that the referendum produced an irreversible verdict is a sham.

“At a General Election, voters obviously have the right to revisit the choice of government that they made at a previous election.

“It would be ludicrous to suggest people couldn’t change their minds about which way to vote, as facts change, and experience becomes clearer.

“And in the same way, it gives them the right to revisit a referendum result, as long as the parties are clear about the options on the table.

“Whoever forms a Government after June 8 will have a mandate to negotiate with the EU on our behalf.

“But we live in a democracy and it would be deeply undemocratic to impose the terms of any deal on Britain’s citizens, on our communities, young people, and businesses. So let’s give people honest choices.

“Let’s be clear that there is a wealth of difference between a soft Brexit, with membership of the Single Market, and an extreme Brexit – the one our Prime Minister is hell bent on pursuing, where we’re out of the single market, out of the Customs Union, ending free movement, and with our key social and environmental protections at risk.

“The day following the EU referendum the Green Party called for the British people to have a further say on the details of any Brexit deal.

“We stand by that position and today we pledge to voters to go further.

“Our election manifesto will not only include a ratification referendum, it will also explicitly make the option to remain in the EU part of such a ratification referendum.

“Greens proudly and passionately campaigned to remain in the EU. And, unlike some, we’ve not changed our deeply held belief that we are better off in the EU…

“And while we’ve all learned to treat polls with extreme caution, it might just turn out to be significant that last week’s Yougov poll showed, for the first time, a majority of British people now oppose Brexit.

“And maybe that’s because the costs of Brexit are becoming clearer.

Lib Dem EU street stall in George Street, Hove

“Inflation is already rising as imported goods rise in price.  Real wages are stagnating, investment is on hold.  All these indicators will be worse by 2020 when the election was meant to take place.

“The referendum outcome last June was never supposed to be the final word. It was the beginning of a conversation.

“And this General Election is a chance to reflect on what we have learned since then….

“That Brexit is being used by the Tories to drive through an ideological agenda that champions deregulation and privatisation on an unprecedented scale. That people were lied to.

“That there is no £350 million each week for the NHS.

“That the PM has no intention of seeking to enable us to remain members of the Single Market.

“That immigration is unlikely to be controlled because, as David Davis has himself acknowledged, it’s necessary for our economy

“And indeed it’s become clearer than ever that immigration is not to blame for the lack of social housing, GP appointments or local jobs – government spending cuts are.

“What’s also become clear is that the official opposition has been no serious opposition at all. The Labour Party haven’t only given the Tories a blank cheque for a hard Brexit. They’ve given them a lift to the bank and helped them cash it in.

“If Labour had made the case for staying in the Single Market, they could have made common cause with other opposition parties, and together we could have had a chance to avoid this most extreme of Brexits.

“That was a tragically missed opportunity.

“Meanwhile their unconditional support for triggering Article 50 meant that the opportunity to secure some key safeguards was squandered

“Why would the Government listen to calls for an immediate guarantee for EU nationals living in the UK, or for a meaningful parliamentary vote, if the opposition had already made clear its intention to support Article 50 in any and all circumstances?

“The General Election makes a different bigger future possible and it’s crucial that voters are not lied to again.

“Brexit is not inevitable. The triggering of Article 50 is not irreversible. And we still believe we are better off as members of the EU. Greens see the bigger picture and what we stand up for matters.

“Not based on political expediency but based on principle and evidence.

“The Conservatives could have sought to unite the country by bringing leavers and remainers together.

“Instead they chose to sow more discord and division – they cannot be trusted…

“Our pledge is about standing up for young people too. For the generations that have most to lose if we cut ourselves loose from the EU.

“Greens want young people to have big opportunities and a big future. And that means the right to study, travel, work, live and love across the EU.

“A Green vote on June 8 is a chance to stay part of the EU because young people matter. A Green vote on June 8 is a chance to stay part of the EU because a resilient, diverse economy matters.

“And it’s a vote for the certainty that we will stick to our principles and use the negotiation period triggered by article 50 to fight for a deal that puts social and environmental justice first.

If the Government is so convinced that they’ll get a decent deal then there’s no reason that they wouldn’t trust people to have a final say.

“If the Government believes its own rhetoric about the will of the people they’ll respect that electorates are free to change their minds.

“This General Election changes everything and the choices we all make matter like never before.”

While Conservative MP, Simon Kirby, voted to trigger article 50 in February which gave the Prime Minister legal authority to leave the EU, Labour’s Hove MP Peter Kyle and Mrs Lucas voted against it.

Brighton MP named environmental hero

Brighton MP Caroline Lucas was named Britain’s top environmental hero by the Environmental Funders Network to mark Earth Day yesterday (Saturday 22 April.)

The Green MP beat the veteran BBC broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough and fellow television presenter Chris Packham, a regular on Springwatch.

She also came in ahead of the investigative environmental journalist George Monbiot and celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

The accolade was announced by the Environmental Funders Network which is made up of leading environmental charities.

They praised the way that Ms Lucas had brought environmental issues into mainstream politics.

She said: “Thank you to the leaders of the UK environmental movement for recognising my work in trying to keep the environment at the top of the political agenda.

“Politics underpin every aspect of environmental protection but the threats are mounting under a government so committed to extracting fossil fuels from the ground at every turn, cutting investment in carbon-friendly energy production and now intent on tearing up the environmental protections we’ve fought to achieve in Europe, as it embarks on its hard and reckless Brexit.

“I’m flattered to be recognised like this by so many environmental leaders.”

The Environmental Funders Network asked 92 representatives from the sector who had done the most to advance the environmental agenda over the past three years.

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News.

Green Party invites politicians to build a progressive alliance on the left in Brighton and Hove and beyond

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas is calling on Labour and the Liberal Democrats to co-operate with the Green Party in key seats to defeat the Conservatives.

Ms Lucas and Jonathan Bartley, co-leaders of the Greens, have written to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, setting out their case.

They wrote: “Greens have a powerful and compelling vision for building a better, bolder Britain and, like you, will be using the election to set out our policies and ask for voters’ support.

“However, we also continue to believe there is a role for some form of co-operation in a handful of seats to create the best possible chance of beating the Tories and, crucially, of thereby delivering a fairer voting system.”

Ms Lucas said: “Britain is at a crossroads and this election will dictate the very future of our country.

“The Green Party will be standing on a unique policy platform – opposing the Tories’ Brexit and putting forward big ideas for a fairer economy and the protection of our environment.

“Our call for a meeting between party leaders isn’t about the Greens standing aside – it’s about giving people in this country the best possible chance of defeating the Conservatives and bringing in a truly democratic voting system.

“For the sake of our NHS, our welfare state and our environment we need progressive party leaders to ditch partisan politics just for a moment and think about how we can best stop the Tories from wrecking our country for generations to come.”

In response Simon Kirby, the Conservative MP for Brighton Kemptown, said: “The Green Party can do what they like but it’s a real privilege to stand for Parliament and I welcome as much choice for local people as possible.”

Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, said: “I do not believe that there is a public appetite for a progressive alliance.

“I desperately want to oust this Tory government, which has time and again put the interests of the Conservative Party above the interests of our country, and I believe that the Labour Party is the only Party that can achieve this.

“The Labour Party is the single greatest vehicle for social change that this country has ever seen and I am proud to stand on a Labour ticket once again.”

At a Sussex Progressives meeting in Brighton last week Mr Bartley spoke about electoral reform. Other speakers included Klina Jordan, from the Make Votes Matter campaign group, the Labour MP Stephen Kinnock and the Lib Dem MP Tom Brake.

Mr Bartley said that Britain was looking down the barrel of decades of Tory rule. He said that he was frightened for his community which led him to the conclusion that when you have common ground, you work together.

He said: “It is the desperation of decades of Conservative rule that is bringing people together.”

Mr Kinnock said politicians need to win the argument around the principle of proportional representation first. He said multi-member constituencies are very difficult but the closer a new system of PR is to Scottish and Welsh systems, the better it will be.

He criticised the current first past the post electoral system and asked why 100 (marginal) seats are the battleground for 650 seats in Parliament. He said: “Why is their vote more important than my vote?” He represents a Welsh constituency which has been Labour since the 1920s and is frustrated by the number of safe Labour and Conservative seats.

Mr Brake said politicians and pressure groups have to ensure all parties have proportional representation as a clear manifesto commitment ahead of the next general election on Thursday 08 June.

Last year the Greens stood aside in the Richmond Park by-election to try to minimise any split in the vote against Zac Goldsmith.

The Conservative MP resigned over the decision to give permission for a new runway at Heathrow, prompting a by-election in which he ran as an independent.

He was beaten by the Lib Dem Sarah Olney by just under 2,000 votes. At the previous election more than 3,500 people voted Green.

Since the conservative government were elected on 7 May 2015, there have been 11 by-elections and most MPs retained their seats. However, in Copeland Conservative Trudy Harrison overturned a Labour majority in a seat which has been Labour, in spite of boundary changes, since 1935.

A slightly shorter article was first published in Brighton and Hove News.

Brighton craft brewer opens Bierhaus in Edward Street

A Brighton craft brewer has opened its own free house after taking over the site of a closed pub owned by Enterprise Inns.

Landlord Rhys Davies threw open the doors of Brighton Bierhaus last Tuesday (06 April) which prides itself on a rare selection of alcohol and a great buzz.

Brighton Bierhaus is on the corner of Edward St and George Street in Kemptown.

Brighton Bierhaus






Rhys said: “We are opening our very own, extraordinary tap!”

He hopes that the new developments on Circus Street and deeper into East Brighton will guarantee business for years to come.

However, the pub is proudly independent and embedded in the community of Brighton and Hove.

Rhys said: “We are all local people, there are not that many free houses or independent pubs left in Brighton. So we’re really happy to bring one struggling pub back for the community to enjoy.”

As well as their own brews, Brighton Bierhaus pours their favourite beers from across Europe and the United States. You can read a list of the beers on offer here.

The Wine too is on tap, and is delivered in key kegs, which Rhys said has revolutionised the way the beer industry works but are now proving a hit in the wine world. One keg contains 40 bottles of wine.

He explained: “All the money saved on packaging and transport is invested in the quality of the wine. It’s sourced by O.W. Loeb of London, so we get really good wine cheaper because you don’t have to buy it in bottles.”

Brighton Bier is a craft brewery supplying beer to wholesalers across the UK and as far afield as Singapore, Japan, France and Italy.

Publican Rhys Davies with team

Brighton Bier was founded in 2012 by head brewer Gary Sillence where he brewed the Kemptown Brewery beer at the Hand in Hand, Upper St. James’s street, and on the spare capacity ‘cuckoo’ brewed Brighton Bier.

In 2014 Brighton Bier merged with local wholesale business ‘withsoul’ owned by Stephen Whitehurst and Ollie Fisher. At the start of 2015 the new brewery was built at their base on the Belltower Industrial Estate on Roedean Road. It takes seven to twelve days to brew the beer, on their 2500L capacity brew house.

Previously Brighton Bierhaus was a tied pub called the Jury’s Out and owned by Enterprise Inns. CopseMill Properties had the foresight to buy the freehold because they wanted the venue to remain a pub and a community hub. Brighton Bierhaus is the only listed building on Edward Street where there were once 27 pubs and ‘beer houses’ and has been a pub since it was established as the Thurlow Arms in 1824.

An edited version of this article was published by Brighton and Hove News and can be read here.

Christians against Poverty, a Hove charity, helps people climb out of debt

A Hove church celebrated the work of Christians Against Poverty, a charity aimed at tackling poverty by providing debt relief on (Sunday 2 April).

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is an ecumenical charity dedicated to tackling the root causes of poverty across the UK. They have a vision of a fairer society with a narrower gap between rich and poor.

Holland Road Baptist Church in Hove, celebrated the work of CAP Brighton and Hove today which is national “church action on poverty” day.

Christians Against Poverty helps 21,500 every year with debt by untangling the complex web of poverty, unemployment, debt and addiction which traps many people in Brighton and Hove and across the country.

While one in four people in wider society have a mental health problem, half of CAP’s clients say that mental ill-health has contributed to their hardship and 38 per cent have considered committing suicide as a way out.

Carol Topping with CAP Manager Sue Stone

Carol Topping and her husband got into trouble when her husband’s business failed and they started relying on benefits. They claimed council tax, housing benefit and income support without telling the council about their empty (uninhabitable) second home. The council classifies any property as an asset but because it was not rented out and was not providing them with any income, Mr and Mrs Topping did not realise that they needed to declare it.

Mrs Topping, who now goes to Holland Road Baptist Church, said: “Two and a half years ago suddenly we had a debt of £68,000 plonked on us and were told to go to court. The debt is paid off now. My husband sold the property but it was hard. We had a barrister in the end and CAP was there.

“Christians Against Poverty were brilliant. It was just having someone there who didn’t judge you. It’s just so nice for people to look at you and see you as you.”

The Crown Prosecution Service referred the couple to the county court because the debt was such a large sum of money. Both the judge and barrister agreed that Mr and Mrs Topping had not intended to defraud the benefits system so the couple were awarded a six-month suspended sentence which will be spent in two years if they do not offend again.

If you would like to donate to CAP Brighton and Hove, you can do so here.

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News.

“Love of your country is part of your faith” Muslim cleric tells followers

Wednesday marked the end of a tumultuous week in London when Parliament was attacked by a lone terrorist, women stood together on Westminster Bridge to remember the victims and a young Muslim woman was vilified in the press.

Meanwhile, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, hosted the 14th National Peace Symposium last Saturday 25 March and the fifth Khalifa (Caliph), His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad delivered the keynote address.

Fifth Caliph Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad

More than 1000 people, from 30 countries, including over 600 non-Ahmadi guests and dignitaries of many faiths were invited to the Baitul Futuh Mosque in South London. This year’s theme was global conflict and the need for justice.

Caliph Masroor Ahmad began by condemning last week’s terrorist attack in London as a “barbaric atrocity” and described all forms of extremism and terrorism as a complete violation of Islamic teachings. He reminded delegates of the sanctity of life enshrined in the Quran: ‘To kill a person, is to kill all of humanity but to save a single human being, is to save all humanity.’ (Quran 5:32) No matter what terrorists may claim, under no circumstances are indiscriminate attacks or killings ever justified.”

When speaking to the press, the Caliph was very clear about extremism: “Love of your country is part of your faith. That is what I believe. You give services so that you can be a good asset to the country. Integration does not mean you force a lady to remove the hijab or force people to drink alcohol, that is not integration. Be an asset to the country. Be law-abiding, never break the law.”

Press conference

He urged Muslims to understand and follow the Quran, and said: “The first jihad is to reform yourself and then to love and respect one another. Follow the system within your community. You have to follow the law of the land. Try to be a peaceful citizen of the country where you live.”

Fathe Din, a member of the Ahmadi community explained this further: “The jihad is misinterpreted by mullahs and extremists. The jihad is a fight within yourself. It is a fight to be good human beings. Give up your time to do something good. Not everyone is prepared to do that.”

If an Ahmadi member breaks the law, the Caliph said, he or she will be ex-communicated.

Ahmadiyya Peace Symposium 2017

But he told delegates research suggested that some Muslim youths had been radicalised because they felt their religious beliefs had been mocked and ridiculed in the Western world.

He said: “In no way does this justify or excuse them and they remain culpable and responsible for their actions. Yet common sense dictates that we should not pour petrol on an open flame. Rather, we should seek mutual understanding, respect the beliefs of others and try to find common ground.”

However, disenfranchised young people are not the only people at fault: “Regrettably, we often hear politicians and leaders making needlessly inflammatory statements that are beholden not to the truth, but to their own political interests.”

He cited the arms trade as a clear example of how business interests and wealth take priority over peace. According to the Caliph, this is often because of vested interests of politicians, businesspeople and the media. He said the arms trade fuels warfare and has trapped the world in a perpetual cycle of violence. A survivor of Hiroshima, Ms. Setsuko Thurlow was awarded the Ahmadiyya Muslim Prize for the Advancement of Peace because of her lifelong campaign for nuclear disarmament.

Ms. Setsuko Thurlow received the peace prize

An ardent campaigner for peace and reconciliation, the Caliph gave a solemn warning: “Always remember that if we seek to pursue our own interests at all costs, the rights of others will be usurped and this can only lead to conflict, wars and misery. We must all reflect and understand the precipice upon which we stand.  

“My message to the world is to look at tomorrow, and not just today.  Let us leave behind a legacy of hope and opportunity for our children, rather than burdening them with the horrific consequences of our sins.”

Ignore a lone terrorist in Westminster or let the extremists win

Prime Minister Theresa May is right to say we must ignore the terrorists and continue everyday life as normal. If we overreact, the extremists will have won. However, ignoring them also means resolutely avoiding the temptation to introduce more draconian anti-terror legislation.

Yesterday’s attacker may well have had Parliament as his end destination but he killed and injured 43 people from ten different countries. It was an indiscriminate act of senseless brutality on multicultural Britain. Mrs May was right to say it was an attack on free people everywhere.

She will be keen, even under pressure, to be seen to be doing something. But if the Prime Minister wants to be the protector of our freedom and democracy as well as law and order, she must be careful.

Policies that single people out from certain nations could foster islamophobia and embed prejudice. For example, blindly following the United States and banning electronic devices on some flights earlier this week sends out a message that passengers from these countries are dangerous.

Aligning herself too closely with US President Donald Trump could be political suicide for Mrs May.

Instead she should look to the many role models in Europe, not least German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After all Mrs May campaigned to remain in the European Union. It is ironic that she has been tasked with the poisoned chalice of Brexit.

Leaving the EU will make it more difficult to counter terrorism without robust new agreements.

We live in a liberal democracy, not a surveillance society, and this is what we must protect.

Hove residents see proposed design for regeneration of Sackville trading estate

Developer Mountpark’s initial proposals to regenerate the Sackville Trading Estate and the coal yard were the main topic of discussion at Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum’s Have Your Say Day yesterday (Saturday 18 March).

The plans, which are still at the design stage, are part of a bigger regeneration initiative.

The area covered stretches from the Sackville Estate and the old coal yard north of Hove Station to Newtown Road and Goldstone Lane where work by the Hyde Group is already under way.

Changes in School Road, the other side of Aldrington Station, are also being looked at by the neighbourhood forum although they fall outside the area – known as Development Area 6 – defined by the City Plan.

Mountpark’s managing director of UK operations, Philip O’Callaghan, a Hove resident, said that he wanted to replace tired single-storey buildings with 70,000 sq ft of offices and cultural space offering high-density employment as well as 600 new homes.

Mr O’Callaghan said that the scheme would boost the labour market with 475 jobs, plus 100 in construction, 400 in supplying the area and £1.5 million a year in council tax. There would also be a significant developer contribution.

He said: “This will be a catalyst towards wider regeneration in the Hove Station area and the larger Brighton and Hove area as well.”

Monica Coffey, partner at Stockwool Architects, explained that one challenge of the area was that it was built on several different levels, particularly around Hove station.

She said that the designs were intended to create better connectivity and more access points.

The initial proposals suggest that pedestrians would have access to the site at the top and bottom and through a new square over the site of the cultural industries space.

There would be a new street which Ms Coffey thinks is key to building community. It would be an 18m-wide residential street with individual front doors and entrances to the taller blocks of flats, making it a safe, shared public space.

Early indications suggest that “pavilion” buildings would be in the south of the development with southerly views. Parking would be on the west side – the Sackville Road – alongside more homes.

At the top of the development there would be offices and a food store in a square with a northern staircase to address the 6ft change in level.

The plans include two-storey family homes with a garden terrace over the parking area.

Karen Macmillan, who lives south of Hove Station, asked Ms Coffey about trees and said: “The new north to south street is just a wind tunnel. It is not very imaginative.”

But Ms MacMillan supports the plan to build more housing and hopes it will be proper mixed housing. She said: “The volume of housing will change the area. Hove Park is going to be rammed but thank God we have it. I’d rather we built housing than had unused industrial units.”

Former councillor Christopher Hawtree said: “I am broadly in favour of the development. We need to look at the whole area to get something coherent. It needs a lot of lateral thinking.

“We need buildings for employment so that the place does not become another dormitory town. We have got to have people working.”

When asked about the Neighbourhood Plan, Mr Hawtree said: “It is generally a good idea. It would be good to have a plan that people generally agree with. Of course, the devil is in the detail. A mixture of terraces and flats. Developers tend to wriggle out of affordable housing. It should be viable. We are in the most expensive part of the country. More will emerge. We will wait and see.”

John Barker, of Old Shoreham Road, was concerned about traffic and road access because Sackville Road is already congested and has multiple traffic lights.

He works in the education sector and was also worried about the impact of the development on school places as people move into the area.

Christopher Hawtree

Mr Barker said that primary schools in the area are already short of places, Hove Park and Blatchington Mill secondary schools were full and children are displaced from Dorothy Stringer and Varndean.

However, the need for more housing was clear. Liz Hobden, head of planning for Brighton and Hove City Council, said that there were 24,000 people on the waiting list for housing and current developments would not meet even half of the housing need in the city.

She said: “The council has a target of 40 per cent affordable housing in each development but the council can’t insist on this because it might make developers go away.”

Matsim’s development known as Hove Gardens around Hove Station has been under consideration by the council for nine months.

Ms Hobden said: “We are at an impasse about the viability appraisal. The district valuer is looking for evidence. We hope to report back about what level of contribution is fair. We aim to continue to work with the developer.”

The role of the district valuer includes analysing costs and ruling about how much affordable housing a developer can afford and what financial payments they should make for local infrastructure and services.

Ms Hobden explained that it was more expensive for developers to develop brownfield sites than greenfield ones and this often resulted in lower developer contributions and less affordable housing.

This article was first published by Brighton and Hove News.

Plans go on show for 600 new homes on Hove estate

Plans are going on show for 600 new homes on an estate between the railway line and Old Shoreham Road in Hove.

The developer Mountpark will share its initial ideas for the Sackville Trading Estate and former Corralls coal yard at an exhibition on Saturday (18 March).

As well as the 600 homes, the emerging plans include 50,000 sq ft of office space and 20,000 sq ft of “cultural industrial space”.

The exhibition, billed as Have Your Say Day, has been organised by the Hove Station Neighbourhood Forum. It is due to run from 11am to 3pm at St Barnabas Church, in Sackville Road, on the corner of Coleridge Street.

The feedback will also help shape the forum’s response to the planning application once it is submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council, possibly later this year.

Mountpark’s scheme is part of a wider regeneration of the area around Hove Station, with the forum taking a keen interest.

The forum, which has about 200 members, was set up to keep residents informed, consult them and draw up a neighbourhood plan – or masterplan – for the area. It hopes to finalise its neighbourhood plan by the end of the year.

The Have Your Say Day is the fifth in a series over the past three years. The event on Saturday should include an update on the progress of the evolving neighbourhood plan and a chance for residents to comment and contribute ideas.

At the forum’s AGM last Thursday (9 March) the Hove MP Peter Kyle expressed his support for the work of the forum. He thanked the forum’s management committee and said: “Nothing positive changes by accident. This is a great example of how to evolve a whole space.

“I am part of the community and happy to knock heads together as needed. The meetings have been vigorous. You have kept things on the table. It is a testament to your tenacity. By God, we really need to make this happen.”

One of the issues that the forum intends to raise is affordable housing. It was touched on by Mr Kyle who spoke about the challenges in this area and the council’s plans as well as the “local connections” aspect of the council’s housing allocations policy, the effect of the right to buy and the demand for homes from people moving out of London but who commuted to work there.

He said: “You as a community can speak with clarity from the outset to developers. Speak before the planning application.”

Mr Kyle added that a joined up approach to regenerating a large area was much better than developing individual plots of land and he commended the forum for their work.

Crowd rallies in Brighton to show solidarity with migrants

Hundreds of people gathered yesterday at Brighton’s clock tower and across the UK to show solidarity with migrants from around the world who are living, working and studying in Britain. The event was organised by Pip from Left Unity, #1daywithoutus.

Monday 20 February was an important day: United Nations World day of Justice and the day Parliament debated US President Trump’s state visit to Britain with Defend Migrants Stop Trump protestors outside.

Jane Allen said she was supporting valued friends, neighbours and workers: “People from all nations get on living together for a common cause. My dentist is Greek, my physio is German. I am not from Brighton, I left Norfolk when I was one year old. Does that mean I should go back to Norfolk?

“I voted against Brexit because I was worried about people who might want to come to the UK. It never occurred to me, I never had any doubt that people who have been here for 20 years could be under threat of having to leave.

“I don’t want them to have to leave. I am here today to show how much I value them.”

Jane Allen

Jane Matthews said: “The more people that stand up, the better, show solidarity, if only everyone came by for 20 minutes, we’re all a bit complacent, it is very easy to ‘sofa shout.’

“I don’t know when multiculturalism became such a dirty word. Cultural diversity should be something we want to bring richness into life, it’s completely bonkers that people don’t want it.

“I challenge you to find me an indigenous Brit. Scaremongering and xenophobia is just all wrong.”

Marta Mouzo Insua spoke at the rally on behalf of the Spanish collective Marea Granate. She said Spanish people have very precarious living and working conditions and because of that many young people are forced to emigrate:

“I am one of them. We come here looking for a job, we do not come here hoping to become rich, stealing from you or taking advantage of your people and country. We just want to live with dignity.

“In exchange, we offer a lot of things to this country:

  • “Our education and work experience. A lot of us have high academic education and or a lot of work experience from our jobs. We are professionals of every sector.
  • “Our hands and bodies to work. Most of us are young people, between 20 to 45 years old.
  • “And our culture. Our culture to share with you and learn about your culture.

“We are the nurses and doctors that look after you, we are the engineers that design your computers or buildings, we are the waiters and waitresses who serve your drinks and we are the kitchen porters that clean your plates.”

Marta Mouzo at the rally

Dorothée Fritze-James who came to the rally with her daughter explained the impact of Brexit on her family and dislikes the dehumanising of EU citizens: “I have been here since 1979. Now I have no right to be here, I am desperate, depressed, the kids, including my grandchildren, are deeply affected. I can’t sleep.”

She said she is lucky that she can afford an immigration lawyer (many can’t) to help her apply for UK citizenship but resents the UK using EU citizens as a bargaining chip and ignoring their pleas for clarity and security. She has had a permit for 33 years giving her indefinite leave to remain in the UK. It may not be enough.

Sign the permanent residency petition here.

Ms Fritze-James said: “My daughter, who was 10 months old when my ex-husband and I moved to the UK, must apply for Permanent Residency. This is her home, here. She has children and is married to a UK citizen. One of her children is no longer sleeping because of the anxiety, fearing that she’ll lose her mother. My daughter was educated in the UK and has never lived anywhere else.”

Angie Parker works as a special needs teacher is a German citizen carrying an EU passport and a Jew but has been a UK taxpayer for 30 years. She said: “I am going back to Germany because I don’t want to be a pawn in Mrs May’s stupid game. At least Germany is a positive democracy. I work in education but it is not enough to stay here. I am sick and tired of being told to pack my bags.”

Angie Parker

Councillors Phelim MacCafferty and Councillor Leo Littman attended the rally. Councillor MacCafferty urged people to directly promote the voice of the vulnerable and to become champions of compassion and concern.

He warned: “Ignoring prejudice of any sort has never made it disappear. We do not have the luxury of walking away from hatred anywhere in our city. We must be clear: we will oppose the growth of the far-right and will not allow the current climate of fear to go unchallenged. That’s because not just Brighton and Hove, but this country is better than this.”

Yel Karavan’s father is an artist and she has been travelling since the age of three. She works as a dancer and physical performer and said: “It is beautiful when cultures learn from each other and open our minds. We all have a heart, we are all human, we are an organism and only when the organism works together, there is life.”

Yel Karavan

This article has also been published by Brighton and Hove News.

Computers4Africa invites Brighton and Hove residents to donate old computers for reuse abroad

Unfortunately a computer has a sell by date. Whilst there will always be someone in need of a little black dress, the computer industry is constantly moving forward with faster processor speeds, better graphics and larger memories. Your old equipment can quickly become useless and is replaced every three to four years.

If you are unsure what to do with your old computer, consider giving it to schools and health clinics in Africa.

Computers 4 Africa transforms communities across Africa, by accepting working but redundant PC’s and IT equipment from individuals, businesses and other organisations across the UK. All data is securely wiped and then the computers are sent to Africa. This month 340,800 children in Africa are using a PC supplied by Computers 4 Africa.

Sharon Roberts from Computers 4 Africa said: “Providing education is critical to bring equality, overcome barriers and start to bridge the digital divide. Our ambition is to empower and equip all people (regardless of age, gender, ability or disability) by supplying IT equipment for training and humanitarian projects across the globe.”

Nurse Joyce works in two villages in Kenya. She was given a laptop and uses it every day to store all her medical data and records including details of patients with measles. Although treatable, measles can be fatal in poor areas where vaccines are not readily available. By using the laptop, Joyce was able to determine the origin and extent of the outbreak, and the direction in which it was spreading.

As a result Joyce stopped the measles outbreak in its tracks, saving many people’s lives and restoring the health of the two villages in her care. A few months later, a similar situation arose with typhoid. Knowledge and data stored on her computer saved lives.

As a Microsoft registered refurbisher, Computers 4 Africa refurbishes and securely erases all your data before shipping your old equipment to schools, colleges, clinics and other specific projects in Africa. Your spare equipment can really make a difference to someone’s life.

Reuse and recycling can often be confused but they are in fact quite different. Recycling is the stripping of an item into useful parts and creating something new. Reuse is simply extending the life of an item.  Computers 4 Africa is a reuse charity that believes it is more ethically sound to reuse IT than simply recycle it. Their staff want to see less waste go to landfill sites. Reusing working computers can be 20 times more energy efficient than recycling them.

A desktop computer requires 240kg of fossil fuels, 22kg of chemicals and 1,500kg of water to produce. Reuse dramatically reduces this environmental impact.

Ms Roberts said: “In supporting this initiative and repurposing your redundant IT equipment in the UK you will meet the WEEE directive, Environment Agency, Data Protection compliance and decrease your carbon footprint. Your old IT will transform lives forever!”

The award-winning charity, is coming to Former Focus, Unit 12, Sackville Trading Estate, Hove on 23 and 24 February from 10am until 4pm. Please note equipment should be less than 8 years old and in working condition.

Disabled man fights Brighton Council for permanent home

Robert Carver, a disabled man from Hove, is fighting Brighton and Hove City Council for a permanent ground floor flat with wheelchair access and space for a carer.

Due to restricted mobility, Mr Carver relies on his carer to drag him up the 28 stairs to his third floor attic flat. This is painful and harmful to his condition. The paralysis that affected his lower body first is now spreading to his upper body, arms and spine.  He needs help to eat and drink, he sleeps on the sofa because he cannot get in and out of his bed.

The flat was allocated by Brighton Council five years ago as a temporary measure but officers now agree it is unsuitable.  His occupational therapist says it is impossible to adapt the property because it is too cramped.

His condition, Functional Neurological Disorder, is chronic, degenerative and results in paralysis.

Previously Mr Carver was an interior designer, artist and architect.  He designed his sofa and armchair and on his walls are his paintings and displays of butterflies.  He is a very talented man who would like to return to work after doing a rehabilitation programme at the Maudsley Hospital in South London. He has, however, been told to wait until he has permanent housing.

Robert Carver

Mr Carver said: “I want to go back to work.  There are computers where you touch the screen with a pen held in your mouth.  If I managed to work, I could pay for all of this myself.”

Mr Carver needs permanent housing

It is very important that the council makes Mr Carver one offer of housing which is suitable now and into the future because his condition is degenerative. He believes the council’s will not offer him suitable permanent housing because of financial cuts. “Keeping me a prisoner and treating me like an animal is not conducive with being a human being. I wouldn’t treat a dog like this,” he said.

Emergency accommodation is a backwards step

Brighton Council has offered Mr Carver emergency accommodation at Windsor Court twice but this will mean he’ll have to move twice. He said: “It is bad enough and traumatic enough to move once. Moving multiple times is just silly.”

Windsor Court would only be a temporary solution for Mr Carver who said that his nurse, occupational therapist and GP have all expressed concerns about the quality of accommodation. Last February Mr Carver’s medical team refused Windsor Court as unsuitable.

In addition, Mr Carver’s eighth reassessment by Adult Social Care is underway because he argues that he needs 24 hour care. As his condition deteriorates, this becomes more and more likely.

Moving Mr Carver into emergency accommodation would be an inadequate, temporary fix.

On 18 November Mr Farrelly from Brighton Council’s Adult Social Care department wrote to Mr Carver. He said: “Please note that if Housing offer you such accommodation and you refuse it, it is likely that no further offers of accommodation will be made to you as it will be considered that the housing duty to you has been discharged.”

Cramped bathroom

In December, a spokesperson for the council refused to provide an update saying: “I can confirm that we are continuing to work with Mr Carver to resolve his housing situation and to ensure his care and support needs are met. We do not share individual’s information due to the confidentiality of the subject matter.”

Amongst other things Hove MP Peter Kyle said earlier this month: “Bobby needs, deserves, and has a right to accommodation that is suited to the challenges he faces.”

Mr Carver said: “I am not just doing this for myself, I am fighting for all disabled people. They are so scared that the hours of their care will be cut that they don’t speak up. I have lost everything already.”

Still Human in the UK has launched a petition to report breaches of United Nations human rights legislation to the UK equality and human rights commission. 

An updated version of this story published by Brighton and Hove News can be read here. Mr Carver’s situation is changing all the time.

South Koreans must look beyond the corruption and seize the opportunity to strengthen their democracy

Public anger

President Park Geun-hye is embroiled in a corruption scandal that is likely to result in her resignation or impeachment.  She has fifteen months to serve as South Korea’s president but opposition leaders and the public are calling for her impeachment. Weekly mass demonstrations of more than a million protesters have taken place in Seoul and across Korea as public outrage mounts about endemic corruption charges. Protestors are demanding the president’s immediate resignation.

Protestors gather for weekly demos in Seoul
Protestors gather for weekly demonstrations in Seoul

Although President Park may not have enriched herself personally, prosecutors want to talk to her about collusion with Choi Soon-sil and nepotism. Ms Choi is accused of fraud, abuse of power and coercion which is undermining democracy in South Korea. Demonstrators are outraged about the scale of the corruption that occurred under the president’s nose and on her watch by Ms Choi Soon-sil and the president’s closest aides. President Park’s involvement is still unclear. She has admitted allowing Ms Choi too much influence but denies extorting money from big corporations.

Protestors call on President Park to resign
Protestors call on President Park to resign

The president said in her third apology to the nation that she would resign: “Once lawmakers come up with measures to transfer power in a way that minimises any power vacuum and chaos in governance, I will step down.” She has suggested next April, according to Yonhap TV, which will be ten months before the end of her term.


Opposition politicians accused President Park of trying to side-step an impeachment process by offering to stand down early. They are poised to present a bill to impeach the president with a vote expected on Friday. They will need a two-thirds majority vote in the National Assembly which must include support from 28 of the president’s Saenuri Party colleagues to proceed. The conservative Saenuri group has a majority of just one in the National Assembly.

If parliament votes to impeach President Park, it would take six months to get approval from the constitutional court which is not automatic and two months to elect a new president. In the meantime the prime minister would govern.

Clearly, opposition leaders and the public want to make an example of President Park to deter future fraud and nepotism. For them, it is not sufficient that the president agrees to step down. They want her to be disciplined publicly to send a message to other Korean politicians and the wider world that the Republic of Korea does not condone corruption. They want to show that no one is above the law or immune from prosecution, no matter what position she holds.  They say they will press for impeachment even if the president resigns but immediate resignation is the swiftest, cheapest and simplest solution.

Impeachment will certainly humiliate President Park but there is a real risk it will also paralyse the government and it is not a cost-effective or swift solution. A transfer of power in April is the alternative but many feel President Park does not deserve to dictate the terms or timing of her departure.

Opportunity for reform

Whatever happens to the president, this scandal has given South Korea’s politicians a unique opportunity to reform the power-sharing executive between the president and prime minister and to introduce full proportional representation. Electoral reform will provide checks and balances, greater accountability and will limit the power of the president in future. It is an opportunity not only to root out corruption and discipline individuals who are at fault but also to strengthen democracy even further in this highly developed republic.

Constitutional and electoral reform will make South Korea a beacon of hope and a shining example of democracy both throughout Asia and beyond.

Hove hotel throws open its doors to showcase its winter art collection

If you are unsure what to buy a loved one this Christmas, help a street child in India by buying jewellery from Rosie Odette’s Ladli collection. She is one of forty artists currently exhibiting at the Claremont Hotel, Second Avenue, Hove until April next year.

Many of the artists live in Brighton and Hove. Collectively they are exhibiting one hundred and fifty pieces of contemporary art including painting, textiles, ceramics, printmaking, illustration, photography, jewellery, knit-wear, collage, mosaic and sculpture.

Rosie Odette is a jeweller who works and trained in creating bespoke jewellery in Hatton Garden, London.

However, from January to May each year she goes to India to source her gems and work with her manufacturers out there. She said: “I want to go and find my own treasure. I go to India to source gems and design them.”

As a practising Buddhist, a positive philosophy underpins her work: “I want women to feel beautiful and perfect as they are with their flaws. The concept and ethos of my work is about believing in yourself. It is about women buying into themselves and feeling brilliant as they are.”

Rosie Odette with her jewellery
Rosie Odette with her jewellery

Rosie said you can create wonderful things in the West but she was attracted to the healing properties of the gems found in India: “There is an energy behind the gems. It is the power of transformation.” She recommends the King of Crowns from her regal limited edition collection for men and women battling depression because it represents faith, hope and destiny.

Six drop ruby necklaces are available from her less exclusive opulence collection. She said: “Rubies encourage you to follow your dreams, helping you recognise the beautiful being within.”

However, Rosie’s business is not just about profit. She has set herself a target of helping 100,000 women and children in India by giving them the materials to craft jewellery at the Ladli Skills Centre in Jaipur, India. Ninety-five percent of the proceeds go directly to the girl at Ladli who made the necklace and five percent go to the project. Click here to see the Ladli collection.

Garnet.1 Necklace.1.JPG

Speaking about the street children she says: “It is not, oh, poor you! Those who suffer the most, they shine the most and they don’t forget where they come from. They do not have false belief or false happiness. I want to work with women, particularly in India.”

In time Rosie would like most of the people she works with in India, including her manufacturers, to be women and girls from the Ladli Project.

Hong Dam is a refugee from Vietnam and a digital artist who contrasts the East of her childhood with the industrialised West. Another overcrowded dinghy drifts off Europe’s coastline with another group of faceless migrants. Hong asked: “Are we becoming immune to the suffering felt by those with little choice but to leave their homeland? As a refugee, I am always searching for the promised land.”

“Having children took me back to my own childhood. I started to feel that my daughters and I live in two parallel worlds – the contrasts and conflicts of East and West – the wants and needs are so different. I decided to document a visual diary for my two children.” Click here to see Hong’s work.

Jane Sampson has been screen printing and teaching at her Hove workshop for fifteen years. She said: “Screen printing is a sophisticated form of stencilling. The stencil is put on mesh photographically using board not paper.” She presses blue pigment onto the board to create a velvet effect. Jane created the birds with gold pigment by printing a negative and leaving the birds out.

Jane likes playing with lots of different materials and uses vintage photos because of their glamour. She said: “There is a romance about old images that modern things don’t have.”

Jane Sampson screen-printing
Jane Sampson screen-printing

Franchacha is a digital artist using a technique called “glitch art.” She uploads photographs into a generator in her computer and then changes the code. She likes this art form because it is random and unpredictable with a different photograph, for example a magnolia tree, producing a different effect.

She said: “With glitching you cannot tell the computer what to do. The colours are not intentional. It is just fun. Random, fun, sometimes frustrating. You can’t plan it.  It is about enjoying it. You go into something and you don’t know what you will get out. I have a creative head and like to use it.”  You can see Franchacha art here.

MAGNOLIA IN COLOUR by Franchacha art

Hove artist Joe Campoli teams up with Philip Nelson to blend glass and silverware into jewellery and ornaments. You can see their artefacts here.

Self-taught, Joe has a kiln where he melts together small pieces of different coloured glass in overlapping layers. He has different sized moulds that fit in the kiln. Some pieces need more than one firing. He makes a lot of bowls and plates, leaving the edges rough and natural so that his products do not look like crockery from a department store.

Joe said: “Sometimes there are surprises and I am not so happy. Most of the time it is like Christmas day.”

If you would like to make a difference to an Indian street child this Christmas, consider buying a Ladli necklace from Rosie Odette.

You can view the full collection at the Claremont Hotel as part of the Artists Open Houses in December, curated by Coralie. The exhibition will run through until April 2017. For a sneak preview click here.


Joe Campoli's glass light
Joe Campoli’s glass light

Brighton and Hove’s spiritual and political leaders pray for peace

Leaders of many different faiths gathered at a multi-faith peace vigil in Hove, primarily to remember those killed recently by terrorists in Baghdad and Nice, but mindful of attacks across the globe.

Terrorist attacks in the West always attract more media attention than those in the Middle or Far East and figures reported in the Washington Post are staggering.

That is, 658 deaths in 46 attacks in Europe and the Americas compared with 28,031 deaths in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in 2063 attacks.

It is into this context that faith leaders from across Brighton and Hove came together to pray for peace.

The vigil was held at All Saints Church on Sunday 20 July organised by Brighton and Hove Faith in Action.

Mahmut Gunaydin, Director of Brighton Dialogue Society, said: “We would like you to know that we vehemently distance ourselves from these attackers, these terrorists who claim to be Muslims. For cold-blooded murderers and non-human beings like them cannot be Muslims.

Prophet Muhammed said: ‘A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand other beings are safe, and the believer is the one who is trusted with the lives and wealth of the people.’

“We would like you to know that these terrorists do not only harm people in the West, but also Muslims in Turkey, Beirut, and many other majority Muslim countries.

“In the holy book of the Muslims, the Qur’an, it says: ‘Whoever kills an innocent person, it is as if he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves one, it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind.’

“As a Dialogue Society we believe that no religion that claims to be Divine – be it Judaism, Christianity or Islam – can contain tyranny, cruelty or atrocity towards other beings in any way. There is absolutely no justification for such behaviour.


Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah from Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue offered words of comfort from the 18th century Rabbi, Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810) who taught:

‘Kol ha-olam, kulo, gesher tzar m’od, v’ha-ikar lo l’phacheid k’lal.

‘All the world, all of it, is a very narrow bridge, but the essential thing is never to be afraid.’

Rabbi Tikvah asked: “What did he mean? How can we not be afraid if ‘All the world, all of it, is a very narrow bridge’?

“Perhaps, because a bridge, however narrow, represents a possibility; the possibility that we can journey across the abyss. A bridge is like a lifeline, summoning us to hold on and keep going, whatever the circumstances, however terrified we feel. Whatever the risks of falling into the abyss, a bridge beckons us to step forward; to take one step after another, after another, in the hope that we will reach the other side.

“A bridge is also a tangible representation of the courage of the bridge-builders. With very rare exceptions, bridges are not natural phenomena: Before we are able to begin our crossing, the bridge has to be there, it has to be built.

“And so, a bridge reminds us of those who went before us; of those who managed their fears.”

Councillor Phelim MacCafferty said: “It is at times like these, when there are no words or actions that will do these unspeakable tragedies justice; that we must turn to those around us to seek solace and send our love and solidarity to the families and friends of those who have died.

“When the world seems increasingly divided, when hate and violence seem to be growing in all corners, we must confront them with warmth and hope.

“We must continue to show the world that the spirit of love and compassion will never be dimmed.

We will not be afraid, we will walk on together and stronger.”

Councillor Emma Daniels, Chair of the Neighbourhood, Communities and Equalities Committee taught her children and many others: “Being kind is always more important than being right.”

In her refusal to give up her idealism, she quoted Anne Frank and then gave faith leaders and residents of Brighton and Hove this challenge: “We must focus on the lost children of Europe, the refugee children lost to services and alone.

“And I must do everything I can to ensure we provide sanctuary and hope to them.

“I ask all the Faith Leaders here to please ask their communities to come forward if they have space and love and are able to provide a home for a child who needs it and to encourage them to sign up as foster parents.

“Our city must have the spirit of sanctuary in a world of pain.”

You can read the full text of the speeches here.

This article was first published on Thursday 22 July in Brighton and Hove News.

Brighton mental health charity launches suicide app at Synergy Centre

Grassroots, a Brighton mental health charity, has developed what is believed to be the first suicide prevention free mobile phone app called StayAlive.

The charity aims to raise £20,000 to improve vital support for vulnerable people at risk of taking their lives.

It launched its crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds on World Suicide Prevention Day 2016 today (Saturday 10 September) at the Synergy Centre, in West Street, Brighton.

Brighton and Hove has had a higher rate of deaths by suicide than the national average for more than a century and is currently ranked 136 of 144 local authorities for suicide rates.

Councillor Dick Page, the Green Party’s spokesman for health and wellbeing at Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “While we as councillors have a duty to ensure support is maintained to keep people safe from self-harm, abuse and neglect, we are increasingly reliant on the ground-breaking and practical work of Grassroots.

“As individuals we all must share responsibility for recognising and responding to our fellow residents who may be in need of help. A friendly word or show of support is free, yet can sometimes make all the difference to people going through a difficult time.”

StayAlive is a free, nationwide pocket resource on your mobile phone, packed with useful information to help people at risk of suicide and anyone who knows someone at risk of suicide. It includes

  • My Safety Plan that is an advance agreement of steps to take if you become unwell
  • My Lifebox full of photographs of family and friends
  • Reasons for living and self-help ideas – this is about what works for you
  • Looking after yourself which is about having compassion for yourself, knowing when to stop and checking you are not over-tired or hungry
  • Where to find help in your local area including counselling
  • Breathing exercises and grounding techniques

Grassroots chief executive Miranda Frost said: “Our vision is that no one has to contemplate suicide alone. The app is a big part of giving a lifeline to those at risk of suicide. With your help and donations StayAlive can become more effective and will help even more people at risk. It’s quick and easy to donate essential funds. You’re just a few clicks away from saving a life.”

A recent survey of StayAlive suggested that 76 per cent of users who have used the app used it to help someone else stay safe from suicide. The survey indicated that its most useful feature was the “safety plan”.

Since its release in 2014, the app has been downloaded more than 16,000 times, won multiple awards and has been included as a “national inspiration” on the Crisis Concordat website.

StayAlive is available in app stores. It is currently a private, personal and portable resource but the next phase of its development may allow app users to connect with others and share experiences.

The council’s lead member for mental health, Councillor Caroline Penn, said: “The StayAlive app developed by Grassroots plays a very important role in suicide prevention. It provides immediate support for those considering suicide as well as advice for those concerned about a friend or family member.

“We can all play our part in supporting those experiencing suicidal thoughts. If we talk and most importantly listen, we can work together to keep our friends, family and community safe.”

Grassroots Suicide Prevention teaches suicide alertness and intervention skills to community members and professionals with the aim to make our communities safer from suicide. The charity is supported by the council.

To find out more about how to donate to help fund the app, click here.

Councillor Penn said that anyone who was worried about someone they know could download the StayAlive app to a private device, call the Samaritans on 08457 909090 or the Mental Health Rapid Response Service on 01273 242220. Both telephone lines are available 24 hours a day.

Other mental health charities include MIND and Brighton and Hove Carers Centre.

Brighton University nursery and GCSE stories from summer 2016

Twelve longest-serving Cooperative nursery staff at the University of Sussex were threatened with a change to their contract in spite of 187 combined years service in early August.

You can read more information about this issue in an article first published by Brighton and Hove News on 12 August.

Less than a week later, by  Thursday 18 August, Cooperative Childcare offered better terms to their most loyal nursery staff by doubling their consolidation package. Nursery staff may still leave. More details here.

Brighton GCSE students buck the national trend

Alisha Gilbert and Alfie Hammond from Longhill High School
Alisha Gilbert and Alfie Hammond from Longhill High School

Longhill High School is proud to buck the national trend of a falling A* to C pass rate. More than half Longhill’s students, 56 per cent, achieved 5 A* to C grades including English and Maths. Students from Longhill High School improved their GCSE results by six points since last year.

Alfie Hammond got four As, three Bs and two C grades. He said: “I feel quite chuffed. I am very happy.”

Next year he will take biology, chemistry and economics A levels at BHASVIC.

Alisha Gilbert is really happy too, particularly for getting an A in English literature and a B in English language against the odds. She will join Alfie at BHASVIC to study maths, chemistry and physics.

You can read more about Longhill success stories here.


Dorothy Stringer students compete with Cardinal Newman for top GCSE results in Brighton and Hove

A* student Yian Zeng from Dorothy Stringer
A* student Yian Zeng from Dorothy Stringer

Dorothy Stringer School outperformed all other state schools in their GCSE results, beaten only by rival faith school Cardinal Newman.

Yian Zeng was the top performing student at Dorothy Stringer.  As well as achieving 13 A* grades at GCSE, she also secured AS results in philosophy and ethics and Chinese as well as an A in additional mathematicsFSMQ.

Zoe Alexander got ten A* grades and an A. She said: “I feel relieved and happy. I am very surprised as well. It was a lot of hard work.”

One of Zoe’s teachers said: “You could not get anybody who has worked harder for her results.”

Zoe Alexander right with Nellie Mills from Dorothy Stringer

You can read more details at Brighton and Hove News here.

Best ever GCSE results for Varndean School

Students at Varndean School have improved their GCSE exam results with 61 per cent of students gaining five A* to C GCSE passes, including English and mathematics.

Nine students achieved ten or more A* or A grades and almost 20 per cent of all students achieved five or more A* or A grades.

Forty per cent of all grades awarded were A* to B and three students achieved a Level 3 extended project qualification usually reserved for sixth form students, two of whom achieved A grades.

Varndean students with Headmaster William Deighan

More details at Brighton and Hove News here.

Hove businesswoman publishes gluten and sugar free healthy baking book

This article was first published in Brighton and Hove News.

A Hove businesswoman has published a healthy baking book with recipes using natural ingredients including alternatives to refined sugar.

Jo Dance also steers clear of gluten and cow’s milk in her book, To the Bakery and Beyond.

The most common form of refined sugar that many of us use is granulated sugar, she said. Recipes do contain natural sugar found in fruit, for example.

She said: “Refined sugar is not in the ancestor’s diet. It is an alien food that damages the liver and suppresses the hormone leptin. This means that a person’s body does not send a message to the brain when it is full.”

When she began her research she thought that she would have to avoid eating sweet foods altogether but she said: “Although sugary foods are best kept to a minimum in our diets, at this point in my life I do like to have some sweet food.

“I was determined to make more informed choices about which kinds of sweeteners I ate so as to minimise the damage done to my body.

“Refined sugar, for example, in traditional chocolate products, draws the minerals out from the body and destroys vitamin B. Refined sugar can also cause obesity because refined sugar spikes the insulin levels which means more energy is stored as fat and it can make people tired.

“You can eat raw chocolate instead. A carefully chosen raw chocolate bar would make a good substitute for anyone who wants to indulge.”

She is mindful that not everything branded healthy is actually good for us. She would love to see clearer food labelling when it comes to sugar and wonders whether an expansion of the existing traffic light system could be used for all foods.

This would be really helpful for many people, she said, especially parents who want to make more educated choices for their children.

She became interested in healthy food when she had her son Oscar. She wanted to know how to bring him up with a gluten-free diet. She found when she was shopping that even in health food shops she couldn’t find what she wanted.

She said: “Healthier foods for kids are often packed full of dates which are high in natural sugar. My book helps you learn how to adapt recipes yourself.

“I’m not trying to pretend that this kind of baking gives you exactly the same results as the more traditional types of sweet foods many of us are used to.

“It can also take your tastes buds a while to adjust to a less sweet taste as well as a slightly different texture.

“My baking may not always be light and fluffy but it is a lot lighter than the sugar-laden manufactured products you would buy in a supermarket.

“A large part of the book is writing to make educated and empowered choices.”

Milk is another red light. She never has cows’ milk. Alternatives she favours are oat, coconut or rice milk.

She said: “The problem with milk is the pasteurisation process which strips the milk of nutrients. Two thirds of people lack the enzyme to digest and break down the lactose in milk. Pasteurisation also removes the good bacteria.”

Another concern is the chemicals which are used when milk is pasteurised. She said: “Cows milk is perfect for cows but not for humans. You can make your own milk from coconut or almonds or brown rice.”

She also advised reading the label before buying nut and grain milks as many that are branded healthy products contain unnecessary additives and sweeteners.

Her idea for the book began after she gave food parcels to her friends and they then asked for the recipes. She began to write down her notes and the science behind her recipe choices but realised the project was bigger – and the book was born.

She said that there was a misconception about gluten-free, adding: “Not everything gluten-free is healthy. It is another bugbear of mine. There is a lot of demand for gluten-free food and people have jumped on the bandwagon.”

She said that people should avoid highly processed foods or anything with long ingredient lists.

A percentage of the profits from her book would be donated to Fareshare Sussex, she said, because she is passionate about food poverty and especially food waste by the food industry and the general public. Fareshare redistributes food from the food industry to homeless and other vulnerable people.

Primarily she hopes that her book will help people to make more informed choices about what they eat.

Recipes are available on her Joy Food Revolution website.

To the Bakery and Beyond by Jo Dance was published in paperback by Silverwood Books (112 pages) on Friday 15 July. It costs £10.99.