Newsletter, September 2013

Annual Report 2013

Dear Members,

I have to start this report with a big thank you to all of those who have helped progress our projects during the year: The sculpture group for driving the Plinth idea past the planning approval stage to the current fundraising efforts; the Tree Angels for committing themselves to annual funding of a street tree each; the local residents in Poets Corner who have been able to raise funds to make it possible for a sizeable tree planting scheme to take place; all our committee members who have given time and effort to progress our planning and renewable energy work, our various events and all the administration that is involved in running an organisation. I am particularly pleased about the progress we are making on membership issues, the great support we are getting to keep our website up to a high standard and the invaluable design support for our leaflets and publicity. A big thank you also to the city’s two Mayors, Cllr Bill Randall in 2012 and Cllr Denise Cobb in 2013 for attending and supporting our events and also a big thank you to our MP Mike Weatherley and our local councillors for supporting our work. Of course none of our work would have been possible without the continued support of our members and I am very grateful for the donations many of you have made during the year.

It has been an exciting and dynamic year again. We have continued to comment on planning applications and contributed to the work of the Conservation Advisory Group including the production of a report on the Cliftonville conservation areas (to be found on our website). In terms of City Plan work, we were very pleased to find that a number of our concerns raised at the draft stage had been accepted and incorporated in the plan submission, which is going to examination in public as you read this. We were particularly pleased with the inclusion of requirements for heat networks in the eight development areas identified in the plan. Our concern about the lack of minimum standards for new homes in the city was partly met by the introduction of lifetime home standards. However, we still decided to register our objection and will be asking the inspector to support our contention that firm standards are needed to ensure that dwellings in the city in future have sufficient internal space.

In terms of the Rampion offshore wind farm proposal we submitted a representation, supporting the principle of the 750 MW installation, but challenging the way electricity will be brought ashore and distributed. The hearing takes place during September and October this year and we will be making an oral representation.

The Hove Plinth on the Hove seafront received planning permission in April this year and we were delighted by the speed of the process and the huge amount of support we received. We have now agreed terms for a license with the local authority, which will come into operation once the Plinth is built. We launched our fundraising efforts with an event during the May festival, the sculpture group has started funding applications and other fundraising activities and we are currently working with the Mayoral office for a Mayor’s fundraising event on 22nd October.

The Restoring our Victorian Tree Heritage campaign got off to a strong start in December 2012 in the Montpellier / York Road area with a first planting of 12 trees. In the 2013 planting season we have lined up planting in the Marmion Road / Stoneham Road areas totalling around 40 trees. This will be funded by a combination of funds collected by local residents, a donation from the Society and a contribution by the council. We are now gathering ideas for planting for 2014. The scheme has developed during the year and we have introduced the concept of Tree Angels. These are individuals who fund one tree each year. Once we have 16 such Angels we can support (with gift aid and council matched funding) 40 trees per year. For anybody who wishes to contribute on a regular basis but with a lesser sum, we have also the Tree Cherub option – sponsoring half a tree a year. A small working party wrote a report which gives the historic rationale for the campaign (again on our website).

Our lecture and visits programme explored new territory by arranging a number of visits including to the bus garage in Hove and the Peacehaven water treatment plant. The thoughts behind the visits were that we wished to see what goes on in the city. We wanted to see activities which, although critical to the functioning of the city, are only noticed if they don’t work. Ideas for the future include visits to rail operators, major employers, Shoreham power station etc.

During the year we have managed to attract a number of new members. Tree Angels and donors of more than £100 also receive membership. We are making a number of minor changes in the way we plan to distribute information to members with an aim to communicate electronically as far as possible. This saves time and money and allows us to concentrate our energies and funding on projects on the ground.

I hope members agree that we are making excellent progress. Please support our projects either by joining in the committee activities or by making contributions to our various funds. This way you can help make lasting improvements to our city.

Finally, I must share with you my delight about the membership of our various committees and the quality and energy which springs from them. This is of course a reflection of the commitment and dedication of the individual members. I have encouraged all of them to stay on for another year and I hope that you agree and vote accordingly at the AGM on 17th October.

With very best wishes

Helmut Lusser  

A note from the Membership Secretary

We have been pleased to welcome a number of new members since the last Newsletter and we welcome them to the society and look forward to meeting them at events.

Saving Money

The committee is very conscious of the need to save money and be good stewards of resources.  As a result we have decided that we shall no longer issue Membership Cards as a full list of members with membership numbers will be available at meetings to record members’ attendance.

Many members have given e-mail addresses which I know they appreciate is a quick and efficient method of communication. We are now intending to e-mail the Newsletters to all members who have this facility, beginning with the January 2014 issue. If you have given an e-mail address but would rather continue to receive the Newsletter by post please e-mail me at angelahamish@btinternet.com – and I will ensure that you will continue to do so.

The third way by which we can save money is by members paying their subscription by Standing Order. I make no apology for again asking those who can do so and currently pay by cash or cheque to give further consideration to setting up a Standing Order. This reduces time spent on administration and the cost of mailing those who forget to make their payment. So understandable with the busy lives we all lead.  The membership form with the standing order authority can be found here.

As you know the Society has a number of new projects and plays a major part in monitoring and commenting on planning policy and proposed new developments. It is an exciting time for us all and just the right time to invite our friends, colleagues, and relatives etc. to join. If you know anyone who would consider joining and would like to discuss the matter further please give them my details and suggest the get in touch.

Angela F Turner, Membership Secretary

Support by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove for the Hove Plinth

Over the last year the public sculpture group has been working to develop ideas for bringing new public sculpture to Hove, to harness support and to get essential permissions in place. With planning permission agreed by the council in April, we officially launched the initiative on the 24th May with an event attended by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Cllr Denise Cobb, invited guests from Hove Civic Society and arts and heritage organisations, local councillors and other interested parties. In her speech the Mayor warmly congratulated the Society:

“Public art is worth investing in; it gives us new ways to imagine our surroundings, it provides us with beauty and stokes our creative fires. (…) Hove is a wonderful area and the seafront an attractive place to relax, exercise, walk, talk and find peace, the provision of the plinth will provide another moment of pleasure and I wish the project every success”  

A message of support was also read out from the MP for Hove, Mike Weatherley.

The event also launched our fundraising drive. To date we have raised about £3,000 in donations and pledges, as well as sponsorship in kind for the cost of broadband from Xoomtalk Ltd and for engineering consultancy from HOP Partnership. A big thank you to all who have supported us so far!

We are raising the profile of the project through the website www.hoveplinth.org.uk, email newsletters, presentations and flyers and brochures. A postcard sized flyer is already available and at the AGM we will be able to give you a fundraising brochure designed to create enthusiasm for the many exciting possibilities that the project would bring.  The plinth will be used for changing displays of sculpture by significant local, national and international artists, sourced through loans and commissions. We will also engage with schools and community projects for short term displays of creative projects and to develop heritage learning programmes.  The plinth will be set up with digital technology and there are some exciting possibilities for making the site truly interactive. For example, people may be able to use their mobile phones to ‘talk to’ the plinth at the site, find out about art, history and heritage and feedback comments.

The challenge now is to raise enough funds to build and install the plinth and to fund at least the first three years of loans, commissions and associated programmes. While applications to grant giving bodies is part of our funding strategy, we feel the key to success lies in support from individuals, businesses and organisations locally, as this will underpin the project with a sense of local ownership and civic pride.

We are very grateful for all the interest and support shown so far.  It is easy to make a donation and all contributions are welcome, it doesn’t matter how small.  Simply click the donate button on our website www.hoveplinth.org.uk or go directly to the charity site www.justgiving.com/hovecivicsociety , and follow instructions. And don’t forget to tick the gift aid box if you are a UK tax payer.

Mayor’s Reception 22 October

We are delighted that the Mayor of Brighton and Hove has invited Hove Civic Society, along with the Mayor’s charities, to hold a reception in the Mayor’s Parlour, Brighton Town Hall on the 22 October 5pm – 7.30pm. This will be an opportunity to promote the Hove Plinth project and to raise funds. Tickets are £10 per person and will include wine, a tour of and historical back story to the Mayor’s Chambers.  Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis. Please email karin@hovecivicsociety.org if you are interested in attending.

Blue Plaque unveilings

This summer has seen a trio of unveilings, and you could not hope for more diversity!

St Mary’s Hall in Eastern Road, Kemp Town was a private school for girls, originally founded by Rev. Henry Venn Eliott for the education of the daughters of poor clergymen in 1836, although they formed the minority of pupils. It was expected that they would become governesses. In recent years the school struggled financially and finally closed. The Royal Sussex County Hospital nearby seized the opportunity to buy, and after major refurbishment and redevelopment, it will soon come into use for administration and accommodation for junior doctors. The guests attending the ceremony were overwhelmingly female, mainly former staff and pupils. The plaque was unveiled after short addresses by a representative of the hospital, deputy mayor Bill Randall and a direct descendent of the venerable vicar. The plaque also honoured Charlotte Venn Elliott (Henry’s sister), who was the author of a number of hymns. Then the bells of nearby St George’s church were rung in celebration.

On the summer solstice, June 21, a plaque was unveiled for Doreen Valiente – a total contrast. She is the first pagan to be honoured. The plaque is placed on a council building, the flats at Tyson Place, Grosvenor Street, off Eastern Road. The celebrations kicked off next to the Dolphin Fountain in the Old Steine gardens with a stunning display by the Pentacle Drummers from Eastbourne, resplendent in red and green face paint and costumes. Local resident and high priest Ralph Harvey then led a ritual in Doreen’s memory. Ralph’s bright blue cloak and copper headband with animal horns barely outshone some other costumes, because pagans had arrived from all parts of Britain and abroad to take part. After a break, everyone processed past the Royal Pavilion and up Eastern Road. I should imagine the loud drumming was a real traffic stopper. At the flats we were entertained by Hunters Moon, a Morris side from Eastbourne, unmissable in black costumes, feathered top hats and black face paint. They sometimes take part in the Brighton Day of Dance (which is well worth attending in May – details on the Brighton Morris Men website). There were several short addresses detailing how Doreen had brought witchcraft from underground to one of the world’s fastest growing religions, and how her artefacts and books are in trust. In fact, plans are in progress for a museum of witchcraft, probably in Brighton. The Mayor, Denise Cobb, gave a very warm and positive welcome to the many visitors present, emphasising that Brighton has always welcomed diversity. The Hunters Moon side then danced two or three dances – great to see an old English tradition. It was a very jolly occasion.

The third plaque is different yet again, honouring that great artist John Constable. The unveiling at 11 Sillwood Road was performed by Constable’s great-great-grandson Richard. The sponsor Peter Harrap is also an artist, and he has the great pleasure of working in the “painting room” that Constable used during his sojourn in Brighton. In fact, Constable brought with him from London several unfinished canvases. He wrote to a friend, “I am looking for a month’s quiet here… What a blessing it is thus to be able to carry one’s profession with me.” That part of Sillwood Road was then known as Sober’s Gardens: Miss Ann Sobers owned the land on which some of the properties were built. It was part of the garden of her house Western Lodge. It is long gone but the next door property, known as Gothic House, is currently the defunct restaurant on the corner of Western Road and Western Terrace. It’s fascinating to trace the development of our city.

Thanks to Peter Harrap for his research.

Elaine Evans

Brighton Healthwalkers make it to the Moon!

Back in November 2003, Brighton & Hove Healthwalks provided its very first walk to a handful of people in East Brighton Park.  Ten years later the scheme has a programme of 15 weekly walks which are attended by around 1,000 people in the city every year.  Over this time, Healthwalkers have travelled 250,000 miles on the walks - that’s the equivalent of walking to the moon! 

Healthwalks are short, social walks with the emphasis on improving health and socialising.  80% of people who walk with the scheme regularly say that it has benefitted their physical or mental health, and a third say it has helped them with an existing health condition.  95% said they had formed new friendships on the walks.  The walks are led by a team of trained Volunteer Walk Leaders, who give up about 4,000 hours of their time each year to providing walks for local people.

A special anniversary programme of fantastic walks and events is running through the Summer and Autumn with 30 special one-off walks running until the end of October.  They include wildlife and historical themed walks, and the chance to walk your way around the whole of Brighton & Hove with their 6-part 'Round the City Challenge Walk'.  All the walks are free, and the programme can be downloaded via www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/healthwalks10 or you can contact the Healthwalks office (01273 292564 / healthwalks@brighton-hove.gov.uk) if you would like to order printed copies for your home or workplace.