Lets polish our jewels strategically

west-streetThe following appears in todays Argus newspaper: I was born and raised on the North bank of the Mersey and on high days and holidays one place our family and friends considered visiting was New Brighton. It was a bit brash and had a much more evident seaside culture than my home town but it was only a short journey away by bus and ferry. I don’t think that the name influenced me, but when the time came for me to choose a place to study, eventually I settled on ‘old Brighton’ which in the late 1970’s was a much more tarnished, tired and a great deal less commercial than it is today. Today some 8M people visit the city each year with most arriving as day vistors, despite the challenge of catching a train or driving into the city. As an incomer, albeit one who has lived here for nearly 40 years, I am delighted to see visitors arriving to enjoy our facilities and landscapes although there are some guests who come to demonstrate and march on our streets whose views I completely detest. The fact is that our city like a public heirloom regularly needs a bit of a wax and polish. My friend Tony Kalume occasionally works with the Brighton museum to ensure they get the best of their resources and in particular their African artefacts. Next to the Museum is the Pavilion which is occasionally re-painted and renovated and thanks to a recent TV programme with Sophie Raworth visiting the piano her relatives built, will probably see an increased footfall this year. Alongside these two jewels is the Pavilion Gardens which is already a lovely place to visit thanks to the wonderful Café run by the amazing David Sewell. A few years ago I was involved in some discussions regarding a possible overhaul in the Gardens that would offer even more for visitors to enjoy although inevitably it created a concern for David and some of his friends due in part to the way it was proposed. A brisk walk away is the deeply contentious i360 which provides a very different appeal to those who travel on it. Throughout our city there are numerous incremental and sometimes step changes taking place and we can only hope that they will all improve what we have to offer to visitors and enjoy for ourselves. As a Street Pastor I have met many hundreds of our ‘night-day’ visitors and a few years ago I was involved in a discussion regarding how to improve East Street. We recommended its pedestrianisation as one way of improving it at night and in due course our proposal was adopted. This has certainly made a huge positive difference. Perhaps now is the time to give the same sort of attention to the much bigger canvas that is West Street. It is a space that desperately needs a wider range of attractions that will remove the dominance of the clubs and bars and persuade a people of all ages to participate, particularly earlier in the evening. Just like in East Street, the need to remove traffic from West Street, at least at nightime is very clear. Sadly there will always be a call for the occasional ambulance and police vehicle to travel up or down the Street in the evening, but we need to free up the space for people of all ages to enjoy the facilities some of which are in need of a bit of a facelift. Of course this all depends on the Council developing a strategic vision for the area rather than a purely tactical response to planning as proposed by Steve Bell in the last few days.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Brighton & Hove, Community Safety, Parliament and Democracy, Policing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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