Most fellow residents have come to terms with our boundary signs that welcome visitors to Brighton and Hove, even though we know which part of the city we live or work in. This sense of corporate unity is of course supported by the much higher profile of our football club which moved out of Hove and into Brighton some time ago. However if there was a reversal of the city and unitary authority status then the tension between the two towns might begin to return with the help of people who would like to return to a time when there were two Councils with all of the challenges that they helped to create. If we want reminders of the tension between governmental bodies, we only have to cross the border into Lewes, Mid Sussex or Adur and then ask for an explanation why public service provision differs and the difficulty of getting some degree of consistency in the same way as was the case when Steve Bassam and Ivor Caplin led opposing Councils. The root causes of such disagreements is always hard to identify, is it the Councillors, the Civil Servants, the residents, the businesses or indeed the ‘great and the good’ who have strong influence when it suits them. I recall working with the Sussex Police Authority shortly after 9/11 in an attempt to form a Sussex wide Interfaith support network. The willingness of the two County Councils was strong, however trying to persuade a Council Officer from Brighton and Hove to come to the meeting was almost impossible. The irony being that our city contains the oldest interfaith network in the country so had much to be proud of. There are many other local examples that can be pulled out of recent history books to demonstrate the challenge of Councils and communities in working together but these are very modest by comparison to the cases being publicised on a daily basis over the borders between Northern Ireland and Eire and the English ‘mainland’. The apparent willingness by the DUP to dismiss how little impact Brexit will have on the border that exists on their Island which carries all sorts of terrorist history seems to be at great odds with their demand that the physical and infrastructural border between their Island and our Island is diminished as though it was one short main road with no obstacles between the two locations. Of course this is only one of the problems that Brexit is potentially going to create for our nation and for the residents of Southern Ireland. Another is a matter that has arisen in the last few days over the construction work that is apparently being planned for the M26 and M20 to create lorry parks in the event of a no deal Brexit. It seems very reasonable to ask the Government which has only just disclosed its plans despite many requests that have been made in the past, to question if similar provision is being considered for Newhaven and Shoreham. It seems inevitable that if Dover becomes the long term bottleneck that the two lorry parks would suggest, that road hauliers will look for alternative routes into Europe that are less busy and Newhaven and Shoreham must be high on their list!
A week ago on the BBC Inside Out programme, one of the subjects covered was the challenge facing Sussex Police in the light of its financial cuts that began in 2010 when David Cameron, George Osborne and Theresa May came to power and planned substantial reductions in police budgets. Whilst their decisions are the main reason that the Police are facing such huge restrictions, here in Sussex that was added to by the freeze to the Police precept when the Police Authority was abolished and replaced by a Tory Police and Crime Commissioner, who was the only candidate in that election who believed that freezing the precept would not add to the problems. Although the PCC has recently reversed her decision that will act as a relatively small plaster over what has now become a huge wound across Sussex. A couple of days after Inside Out was broadcast, Richard Foster, the retiring Chair of the Criminal Cases Review Commission was interviewed on Radio 4 following a speech he had made. He pointed out that across the country there is a 20% vacancy rate for investigating officers and so along with the lack of resources in dealing with phone calls, all police forces in the UK are unable to investigate many of the crimes that take place in an effective manner. We clearly need a very urgent and significant increase in national police funding arrangements!