Steve Bell: Conservatives in Brighton and Hove are protecting the bats and the bees

26 Nov

Cllr Steve Bell is the Leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove Council.

Conservation has always been at the very heart of Conservatism.  Conservatives value cultural traditions and wish to leave them undiminished to our children.  Conservationists value heritage.

While the left look to big government as the decision-makers set to save us from environmental catastrophe, as Conservatives we prefer a local approach over large-scale governmental approaches. Love of your home, love of your ward, and encouraging that love in your residents.

Conservative Councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council have been putting these values into action and making progress on our Conservative vision to both protect and improve the ecology of the City.

In a national-first, Cllr Robert Nemeth has ensured that Brighton & Hove City Council includes a requirement for developers to include bee bricks as part of every new development.

Bee bricks form part of the structure of the building like any other building brick but have holes for solitary and hibernating bees.  They are promoted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as a way to ensure nature can survive in City environments.

Thanks to the work of Cllr Nemeth, bee bricks are now recommended on all major applications and preferred in houses and extensions in Brighton and Hove.

He took two different types of swift brick along to the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee at Hove Town Hall in March. One is a simple plastic box that is built into a wall. The other uses bricks from the wall so that it blends in and is also warmer.

A swift box is harder to block up as people can see the box and won’t fill it up. As long as people are putting up swift boxes and bricks then it’s a win for wildlife in the city. Residents can help this effort by planting bee friendly plants and other ecology in their own gardens.

Following on from our work on bee bricks, Conservatives want to ensure that the Council draw up a wider mandatory list of items for inclusion in new developments that will help protect our local wildlife – such as hedgehog holes, bird feeders and bat boxes.

Bats, in particular are a particularly important indicator of the City’s ecology.

As Glenn Norris of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, wrote in the October edition of the Hovarian Magazine, the presence of bats indicate healthy invertebrate-rich habitats. He said:

“In Hove, bats are most likely to be seen in the few remaining green spaces: Hove Park, Hove Cemetery and Benfield Valley Nature Reserve.

“The bats found in Hove are probably the aerobatic common pipistrelle and heavy-duty noctule as these bats are tolerant of artificial lighting from streetlights and have even adapted to feeding on the moths and insects that have been attracted by the artificial glow.

“During the day these bats are most likely roosting in the roof voids of buildings, cracks in mortar and under loose tiles.  Pipistrelles are so small they can fit in a hole the size of your thumb.”

Cllr Dawn Barnett, who has been at the forefront of our Conservative Campaign to save Benfield Valley from development, has said that the presence of these bats shows precisely why Benfield Valley needs to be protected.  The bats show definitively the ecological value of the Valley and why it is so important that Benfield Valley continues to exist as a green wedge in the city.

In Patcham and Hollingbury, our Conservative Councillors have successfully put forward a proposal to plant 8,000 trees next to Carden Park in Brighton in a bid to create a new forest. The wood, next to Hollingbury Industrial Estate would contain a “bee bank” and chalk grassland managed by Brighton and Hove City Council officers.

Cllr Lee Wares, who represents Patcham,  has said that this significant project would result in the largest woodland planted from scratch being undertaken in the city for decades. The ability to plant so many trees and provide the conditions and habitat for flora and fauna across the whole site will create an area of biodiversity we all want to see.

This also provides an opportunity to bring the natural environment right into the middle of our built environment that will be accessible to everybody.

A new wood would transform low-quality grassland into a rich world of flora and fauna.

The plan is to have walkways mown between the trees and bee banks so that everybody can be right in the middle of nature. Wares has recently reported that an initial area for this tree planting project will soon be planted.

The Conservatives are delivering innovative conservation outcomes for the City, building on our vision to improve the ecology of the city and working with residents to protect green spaces.

Look to your Conservative councillors if you wish to conserve your environment and city. And remember, conservation is conservative.

Steve Bell: Corbynism achieved power in Brighton and Hove. It failed spectacularly.

28 Sep

Cllr Steve Bell is Leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove Council.

In July, Labour’s minority administration at Brighton and Hove City Council collapsed – just a little over a year after the 2019 May local elections.

When Labour lost two councillors over alleged anti-Semitic racism and had a third councillor suspended pending an investigation, the Greens seized power and have now taken over minority control.

The collapse was a shameful end for a Momentum-backed Labour Administration that destabilised the city, brought Brighton & Hove into disrepute, and consistently let its residents down.

Labour ultimately fell after failing to live up to its promise to be an anti-racist council.

This tumultuous administration, which lasted little more than a year after the local elections on 2nd May 2019, was characterised by resignations, apologies, broken promises, financial mismanagement, and weak leadership from start to finish.

Labour repeatedly broke its trust with the people of this City who elected it, with its broken promises hurting our most vulnerable, time and again.

Its decisions led to a collapse of the Home to School Transport Scheme, putting children with a disability at risk, and culminating in Labour facing an independent investigation from the Local Government Association.

Another such investigation may well be on the cards after it was recently reported that disabled groups were not adequately consulted by Labour on the discriminatory road and cycle lane changes recently introduced that reduced disability access to the beach front.  And in the process, while Labour said in its manifesto it would ‘protect and support the many small businesses that ensure the strength of our city during times of economic uncertainty’ Labour instead left traders on Brighton’s famous seafront strip struggling to pay their council tax and make ends meet after closing the road – and left office with Brighton & Hove languishing as a ‘below average resort’ according to a tourism survey of Britain’s seaside towns.

Labour let down council house tenants by rediverting millions of pounds in the Housing Repairs Budget on administrative changes to bring the service in house, and then added insult to injury by abandoning its promise to build 500 council houses.

While Labour promised voters in its Manifesto that it would provide more public open space in the City for residents, including those without gardens, it instead pushed through plans to build on 16 ecological sites in the urban fringe despite there being no need, with the Council Leader breaking her own promise to her constituents to oppose any proposals for the development of urban fringe land at Whitehawk Hill in her East Brighton ward along the way.

Most damagingly for our City, while Labour claimed to have sustained a reputation for Brighton & Hove as being the most inclusive city in the world, it left having unforgivably failed on its pledge to be an anti-racist council. Labour’s Council Leader did not properly stand up to antisemitism when it occurred in her administration, appearing to put power before anti-racism, with councillors suspended and under investigation for antisemitism remaining in her group. In doing so, the Council Leader failed to back up her own words at the Budget that Brighton & Hove is a City that is ‘inclusive and welcoming to all’.

Politically, the Council Leader failed to provide leadership in her own party, not commenting or providing clarification when the local Argus newspaper reported on a document outlining infighting and bullying in the Labour Party in which she was mentioned many times and attracting anger for apparently not listening to democratic motions of over 50 per cent of Labour branches opposing the development of local green space at Whitehawk Hill.

The fact that Labour collapsed over racism and ended with the shame of the Leader of our City Council being called upon to resign by a spokesman for Labour Against Antisemitism is a stain on our city. It has attracted national attention and damaged the reputation of Brighton & Hove to an extent that will be hard to recover from.

Labour’s constant failure to deliver for our City resulted in eight public apologies in a little over 12 months, culminating in Labour’s Finance spokesman saying he was ashamed of being a Labour councillor.

In the end, seven Labour councillors rebelled when the Council Leader tried to desperately hold onto power by arranging a power-sharing agreement with the Greens. These councillors knew the game was up and the dysfunction for our city had to come to an end.

This Council needs a Leader and councillors with the strength and integrity to stand up to racism of all kinds.

Corbynism failed spectacularly in Brighton and Hove and it will be a long time before the people of this City put their trust in Labour to run their City Council again.

Steve Bell: Corbynism achieved power in Brighton and Hove. It failed spectacularly.

28 Sep

Cllr Steve Bell is Leader of the Conservative Group on Brighton and Hove Council.

In July, Labour’s minority administration at Brighton and Hove City Council collapsed – just a little over a year after the 2019 May local elections.

When Labour lost two councillors over alleged anti-Semitic racism and had a third councillor suspended pending an investigation, the Greens seized power and have now taken over minority control.

The collapse was a shameful end for a Momentum-backed Labour Administration that destabilised the city, brought Brighton & Hove into disrepute, and consistently let its residents down.

Labour ultimately fell after failing to live up to its promise to be an anti-racist council.

This tumultuous administration, which lasted little more than a year after the local elections on 2nd May 2019, was characterised by resignations, apologies, broken promises, financial mismanagement, and weak leadership from start to finish.

Labour repeatedly broke its trust with the people of this City who elected it, with its broken promises hurting our most vulnerable, time and again.

Its decisions led to a collapse of the Home to School Transport Scheme, putting children with a disability at risk, and culminating in Labour facing an independent investigation from the Local Government Association.

Another such investigation may well be on the cards after it was recently reported that disabled groups were not adequately consulted by Labour on the discriminatory road and cycle lane changes recently introduced that reduced disability access to the beach front.  And in the process, while Labour said in its manifesto it would ‘protect and support the many small businesses that ensure the strength of our city during times of economic uncertainty’ Labour instead left traders on Brighton’s famous seafront strip struggling to pay their council tax and make ends meet after closing the road – and left office with Brighton & Hove languishing as a ‘below average resort’ according to a tourism survey of Britain’s seaside towns.

Labour let down council house tenants by rediverting millions of pounds in the Housing Repairs Budget on administrative changes to bring the service in house, and then added insult to injury by abandoning its promise to build 500 council houses.

While Labour promised voters in its Manifesto that it would provide more public open space in the City for residents, including those without gardens, it instead pushed through plans to build on 16 ecological sites in the urban fringe despite there being no need, with the Council Leader breaking her own promise to her constituents to oppose any proposals for the development of urban fringe land at Whitehawk Hill in her East Brighton ward along the way.

Most damagingly for our City, while Labour claimed to have sustained a reputation for Brighton & Hove as being the most inclusive city in the world, it left having unforgivably failed on its pledge to be an anti-racist council. Labour’s Council Leader did not properly stand up to antisemitism when it occurred in her administration, appearing to put power before anti-racism, with councillors suspended and under investigation for antisemitism remaining in her group. In doing so, the Council Leader failed to back up her own words at the Budget that Brighton & Hove is a City that is ‘inclusive and welcoming to all’.

Politically, the Council Leader failed to provide leadership in her own party, not commenting or providing clarification when the local Argus newspaper reported on a document outlining infighting and bullying in the Labour Party in which she was mentioned many times and attracting anger for apparently not listening to democratic motions of over 50 per cent of Labour branches opposing the development of local green space at Whitehawk Hill.

The fact that Labour collapsed over racism and ended with the shame of the Leader of our City Council being called upon to resign by a spokesman for Labour Against Antisemitism is a stain on our city. It has attracted national attention and damaged the reputation of Brighton & Hove to an extent that will be hard to recover from.

Labour’s constant failure to deliver for our City resulted in eight public apologies in a little over 12 months, culminating in Labour’s Finance spokesman saying he was ashamed of being a Labour councillor.

In the end, seven Labour councillors rebelled when the Council Leader tried to desperately hold onto power by arranging a power-sharing agreement with the Greens. These councillors knew the game was up and the dysfunction for our city had to come to an end.

This Council needs a Leader and councillors with the strength and integrity to stand up to racism of all kinds.

Corbynism failed spectacularly in Brighton and Hove and it will be a long time before the people of this City put their trust in Labour to run their City Council again.