The seven Brightonians who I wish were councillors

This list of the seven people who I wish were councillors does not imply any criticism of the current 54 who hold elected office locally. In alphabetical order:

Dani Ahrens is one of the most principled and consistent campaigners in the City. Dani was part of the early campaign against Section 28, invading the Council Chamber and holding a banner promoting lesbian and gay equality. The then mayor, Joe Townsend, wisely allowed the meeting to proceed while Dani’s protest continued. She continues to provide a conscience for the left and she is also one of the nicest people I know. An official return to the Council Chamber would bring the highest level integrity to the Council.

Roy Brown of Bardsleys Fish and Chip Shop in Baker Street can put the world to rights and fry battered cod and chips in the space of fifteen minutes. Though he is shy and retiring, he has an opinion on every matter and doesn’t care who he might offend in criticising the local authority and councillors themselves. His commitment to the environment is genuine although his ‘No Cod Wednesday’ lasted all of five minutes. Under Roy’s leadership London Road would thrive once against.

Jean Calder is the only former councillor on this list. Jean is a tireless campaigner for the rights of women and children, and led the campaign to save St Peters Church om developers. She is a former Argus columnist whose writings were unlike anything that has appeared before or since. Jean is a first rate listener and story teller, who could bring the experiences of ordinary people into the heart of Council deliberations. A return to the Council Chamber would ensure that issues of women and children rights would not be sidedlined as they can, so often, be.

Roger French is already one of the most influential people in the City, running the bus company and chairing the Local Strategic Partnership. I am an admirer of Roger although a strong critic of his decision to charge double fares on his buses on Boxing Day – a modern day Scrooge! The reason for wanting him on the Council, apart from the City benefiting even more from his vision, is to make him democratically accountable which would be appropriate for someone with his level of influence.

Andrew Manson-Brailsford is the Church of England vicar at St George’s Church in Kemptown. Unlike many CoE clergymen, Father Andrew has a true commitment to his community. He is well liked and widely respected (although not always by the hierarchy of the Church). He has created a thriving community centre within the church. The Council would benefit from his record on regeneration.

Selma Montford has singlehandedly preserved much of the architectural heritage of Brighton. She has fought what sometimes has seemed to be a one woman campaign against the worst excesses of development. Selma has also been able to compromise and has not held up developments required for the economic prosperity of the City, but has done so without compromising her own integrity.

Isla Robertson is one of the most formidable, feisty and fearless women campaigners of her or any other generation. She has chaired the Pensioners’ Association for many years and, if she was in the Council Chamber, would ensure that the interests of pensioners, working class people and women would not be sidelined. God help any Council officer if they got in the way of Ms Robertson and her crusade to highlight inequality.

There could be many others on this list, such as Val Paynter and Val Richards, and others who have put themselves forward to serve the City but who have (yet) not been elected such as Anthea Ballam and Jo Heard. I apologise to all those who aren’t on this list … yet.

8 Responses

  1. Who are the St Peter’s Church ‘Om Developers’ whom Jean Calder saved. They sound like some kind of evangelical Buddhist break-away group. Where do I sign up?

    • LOL. Typing and proof reading (along with consistency) not my greatest strengths. Must have been trained by the Grauniad.

  2. I must disagree with the Blogger about Roger French.

    Whatever his merits or otherwise as bus honcho, he did not cut the mustard in persuading new Councillors on Wednesday that the Strategic Partnership is worth their precious time.

    We had to sit through an hour of vague stuff, “vision” and all, with no reference at all to life as anybody knows it. Fifteen minutes later, I said as much, and was followed by Stephanie Powell, who pointed, cogently, to the Connexions part of the document being well out of date.

    People said to me, from all parties, during the sandwich bit, “thank goodness you said that, it’s just what I was thinkng”.

    So, in effect, I was ringing the bell but the driver was ignoring it.

    A first rule of business is that lost customers are the hardest to win back.

    With so much else to engage our attention, to public effect, I feel sure that the Strategic Partnership will not register.

    It will be cited in local govt circles as a public relations disaster. The essence of this is: show, don’t tell.

  3. I agree with christopher Hawtree ….never thought I would say that.

    Roger French has done very little for this City that hasn’t made his company a small fortune in return.

    If you live on the outskirts the bus service is terrible and if you want to go in to town you can’t move for buses and as for what he did to the Big lemon that really is unforgiveable. B&H buses were queing a mile long at Falmer to run them out of town. If you want to know why people still use their cars in this city just look straight at him

    Now we have Green councillors on the outskirts of the City perhaps they will look in to this.

  4. It occurs to me that a certain Mr Fanshawe does not find a place among the Blogger’s gallery of luminaries or, some might say, half-shaded.

    Why has Mr Fanshawe never put his theories to the polling-booth test?

  5. Fanshawe is perfectly safe as chairman of his own Banana Republic at Sussex University Council, which he is currently using to rip the heart out of the university. He is literally elected by members of university council whom he has over the years himself appointed. Some might say this would create a feedback loop and a certain degree of entrenchment.

    • Self-perpetuating oligarchy would be the term for it.

      Agree about Selma Montford, Brighton and Hove’s answer to John Betjeman, who Fanshawe disgracefully attempted to stitch up in a TV programme a few years back about the various abortive developments he was promoting.

      I would also nominate Shula Rich of the Brighton and Hove Leaseholders’ Association. Heart in right place, forensic analytical head in gear.

  6. Jon I haven’t laughed so much in years. Never a truer word said

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