4 October 2012…..When the Policy and Resources Committee meets on 11th October 2012 it will, amongst other things, consider this item which the council terms “Accelerated Workstyles”.
This report continues the process of reducing the city’s running costs and overheads, begun under the previous Conservative Administration. Some 4 Options are offered . Two involve selling all or part of both Kings House and Hove Town Hall. And these two options are the recommended ones.
The proposed measures are also about (oops! ‘incidentally’) taking the last remaining steps that will erase the civic identity symbols attached to the extinguished Borough of Hove – a town in its own right with its own Council, until forcibly conjoined with Brighton as the Unitary Authority of Brighton and Hove in the late 1990’s, against the will of Hove residents (70%). You can see the logic. We have had (coming up for) 15 years to get used to our altered circumstances; and it has always felt like they were humouring us while we got used to it. Now the Brighton mob propose a clear-out of Times Past starting with the props still in place blocking final ‘assimilation’ of the conquered Hovites. Things are tough and we just have to be brave….! Needs must amid regrets, etc.
Some of what is proposed makes sense – giving up the Denmark Villas offices (an offficial SHLAA ‘identified site’ for future creation of more housing, by the way). But there are lots of other places to target besides Hove Town Hall. Would there be regrets about selling Kings House? Less so.
How about that huge carpark opposite Hove Town Hall? What an eyesore! Who uses it? Sell it!
If a decent re-development proposal came along, might they think of selling King Alfred?
Don’t know about you, but reading through the report linked above, my blood ran cold. It’s a desperate casting-about, dressed up as claims for ‘improvements’, that reflects, more starkly than anything this writer has seen come from Brighton and Hove City Council in the past, a sense of a city or a country in a state of Grecian-level bankruptcy.
This report destroys confidence in the city as a going concern. The stench of liquidation (if one can coin such a term, but you know what I mean) gets stronger and stronger the more of it you read. The chill of coercion is all over it. Yet only a few months ago BHCC exuberantly seized the risk attached to underwriting some £17m of backing to enable the i360 to be built on the seafront.
Paper files taking up space……that’s gotta go; and it translates as everything online or nothing. People not online (a substantial number – 35 to 50% depending on age, poverty, education, etc.) will be at a remove from the Council to come. And voting may drop away even further as the Council loses its profile and becomes more mysterious and less obvious apart from its violent graffiti tactic of slapping the luridly coloured tumbling boxes logo and name on every stick it owns.
If they take this forward, if Kings House becomes a block of flats, if Hove Town Hall becomes a combination God Knows What, there is one last thing for them to do: change the name of the Unitary Authority to just ‘Brighton’. It happened to Portslade and there seems no way to stop it happening to Hove.
This document acknowledges that it proposes a major cultural change, that Hove will not be one bit happy about this (dragging of everything to the Brighton heart or sent online). But there is more for them to consider: and that is the chaos and inefficiency that every upheaval imposes, compromising effectiveness and ultimately costing even more.
Add to that the resignation of CEO John Barradell and appointment of someone to replace him who will either reinstate the old Directorships or reorganise the Council to suit her own ideas and you have even more for employees to tangle with, become used to, have to be trained into.
Change, change, change, and more change with radical Green ideology change added on…..and smoothly purring, boringly efficient, low-profile governance isn’t what ‘churn’ produces.