Agenda item - Public Involvement

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Agenda item

Public Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:


(a)      Petitions: to receive any petitions presented by members of the public to the full Council or as notified for presentation at the meeting.


(i)            Suffragette Banner – Ms D Waldon (Brighton & Hove Women’s History Group)

(ii)          Polling Stations at Schools – Ms F Brockwell


(b)      Written Questions: to receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 5 July 2019;


(i)            Commercial Leases – Mr J Deans


(c)      Deputations: to receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 5 July 2019.


5             Public Involvement


5 (a) Petitions


5.1       There were two petitions


5.2       The Committee considered a petition signed by 216 people requesting that the Council negotiate the return of the banner of the Brighton branch of the National Women’s Social & Political Union banner which was currently being displayed in Manchester, either permanently or on loan.


5.3       The Chair gave the following response: 


Former Councillor Andy Durr donated the suffragette banner of the Brighton branch of the National Women’s Social & Political Union, an important object which represents a period of national importance in a local setting, to the People’s History Museum.  People’s History Museum is the national museum of democracy.  It tells the story of the development of democracy in Britain: past, present, and future.  The Brighton suffrage movement is an important part of the national story and so it is fitting that the banner is based at the People’s History Museum. The People’s History Museum leads the way in terms of storage, conservation and display of banners and their staff are recognised nationally, across the sector, for their specialisms in this area. Displays of banners have to take into account conservation requirements as they have to have time when not on display so that they are conserved and preserved for future generations- so cannot be on permanent display.


Museums act together as the nation’s archive, caring for and interpreting our history through objects.  Museums collaborate closely to ensure that they support each other to increase access to collections and develop new audiences.  Loans between institutions are a major aspect of sector ethos and are expected by high profile funders and influencers such as Arts Council England and the Museums Association.


Museums have to plan their displays and exhibitions a number of years in advance and is currently exploring the opportunity to bring a British Library touring exhibition to Brighton Museum in Spring 2021.  The working title of the exhibition is ‘Fight for Women’s Rights’.  It explores the successes, struggles and untold stories of the fight for women’s rights.  Royal Pavilion & Museums will have the opportunity to add relevant objects from its own collections Royal Pavilion & Museums would seek to borrow the Brighton Suffragette banner from the People’s History Museum for this purpose and initial conversations with  People’s History Museum have resulted in confirmation that they are  open to a future loan request for the banner. Therefore it is likely that the banner will be on display as part of this exhibition.


The proposed exhibition will invite visitors to discover how individuals and groups have challenged and changed attitudes toward women over the last 250 years. It will encourage intergenerational discussion and individual action to continue the fight for women’s rights, and will highlight how the fight for women’s rights can take many forms: from protest to podcasts, manifestos to music.


5.4       RESOLVED: That a report on this matter come to a future meeting of the committee.


5.5       The Committee considered a petition signed by 358 people requesting that the Council stop using schools as polling stations for local, national and European elections.


5.6       The Chair gave the following response:


The Council understands the difficulties caused to parents and children with the closure of schools on polling day.We have been unfortunate in that, in the last two to three months in addition to scheduled local elections, we have had the European Parliamentary elections, which means some schools had to close twice.


A full review of polling places within Brighton & Hove will have to take place before January 2020. A report is coming to this committee on 10 October with proposals. This will be preceded by a consultation period where proposals will be published and comments sought from electors, community groups and politicians. At the local and European Parliament elections in May, electoral services staff worked with schools to put in place measures to keep schools open and 7 schools remained fully or predominantly open. Any decision to close is always made by the Headteacher, not by the Council or Returning Officer. Following the election, electoral services staff have already visited one site that closed and found a workable solution to operate as a polling station and keep the school open.


Going forward, it would be unwise to completely rule out using schools as polling station as this may leave electors without a suitable venue to vote. With the geography of the city, the removal of schools as polling places could result in some electors having a potential walk of more than 25 minutes to another suitable site. However, the electoral services will always look to find alternative sites that do not impede electors from voting.


We will take this petition and any comments from parents and schools into account as part of the consultation process.


5.7       RESOLVED: That the petition be noted.




5 (b)    Written Questions


5.8       There was one question.


5.9       The following question was submitted by Mr J Deans:


            Commercial Leases

I have a list of over 800 commercial leases granted by BHCC, many arepeppercorn or very low value to the city, will this committee undertake a lease by lease review to establish any that could be returned to council control then used to solve the housing crisis.


5.10    The Chair gave the following response:


We have a programme of reviewing the future use of all of our buildings whenever they become vacant and when we do so we consider whether those buildings can be better used to meet the city’s needs, including consideration of using them to tackle the housing crisis.


However a lease cannot be returned to council control unilaterally without a statutory or contractual mechanism to do so.  In normal circumstances a tenant has the benefit of the lease for its duration and may also have a statutory right to renewal at the end of the lease.


A lease granted at a peppercorn or low rent is done so for a number of reasons.  These reasons include but are not limited to:


·                A lease granted for a premium, this is usually a long lease of 150-250 years 

·                A lease to facilitate development or investment for example major projects like Circus Street, Preston Barracks

·                A lease granted for a non commercial use (eg community use) eg Open Market


A lease granted at a peppercorn or low rent is not without value to the council and the City. Given the purpose for granting such leases and the inability for them to be returned to the council control it is not considered beneficial to complete a timely lease by lease review.


The Council is delivering a programme of new council housing and will continue to actively explore ways to ensure that we use public land to deliver new housing and other community infrastructure whenever viable and appropriate.



5.11    Mr Deans asked the following supplementary question:


A temporary lease was issued last year for the former Dr Brighton’s public house, to a company which was only four days old. A valuation was given which was clearly wrong by £500k, as it was valued the same as the building next door which was half the size and terraced. I would like the committee to investigate what has been going on and what was going on with the assets of this city.


5.12    The Chair said that it would be appropriate for a written response to be provided. However, at the meeting the Assistant Director Property & Design said that the former Dr Brighton’s building was currently tenanted, it had been through a marketing exercise and was currently leased on a Tenancy-at-Will while the tenant’s lease was negotiated and drawn up. The building was not in a good state and the dilapidations were being considered. As it was tenanted it could not be used for other purposes. The valuation would be confirmed but it was in the region of £1m.


5 (c)    Deputations


5.13    There were none



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