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Soapbox: Parking charges, support squatters and littering louts
11:10am Saturday 13th October 2012 in opinion feed
Elliott Raggio, owner of On Tap Property Services and founder of campaign group Traders Need Transport, calls for Brighton and Hove City Council to rethink its parking permit charges for traders.
IN the light of Brighton and Hove City Council starting their plans for the 2013 budget, I would like to raise a concern and highlight an issue with parking in Brighton and Hove in an attempt to get charges back to a fair pricing structure.
I learned recently from The Argus that the city’s income from pay and display is under budget by £700,000.
The Green administration’s bold and obnoxious price increase earlier this year, which I fought publically, has simply not been as much of a success as forecasted.
I personally had so much fear for our local business economy among the local community, and seeing these figures confirmed my worst nightmare.
It was obvious to me by putting up prices at the rates the council did that it would naturally lead to an increase in revenue, but the amount of negative backlash this would bring was hugely underestimated.
The extra £600,000 income generated from penalising local and visiting vehicle owners in our city is not even half of the £1.3 million revenue budgeted by the council.
Instead of admitting they got it wrong and looking at how to move forward to rectify this failure I have heard the council making excuses. One main excuse was apparently blaming the weather for a drop in visitors to the city.
But extortionate prices have obviously seriously contributed, along with the weather, to see a large decline in visitors.
As the founder of Traders Need Transport, TNT, I spent many months warning the Green administration of the detrimental effect their parking price hikes would have on our local economy.
After tampering with the pricing, I now urge the council to seriously reconsider and make a full U-turn by reducing parking charges as a priority for the 2013 budget. Let’s also get the price of permits for business and traders back to where they belong.
I hope, along with the growing supporters of TNT, that we can keep reminding the council of its failure and to reduce the price of parking in our city.
Lets kick start our local economy by stopping the punishment of those who own a vehicle.
For more details visit www.tradersneedtransport.co.uk.
Amie Smart, of the Squatters Network of Brighton, SNOB, explains why people should take to the streets today in support of squatting.
Today the local squat community and their supporters will be marching through the streets of Brighton to protest against new anti-squatting laws, on a demonstration called by the Squatters Network of Brighton, SNOB.
On Saturday, September 1, squatting a residential building became a criminal offence.
We believe these new laws are unjust and an attack on the most vulnerable in this society. People who squat are looking for a shelter and a home, not a criminal record.
They make use of buildings which have been kept empty for long periods of time, often falling into disrepair.
We believe this new legislation is also unnecessary, as people’s homes were already protected under existing legislation.
In March 2012, The Argus reported that a surge in people losing their homes combined with cuts in housing benefit had left councils struggling to find places for them to stay.
According to the website of the charity Shelter, in Brighton and Hove in 2011, there were 10,852 households on council housing waiting lists, but only 4,128 vacant dwellings.
The government’s programme of unjust and unnecessary public cuts disproportionately affects the poorest and most marginalised in our society.
This act is going to seriously affect thousands of people, forcing many of them onto the streets, into overflowing prisons, or into an already overstretched housing benefit system.
Squatting is a means of people taking housing problems into their own hands, and finding a solution that makes use of empty buildings.
Around the UK, while increasing numbers are forced to sleep on the streets, hundreds of thousands of properties are lying empty, decaying and derelict.
We watch property tycoons, speculators and corrupt landlords get richer, while housing benefit is cut and rent goes up.
Landlords are not required to put buildings to use after they evict squatters, and buildings often go back to being empty and unused.
This march is expressing solidarity with those people who have suffered from Brighton’s rising rents and greedy landlords, and property owners whose main concern is money.
Only last week a young man called Alex Haign, who was living in London, became the first person to have been jailed under the new laws criminalising squatting. He was sentenced for twelve weeks just for wanting a roof over his head.
As both the birthplace of the Bill, and as one of the places where affordable houses are most difficult to come by, Brighton and Hove has a special significance in the national and international struggle for the right to a home.
Join us at 2pm today at Victoria Gardens to express our discontent at a society which keeps landlords rich and buildings empty but lets people sleep out in the cold.
Reporter Bill Gardner explains why littering louts and rowdy drinkers make living in a Brighton basement flat testing.
I like my basement flat in Brighton’s Regency Square. It’s warm, snug – and it’s my home.
But there’s one thing that maddens me more than anything else.
For some reason, people think it’s fine to drop whatever rubbish they like over the railing and into my front garden.
Granted, a thin sliver of dirty brickwork might not be much of a front garden, but it’s still mine, and lately it looks like a landfill site.
Just because we basement-flat dwellers live underground, some seem to think of us as inferior cave people, eager to snap up any scraps the ‘above-grounders’ are kind enough to throw down to us.
In my front yard I’ve found socks, beer cans, crisp packets, smashed bottles, cardboard boxes, and even used needles.
Last week a strange rust-coloured stain appeared which looks suspiciously like dried blood.
It makes me so angry.
Once I was sat in my lounge in the early evening when I heard the sound of liquid splashing onto the little yard out front.
“Surely not,” I thought.
But yes, when I threw open the curtains I looked up to see a gentleman relieving himself through my railings.
What I shouted at him is unrepeatable and certainly unprintable, but he was shocked enough to run off mid-stream.
Another time, I found a guy sitting halfway down my steps, brazenly eating his lunch with his wrappers strewn everywhere.
It’s true that I live in a basement flat because it’s cheaper. What I sacrifice in sunlight I make up for when the rent goes out every month.
But that shouldn’t mean I become some sort of second-class citizen, at the bottom of the social scale as well as my building.
And it’s not just me – thousands of other basement flat owners across Brighton and Hove are suffering in silence.
Walk around any part of Brighton and look down into those dark front yards and you’ll see the evidence.
It’s rude, it’s inconsiderate, it’s illegal and it’s got to stop.