THE debate about Brighton's cultural identity raged on yesterday following the explosive remarks of Fringe boss Julian Caddy.

In Tuesday's Argus, the London-based managing director said the city was an out-of-date seaside destination with a massive public relations problem.

He described the city as being two Brightons: inland Brighton with vibrant creative industries, modern restaurants and a "dynamic population" and the seafront of "tacky sideshows, fish and chips, rock and assorted paraphernalia".

The Palace Pier, which he described as a "blot on the landscape", entrenches the aforementioned reputation, he said.

Yesterday afternoon he admitted his language could have been "more diplomatic", but this did not prevent a barrage of criticism.

Simon Fanshawe, broadcaster and Stonewall founder, was among those to herald Brighton's mix of traditional seaside offerings and creative, dynamic sophistication.

He said: "If Brighton was a stick of rock it would not have the same word running through it.

"One minute you could be listening to classical music at the Dome, the next have your pants on your head on the pier, that is the whole point of Brighton."

Leading architect Paul Zara, director of Conran + Partners, said Caddy is "completely wrong".

He said: "If it didn’t have the pier, the fish and chip shops, the clubs and bars by the sea alongside the businesses and universities it would be boring.

It’s not a sophisticated city, it’s a crazy place – the Pavilion sums it up."

He added: "I’m running the marathon here on Sunday and you get to see all sides of the city, and seeing the Pier just before the finish line is like meeting an old friend."

David Bramwell, author of The Cheeky Guide to Brighton, said the Palace Pier is as much a part of Brighton's heritage as the Pavilion, Dome and Disco Pete.

He said: "A stroll along the boards, Dolphin Derby, fish and chips, the dodgems, that's a near-perfect afternoon. What's more, the Palace Pier is a free attraction."

However, Mr Caddy's comments did receive some support with Wendy Franks, who was born on the Pier, describing the whole seafront as a blot on the landscape.

She said: "I am certainly no snob with my roots well and truly steeped in Brighton and the pier.

"This is what we are left with with. A new owner is due to take over so hopefully some dignity will be restored."

Mr Caddy's comments came following the sale of Palace Pier for £18 million to entrepreneur Luke Johnson last week.

He said his fellow Londoners viewed the city as tacky and said the seafront needed "proper restaurants, bars, shops, galleries and a decent performance venue."

But yesterday he said: "Of course there should be fish and chips and amusement arcades – it wouldn’t be a pier without this – but it should also reflect other sides of Brighton: its creative, artistic nature but also its amazing food scene, its independent businesses and its incredible heritage."


IN THE wake of Piergate, we asked the great and the good whether they agreed with Julian Caddy and what their view was on the cultural identity debate.

Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion MP: 

"Brighton is special precisely because of its diversity. 

"While on the one hand I agree that the modern, creative industries in Brighton are opening up our city to the world and the future, I also celebrate the fact that our seafront remains famous, and extremely popular, for its traditional attractions like the pier. 

"We don’t need to choose between being an innovative city and maintaining our traditions – we can do both, as we’re already doing with quite some flair."

Judy Stevens, director of Artists’ Open Houses:

"The history and culture of Brighton as a seafront destination, a place of fun, frivolity and fish and chips is something enjoyed and appreciated by everyone.

"Similarly, the city’s arts and cultural activities can be enjoyed by all, particularly where they are easily accessible. 

"I love the idea of bringing back the name of Palace Pier, respecting its history as an important feature of the city.

"Perhaps this could be a step towards a better integration between seafront and town."

David Bramwell, author of Cheeky Guide to Brighton: 

"I’m a big fan of Julian. He’s been a wonderful asset to the city since taking over as director of the fringe but personally I see the pier as a timeless seaside destination. 

"It’s part of Brighton’s heritage, like the Royal Pavilion, Dome and Disco Pete. 

"A stroll along the boards, dolphin derby, fish and chips, the dodgems, that’s a near-perfect afternoon.

"What’s more, the Palace Pier is a free attraction. 

"I’m afraid I’m from the camp that see the i360 as a “blot on the landscape”. 

"Unlike the pier, after visitors have been once, they’re unlikely to ever use it again, owing to the expense.

"Brighton thrives on the diversity of its old-school seaside charm, arts and culture, bohemian vibe, sticks of rock and a good chippy.

"Viva the Palace Pier I say."

Peter Kyle, MP for Hove

"Hove’s seafront is a brilliant example of how you can preserve heritage and have the best of the 21st century as well. 

"Brunswick and Palmeira Squares are peerless heritage areas and yet the streets behind them have amazing artisan bakers, boutique shopping and new fine dining like Market. 

"The lesson from these examples is that we need the best of heritage and modern and that you can have both in the same space. 

"Some of the Brighton and Hove experience has become tacky, maybe it always was.

"It is about making sure that we present every resident and visitor with quality. 

"Quality doesn’t have to mean gentrification or pricing people out of our city.

"I would hate that.  But placing the traditional in a modern setting is something that, as John Prescott famously pointed out, is a good thing. 

"So let’s not jettison the fish and chips or Brighton rock but let’s make ours the best and let’s think more carefully about the space we sell it in and the emphasis we give it as a city."  

Paul Zara, director of Conran and Partners architects: 

"Julian Caddy is completely wrong.

"The unique character of our city comes from its diverse nature. 

"If it didn’t have the pier, the fish and chip shops, the clubs and bars by the sea alongside the businesses and universities it would be boring. 

"It’s not a sophisticated city, it’s a crazy place – the pavilion sums it up.

"It’s great to have the tight-knit North Laine area, the magnificent squares in Kemp Town and Hove, Madeira Drive for events, the South Downs so close by – and of course the beach.

"I’m running the Brighton Marathon here on Sunday and you get to see all sides of the city and seeing the pier just before the finish line is like meeting an old friend."

Paul Kemp, director of Brighton Pride: 

"As an iconic local landmark, I certainly don’t hate the pier, but admit that as a local resident I only really go when I have friends visiting for a bit of seaside fun.

"It would be great to see the facilities improved and upgraded to have a wider appeal to locals throughout the year. 

"There’s a great opportunity to build on the success of the pier, honouring some of its seaside tradition and history but also reflecting on Brighton culturally and to diversify the offering and move forward. 

"As partners of Pride, I know the pier team has some great ideas and will be excited about the developments."

Selma Montford, secretary of the Brighton Society:

"I do not think it is either/or. Brighton has long been a city of contrasts.

"If you do not like the scruffy seafront and the Palace Pier, then go to the beautiful formal squares and crescents and the good-quality restaurants. 

"Brighton has always been a city of contrasts growing in close proximity to each other.

"Look at the old photos of Brighton’s so-called slums which developed just behind these grand squares and crescents.

"The damage being inflicted on Brighton which worries me greatly at present is the spread of aggressive graffiti.

"Please put your work to this threat to our city, Julian Caddy."

Glyn Jones, chairman of the West Pier Trust:

"I think it’s an elitist view of what Brighton should be and couldn’t be further from the truth.

"It’s rather snobbish to say the Palace Pier is tacky but in fairness lots of people from all kinds of backgrounds come down here all the time.

"One of the reasons Brighton does so well is because it caters for all tastes on high and lows incomes.

"And the point is Brighton will always be successful because it has the ability to combine the old with the new, whereas other seaside towns aren’t as good at that."

Broadcaster and Stonewall founder member Simon Fanshawe: 

"I don’t agree with Julian at all. The whole point of Brighton is that it is a combination of a lot of things.

"I said when we were going for city status, if Brighton was a stick of rock it would not have the same word running through it.

"One minute you could be listening to classical music at the Dome, the next have your pants on your head on the pier – that is the whole point of Brighton.

"The pier is great. It is a very successful business and it makes a lot of profit."

Author Sir Anthony Seldon, former head of Brighton College:

"Brighton and Hove is one city and we always need to remember that.  The sea-facing city and the inland city thrive when they work seamlessly together.

"The seafront now needs massive investment to repair the damaged heritage and to innovate massively. 

"The city has thrived in the past when it has been bold and brave. We need to be Britain’s first 21st century seaside town, which is also grounded in its historic and unique parts."

Wendy Franks, who was born on the pier: 

"Having been been born on the pier, where my parents had been traders for 40 years up to 1984, I have a real affinity with the pier.

"I have to agree that the pier and in fact the entire seafront has become a blot and I am certainly no snob with my roots well and truly steeped in Brighton and the pier. 

"I actually don’t blame Noble for the transformation from beautiful Victorian pier to amusement arcade. I blame the council. 

"They could have ensured the theatre was rebuilt. They didn’t have to allow the rides to be built in its place. 

"The theatre also had bar areas and coffee shop upstairs. The restaurant in the middle was lost and replaced with little or no original features."  

Councillor Lee Wares

"It is rare that something or someone will provoke rage in me.

"When Julian Caddy talks so dispassionately and in derogatory terms about my, our, beloved Brighton and Hove, I take it no differently than if it were a verbal assault on my family.

"Brighton and Hove is about history and heritage, antiquities and quirkiness blended with the new and shiny, the steel and glass. 

"It is about the weird and wonderful, the kiss-me-quick hats, the candy floss and chips on the pier – Palace Pier that is. Our city is unique.

"Thank goodness for Primark. Blessed are we that coachloads of visitors wish to come to see us.

"Since when has a three-star Michelin restaurant been the bench mark?

"Thankfully, we have many small restaurants, some tucked away in alleys serving fantastic food that leave me feeling full, with money left."