Community leaders are calling for improvements to the city's mental health services, housing and transport ahead of the local elections.

Brighton and Hove Citizens, made up of 120 representatives from across the city, are calling for candidates in May’s election to support the group on issues affecting thousands of people.

The group’s key demands are to make improvements to the private rental system, make Brighton and Hove safer, address concerns around the cost of public transport, ensure all council workers earn a living wage and address the “mental health emergency” in schools and colleges.

Founded in 2019, the Brighton and Hove Citizens group is an alliance of schools, colleges, universities, unions and organisations which represents more than 50,000 people.


William Baldwin, principal at Bhasvic sixth form college in Hove, and Monique Forbes-Broomes, student engagement manager at the University of Sussex Students’ Union, co-chair the organisation.

They said: “When fewer and fewer people across our city seem to be taking politics seriously, often because they feel that their voices don’t count, our work shows that there is hope.

“We’ve built the largest and most diverse alliance of civil society organisations across Brighton and Hove.

“We have listened to over 12,000 people across our communities, in face-to-face and small group conversations, to find out what it is that people want to see happen across our city.

“Our manifesto is the most authentic manifesto this local election will see, as it is rooted in what thousands of people want.

“Our aim is to work with whoever becomes the next council leader to make sure that our very specific proposals are made reality.

“We believe that ordinary people, united together, should be at the table of power to be able to affect decisions about their lives.”

The Argus:

Shelley Baker, the headteacher at Varndean School, said that school-based counselling across the city, one of the demands of the organisation, is “long overdue”.

She said: “The current system means that students who don’t need higher-tiered support but still require more support than teachers and support staff in our schools are trained to provide are slipping through the gaps.

“We need preventative measures, not reactive ones, and young people can quickly become disempowered if this support is not available when they most need it.”

The Argus:

Brighton and Hove Citizens estimates the cost of such a roll-out would be around £2 million.

Since the group was founded, members have campaigned successfully to reinstate accessible toilets in Hove, demanded the council declare a mental health emergency, and pushed for local care and nursing home staff to be paid the real living wage.

Voters will go to the polls across Brighton and Hove to elect 54 councillors to represent the city on May 4.

In a first for the city, people will be required to show a form of photo ID to cast their vote on polling day.