Our council lacks bite, Hover's bovver, Magic moments

The new system of local government in Brighton and Hove certainly has teething problems - it hasn't got any teeth.

When councillors appointed a one-party cabinet last year, it was essential that decisions were looked at carefully through an independent authority. An elaborate system of scrutiny boards was set up, but so far they've been little more than talking shops.

What we need is for people behind projects like the London Road traffic management scheme and those responsible for poor housing repairs to come along and be quizzed frankly, but fairly, on how they can be improved.

It hasn't happened and for that reason there's disquiet about just how democratic the new cabinet system is proving to be.

Now councillors are planning to toughen up the process by putting cash and officials into it, making it more like hard-nosed select committees operating at Westminster.

They must make sure it works and the public is properly involved. Without proper scrutiny, the cabinet system will be at best flabby and at worst downright dictatorial.

Hover's bovver

It's disappointing Hoverspeed won't start running services across the Channel from Newhaven to Dieppe again until mid-April, many weeks later than expected.

That will mean a break of almost three-and-a-half months, when last autumn the company had announced a virtual year-round service.

Hoverspeed has worked wonders with the route after P & O Stena pulled out, saying it had made huge losses.

But this delay is a worrying reminder of the bad old days. Let's hope it's just a blip and not a sign of things to come on this vital link to France.

Magic moments

Comic magician Tommy Cooper made Eastbourne his second home before his untimely death.

Now there's a campaign in the town for a statue to be erected in memory of the much-loved entertainer.

Backing this movement is Tommy's niece, Sabrina Light, who runs a joke shop in the town. But conjuring up the cash needed for his memorial will need all the magic they can muster.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.