Thursday, 31 December 2009

Elliot Smith barbers: A new shrine for Brighton's boutique zone

My page three feature in the Argus December 29, 2009. The story started as a brief email, handed to me by the charismatic Asst. News Ed during my week of work experience on the Argus news desk. I made the story below. He artfully created the layout to left.

A barber shop dedicated to tragic musician Elliott Smith has opened in Brighton's North Laine. Owner Ali Campbell hopes it will become one of the landmarks in the city's individualistic boutique zone.

The new shop features a wavy red, white and black graphic from the cover of Smith's 2000 album Figure Eight.

“I wanted the shop to reflect the the things I like. Hopefully, it will become a Brighton feature,” Mr Campbell said.

The quirky individualism of North Laine shops has become one of Brighton's main tourist attractions, with 300 shops, 37 cafes, 22 pubs, 4 theatres, 2 museums, and an award winning library, but little sign of the retail chains that dominate Britain's high streets.

Dirty Harry, Mods, Punk, Goth, Buddha were early themes in the North Laine. They have been joined by animal themed and eco-friendly gifts, and animal-free footwear. Specialist shops offer beads, bonsai, tattoo and piercing, guitars, frozen yoghurt and herbal supplements. Several hairdressers already serve the area, including pop-art styled The Bomb.

Mr Campbell, 27, was originally from Brighton and lives in Foundry Road, but trained as a barber in Tunbridge Wells barber shop Camden Road Barbers which has a 1950's theme. After four years experience cutting hair, he opened his shop in Brighton, Gloucester Road Barbers, on 18 September 2009. He has been a fan of Smith since 1998, and made his shop into a tribute to the man and his music.

Elliott Smith was a talented musician who had problems, and died of stab wounds in 2003 in an apparent suicide. The Figure Eight graphic originally appeared on a wall on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles. The Los Angeles wall has been turned into a memorial.

Mr Campbell said he recently found a ticket tied to his own shop sign, saying: “We miss you Elliott Smith. While Elliott Smith was quite an alcoholic, six months before the end, he cleaned himself up. It is said that his depression stemmed from child abuse.”

Inside the shop an original promotional print for the Figure Eight album is on display. The large double sided display board was printed in the USA in a run of 2,000 copies. On the reverse there is a photograph of Elliott Smith and tour dates. Mr Campbell said he was offered £400 for the print.

Elliot Smith played Brighton Concorde II as part of his 2001 tour.

Ali Campbell's top tunes from Elliott Smith:
1. No Name #2
2. Roman Candle
3. No Name #3

Gloucester Road Barbers, 98 Gloucester Road, BN14AP. Phone 01273 675956

ENDS 431 words

UK's first Cycle Counter Displays to be installed in Brighton

The Argus used my story on December 30 (left). I found this story on the Council website when researching the story about Old Shoreham Road Cycle Route scheme being stalled. My original version is below.

The UK's first Cycle Counter Displays will be installed in Brighton and Hove in 2010.

At the Environment Cabinet meeting on Thursday November 17, Brighton and Hove City Council approved the installation of the three Cycle Display Counters in prominent positions around the city. These are units that count the numbers of cyclists passing by, and display the results in large format.

Director of Environment, Veronika Moore, in her report to the Council, said: “The aim of the display is to encourage cycling by demonstrating that it is already a popular activity carried out as part of people’s daily routine. By seeing that large numbers of people are cycling it is hoped that potential cyclists will gain confidence from ‘safety in numbers’ and take up cycling themselves.”

Cycle counter displays have been successfully used in several European countries, but this will be the first time in the UK.

Statistical information gathered by the counters will also be used to inform future cycling policy.

A Cycle Counter Display uses a loop in the ground to count the number of cyclists passing a particular point and then prominently displays this information above the cycle path. The display can be configured to show several totals, for instance daily bicycle traffic and annual bicycle traffic.

CIVITAS Archimedes Project will provide funding of £52k for Cycle Counter Displays with a further £10k from Cycling England.

The European Union CIVITAS project was approved in October 2008, and provides Council with a £2.2 million grant to research and implement innovative small-scale transport projects over a four-year period.

Ms Moore said: “Involvement in the CIVITAS process provides an excellent opportunity for the council to undertake additional investment in the City’s transport infrastructure and services. The aim is to position the Council as a leader in offering sustainable transport opportunities and giving people the choice to determine what is best for them.”

The counters will be located in three prominent positions:
Seafront cycle lane, opposite the Grand Hotel.
East side of A23, edge of Surrenden Park or East side of A23, opposite Leahurst Court Road
East side of A270, opposite Moulsecomb Library

The counters will be installed at the A23 and A270 locations by March 2010 and on the seafront in early summer 2010.

Words 337
23 December 2009

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Measles: the epidemic that never happened? Or final warning

What happened to the measles epidemic that the NHS has been warning us about since 2008? We were warned of thousands of cases, because of reduced numbers of vaccinations. An outbreak started. But only 69 cases were confirmed. The outbreak happened just as levels of vaccination were increasing. Surely that's wrong? Shouldn't measles cases go down as vaccination goes up? Probably just coincidence, but I wanted to know what was going on.

Which people developed measles? Does vaccination guarantee immunity? The NHS press office avoided my questons for months, so I made a freedom of information request, and when I got the results, wrote the article below.

I submitted my story to the Argus, hoping we might work together to get comment from NHS and alternate health practitioners, and maybe develop the story into a bigger feature along the lines of "Measles - the epidemic that never happened? Or final warning?" Then the Argus published a related article following the NHS line. I was disappointed that we didn't work together on the story to get alternate views. But I'm now looking at measles outbreaks in other countries where some parts of the population don't vaccinate, such as The Netherlands. More to come!

4-Dec-2009. A child with full MMR vaccination developed measles in the outbreak in Brighton and Hove earlier this year.

Brighton and Hove PCT statistics show the measles outbreak is over, for the time being. Measles was confirmed in 69 cases by end of July, and there have been no further cases since then.

Eighty percent (56 cases) of the 69 measles cases had no record of vaccination. Seven percent had only one of the two recommended vaccination doses, and the vaccination status of the others was not known. Twenty percent of the 69 cases required hospitalisation.

One child who developed measles had received both the recommended two doses of the MMR vaccination by the fifth birthday. A Brighton parent said: “It may not be a surprise to the experts, but if you take your kid to be vaccinated I don't remember anybody saying it might not work.”

The NHS immunisation website says about MMR vaccination: “After the first dose, between 5% and 10% of children are not protected against the diseases. After two doses of MMR, less than 1% are left unprotected.”

In August this year, the Department of Health launched the MMR catch-up campaign, and Brighton health officials said thousands were at risk from a measles epidemic. They said one out of ten cases required hospitalisation, and that one in 5,000 cases could be fatal.

There were no confirmed measles cases in Brighton and Hove in 2008, before this year’s outbreak.

The low take up of MMR vaccine was blamed for the outbreak in measles cases. MMR vaccination cover fell after the MMR-autism link scare of 1998. In 2004-2005, only 56% of children in Brighton and Hove had received the double dose of MMR vaccine by their fifth birthday, compared with 73% nationally. Although the numbers of measles cases remained low, the Department of Health said that an epidemic might occur. By 2007-2008, the number in Brighton and Hove with double dose MMR had risen to 62%. Following the launch last year of the MMR catch-up campaign, the 2008-2009 figures for five year olds with double dose vaccination rose to 69%. This compares with 78% nationally.

Opinion: Cycle Rage

I submitted this article to the Argus as an opinion piece to follow up on my Cycle Injuries story. The Argus demurred, inviting Adam Trimingham to comment instead. Here's my point of view:

Cyclists are a target of road rage in Brighton. I know, because I was on the receiving end of a bit of rage the other day as I cycled home. In my opinion, the conflict is due to unclear council policy, at least in part.

Reader comments on my article "Cycle Injuries" (Argus, story below) reveal the anger that people are feeling about road use in Brighton.

The issue of cycle injuries is a growing and important one. The council is asking cyclists to be responsible citizens, and cycle to work and school, to reduce traffic and improve their health. If more cyclists are on the roads, motorists find their traditional rights are reduced. Conflict between motorists and cyclists is bound to increase, as more people are encouraged to cycle. There is a natural tendency to anger when these groups compete for the same road space.

My experience of anti-cyclist road rage happened as I cycled home on Friday, 4 December 2009, at one pm in the afternoon. The weather was fine, and road conditions good. I cycled down the Old Steine, onto the roundabout opposite the Brighton Pier. A transit style van lurched forward out of Madeira Drive, seeming to aim at a cyclist on the roundabout ahead of me. At first I thought the van had lurched in error, but I was astonished to see the driver of the van yelling at the cyclist, apparently aware of what he was doing. The cyclist seemed not to notice and continued cycling around the round about. I looked at the van driver as I cycled past. The driver, now stopped, turned his attention toward me, pulling his finger up at me, and yelling through the glass of his cab. I was shocked, since I had the right of way. Why the fury, I thought? Now I thought he had deliberately lurched forward. This all took place in the second or so that it took me to cycle past the front of the van. I pulled my bike onto the pavement just past the intersection with Madeira Drive, and stared at the driver, who continued gesticulating at me aggressively. As soon as he could, he pulled out and then stopped next to me.
He was in a rage and shouted through his window: 'Why are you not on the cycle track?"
He kept repeating this, leaning forward aggressively and shouting, while I attempted to explain that there is no cycle track around the round about, and that in any event I had a right to be on the road.
I told him that he seemed very angry, and then he lurched toward me, inside his cab, with a grim expression and bulging eyes.
I thought he wanted to attack me, so I said: "I'm just trying to find out why you are so angry, mate."
That seemed to calm him down slightly. But he continued shouting without pause, now asking me where my cycle helmet was, saying: "You are supposed to be wearing a cycle helmet, cyclists take no interest in their own safety, you are supposed to wear a florescent jacket."
Well, that's not a requirement for daytime cycling, but he was angry so I said nothing.
The rant went on. He said aggressively: "You take no interest in your own safety. Do you?"
Then he started repeating, "Do you?" each time more angrily, until I said, "I can see no point in continuing with this conversation."
He indicated his satisfaction with a grunt of dismissive words. He drove off. I was shocked. Too late, I looked for his licence number, but he was gone in the traffic.

I wondered whether to report this since I did not have a license number. I thought, if he is like this on Friday afternoon, what is he like on Saturday night? He may be a danger, and at least needs to be talked to, if not asked to take a rest from driving. So I made a police report. I phoned Sussex Police, and found that there is a website where all incidents of antisocial driving (and presumably, antisocial cycling) can be reported. I made my report, and copy the address here:

If we intend to promote cycling, we must by necessity reduce the road space and priority given to motorists. If Brighton and Hove intends to be a "Cycling City", the council needs to explain what they are doing, using publicity, so that motorists understand. They may not agree, but at least they will understand that the council is intentionally giving more space to cyclists, and it is not the wicked cyclists who are stealing the traditional right to be “king of the road” from the motorist.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Cycle injuries rise in Brighton

My story on cycle injuries (above) as published in the Argus on November 30, and (below) as I wrote it. The national stats were published on November 5, and a 19% increase in fatalities among cyclists caused consternation. I thought it would be interesting to see how Brighton compared, since we're supposed to be a "Cycling City".

Cycle casualties on the roads of Brighton and Hove increased by 6.8% this spring, but the increase was below the national average of 9%.

During the second quarter (April-June) of 2009, compared with the same period last year, cycle casualties in Brighton and Hove rose from 44 to 47, an increase of 6.8%. Department for Transport statistics for the same period showed a national increase in cycle casualties of 9% to 4,806. The total casualties for all road users fell by 2% to 55,480.

There were no fatalities among cyclists in Brighton and Hove during these two quarters, but, in the rest of the UK, the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured increased by 19% to 820.

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove Council supplied the data, and said: “At the moment we do not have data to indicate if there has been a proportionate increase in the use of cycles, which we believe to be the case.”

An increase in the numbers of cyclists on the road might be expected due to the promotion of sustainable transport within the City, and lower costs of cycling during the economic recession.

The spokesman said: “The Council works tirelessly and closely with other agencies and partners to reduce casualties on the City's streets, an example being the recent 'Brighten Up' campaign, jointly run by the Council and Sussex Police to target cyclists riding at night without lights. The enforcement side led to 116 fixed penalty notices being issued by the police and those stopped were given vouchers to collect free cycle lights from the Council.

“The responsibility for making the City's streets safer to use rests with all road user types. It is a shared responsibility and until everybody accepts that and does their bit to address road safety, instead of blaming everybody else, we will never be able to significantly impact on the unacceptable carnage on our roads.”
ENDS 318 words
26 November 2009

THE ONLINE version of this story has readers comments attached, which give a vivid picture of the growing conflict between motorists and cyclists in the UK. More people are cycling. It enrages motorists. See what I mean by taking at a look at the comments on my online story:
Cycle Casualties link.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Swine flu vaccination starts in Brighton and Hove

Swine flu vaccination programme starts in Brighton and Hove
15-11-09. Priority patients in Brighton and Hove received an invitation to be vaccinated against swine flu over the weekend.
The invitation, received on Saturday November 14, was sent to patients who have the greatest risk of complications if infected by swine flu.
The number of vaccine doses in the initial delivery will be limited, and the vaccinations will be given on a first come, first served basis, to those invited by their GP practice.
It is not known when the next deliveries of vaccine will be received.
A Department of Health leaflet said the priority groups are: those with a long-term health condition; pregnant women; and those living with people who have immune system problems, such as cancer sufferers.

How serious is the Swine Flu Pandemic?
On November 12, the NHS said that new cases of swine flu in the UK fell by 24% to 64,000 cases, down from 84,000 the week before.
The number of people needing hospital treatment remained high, with 785 patients in hospital, including 173 receiving critical care.
The UK has also seen 28 more deaths related to swine flu, raising the total to 182: 124 in England, 33 in Scotland 14 in Wales and 11 in Northern Ireland.
Governments throughout the world have taken swine flu very seriously, remembering flu pandemics in 1918, 1957 and 1968, when millions of people died across the world. The UK’s September revision of planning assumptions for swine flu cut the estimated death toll in a worst-case scenario from 65,000 to 19,000, assuming that 30% of the population is infected.
But so far, most cases of swine flu have been mild. Only a small number have led to serious illness, and these have often been in patients with existing health problems, such as cancer, that already weakened their immune systems.
Antiretroviral drug Tamiflu is being used to treat swine flu (also known as H1N1 after the virus that causes the disease). This may not be necessary - in its latest advice, the NHS says many people with swine flu only get mild symptoms, and they may find bed rest and over-the-counter flu remedies work for them.

Adverse Reactions to Swine Flu Vaccines
The NHS says swine flu vaccinations are safe, and the European Commission has licensed them, but adverse reactions have been reported.
The Department of Health’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MRHA) said it had received 188 reports of 460 suspected adverse reactions to the swine flu vaccines by November 5.
None were fatal, and most were non-serious injection site reactions such as pain, swelling, and redness, or the minor adverse effects of many vaccines, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness muscle pain, fever, fatigue, headache, and swollen glands.
All adverse reactions are reported, even if they are only suspected, and the MRHA emphasised that the vaccine may not be the cause of the reaction reported.
The two vaccines in use in the UK are Celvapan and Pandemrix.
The MRHA said: “The balance of benefits and risks for Celvapan and Pandemrix remains positive.”
The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) issued licences to both Celvapan and Pandemrix under ‘Exceptional Circumstances’, when swine flu became a pandemic claiming lives. The EMEA says it has not yet been possible to obtain full information about the vaccines. The vaccine manufacturers will collect safety information while the vaccines are being used.
More information:

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Fuming: Lewes Road clean air movie

10-11-2009. A campaign video about air pollution and road traffic along the Lewes Road was premiered on Tuesday November 10, at a meeting of the Lewes Road for Clean Air (LRCA).
The documentary, called ‘Fuming’, featured interviews with residents, and a cyclist-eye view of a trip along the road. It also showed LRCA members taking a survey of traffic, and suggesting public transport and cycling as alternatives to travelling by private car.
Speaking after the screening, Duncan Blinkhorn of LRCA said: “Levels of nitrogen dioxide continue to exceed the acceptable limit.”
Mr Blinkhorn said over 1,200 cars per hour drive up and down the Lewes Road, three quarters of these are private cars, and 60% of private cars carry only one passenger.
Alison Baldasare, a Traffic Planner from Brighton and Hove City Council, told the meeting about the Journey On Campaign to encourage people to consider alternatives to private car.
Chris Szczerba, of cycling courier company The Bike's The Business, said: ‘Unless the cycle lanes are sorted, you won’t get people on their bikes.”
Ian Davey, a Green councillor, said a modal shift was needed to get people out of their cars. “It’s not a question of money, nor of science and technology, it’s a question of political will,” he said.
The meeting was held at the Salvation Army Brighton Congress Hall.
Lewes Road for Clean Air: Tel 07944152706, or Facebook ‘Lewes Road for Clean Air’.
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Mantra: Eastern prayer calls and Latin Mass

09/11/2009. A lofty, eastern call to prayer soars out over the harmonic resonance of a Latin choral mass. The voice swells into the vast inner space, without score or amplification. Our spirits rise with the mantra.
Friday night’s performance of Mantra brought together eastern and western religious song, in one melody, in a church in the heart of Brighton. The blend was at times mesmerising, at times inspirational. The pure sound of the human voice can transcend our human reality. How fitting to marry the sacred music from east and west, in this time of conflict.
Mostly, this experiment in musical fusion was enchanting, as in songs like Tabla Tallum. At times, the marriage seemed a little forced, as in Bhangara Limo, where Latin chant is set to Bhangara beat.
Mantra is a collaboration between the Orlando Consort singers, and three British Asian musicians: Kuljit Bhamra, a pioneer of the Bhangara phenomenon, Jonathon Mayer on sitar, and Shahid Khan, a singer of the Patiala Gharana (a Gharana is a musical tradition under a guru). The BREMF singers provided massed choral support.
The performance took place in the large, austere, brick-vaulted St Bartholomew’s Church. The church, the audience in their winter fleeces, the eastern musicians in dark robes, with sitar and tabla drums, and the ranks of choral singers, were a visual spectacle.
At one point, fireworks lit up the stained glass rose above a giant painting of a crucified Christ, which hangs between towering organ pipes from the southern facade of the cavernous church.
Many of the hundred or so audience took advantage of the £5 floor seating. Those were probably the best seats, anyway, being right in front of the performers.
The event was friendly and accessible, with performers and audience mingling after the encore. The church was warm enough, and there was a temporary bar, serving red and white wine by the glass.
During breaks in the performance, Kuljit Bhamara talked about the tabla drum and the gharana system of musical training, while Angus Smith talked about the inspiration for Mantra.
The PA system in the church echoed. This echoing didn’t affect the music, which wasn’t amplified, but it did make it hard to follow the talking parts. Some of the lights were too bright from where I sat. The fireworks were part of bonfire night, and might have interfered with the BBC’s recording of the event, but none of this seriously damaged my enjoyment.
Mantra was performed on Friday November 6, one of a series of concerts in the Brighton Festival of Early Music (BREMF) concerts. BREMF’s next event will be the Christmas Vespers, Saturday 5th December, 7:30 pm, in Saint Barts. Church.
More info
448 words

Cyclist injured in Redhill

02-11-2009. A cyclist was injured in a collision with a motorist who pulled out in front of her.

Loiusa Hannah, 47,a lecturer at Brighton’s Journalist Works, was hospitalised following the collision, while cycling along Bushfield Drive, Whitebushes in Redhill, at 4.30pm on Monday 26 October.
Ms Hannah said: “I was cycling home from work, along a quiet road. There was a red car on the left at the junction with Denton Close. I thought she had stopped, but she pulled out and turned left. I swerved but she hit my bike or wheel, and I wobbled and fell. She admitted she hadn’t seen me.”
Surrey Police confirmed the report of a road traffic collision. Tony Campbell, Surrey Police Press Officer said: “The incident involved a lone cyclist and a red Suzuki Baleno. The cyclist received minor leg injuries and required hospital treatment. No crime number was created, so as things stand no charges will be brought against either party.”
A bicycle brake lever pierced Ms Hannah’s thigh. She was taken by Ambulance to East Surrey Hospital, and released at 11:45pm.
“I was in a panic. There was a lot of blood. I pulled the brake lever out of my thigh. My reaction was just to get the thing out,” said Ms Hannah. “I don’t know who the driver was, I taken away in an ambulance. I might have to claim for damage to my bike and loss of earnings. It was a sunny afternoon, on a quiet road, no reason at all for her not seeing me.”
Ms Hannah said: “In this case, the driver wasn’t looking. But there’s a problem with the lack of a cycleway. Along here you get a bit of cycle track, then you’re back on the road. You’ve no choice but to be on the road. I’ve often thought there would be an accident. But I’m not giving up cycling.”
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UK press told to stop demonising children

05.11.2009. Stop demonising young people and become champions of child rights instead, trainee journalists were told in Brighton last week.
Rys Farthing, a lecturer in human rights, and Simon Flacks, a child rights officer from Child Rights Information Network (CRIN), made the call in a lecture at the Journalists Works training centre, Brighton, on 5th November 2009.
Ms Farthing said: "There is a moral panic in the UK, where children are demonised as a group to be feared.
“There is a ‘binary vision’, where children are seen as either angels or demons, not as the real people that they are. Discrimination against young people is no different to discrimination based on race or disability.”
Ms Farthing highlighted the media’s obsession with children as victims or criminals.
Last year, a UN committee criticised the UK for negative attitudes towards children, including their portrayal in the media. Such negative portrayal can lead to further infringement of rights, the committee said.
Ms Farthing said that 'panic lead' policies such as ASBO's and Youth Dispersal Zones, and the use of high-pitched sound emitting devices to control young people, were discriminatory.
Positive examples of journalism were also cited, such as The Sun/NSPCC campaign to stop child abuse, and the New Statesman’s ‘No Place for Children’ campaign. The press campaign that followed in the wake of the death of Victoria ClimbiĆ© was credited with helping to prompt the “Every Child Matters’ policy in UK government.
Journalists were urged to become champions of Children’s Rights. They were asked to look behind the stereotypes and to promote positive images, to bear witness to injustice, to involve children in their work as witnesses, and to promote the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The trainees were handed copies of the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRE) publication ‘Another Perspective’, which makes a detailed call to action to journalists to alter the media portrayal of children and childhood.
For more information:
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Thursday, 19 November 2009

October 22, 2009. Cycling without lights at night is the target of a road safety campaign in Brighton and Hove.
The campaign, dubbed ‘Brighten Up’, involves patrols of Brighton and Hove City Council Officers, and Police Community Support Officers. It started this week with advice, and an offer of free lights, but will get tough next week when £30 fixed penalty notices will be issued.
The Council’s Road Safety Manager Phil Clarke said: ”So far this year 117 cyclists have been injured, 20 of them seriously, an increase on last year. Being visible plays a significant part in keeping cyclists safer on the roads.”
Tonight at 6.30pm, a patrol of Council and Police Officers were on London Road, stopping cyclists without lights. They gave safety advice, and offered to supply free lights and reflective equipment, provided the cyclists gave their contact details, and came to a police station to pick the equipment up.
They also told the cyclists that from Monday 26th October, they would receive fines for cycling without lights at night.
An officer on the patrol said that the reaction from cyclists had been positive.
The team stopped Romilly, of Kemp Town. He had a light, but it was faulty. He said: “I spent a lot of money buying lights that don’t work. It’s dangerous to cycle without lights, and motorists get angry. I always wear high vis clothing. I’m not against the fine, but it should be reduced. It would be better to confiscate the bike and give it back when you show you have bought the lights.”
It is an offence to use a pedal cycle without lights at night or in reduced visibility.
For more info:

Cycle Road deaths

A Green councillor called for "zero tolerance to child deaths on the road," as the possibility of 20 mph speed limit for Brighton and Hove came one step closer.
Green councillor Ian Davey made the call as a "scrutiny panel" to investigate the issue, was set up on Monday 9 November. He said that a number of UK cities are imposing 20 mph zones in large chunks, instead of a piecemeal approach. He said that Portsmouth has already done this, and early results show traffic and casualites are reduced.
The panel will look at the possibility of establishing the speed limit in residential areas of the city, and will consist of four councillors, one from each of the parties, with council officer support.
The decision follows the October 8 vote of Brighton and Hove City Council, after councillors were told that thirteen children and 141 adults were killed or seriously injured on the city streets during 2008-9.
The council voted to refer the matter to its Environmental Community Safety Overview Scrutinee Committee (ECSOSC), which in turn, made Monday's decision to set up the panel.
The matter will now be examined in detail, before recommendations are given to Council.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Red House during Brighton's White Night

Don’t be alarmed: no buildings were harmed during the making of this blog. I took the photo during Brighton's White Night Festival on 23 October 2009. Animated images were projected onto the Unitarian Church in the centre of town. The image of a red, blood-like substance flowing over a symbol of classical civilisation seems an appropriate motif for my journalistic voyage, capturing as it does the contradiction of pure ideal and messy reality, inherent in the media, and in our society as a whole.

Zombies stalk ITT-EDO defence factory in Brighton

My story made the news! As published in the Argus above, as written by me, below.

Arms trade protesters paraded as 'living dead' in a Halloween stunt outside the EDO/ITT defence factory in Home Farm Road, Brighton, on Wednesday October 28, from 4pm to 6pm. 

Around 25 protesters wearing a variety of Halloween costumes made noise by banging on the steel railings along Home Farm Road, and banging on drums. They used megaphones to appeal to workers in the factory to consider the use to which their products would be put.

One protester said that the injunction preventing them from approaching the factory no longer applied, but that they still had to beware of obstructing the public highway, and of local noise regulations.

Some protesters, dressed as zombies, staggered after cars leaving the factory.

Around ten police officers observed. They did not intervene except to warn a protester not to obstruct the road. 

Veteran EDO protester John Catt was at the event. He said that people would not accept an unregulated arms industry.

John Catt and his daughter Linda Catt have been in the news since they were pulled over by antiterrorism police in London, because Sussex Police had ‘marked’ their number plate at peaceful Home Farm Road demonstrations in 1995.


Musicians will perform live on Brighton and Hove's No. 7 Bus this Friday, 9 October, in advance of the World Sacred Music Festival which commences this weekend. A special service will use an iconic “Routemaster” to pick up passengers on the No. 7 bus route from Hove to Brighton Marina. Performances will include performances Gospel singing to solo violin.

“We wanted to bring the Festival in a surprising way to people who might not normally experience it,” says Kate Whyman, artistic director. “Brighton has a very popular bus service, so this seemed a great opportunity.”

"The Festival is going ahead despite a funding crunch," says Whyman. "For the first time, the Festival has been refused funding by the Arts Council and Brighton & Hove City Council, despite meeting their criteria. Undaunted, the organisers are doing all they can to make up the shortfall, including a hundred-mile sponsored walk along the South Downs Way."

World Sacred Music Festival runs from 10-18 October 2009. Highlights include: Catalan Gypsy band Tekameli from Perpignan; Indian sitar maestro Kartik Seshadri; kora virtuoso Seckou Keita with his international quintet; Zimbabwean ‘Queen of Mbira’ Stella Chiweshe; and Brazil’s Marlui Miranda, the world’s leading exponent of indigenous Amazonian music. The festival attracted more than 3,000 people last year, say organisers.
For more info:

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The first of my stories in the Argus: Cycling!

Ruth Lumley of the Argus kindly pared down my article on cycling. You can see how skilful she is with the sub-editor's knife, when you compare with my original text, below.

Cycle scheme safety criticised by cycle lobby and Greens

Proposed Cycle Scheme Old Shoreham Road to link Brighton, Hove and Portslade
Russell Honeyman, 18 September 2009.
680 words.

Cycle lobbyists and Green councillors have criticised the proposed cycle route scheme along the Old Shoreham Road, which would connect town centres in Brighton, Hove and Portslade. They say that it will not be considered safe by the parents of school children who are expected to use the route to cycle to school, and that it is below the standard expected of Brighton and Hove as a “Cycle City”. Initial public consultations for the scheme closed last week.
Brighton and Hove’s Green party condemned the scheme as “next to useless.” In an interview on 18 September 2009, Green Councillor Ian Davey explained: “Old Shoreham road is potentially an excellent place for a ‘cycle freeway’, like that down the Drive, ie, protected by a kerb. What is needed is a high quality, two-meter wide cycle lane; most of Old Shoreham Road is wide enough for that. “
Davey said: “The scheme as proposed is not going to be adequate. Cycle lanes are too narrow and there are huge gaps. Consultation documents anticipate that 7,000 schoolchildren will use this route, that’s a lot of inexperienced cyclists, aged eleven and above. The scheme will not give parents the confidence that their children can safely cycle along this route amongst busy traffic.”
“As proposed, the scheme is a step backwards for cycling. In my opinion, (the council planners) are scared of reducing road capacity for motorised traffic, so they have been tinkering around the edges for the last decade. There are too many useless cycle provisions around the city already. It is better to do a small amount of work well, than a lot badly. It is below the standard of infrastructure if we are to live up to our status as a “Cycle City”, Davey said.
Mr Tony Green, Membership Officer of Brighton-based cycling campaign group, Bricycles, said: "We welcome any improvement for cyclists. But if it is intended to make the route safe for kids to cycle to school, then it's not up to standard." Mr Green objected that the lanes have breaks in them; that they are of varying width, being 1.2 to 1.5m wide; and that the council may find it difficult to stop (motorists) parking in the cycling lanes.
Mr Green added: "Bricycles is about to make a formal response, where we will suggest a single lane (in each direction) for cars, and a 20mph speed limit and an
adequately wide and continuous lane for cycles."
The council’s Head of Transport Planning (Sustainable Transport), Mr David Parker, was at the exhibition. He told the Argus that, at present, most cycle traffic uses the cycle route along the seafront, which is part of the National Cycle Network. This is not convenient for many inland travel routes. Brighton and Hove City Council wants more people to cycle, especially kids to cycling to school. This is not only to reduce carbon emissions, and improve air quality, but also to improve health and reduce obesity. A Personal Travel Planning campaign provides consultations across city, to develop travel plans on an individual basis. Mr Parker left the exhibition on his bike, saying 'practice what you preach."
The proposal, if successful, would see cycle lanes going in each direction along the Old Shoreham Road (A270) from Dyke Road in Brighton, via Goldstone Crescent in Hove, to Applesham Way in Portslade. Two weeks of public exhibitions about the scheme ended on Saturday, 12 September 2009. Members of the public were invited to inspect plans of the scheme, and to consult with Brighton and Hove City Council planning officers. The results of the consultation will now be considered by the Environment Cabinet, which will decide if there is sufficient support to proceed to the next stage of scheme development.

The scheme is part of Brighton and Hove's involvement in the "Cycling Towns" project, in which seventeen towns and cities will receive part of £100 million in funding being provided by Cycling England, an independent body established in 2005 by the Department for Transport.

For more information: contact Brighton and Hove City Council on 01273 290487, website

Friday, 30 October 2009

The street: Afghan war

A student project in news journalism. We had one to day to record and edit our first video news project. The news headline in the Brighton Argus that morning, was a young soldier killed in Afghanistan. We went to George Street in Hove to ask passers by whether it was time for British troops to leave Afghanistan. Of the ten people who agreed to talk to us on video, around two thirds thought it was time for troops to leave, while one third thought that that the soldiers should stay.

Car torched in Stanmer Park

I came across a burning car whilst hiking in Stanmer Park. I phoned the fire brigade, then took photos and sent them to the Argus. This story did not get published, despite my scoop. Cars are set alight quite often.

11 October 2009. A car was torched in Stanmer Park on Saturday night. The Fire Service was alerted at 7pm. A fire crew arrived fifteen minutes later, to find the car ablaze, in the car park, which is situated in a small wood at the entrance to Stanmer Park, behind the University of Sussex Sports Centre, off the Lewis Road.

The fire burned fiercely until the fire crew aimed a fire hose at the car. The fire was extinguished by 7:30pm.

A Fire Officer, who did not wish to be named, said that the fire crew had used “One in Seven foam”. He said: “Instead of using water you can stand further back, it has a faster knock down time, so it’s going to know the fire down sooner, because it smoothers as well as cools, whereas water just cools.”

Simon Hills of the West Sussex Police said that the torched car was a three-door Vauxhall Corsa. He said that matter is under investigation, but that they are treating it as ‘deliberate ignition’.
A local man, who watched the firemen extinguish the fire, said that there have been a few cars burned in the park over the years, but that this was the “first in a while.”

Zombies stalk ITT-EDO defence factory in Brighton

Arms trade protesters paraded as 'living dead' in a Halloween stunt outside the EDO/ITT defence factory in Home Farm Road, Brighton, on Wednesday October 28, from 4pm to 6pm.

Around 25 protesters wearing a variety of Halloween costumes made noise by banging on the steel railings along Home Farm Road, and banging on drums. They used megaphones to appeal to workers in the factory to consider the use to which their products would be put.

One protester said that the injunction preventing them from approaching the factory no longer applied, but that they still had to beware of obstructing the public highway, and of local noise regulations.

Some protesters, dressed as zombies, staggered after cars leaving the factory.

Around ten police officers observed. They did not intervene except to warn a protester not to obstruct the road.

Veteran EDO protester John Catt was at the event. He said that people would not accept an unregulated arms industry. John Catt and his daughter Linda Catt have been in the news since they were pulled over by antiterrorism police in London, because Sussex Police had ‘marked’ their number plate at peaceful Home Farm Road demonstrations in 1995.

Monday, 21 September 2009

A new start

a new start