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
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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.
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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