The big debate
A packed special meeting to discuss the future of North Laine and the community association took place at Komedia in Gardner Street on February 27, 2018.
It had several aims – to find out what people cared about in the community, what they wanted from North Laine Community Association, and to galvanise people to play a part in the organisation.
Despite snow and freezing temperatures, 75 people turned out
to contribute to the big debate.
NLCA chair Francis Clark-Lowes welcomed everyone and Kim Curran, editor of the Runner, asked the audience firstly what they like about North Laine and secondly, how can it be improved?
Main likes were the lively, friendly atmosphere and community spirit, independent shops and places to eat out, entertainment and culture, and the fact that there was so much right on our doorstep.
In a lively discussion led by Francis, people wanted to see action taken on tagging, fly tipping and anti-social behaviour, including late night noise, as well as improved traffic flow, clearing cluttered pavements, betterair quality, improvement to the railway entrance, and attracting younger people into the association.
There were calls to set up a tagging task force, organising clean-ups which would need to be monitored and maintained over a long period.
Money needs to be spent on equipment such as solvents, wipes and paint, and local hardware firms might sponsor this. A suggestion was made for the NLCA to have a tagging hotline, and for taggers who are caught to do community service to clean up the mess.
A street artist might be invited to the association’s
monthly meeting to talk about how they feel about their work being defaced by tagging, and NLCA street representatives could hold graffiti removal kits for people who needed them in their streets.
Cameras and mobile phones could be used to spot taggers in action, as police do not have the resources to keep on top of widespread tagging.
Roads and traffic
On the issues of traffic, roads and footpaths, there were proposals for wider footpaths and more one-way streets, better signage, and a reassessment of cyclists
being allowed to ride against the flow in one-way streets. Cycle paths should be clearly marked. There was a problem of cars parking on pavements, especially at the bottom of Trafalgar Street, and the position of taxi ranks.
Some felt North Laine was not appreciated as an area by those involved in planning, who should be safeguarding the special character of the area, and questions were raised about what had happened to the North Laine plan.
Councillor Lizzie Deane said if the council made decisions which did not take into account North Laine, which was the heart of Brighton, it would be to the
detriment of the whole city. If the city centre is destabilised, that would lead to the city’s destabilisation.
She said North Laine Community Association needs
support from residents to show what they value about the area and to help resolve some of its problems in a time of austerity. A petition of at least 1,125 signatures to ask for increased resources in North Laine would get this issue debated in full council.
Police and council
Police need to be in North Laine to deal with after-midnight anti-social behaviour, as they do on the seafront, and there should be more concentration on tackling late night noise. There should be staggered opening times for venues.
Councillor Pete West said he was astonished by the turnout at the meeting on such a cold night. He felt that refreshing the North Laine plan with a vision for the community would result in increased attention and help from the council and police.
Facebook and website
There were other proposals for the Facebook site to start conversations on good cafes and other places to visit, and community services that people might offer and share.
The website should increase community involvement content. The association should also play a part in representing those who live in rented accommodation.
Social events and groups
There was support for more social events such as a book club and theatre group if someone would like to organise them. A computing group could include involving younger people helping older ones to use new technology.
The association needed to gather more email addresses to communicate cheaply and effectively at a moment’s notice with as many of our members as possible.
The current mailing list using Mailchimp has 200 contacts but should aim for at least 1,000. It can be split into groups to communicate about environment/tagging/clean up days separately.
The same would apply to Facebook. Mailchimp can be set up to send information to Twitter and Facebook automatically.