Brighton & Hove
wWw – To access the Brighton & Hove Speakers’ Corner website, please click here.
Though Bristelmestune was mentioned in the Domesday Book, it was not until the mid eighteenth century that Brighton gained recognition when a local doctor began prescribing seawater as a restorative. When the Prince Regent visited in 1783 and subsequently made Brighton his favoured leisure destination, commissioning the construction of the famously exotic Royal Pavilion four years later to serve as a palace by the sea, the former fishing village became a fashionable resort for the wealthy.
The coming of the railway in the mid nineteenth century made it accessible to ordinary Londoners. The arrival of the London and Brighton Railway in 1841 brought Brighton within the reach of day-trippers from London and in the course of the century its population increased from around 7,000 to over 120,000.
Brighton’s West Pier was opened in 1866 and closed in 1975 since when many restoration plans have been proposed but never implemented. The Palace Pier was built in 1899 and remains a tourist attraction.
Today Brighton lives up to its reputation as a centre for artists, intellectuals, bohemians. Its white stuccoed terraces are highly fashionable and in demand but the city has a very mixed population with major housing estates in Moulsecoomb, Bevendean, Coldean and Whitehawk and elsewhere.
SCT conducted a wide-ranging consultation among potential stakeholders over the summer of 2012 and, in December, a Speakers’ Corner Committee was establishedto take the project forward. Two initiatives are already in hand. The first will see links developed with the Brighton Festival in May and the second provides an opportunity for SCT to develop a model for consultation which will add an important new dimension to the Speakers’ Corner initiative.
Developing A Vehicle for Consultation
SCT is collaborating with the Workers’ Educational Association, the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education. The WEA has developed a free five-week course designed to help adults (particularly from ‘hard-to-reach’ groups) understand better how their local democratic system works, how they can participate or intervene in it and how to acquire the basic skills they need to become confident and effective advocates for themselves and their communities.
Running alongside the WEA course, the initiative will be designed to help the community come together to identify and prioritise issues, select and coach their own advocates and at the end of the exercise create a ‘Speakers’ Corner’ at which, on their own ground and according to their own agenda, they can set out their ideas, concerns and aspirations and seek engagement with key local decision-makers.
It is hoped that, if the trial is successful, it will lead to the development of a new vehicle for consultation which can be used elsewhere, either as a feature of Speakers’ Corner projects or independent of them.
Speakers’ Corner’s New Website
With thanks to Democratic Society’s Susie Latta, the project has its very own and very stylish website which is generously hosted by DemSoc and will provide news, updates and a bulletin board as well as a first point of contact for Brighton & Hove Speakers’ Corner and its initiatives and events.
Speakers’ Corner will be making its first appearance at CityCamp 3, a free event spread over three venues and three days from 22 to 24 March “for people who are passionate about our city and want to find new ways of doing things”.
The third annual CityCamp will provide people from every area of life including community groups, digital professionals, council employees and education professionals with an opportunity to share issues, problems, solutions, skills and ideas about how to make the city a better place.
And at 3.30 pm on the first day, a special Speakers’ Corner is being set up in the Sallis Benney Theatre so that everyone has a chance to express a view on the future of the city – or anything else they want to their fellow citizens to hear.
Speakers’ Corner at the Brighton Festival
In a series of eight 25 minute sessions, speakers invited the audience to discuss a range of topics from the merits of co-operation, equity and sharing as the bases for both economic success and personal fulfilment and the business case for a living wage to the needs of older people in the city – by way of the provocative question, what’s the festival for?
The local groups and organisations introduced the topics include the Co-operative, The People Who Share, Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce, Democratic Society, the Royal Society of Arts, the Older People’s Council and Pensioners’ Association and Brighton University.