City is cleaning itself of the poorer families - Argus Friday 27th November 2015
Posted Monday 30th November 2015
By Ericka Waller
I first came to Brighton when I was 13. I remember my mum and dad giving me and brother some cash to go and get our first (and last) Wimpy.
I don't know if it was the faded seaside glamour, or the apparent lack of hair-brushes, but I fell in love at first-sight, and decided that one day, I too would wander about with an art folder and a falafel (I did know they were called that at the time).
I moved down to Brighton when I was 22, a far cry from the town I was raised in. A small town with cobbled streets, and middle-class cafes, juxtaposed against the murky canal and housing estates. Where I came from, you were either rich or poor. Either way the only place to spend your money was in the pubs. As a non-drinker there was not much for me to do except fish for Gudgeon and Perch
So when people asked me if I'd miss home, I told them ‘home’ was where I was heading, not where I had been.
Brighton may be a small city, but it packs a lot of punch. Every religion, faddish diet, trend, and music genre is catered for here, delivered by people from all over the globe.
Our people are an accepting bunch. We don't raise a pierced eyebrow to anything. Every weekend our pavements are puked on by hen and stag parties, looking to alleviate the boredom of their borders. We dodge them nod good-naturedly and toast them as they stagger by.
We host marches, rally's, raves, festivals. We have community gardens and vote green. We believe in free art, free food, free thinking.
This may all change if the Brighton council have their way though. Council staff have been advised to have "honest and open conversations" with benefit claiming families, explaining they could no longer afford to live in the city, their city.
The council have already priced car-parking in town out of most people's budget. I suppose it was only a matter of time before they moved on to their homes.
Brighton is transient place. Most of the 'middle classers' are out of towners. Moving down with their London money and Louis Vuitton luggage, pricing people out of the homes they grew up on. This scheme will affect lifeblood of the city, the people who were born and raised here.
Giuseppina Salmone, from CASE central, which advises low income residents and welfare claimants, said ““The problem is Brighton and Hove is a wonderful city because of its diversity. You have people living on nothing but who are very creative or who do things politically. But it will all be different is this continues. People can’t live in Brighton and Hove but soon it will be anywhere. If you have nowhere you can go maybe we will end up with shanty towns. I’m really scared about what is happening.”
Private landlords play monopoly with the properties, hiking rents then refusing to accept tenants receiving benefits.
What will happen to Brighton this social cleansing goes ahead?
Will the lucky elite who can afford to stay in the city club together and decide to bleach out more diversity still?
Paint all the buildings the same colour, for example, or knock down the 'eyesore' that is the old pier.
Maybe, after years of having no regional dialect, Brighton can finally have its own unique accent, one that sounds as if you have plums in your mouth. Waitrose organic ones at that.
What about the homeless people? They can't afford a house anywhere, what will the council advise them? After all, we would not them about, littering our uniform streets with their sleeping bags.
They won't fit in the socially cleansed Brighton at all. I don't think I will either.
Maybe I am getting old, and forgetting what is cool, but I don’t understand why today’s teenagers don’t wear coats? I live next to a secondary school and not one of its attendees owns any winter wear. I remember shrugging mine off my shoulders, for that casual can’t-be-bothered-with-life look, but I still wore it.
I probably even had my mittens inside it on a length of wool.
Some of the boys wore the hood up, with their arms out the sleeves, like a cape, but again, they still had one.
It is cool to be cold? Don’t their nanna’s warn them they will catch their death of cold? Chilling out is being taken to the next level. Now would be a good time for Vanilla to re-release Ice Ice baby.
Hang on, I’ve just worked it out. It’s since Frozen came out isn’t it? They are all telling themselves ‘the cold never bothered me anyway’