February 2016 meeting minutes

Photo:Brighthelm, North Road

Brighthelm, North Road

By Adrian Carlton-Oatley

Minutes of a North Laine Community Association meeting held on 16th February 2016


26 members attended. Apologies were received from Christine Clark-Lowes, Mitch Egan, Nick Green, Geoff Mead, Ian Pugh, Tim Read and Kathy Spencer.



The minutes of the previous meeting were approved, with a correction to Mr Jones-Mantle's name. Matters arising were dealt with as they arose during the meeting.



  • The management of Brighthelm had approved a grant to the Association in regard to the hire of the Hanover Room. In conjunction with the discount on the hiring fee, this meant that we would be paying about £22 per meeting.

  • The Chair had written to Simon Bannister (BHCC) concerning the build-up of pigeon mess in Marlborough Place, the path at the junction between Gloucester Road and Queens Road, and the graffiti (tagging) on the rear of the Post Office building, and was awaiting a response.

  • The Chair, together with Peter Crowhurst, had held a meeting with Mr N Juba, the CEO of City College, who had confirmed that the college was looking at various options for the Pelham Street site. The planning permission for the recent proposal expires in 2017. A report would be coming out in April about VIth Form provision, and until that was published the college did not know what the future held. They were selling the Preston Road site and possibly vacating the Trafalgar site as well.

  • Plans for future Residents' Meetings included a talk from Mike Gilson of the Brighton Argus in March, in April David Fisher on the James Gray photographic collection (and AGM), and in June the book-launch for the North Laine book.

  • Gabrielle Villermet was standing down as the NLCA rep on the Blue Plaque committee. The Chair thanked her for her work over the years and invited members to consider taking on this post.



The annual accounts had now been prepared and would go to the management committee for approval before being presented at the AGM. There was now a balance of about £6,000 in the bank, of which £4,000 represented pre-payment for advertising in the Runner. The questionnaire that had been included in the most recent edition of the Runner would, it was hoped, stimulate interest and enthusiasm for the NLCA and lead perhaps to increased Friends' subscriptions.



In the absence of Kathy Spencer, Kim Curran reported on preparations for the 40th anniversary party on 27th February. Tickets were available at £3 each and members were urged to purchase these during the tea interval. A new poster had been designed by Henry Bruce and members were asked to take these and display them if they were able. A number of Raffle prizes had been donated. In addition to a raffle, there would be a quiz, a prize for the best 1970s fancy dress, food, drink and a disco.

The following week would see the exhibition mounted by Peter Crowhurst in the foyer of the Jubilee Library. Peter would be grateful for offers of assistance in mounting the displays on Friday 26th February or in setting up the exhibition in the library in the morning of Monday 29th. He also asked for volunteers to act as attendants for a couple of hours each day while the exhibition was on, to talk to the public and answer questions.



  • The Chair reported that he would be attending the forthcoming LAT Chairs meeting on 3rd March.

  • The comment was made that we still have had no PCSO attendance at the Residents' Meeting. The difficulty appears to be that, though the Police are willing to send someone, because of limits on manpower they do not have anyone available at the time of our meeting.

  • It was remarked that the local PCSO has been less visible on the streets than previously.

  • Peter Crowhurst wanted to know what the current status was of the 1998 By-law which imposed summary fines for anyone persisting in making noise 'as to give reasonable cause for annoyance to other persons in the neighbourhood' after being asked to desist. The Chair promised to make inquiries at the LAT Chairs meeting.



There were no current planning matters to discuss.



Roy Skam reported his concern that now the café in North Road had obtained its licence, albeit with some restriction, it was not feasible to mount an appeal. He commented that the hearing into the application from Pelicano in Sydney Street was better conducted and, with opposition from the Police and Cllr Deane as well as ourselves, had resulted in the licence being refused.

There were no applications pending.



There were no other environmental matters reported.



There was a message from Rob Jones-Mantle that the short film on recycling that had been shown earlier in the month was now available on Vimeo. The link is vimeo.com/154372611

Ann Johnson commented that, whatever the shortcomings of the new recycling system, there did appear to be a reduction in the numbers of seagulls and allied problems in the streets.





Kim's talk focussed on the first two decades of the NLCA's existence. She included vignettes of the period from members who had been resident in the early decades.

The thing that struck her most forcibly was the wide range of people involved in the early days, all ages, with a wide range of experiences and talents. She illustrated the problems that were faced with illustrations of the plans for the monster flyover that threatened the area and also of the decayed housing stock, including the famous house in Upper Gardner Street which has a tree growing out of an upstairs window.

Glynis Simpson remembered that the area was very run down but that some houses had already been renovated showing the potential that was there. She remembered especially the street parties in Upper Gardner Street and cooking for the monthly Sunday lunch.

Kim held up Jubilee Street as an example of the council's wholesale demolition without any clear idea as to what was going to replace it: it was a makeshift car-park for thirty years. However, it is now the one ultra modern street in North Laine and, though it has its critics, adds to the variety and interest of the area.

Bobby Cheesman remembered the extraordinary friendliness of everyone in the area and the vast number of builders engaged on renovating the houses. Some of their methods were unorthodox: when the opening to a well was discovered in one kitchen, building detritus from houses all around was used to fill it in. One resident was astonished when renovation work uncovered the entrance to a cellar he did not know he had. There was a feeling of great excitement in the area and people felt they wanted to be involved and worked hard at making a go of the area.

Pauline and Paul Smith came to Tidy Street in 1977 and instantly felt at home. Paul recalled going to the pictures one evening and walking home along Gardner Street feeling that it was 'like walking back into our own village'. One of the things that makes Brighton such a great place to live is that it is made up of these very strong and diverse communities. The Smiths felt they had grown and developed as a family along with the community. Pauline recalled the time when the Council, working to remove coal-hole covers in the street, caused a large part of the pavement to collapse into the Smith's cellar and then issued them with an order to put it right. They had applied for a Council grant for this, so they were able to leave two Council departments to fight it out together.


Kim then turned her attention to the setting up of the NLCA with a picture of the first edition of the Runner. It was not strictly speaking the NLCA that 'defeated' the Council's proposals; the Council's change of heart came from a variety of reasons, most especially the work of Ken Fines.

The NLCA is all about the people involved. Kim paid tribute to some of those involved in the early years – the Drapers, Arnold Whitehouse and Lottie Kaniuk (who had made dresses for Ursula Vaughan-Williams), the Wheelers and others.

The first Street Party (in Upper Gardner Street) was in 1976 and had a look reminiscent of VE Day celebrations. Later street parties were less formal and involved entertainers such as the stilt man. Christmas lunches were a feature of the Eighties.

The NLCA logo of a row of houses was designed by Ian Sherman and dates to 1977.

Litter was a problem even then, as evidenced by a picture of a member posing in front of an array of sponsored litter bins.

The NLCA was involved in Brighton Festival events such as the mile of bric-à-brac and, in 1987, a travelling play.


Kim concluded by reminding the meeting of the work the NLCA still does and hoping that all would attend the Anniversary party on Saturday 27th February and visit the exhibition in the Jubilee Library the week following.


The meeting ended at 9.28



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