Steve supports the Synergy Centre in Brighton’s West Street campaign for an alcoholic drinks’ licence in order to fund its role as a community meeting place.
A few months ago I bumped into an old friend, well experienced in the whys and wherefores of journalism.
I suggested he looked at a dossier I had written on potential corruption and mismanagement in Brighton and added that as it was local it was undeserving of national attention.
His response made me think and, above all, led me to understand what community activity is all about.
He said everything is local which made me realise what a genuine journalist is all about – his name is Seamus Milne and someone you should read (and challenge when you wish).
The brief conversation with Seamus came to mind over the weekend when discussing the future of the Synergy Centre on West Street.
It is unlikely that most of you have even heard of the place – I hadn’t until around two months ago.
It provides good quality meeting space for community and arts groups, free of charge, in the centre of Brighton.
It has no ‘consultancy charges’, it does not rely upon local authority funding, it is independent and culturally open in the Brighton tradition.
To ensure it provides this public service it is a ‘cool’ (urgh!) and a sophisticated place of entertainment at weekends.
It does not encourage ‘heavy’ drinking but needs a licence to survive financially.
Above all this place is a community resource and a place of benefit to the locality.
The police have decided, despite having no local community presence themselves, that due to the Centre being in a “Cumulative Impact Zone” (Have you heard of such an area?) an alcohol licence must be prohibited.
A community resource risks destruction because it has been decided (by whom?) that this area should have no more premises that sell alcohol.
If you feel that politics do not have any effect on you just think!
The police may close down this centre primarily because cuts in their funding means there is nobody to understand or appreciate the presence and value of a local community resource.
The local council then refuses renewal of a licence and therefore cuts off its funding (it has none to offer from its own resources) because it tends to follow the advice of the police.
The Centre closes and the effect on hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens of Brighton is devastating.
Local, often small, decisions have a major impact on the lives of many!