Archive for the ‘Brighton’ Category

Designing cities for people not developers

April 10, 2019

What I have seen and spent what seems to be a lifetime fighting, is corrupt town halls pandering to greedy developers, fast bucks, palms greased, with result every town looks the same, the same corporate chains dominate the town centre, the same corporate chains find in every ghastly shopping centre.

This neither brings in visitors nor is popular with locals who see familiar landmarks destroyed, lose their sense of place, money is drained out of the local economy, then large chains close, go bust, expanded on debt, leaving behind desolation, as we have seen with BHS, House of Fraser, Debenhams and many other zombie companies kept afloat by their banks.

Corrupt town planners who have not a clue what constitutes good town centre planning or how local economies function love big development. Big development lots of money sloshing around, some of which finds its way into the wrong pockets.

A few examples illustrates failure of good town centre design and planning.

Sincil Street runs parallel to the High Street in Lincoln. A street of Victorian buildings, local indie businesses, or was. Up until a few years ago, Sincil Street between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon was busier than the High Street, the High Street the same corporate chains find anywhere and everywhere. Now Sincil Street is being destroyed, the local council acting in cahoots with the local coop, local businesses driven out, chains brought in, Victorian building destroyed.

Enter the picture Lincoln BIG and Visit Lincoln. Both are hyping the chains, it gets worse Visit Lincoln being paid to do so.

Many towns now have businesses development groups, accountable to no one, act for and controlled by big businesses, not one vote per business, based upon the size of local business tax.

Experience Guildford employs Town Rangers, no one knows what purpose they serve other than to deliver a glossy A4 newssheet to local businesses which goes straight in the bin. They also subsidise the town centre car parks at Christmas, the one time of the year when the car parks are full to overflowing.

Latest examples of Lincoln BIG, take selfies and post on instagram, install an app that has access to data on phone and if use default facebook log in access to facebook data and that of friends

Ask any local businesses what is killing them. High rents, high local business taxes. The local coop owns the properties hikes the rents, Lincoln BIG exacts a levy on top of the local business taxes. Local businesses see no benefits.

Visit Lincoln masquerades as a tourism body, acts as a quasi-PR agency, is paid to hype the corporate chains moving into and destroying the character of Sincil Street.

Fake-Left Guardian had an article describing the dire state of Sheffield. The local council responded with eight tweets, big development taking place, corporate chains listed, same chains find anywhere. The same Sheffield City Council that destroyed thousands if not tens of thousands of street trees, harassed and criminalised protesters.

Empty two-coach Northern Fail train Lincoln to Sheffield, hour and twenty minutes only starts to fill as nears Sheffield passing through small towns like Worksop, making the point, not worth visiting for corporate chains find anywhere.

One of the chains mentioned, 200 Degrees, a small coffee chain serving mediocre coffee, the same chain hyped by Visit Lincoln and Lincoln BIG.

Oh the irony, when Sheffield has a thriving coffee scene and 200 Degrees empty.

In Sheffield Union St, coffee shop, co-working space, pop up kitchen, community hub located in an occupied building, Now Then, an interesting magazine, supported by local community and local businesses, published by a not-for-profit.

Farnborough destroyed half its town centre for a superstore, an estate of social houses surrounded a grassy green destroyed for the car park. A 17th century inn destroyed for a drive-thru McDonald’s.

Wastegate, chain eateries and a superstore on the edge of Aldershot town centre, destroyed the town centre now boarded-up retail units and the chain eateries pulling out from Wastegate.

In the centre of Guildford Tunsgate Quarter, a sterile shopping centre, boarded-up units, same crap cooperate chains find in every ghastly shopping centre across the country, devoid of people. The only use, provides a handy short cut. One of the crap corporate chains Cosy Club, a fake 1930s bar, so fake a Monty Python parody of fake, Visit Guildford promoted on twitter over a dozen times.

Contrast with North Laine in Brighton, three long streets, similar Victorian street scene as Sincil Street in Lincoln, local indie businesses, butcher, baker cheesemonger, bookshops, music shops, coffee shops, restaurants, worker coops, not a chain in sight, always busy.

When all places look the same they become soul destroying, we lose our sense of place, alienation sets in.

We need to green our cities, protect our existing green spaces.

In Farnborough they are destroying the remaining green space for development, in Sheffield tens of thousands of street trees have been cut down.

City centres should be pedestrianised, delivery vehicles park on the periphery, deliver by hand cart and trolley.

Cities generate data, the data should be used as a common good. Citizens may consent to access to their data receiving benefits in return, the data randomised and made available to local businesses.

The city should support and encourage local businesses and local coops, encourage to network with each other

Citizens need to seize control of their local Town Halls, open to public participation, network with other citizen-controlled Town Halls. No more one party states.

There is not a conflict with locals and tourists. There is only conflict when lose businesses serving locals and replace with businesses selling overpriced tourist tat, when AirBnB moves in, rents are hiked, but that is a problem of over-tourism lack of regulation, rather than tourism per se.

At the time of the English Civil War, the Diggers asked the question: who owns the space? The space they were asking of was land, who owns the land?

They saw God created Man and Woman as equal, the land was owned by everyone and no one, it was a common wealth. 

The question is as pertinent today. Who owns the space, who owns the public parks, public space, the empty buildings, the data we generate?

Space is not static, something to be owned. It is dynamic, only has meaning if used, lived on, shared, enjoyed. Derelict buildings we must occupy, put to use on behalf of the community, fight the loss of community space.

Vegan fundamentalists spread twisted lies targeting Hisbe yet again

January 23, 2019

It is a tragedy that vegan fundamentalists have once again targeted ethical food store Hisbe.

Several days ago vegan fundamentalists occupied Hisbe, harassing staff and customers. They were subsequently banned from the store.

Now, in what appears to be an act of desperation, they have resorted to spreading lies on social media to tarnish the reputation of Hisbe.

What they claim about a bloodied pig is very easily verified or shown to be untrue. All animals have to be tracked, as any reputable butcher will be able to confirm.

Hisbe

Your information is incorrect – our pork products come from pigs raised on a farm in Mayfield, and our pig farmer has not transported pigs to Tottingworth or anywhere else today.

No idea what farm this pig is from or what retailer buys their products.

We also don’t use the phrase “Ethical Meat”, never have.

Please stop twisting our messaging and spreading misinformation.

From where is the bloodied pig from, where is it headed, whence the final destination?

Easily checked as all animals have to be tracked.

But hey, who cares about facts when vegan fundamentalists waging a vendetta against Hisbe?

I would not disagree that RSPCA Red Tractor a marketing brand, nothing more and welfare standards should be much higher.

A bit like the FairTrade scam to make Middle Class feel good, a marketing exercise nothing more.

And yes we should be concerned about a bloodied pig, question the how and why. It may have simply caught its ear.

But none of this justifies criminal harassment of Hisbe.

Hisbe is setting the standards for ethical retailing, zero waste, partnerships with quality producers.

Once again is begs the question, why are these vegan fundamentalists not targeting McDonald’s, KFC, halal kebab outlets, anywhere that is using fast growth animals, reared in inhumane conditions?

Vegan quasi-religious fundamentalists target Hisbe

January 14, 2019

An act of unbelievable crass stupidity when vegan quasi-religious fundamentalists target Hisbe, an ethical food store.

Where next, Infinity Foods, a workers cooperative? Maybe not, Infinity Foods bake vegan cakes and where would we be without vegan cakes?

Maybe do something useful, target and shut down McDonald’s or a halal kebab shop.

Or try targeting M&S or Waitrose for wrapping fresh produce in plastic.

Lunch and cappuccino in Coffee at 33

November 25, 2018

On a cold misty mid-week in Brighton last week a little detour to Blend and Brew Brighton, then retrace my steps and down to the seafront.

It was then back to North Laine.

Infinity Foods Kitchen, I did not fancy, Iydea was not good either, and has not been good all year.

I looked in Magazine Brighton, then to Coffee at 33.

The filled rolls looked excellent, and as I was still hungry from my half eaten lunch at Iydea, it was a filled roll and a cappuccino.

Both were excellent.

My friend Georgia chose hot chocolate.

Coffee at 33 was where I would have eaten had I not walked down to and along the seafront.

Blend and Brew Brighton

November 21, 2018

An excursion from Brighton Station to Blend and Brew Brighton.

I have not found open on previous visits to Brighton. Barely little more than a kiosk.

Coffee not great, it was not worth the excursion.

They are going to move into opposite corner vacated by Trafalgar Books and open a coffee shop which will be open on weekends.

I assumed only open in the morning to catch commuters, but open until four o’clock.

Blend and Brew Brighton roast their own coffee in Italy which explains a lot as Italy infamous for bad coffee.

The row of syrups on the back wall says it all.

Featured in The Independent Brighton & Hove Coffee Guide.

Cold misty mid-week in Brighton

November 21, 2018

A cold day. Warm in the sun walking to station to catch a train to Gatwick, but at Gatwick, no sun, very cold.

Train at least running to Gatwick, in contrast with Monday evening. But train I wished to catch Gatwick to Brighton cancelled.

1212 Gatwick Express to Brighton running, but wifi not working.

An excursion to Blend and Brew Brighton. I have not found open on previous visits to Brighton. Barely little more than a kiosk. Coffee not great, it was not worth the excursion.

They are going to move into opposite corner vacated by Trafalgar Books and open a coffee shop which will be open on weekends.

I had assumed only open in the morning to catch commuters, but open until four o’clock.

Had I not walked down to and along the seafront, I would have had a coffee and lunch at Coffee at 33 or maybe lunch at The Longhouse (though not coffee as only fake milk).

Looked in The Plant Room. I thought did lunch, but no.

The unattractive exterior and its location, belies the open airy interior. Coffee supplied by Allpress.

The coffee to be tried on a future visit to Brighton.

It was then back to North Laine.

Looked in Infinity Foods Kitchen, did not fancy.

Iydea, very poor choice, very poor compared with weekends. Maybe because now mid-day. Chose best of a poor choice. It looked as though been sitting there since lunchtime. A big mistake It was not good. It would have better to have walked back to Infinity Foods Kitchen.

Lunch has has always been excellent at Iydea, something to look forward to. But not this year. It has gone rapidly downhill.

Looked in Magazine Brighton.

Then to Coffee at 33. Filled bread roll and cappuccino. A mistake, I should have had V60 and a filled bread roll. Filled bread roll excellent, brie, pesto and tomato toasted.

Walked to Hisbe and picked up a few things.

V60 at Pelicano.

Time to catch a train, but instead walk back to the seafront via North Laine and The Laines.

The Pier closed, in darkness.

Hungry, maybe eat at Bom Banes in Kemptown. Full.

Back through North Laine and catch Gatwick Express to Gatwick.

Walking home, hard frost on the cars. Weather forecast for tonight, could go as low as minus six.

— to be continued —-

Cappuccino Coffee at 33

November 5, 2018

A cappuccino in Coffee at 33.

Very busy lunchtime. Usually I visit towards the end of the day.

Excellent cappuccino.

Cappuccino at Pelicano

November 5, 2018

I look in Pelicano before late lunch at Iydea.

They have changed the frontage. And not for the better.

Too busy to stay.

I will save as last port of call before catching my train.

Now dark, no one about.

Excellent cappuccino and coffee cake. Too large a portion for one, sufficient for two people to share. They pop in a box for me to takeaway.

Hisbe

November 5, 2018

Serendipity I chanced upon Hisbe.

Only fake milk in The Longhouse, owner suggests I try nearby supermarket for a coffee with real milk.

Perplexed by her suggestion, I went in search of a supermarket serving coffee.

I find HISBE serving coffee from Coffee at 33.

A  downmarket version of Infinity Foods, or as they would term it, a radical alternative to Infinity Foods.

I had only just had a cappuccino at Coffee at 33, and therefore did not try the coffee.  A little area set aside for coffee, including cakes.

How radical? An open coop, accept faircoin?

Where Infinity source organic, HISBE source local, though may also be organic.

I have never been impressed by the quality of fresh produce in Infinity Foods. Quality at HISBE comparable to what I find on a good market.

HISBE, How It Should Be, minimise waste.

Grains, nuts, cereals, empty from a chute into a bag or your own container. Different liquids, for example shampoo, bring and fill your own own bottle.

I would have liked to have seen more nuts, more dried fruits, and bars of chocolate, chocolate coated nuts, as I see in Athens and on local markets in Athens.

It is more than reducing waste, supporting local seasonal producers, paying a fair price, selling at a fair price.

It is how your local supermarket should function, a  partnership with local producers and the local community.

Not as the big corporate supermarkets function, screw the suppliers into the ground, intimidate suppliers that they dare not speak out at the widespread industry malpractice, screw the customers, fake offers, buy one get one free, everything excessively shrink wrapped in plastic, piss poor service.

Contrast with Waitrose or failing M&S, who talk the talk but the talk is greenwash and bullshit, fresh produce wrapped in plastic.

I tried fermented green tea from Old Tree Brewery. Smells of rotting apples, tastes of apple juice.

There are many quality independent businesses in Brighton, be they food stores like Grocer and Grain, Infinity Foods, HISBE, restaurants like Iydea, Infinity Foods Cafe, or coffee shops like Coffee at 33, Gazed, Pelicano.  What they should now be doing is looking at how they can create their own cooperative  network, and one way is through creation of a North Laine local currency and through a digital currency such as faircoin.

The supermarket I visited was on London Road. There are plans to open more across Brighton. The London Road store was seed funded via crowdfunding.

The Longhouse

November 4, 2018

On my last visit to Brighton I found The Longhouse, but closed for renovation.

I decide to revisit.

Plant based should have set warning bells, a vegan place.

A cappuccino, not possible, only fake milk. And no it is not possible to make a cappuccino with fake milk. It will look disgusting and taste disgusting.

The best one can do is to use Oatley, the best of the fake milk, then blend in the pouring jug.

Vegan cakes are also disgusting.

If refusing to use real milk, then why use fake milk, offer V60 pour over. But not on offer.

Pleasant ambience, and nice cups made locally. These were also for sale.

It goes without saying I did not stay.

Owner suggested I take a coffee at the nearby supermarket. An odd suggestion, odd that is until I happened upon HISBE.