Seafront scrutiny receives national recognition

Brighton & Hove’s scrutiny into the seafront has been highly commended by the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CPS).

Brighton & Hove CouncilTHE CPS is the national charity responsible for improving the practice of scrutiny and accountability in public services.

The wide-ranging seafront scrutiny, was carried out last year by a cross-party panel of councillors and one independent member and looked at how best to maintain Brighton & Hove’s seafront infrastructure.

It was highly commended in two areas: ‘economic resilience’ and ‘involvement.’

The Seafront Scrutiny was approved in October and led to the establishment of a Seafront Investment Programme which will co-ordinate all activity and investment on the seafront and draw up a new investment plan to maintain and develop seafront infrastructure. The Plan is due in September.

Cllr Dee Simpson

Cllr Dee Simpson

Councillor Dee Simson, chair of the city’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “We are thrilled to be highlighted nationally for best practice in our scrutiny work.  What was special about the seafront scrutiny is that it secured acceptance of a far-reaching set of recommendations, which is rare. It set out practical steps to provide for and protect the seafront and effectively brought people together to make constructive suggestions on the way forward. This is what we do with all our scrutinies and we’ll be building on this good work in the coming year.”

The cross-party panel looked at maintenance of the arches and other structures supporting the A259 and heritage structures such as Madeira Terraces, many of which date back to the Victorian era. It identified the highest priority areas for work and sought views on how it could be funded and delivered.

Public meetings, drop-ins and on-site visits brought together businesses, community groups and other interested parties with council officers and politicians.

Labour Councillor Gill Mitchell chaired the seafront scrutiny.

Cllr Gill Mitchell

Cllr Gill Mitchell

She said: “We went out and met people involved in all aspects of the seafront – our drop-in event was attended by more than 80 traders. We also set up a dedicated website to gather views from residents.

“It is absolutely vital to maintain and improve our seafront which plays a central role in the success of Brighton and Hove. Many of our seafront structures are in urgent need of repair or replacement. What the Panel found was that there was a piecemeal approach to seafront planning, so we recommended bringing it all together, with all services involved with the seafront working together to unlock potential development and identify funding opportunities.”

The seafront is the city’s most popular attraction with visitors and residents alike, contributing significantly to the city’s tourism economy which is valued at £800 million a year.

The seafront is the city’s most popular attraction with visitors and residents alike, contributing significantly to the city’s tourism economy which is valued at £800 million a year.

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