Monday, 22 January 2018


I’m getting increasingly fed up with the negativity and obstructiveness that politics creates. The latest of course being the shut-down of government in the USA. On a more local level it has irritated or, on a bad day, infuriated me.

Brighton Pier now owned by innovating entrepreneur Luke Johnson

Take Brighton. We’ve lived here for 14 years. When we arrived I was thrilled with its potential. HSBC in a 2008 study of urban potential, nominated it as a city of the future thanks to its entrepreneurial spirit, high-tech culture and Universities. I could see Brighton as the leader in a silicon-coastline breakthrough. But then the glue of cynicism, small ‘c’ conservatism and torpor set in. Brighton seemed content to be stuck in, to me, an incomprehensible swamp of mediocrity. People spoke of the glorious past…Hannington’s the department store, Brighton Rock and the West Pier. The West Pier was for us a symbol of criminality, decay and  rusting nostalgia. Like an unburied corpse it rotted just off the sea front.

A depressing book called “Shitsville UK” characterises Brighton as activist, vegan and loony:

“Brightonians consume Hummus by the bucketful as a sacred devotion to remind them of Eden before animals died. They eat it with their beards.”

Soho House New York coming to Brighton

Something however has changed. Brighton is beginning to buzz. My vision was a decade ahead of its time.

We have a premier division football team (keep your fingers crossed), the best cricket coach in the world – Jason Gillespie - in charge of the county cricket team based in Hove, a great medical school, a hospital being renovated, the i360 which has become a magnet for some classy retail development, Brighton Seafront Regeneration working with Soho House to  create a series of 21st century attractions near the pier and in the just-out 2018 Good Food Guide there are 21 entries for Brighton up from 16 in 2017…we are on a gastronomic roll.

Just 1 of 21, MasterChef Professionals winner, Steven Edwards opens in Hove to rave reviews

But the best parts of the story are the ambitious plans to create a cultural centre around the Dome and Brighton Pavilion. Restoration and development work on the old Corn Exchange and the Pavilion Theatre, to be renamed the Studio Theatre, are well under way and this together with the other facilities will make Brighton an international arts centre that will attract the best and be a beacon of innovation and excellence.

The Brighton Corn Exchange – the theatre of the future – in construction

So there we have the evidence of what will make Brighton the second capital of the south – a real city of the future. A friend called me from Long Island saying how he missed cricket, liberal thinking and conversation. Should he, he mused , retire to Brighton? Of course he should.

We have the vision, momentum, energy,  pride (that quality historically derided as being an inauthentic emotion) and we have the hope that all this will accelerate. I’m asked if we aren’t “gentrifying” the place. I just don’t understand that word. We’re doing up our home and leaving a great legacy for the future. That should be something to be proud of shouldn’t it?

Anthony Seldon’s vision 2002 is not so far away from realisation within a few years from now

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