It’s 1.15am and I’m sitting in my office in parliament – we’ve been told to expect votes as late as 3am. It’s the first day of parliament in the New Year and I’m in danger of losing all that wonderful rest I have stored up from the Christmas break!
But rather than stewing on that, or the fact that I have a dozen journalists sitting on the floor in the corridor outside my office (I’m close to the leader’s office and they’re hoping for a …glimpse of someone being hired or fired in the reshuffle), instead I’m thinking of some of the great things that have happened in Hove and Portslade recently.
One of them was the partitioning of BHASVIC playing field to give dog walkers a dedicated space without impacting on use of the playing field for sports, particularly for young people who have been occasionally harried by enthusiastic dogs.
Local residents in the BHASVIC / Goldsmid area are legendary campaigners, having secured road crossings, traffic taming, and road reconfigurations in the past. So when Jackie Quinn, their new councillor, told me they were working together to secure a dedicated dog walking space I knew they meant business.
Over Christmas I joined councillors and residents to officially open the new space. It was a brilliantly British occasion, standing in a damp field on a cold day with mulled wine and nibbles on a table as people gathered around chatting and celebrating their achievement.
I was very proud to be there for two reasons. Firstly, I love finding ways to make public space more accessible, versatile, and fun. That’s why I put the piano in Brighton Station – it makes that space so much nicer and more fun!
Secondly the new BHASVIC field shows what can be achieved when communities and local politicians work together. Jackie Quinn worked tirelessly with residents and they formed a formidable and unignorable team. As a result we’re all the better for it.
Right, the bells are ringing for a vote so I’m of. Right now this feels like a crazy way to do democracy!! Sleep well. All the best, Peter