Brighton area named as positive investor hotspot

Ethex (www.ethex.org.uk) is the first online exchange for positive investors
Ethex (www.ethex.org.uk) is the first online exchange for positive investors

Brighton and Hove and nearby Lewes are among the UK’s top areas for positive investment.

Brighton and Hove and nearby Lewes are among the UK’s top areas for positive investment.

A report by Ethex (www.ethex.org.uk), the first online exchange for positive investors, found that local residents in the city and neighbouring town - grouped together for the purposes of the study - have invested £1.2 million in local community projects and businesses since 2012.

The Make Money Do Good study was launched to coincide with national Good Money Week, which runs from Sunday until October 25. And it revealed that local community-owned renewable energy schemes have played a major role in making Brighton and Lewes leading hotspots.

In 2011, Ovesco, created by Transition Towns Lewes, installed the UK’s first community-owned 92kW solar power station on the roof of the local Harvey’s Brewery, subsequently raising a further £70,000 across three other projects. Meanwhile, the Brighton Energy Co-operative has raised £630,000 to install solar panels on roofs across the city. That has helped build more than 500kWP of solar, making the Brighton Energy Co- operative the biggest renewable developer in Brighton and Hove.

Members who have invested receive a 5% return on their investment and a 30% tax break.

Locals in Brighton have also invested in amenities that support the community, such as the Exeter Street Community Hall and the Bevendean Pub.

Exeter Street Hall was put up for sale by the church in 2012 and a group of local residents banded together to save the community space. Eighteen months of campaigning and give months of fundraising later they had the £180,000 needed to buy the hall and establish it as a community asset, run by a 50-strong team of volunteers.

The Bevendean Pub was closed in 2010 as a result of anti-social behaviour associated with the bar, which was the only pub serving the Moulsecoomb and Bevendean estates.

Four years later, however, it reopened following a successful £200,000 share offer scheme and is now the UK’s largest membership community pub.

In Lewes, the community- owned football club, Lewes FC, raised more than £200,000 from local supporters to build an all-weather pitch to provide sporting opportunities for young people.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Jamie Hartzell, founder and managing director of Ethex, said: “Brighton and Lewes are at the forefront of a movement where people are investing their money to create environmental and social change in their community.

“A growing number of people are taking control of their money and making it do good, choosing to save and invest directly in businesses that deliver not only a financial return but also demonstrable benefit to society.

“Positive investing is emerging as a broad and unstoppable movement, a popular response to the financial crisis. People today want a more direct and immediate relationship with financial institutions that can be trusted, and that are transparent and accountable.”