Pride Village Party review after concerns by neighbours

Pride Street Party image licensed by Creative Commons by Dominic Alves from Flickr
Pride Street Party image licensed by Creative Commons by Dominic Alves from Flickr

One of the biggest outdoor events in Brighton’s year looks likely to be allowed to stay in its current location despite complaints from people living near by.

The Pride Village Party is expected to be allowed to take place in St James’s Street and the surrounding streets despite concerns about noise, drunkenness and bad behaviour.

A review was carried out and a consultation took place after a deputation from the Kingscliffe Society last year.

Members of the society wanted Brighton and Hove City Council to move the party to Madeira Drive.

But a report to councillors – in advance of a meeting this week – said that the event would not be financially viable if it were held in Madeira Drive.

Brighton Pride Community Interest Company said that the available event space in Madeira Drive would hold about 6,500 people rather than the 42,000 who pack the St James’s Street area each summer.

And there are concerns that people would gather unofficially in St James’s Street anyway – as they did before the party became a formal event.

Brighton Pride looked into using Madeira Drive for an extra event on the Saturday evening in 2014.

But the Safety Advisory Group – which includes representatives of organisations such as the council and Sussex Police – raised a number of concerns.

These included the east-west flow of traffic including access to the Royal Sussex County Hospital if St James’s Street, Marine Parade and Madeira Drive were closed at the same time.

The deputation from the Kingscliffe Society last April told councillors: “The late-night noise of the street party disturbs everyone, young and elderly, well into the night.

“Many of our more lucky residents simply move away temporarily but some of our local businesses have to bite the bullet and close, losing a valuable weekend’s income and more.

“The resulting street conditions can only be described as a disgusting nightmare.”

The society said that the party had been ‘completely undermined’ by a ‘vast army of hangers on’, who had no links to the city, drinking to excess.

It said: “We are obliged to live with the effects for days afterwards and we then dread the fact that it will all happen again next year, getting worse each time.”

Brighton Pride managing director Paul Kemp said: “The current model of fencing and ticketing the site has worked well and has been implemented in this way for six years.

“It enables the capacity to be controlled and the area to be managed by an on-site Pride event team supported by dedicated security and stewarding along with special police services to provide a co-ordinated response to deliver the event.”

Before 2014 the party was a more informal event run by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Community (LGBTQ+) community and businesses in the St James’s Street area.

Since it became a ticketed event the council had received few complaints, with three in 2013, three in 2014 and one last year. There were none in the intervening years.

Brighton Pride received 14 complaints last year and six in 2017.

Complaints included a leaking urinal in 2017 as well as people unhappy about having to have a wristband to enter the fenced-off area.

The council said that its consultation into the future of the Pride Village Party had been carried out using the council website, with paper copies sent out to local homes and businesses.

Overall, Pride and the village party were considered to have a positive effect on Brighton and Hove.

The number of consultation responses topped 2,800 and more than 80 per cent agreed that the party should continue to take place.

Most – 68 per cent – felt that it should stay in St James’s Street, with 25 per cent favouring a move to Madeira Drive.

A small majority preferred the party to be held on just one day rather than over a longer period.

If the party were moved to Madeira Drive, other east-west roads would remain open, in particular, St James’s Street and Marine Parade.

But with about 50 licensed premises and other LGBTQ+ venues in and around the area that is currently closed for the party, a number of concerns remain.

Councillors are being advised to keep the party in St James’s Street. They are expected to make a decision at a meeting of the council’s Tourism, Development and Culture Committee.

The committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall on Thursday (March 7) . The meeting starts at 4pm and should be open to the public.