Community's fight to improve parks in East Brighton

Evie Martin and Caitlin Smith
Evie Martin and Caitlin Smith

‘You stick together and you fight’ was the collective message at The Park Life Campaign launch in Whitehawk last week.

More than 50 people attended the meeting at the Crew Club, Coolham Drive on Wednesday, May 23, to decide on a list of facilities they want installed to make parks in East Brighton better.

Evie Martin, 23, founder of The Park Life Campaign said: “We noticed that other places in Brighton and Hove seemed to have more council responsibility and the council really took pride in those areas whereas over here in Whitehawk, they don't really even get checked and we always have a lack of facilities.”

Caitlin Smith, 20, co-founder of the campaign said the facilities were also not age accessible for children with different needs.

Miss Smith said: “We want all the residents on side so that when we go to the council it's not just mine and Evie's voice, it's everyone in the community coming together and letting us know what they would like in the different parks."

Chairman of DueEast neighbourhood council Chris El-Shabba, 68, also attended with a view to improving the whole area, working with people in the community and getting them to speak up for themselves.

Mrs El-Shabba said: “As one person you get ignored, together you get things done. DueEast is willing to give this campaign a hand.”

The campaign is supported by local councillor Nancy Platts, 52, who had previously met with local residents and visited the playgrounds in the area.

Cllr Platts said: “All the parks have a life of about eight to 12 years so it might be that all of these parks are getting to the end of their natural lifecycle.”

She said facilities were not being renewed as quickly as they should be and that a lot of equipment is either missing or broken.

Cllr Platts said: “Government have cut budgets to the bone so councils just don’t have as much money as they had before and because all the money is now going into what’s regarded as ‘essential services’ – so we’re talking really about social care services, literally helping the most vulnerable people – things like play parks have been cut and that’s a real shame, but what I want to do is say what we can do.”

She said the meeting was a good time for everyone to get together, say what their vision is and build a strong core group of people.

Cllr Platts said: “There’s a real sense people are starting to feel empowered and I think it’s good if people can feel a bit creative about what their gold standard is. Let’s aim for the sky and just see where it takes us.”