This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the creation of Brighton and Hove City Council. In 1997 the new unitary authority was formed, taking over services previously run by Brighton Borough Council, Hove Borough Council and East Sussex County Council. It established a council equivalent in population size to Newcastle and Sunderland, and bigger than Plymouth or Southampton.
In 2001 the Queen granted Brighton and Hove city status, sealing the identity and status of a new place comprised of dozens of historic ones.
“Brighthelmstone” was recorded in the Domesday Book, but only grew from a fishing village into a town in the Regency area with the patronage of George IVth whilst Prince Regent, the coming of the railways in 1841, and the granting of borough status in 1854.
Since then it has joined with nearby parishes, villages and towns as the population and development grew rapidly, places like Hangleton, Patcham, and Rottingdean.
In the 1970s Hove joined with Portslade, and at the time considered extending further west into Adur. The creation of new suburbs like Coldean and Woodingdean post-WW2 completed the conurbation we know today, stretching from the boundary with Southwick and Shoreham in the west to the boundary with East Saltdean and Telscombe in the east, and bounded by the A27 and the South Downs National Park to the north.
Our city is a unique combination of more than thirty distinct communities, each with its own distinct identity and history, but it has in the past two decades become so much more than the sum of its parts. We must value and preserve our heritage, but twenty years on from taking charge of our own affairs we must continue to grow our economy, our city and our ability to compete nationally and internationally for the benefit of local residents both now and in the future.
This month we will take up ongoing discussions with government about devolution for Greater Brighton, a partnership of councils in coastal and mid-Sussex aiming higher, ambitious for jobs, homes and growth. So Happy Birthday Brighton and Hove, and here’s to the next successful twenty years for our city by the sea.