Monday, May 30, 2005

Community Politics – What’s happened to it?

I have to say I’m becoming increasingly despondent about my local community, when it comes to getting together in positive manner.
It’s true, whenever there’s an issue to get hot under the collar about – then people will get up off their butts to complain. Recently there’s been a lot of noise about the proposed recycling plant in the area, and the council’s attempt to introduce a one-size-fits-all system of rubbish collection in the form of wheelie bins. In these cases local folk seem happy to go to public meetings, hold a demo, burn down the Town Hall, whatever.
But when it comes to taking some positive action I find the response is generally very different. Last year there was a brief flurry of support for a scheme to purchase a local church that has become defunct, for the purpose of setting up a community centre for Fiveways. Sadly, an early set-back has led to stagnation and loss of enthusiasm from all but the very dedicated.
I speak from a position of some experience. I have been involved in a couple of ‘Friends’ groups supporting a local park and some local woodlands for several years now. It’s like getting blood out of a stone trying to drum up support for projects or events. The hard work is always in the hands of a dozen or so dedicated volunteers, while the public at large sit on their hands to keep them clean.
Sure people will turn out for an entertainment where they can just consume the fruits of other people’s labours. But get involved in organising something – most people’s reaction is – ‘Well, I’d love to but…’ I honestly wonder sometimes whether it’s worth bothering.
It’s not as if there’s nothing to put some effort into. As in many middle class, seemingly well-off areas, there’s precious little in the way of facilities for our youngsters to get involved in that hasn’t got a hidden (or not-so-hidden) agenda. There are many older folk living in isolation, afraid to go out at night because of the real or imaginary threat of being set upon by gangs of hooded young tearaways. [The press has much to be ashamed of in the way it delights in scaring people unnecessarily – and the government puts out equally negative messages.] Single and other isolated people are made to feel even more alone by the insistence that all local activities have to be family orientated.
There is so much that people could involve themselves in if they were motivated to do so. Or, rather, if they could be bothered. We could be providing a centre where young & old could get to know one another and spend their evenings and weekends in useful occupation, without telling one another how to live their life [which is what I suppose I’m doing now!].
I really can’t be bothered with ‘Direct Action’ over bins and such like – it all seems so petty & negative. But if there’s anyone out there with ideas for some positive action to provide something worthwhile for the Fiveways community, I’d like to hear from you so we can start getting it together.

Saturday, May 28, 2005


(parking by recycle bins opposite)
for further details phone 270501
Explore the area - identify trees, wild flowers, birds and butterflies
Learn about the work of
The Friends of Hollingbury & Burstead Woods

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Pavements for People

new website for wheelie bin fans (or otherwise!) coming online at

Book your stall for Blaker's Park Community Picnic

Stalls at this event on Saturday 25th June cost just £10
Contact Philip Smith @ 109 Havelock Road, BN1 6GN phone 553330 for further details
Also offers of help on the day gratefully received - same contact please

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Art Installation Prize

This week's Go5Ways prize for most effective art installation in Brighton Festival goes to
the residents of the upper half of Havelock Road for their imaginative arrangement of wheelie bins on the pavement

To quote our judge, "The spacing was neat and precise averaging out at one per house frontage - the design was economic and functional - each element was of uniform dimensions and their particular colour was reminiscent of.....(continued p.94)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Dance the night ....early evening....away
for details of next Motherfunkers dance night at St Mary's Church Hall, Surrenden Road

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Anyone for Home Education?

If you're fed up with conventional education, having problems with your local school or finding your child is a square peg in a round hole, why not try educating your kids at home.
To find out what's going on in Sussex, contact Tula, editor of the Sussex Newsletter for Home Education. Email her at and ask for a sample newsletter and details of subscription.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Spin Doctors Mobile Disco....

....radiates outwards from Fiveways. Since he started, The Spin Doctor has been able to meet a huge range of musical needs at all sorts of parties - birthdays, weddings, Christmas and kids' celebrations. He has appeared in Blaker's Park several times -at cafe events (Haloween, Christmas Carol Concert and Easter Egg Hunt) and at the Community Picnic supporting Rock's Kool. He has done gigs for Ravers of all ages from 8-year olds to the members of Day Centres for Senior Citizens (where incidentally the favourite sounds were those from the Days of Bill Hayley to the Beatles).
His extensive CD and record collection means the disco can cater for all tastes from The Nostalgic Sounds of time before the Rock'n'Roll Era, through the 50s & 60s, Psychedelia, 70s Disco, Punk & New Wave, R'n'B, House & Trance and into the Modern Pop Era. Classical, Film Soundtracks, World Music & Jazz Programmes are also available to anyone wishing to extend beyond the reaches of everyday Pop.
His favourite event is one where the whole gamut of musical styles and eras can be mixed together so there's chance for all present to hear and dance to music they like to get down to.
The Spin Doctor aims to be able to play as many requests as he can at events and offers the opportunity for partygoers to dedicate tracks to their friends, making the occasion as personal and as interactive as possible.
Rates are £30 per hour with a minimum charge of £75, plus hire fees of any special equipment such as lighting rigs etc. that may be required. The Disco will travel freely within 15 miles of Brighton. Gigs further afield may incur some travel expenses. A deposit of £30 is required to confirm a date. This is normaly non-returnable but will be taken as part payment of the final bill.
So if you're considering 'Avin' a Bitova KneesUp, then you could do a lot worse than booking The Spin Doctors Mobile Disco. Enquiries should be directed to Ian on Brighton 270501. Bookings are now being taken for events any time in the next 12 months.

Aloe Vera/Propolis Products

Jennie Lawes, who lives near Fiveways, is a local agent for Forever Living Products, a company offering a wide range of preparations, using aloe vera and bee products for nutritional supplementation & health care of humans and other animals.
She is holding a stall at the Animal Day at Coral Greyhound Stadium in Hove on Spring Bank Holiday, where a variety of products will be available to try out, discuss, buy or order.
She is also hoping to take a stall at Blaker's Park Community Picnic on June 25th.
For further information or to arrange an event/party you can contact Jennie by phone on 01273 270501 or email

Open Houses start this weekend

You probably realise Brighton Festival is just getting under way.
Fiveways is blessed with being the original area for artists' open houses

The Fiveways houses are open at the same time, from 11am to 5pm, every Saturday and Sunday on the four weekends in May 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 28-29.

For full details visit

Some Useful Contacts

Here are some useful email and URL contacts - self explanatory if you want to contact the council contractors over any street cleaning or refuse matters etc the Countryside Ranger who is assigned to Hollingbury Woods website for campaign against recycling plant proposal for Hollingdean

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blakers Park Community Picnic....

...will take place on Saturday June 25th from 11am-5pm or thereabouts
Under the auspices of The Friends of Blaker's Park and combining with the St Augustine's Methodist Church Spring Fair
Musical entertainment will be provided by the kids' bands from Rock's Kool
and the gaps will be filled in with nostalgic sounds played by The Spin Doctors Mobile Disco (phone 01273 270501 to enquire about bookings)
A variety of stalls etc will be present as will refreshments from the Park Caff and a burger tent
Weather permitting there will be parachute games and other miscellaneous entertainments
Put the date in your diary & come along for a great day out.
See you there

Find more Brighton Blogs.... going to

Friends of Hollingbury and Burstead Woods AGM

May 12 th sees the AGM of the Friends of Hollingbury Woods
Venue: Hollingbury Park Old Tennis Pavilion, Ditchling Road
Time: 7.30pm
After the meeting David Larkin, B&H Countryside Ranger will give a talk on The 3rd British Expedition to Slovenia
Members, Visitors and Guests welcome.

Membership Queries to please

Here is the text of the Chairman's Report for the Year

The Friends of Hollingbury & Burstead Woods
Chairman’s Report 2005
Here we are once more, at the time of year when we hold our Annual General Meeting and take time out to assess how the Friends are doing.
If you are a long-standing FHBW supporter, may I first thank you for maintaining your enthusiasm for our local pieces of Urban Woodland. For New Members, I’d like to extend a warm welcome from the group and express the hope you will want to remain with us for some time and help us in keeping the park & woods an exciting and vibrant place to visit. I also want to welcome our new Secretary, Gill Taylor, who has kindly put herself up for the seat vacated by Sheila Haines, who served us so well over the last few years. We were able to make Sheila a parting gift in recognition of her sterling service – we commissioned Jonathan Chiswell-Jones to make her a commemorative plate, which was delivered not long before Jonathan and Sue left Brighton for their new home in East Dean, where we hope they’ll be very happy.
We have continued implementing our management plan in our usual way with our monthly work dates and I expect we will hear a full account of those events from Leslie, our Projects Officer, at the Annual General Meeting. There have been a few other significant developments which I feel it important to bring to your attention. I will endeavour to be brief but I trust you want to be kept up to date with our news.
Perhaps the most significant item to mention is the sad passing of Ted Agate, our long-standing and most loyal Publicity Officer. Ted was always keen to promote the woods and the work of the Friends. He tirelessly produced hand drawn and coloured posters that appeared in local shop windows and on the tool shed door month in, month out regardless of the poor health and other difficulties he struggled with for several years. He also tried his utmost, with varying success, to get our name spread far and wide by contacting people in the local press and broadcasting media.
He made a name for himself as he led regular walks around the Wildpark and Hollingbury Camp, and also for his organisational and culinary skills at numerous barbecues. I’m pleased to say that a sizeable contingent of his FHBW friends were present at his funeral and able to give him the send off he had so richly earned. We are really missing his service to the group. It is planned to plant a tree in his honour in the coming year.
On a happier note, this year we have taken the opportunity to recognise the invaluable contribution made to the Friends by another of our constant supporters, namely Geoff Meade. His famous Brighton walks are justly well renowned and he has regularly contributed his takings to our cause. For this we owe him our eternal thanks and were able to honour him in planting the Walnut Tree in his name. I hope you have all had the opportunity to take a look at this magnificent specimen along by the tennis courts.
We have run a couple recruiting drives over the year, which have been met with only a modicum of success. So we’d ask you to put on your thinking cap and come up with some fresh ideas on how to attract new members and volunteers to work.
The Access-for-All footpath is pretty well finished, and although there maybe a few wrinkles to iron out, I think it can be hailed a success. Nothing is ever perfect, but I think we have been pleasantly surprised to watch the hard-edged motorway that appeared a couple of years back mellow into the attractive meandering pathway it now presents with wildflowers creeping in from all sides. The project should be shortly completed with the publication of our new leaflet mapping the path and providing up-to-date information on our treasured woodland for locals and visitors alike. We thank all the people who have contributed to these developments – Tim Squire for managing the construction, Dave Larkin for his work on the brochure and many other nameless folk who have done their bit.
While I’m in grateful mode, I think I’d like to do my usual pleasant duty in thanking all the volunteers who have been along to work days through the year. Without them our group would be useless and pointless. They are our backbone. And we owe them our greatest thanks.
Perhaps we also need to recognise the work of the Committee, who get together every 2 or 3 months to transact the group’s business. Several of these folk have served since the group’s inception in 1991, and the time comes when people feel they’ve done their bit and make way for new blood. So we are now saying thank you and goodbye to…… as far as the Committee is concerned. We, of course hope that they will want to keep in touch with our activities and will still come along to various events. So let’s hear it for our work volunteers and our Committee.
Subject to the AGM’s approval, we would naturally be very happy to accept offers to serve and nominations for new members to the committee. Please don’t be afraid to step forward to nominate yourself or someone else. We need to ensure the continuity of the group for the future. This can only happen if we have a constant stream of volunteers coming forward.
I’d just like to draw your attention the Brighton & Hove Goes Wild events coming up later this month and particularly ask you support the FHBW input in 2 ways. Firstly it would be great to be able to organise a stall at the Family Day in Stanmer Park on Sunday 5th June, but we need people to volunteer to run it. Secondly, local birder, Peter Whitcomb, has kindly volunteered his services to lead a walk around parts of the Hollingbury Wildpark Local Nature Reserve on Saturday 4th June. This will start from Woodbourne Garage at 9am. It would be nice to see a god contingent of our members come along to welcome visitors and share in the activity. Perhaps walkers could even be encouraged to visit the day’s work party later in the morning where they might be encouraged to join FHBW in making t our woods an even better place for future events.
Well, I’m probably beginning to bore, so I’ll draw my remarks to a close now. May I wish you all a good year and I look forward to seeing you at one of the Group’s events in the near future.