This year I have not yet heard a single person referring to their New Years resolutions, which may simply be that the people I know or who I have met are not inclined to set them for once or to publicise the ones they do have, however this seems noticeably different to previous years. Even if the idea of personal resolutions is diminishing and although we are half way through the first month of the year it does not seem entirely unreasonable to set out some wishes that may be adopted as resolutions by people with the power to change our society for the better. All residents of Brighton and Hove are a mere 107 days away from when the Council will be changed dramatically which will come 34 days after Brexit. Even if Labour retain the largest number of seats on the Council, there will be a major change of personnel in the Council Chamber due to those standing down after many years as Councillors. Other parts of Sussex may be less impacted at the Local Elections but if as some people suggest we will be invited to re-elect our Government at least once this year, then there is potentially a great deal of change on our horizons and setting out suggestions may be useful before the manifestos are published. The following ideas are some of mine, but perhaps readers might like to write in with their ideas too!
The failure by this Government to invest meaningful sums in many areas of society is very clear, the pathetic idea for example that Schools can be rewarded with ‘little extras’ is clearly one such place to call for a major change. Another area of funding that is clearly just as vital and has been treated in a similar fashion is that of funding youth provision. The reality is that by sending the only funding that is available through Police and Crime Commissioners sets a very unhelpful tone and due to the relatively small sums involved, the impact is not much better than sticking a plaster over a sizeable wound that needs several stiches.
On a more local level, we clearly need to ensure that the hard work carried out by a series of homelessness charities is recognised and that we reduce the responses to begging on our streets. This seems to perpetuate behaviour that is carried out in many cases by people who have homes to go to. What is vital is that the agencies such as the Council and charities that provide rough sleeper accommodation are integrated and it is made clear that there are spare spaces available most nights at the moment. Clearly the more confident we as residents are that the provision is currently relatively robust, the less likely we will be to fund people whose appearance on the streets implies that they have nowhere that they can go.
Another theme that is vital to see addressed is the way in which our Government seems to set rules for the many and then fails to find a flexible approach when it comes to what is a very heavy impact on small numbers of very vulnerable people. A classic example of what is needed is the news that emerged over the New Year period of women who have been returned to the UK after their families or communities have attempted to place them in forced marriages. Although there are costs associated with the rescuing of these British people so that they can return to this country and begin to find a way of reconfiguring their lives, this is a small cost for us to absorb as a nation which when compared to the costs associated with visits from the leaders of other nations is a tiny fraction.
A final thought is a reflection of the recent cases in Gatwick and Heathrow involving Drones. The fact that the Government has failed to invest enough time and manpower in coming up with technology to deal with such matters locally and easily is beyond credible understanding. The call for such a focus goes back years and given that our Government knows it has the capability to despatch drones to places like Syria means that we need to ensure that our airports and other vulnerable locations are capable of being protected from attempts by other Governments and people seeking to play havoc with our economy. Using these failings to demand that anyone who buys a drone for their children or to make films has to register their ownership with the Government is like them relying on the provision of dog licenses to end the threat of dangerous dogs.