March 2016 meeting minutes

Photo:Brighton meeting

Brighton meeting

By Adrian Carlton-Oatley

Minutes of a North Laine Community Association meeting held on 15th March 2016


Twenty-five members attended. Apologies were received from: Louis Blache, Henry Bruce, Bobby and Brian Cheesman, Christine Clark-Lowes, Cllr Deane, Anne Johnson, Roy Skam, Lyn Turpin and Cllr West.



The minutes of the previous meeting were approved. Under matters arising, the Secretary reported that he had investigated the 1998 Bye-law imposing a summary fine on persistent noise-making in the streets and had found that it is sill included in the file of Bye-laws in the public library. He had contacted the Council legal department and the Policing and Crime Commissioner's office to inquire how much this bye-law is currently used. Both have yet to answer.



  • There had still not been a reply from Simon Bannister of BHCC about the three matters that had been raised – the health hazard of untreated pigeon mess, the condition of the path by the steps at the top of Gloucester Road, and the graffiti in the back of the PO building and elsewhere. Peter Crowhurst commented that the Gloucester Road item had been very thoroughly gone into fairly recently. Chris Hayes said that as someone particularly affected by the state of the Post Office exterior, he would be trying to find someone responsible there to discuss it with.

  • Brighton and Hove Buses had not replied to a letter proposing Peter Stocker's name for the front of a bus, but others had received answers to their letters, indicating that his name would be kept on file for consideration the next time new buses were commissioned.

  • The Friends' leaflet was due for reprinting and the Management Committee had considered including a category of 'business Friends' and wanted to know how this would be viewed by the North Laine Traders' Association (NLTR). It was agreed that the Chair would contact David Sewell of the NLTA to discuss it with him.

  • Speakers for the monthly meeting had been booked or planned for the rest of the year.



The Secretary gave advance notice that the next meeting would be the AGM and outlined the procedure under the new constitution for nomination and election of officers. Nominations in writing, countersigned by the candidate as willing to stand, had to be with the Secretary seven days before the AGM, i.e. 12th April.



  • The Anniversary party had been a very great success and thanks were due to many people for the work they put into making this so.

  • The Anniversary Exhibition in the Jubilee Library had also been a great success, with very many positive comments from the public who saw it. A vote of thanks to Peter Crowhurst for planning and mounting it was carried unanimously.

  • The next event on the horizon was the Big Lunch on 5th June. This was nation-wide initiative in which individual streets were encouraged to hold a shared lunch. One was already planned for Tidy Street, organised by Sara Bragg, and it was felt that other street might like to get involved as well. There was an article planned for the next issue of the Runner with details.

  • Sara was also organising the NLCA anniversary children's art competition on the theme of 'Living in North Laine'. The closing date for entries would be in June and details were in the Runner.



  • The Chair had attended the LAT Chairs meeting at which there had been an exercise to determine what the main concerns of LATs were and what direction they should take from now on. This he felt was of limited use. More interesting was a presentation from Neighbourhood Watch by J Amos of the Woodingdean Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Though North Laine is perhaps a less suitable area for a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, the reduction in police funding means that we need to be more pro-active in our support of local policing and something on these lines may well be the way forward. The Chair would like to invite Mr Amos to speak at an NLCA meeting at some point in the future.



There were no new applications to report. Jonathan Bromberg reported that the Council were now actively considering issues of the City College development plan and Section 237. He was not able to go into details but wished to propose a vote of thanks to Cllr Lizzie Deane for the work she had put into getting these matters before the Council. This was passed nem con.



Silo in Upper Gardner Street was applying for an off-sales licence. As this was within the Cumulative Impact Zone we would be objecting.

Sandy Crowhurst, speaking on behalf of Roy Skam who was unable to be present, reported that the Council had been minded to include café-bars in the licensing matrix in its new Statement of Licensing Policy. This would have had a deeply deleterious effect on North Laine, given the number of small cafés in the area. However, the proposal had been voted down, thanks to the hard work of Cllr Deane, who had worked hard to ensure that the proposal was no accepted and Sandy felt that our gratitude for this should be recorded. This again was carried nem con and the Secretary would email Cllr Deane to inform her of the two votes of thanks she had received.



  • Peter Crowhurst had a meeting with the designer for the North Laine Book on Friday and would be grateful for help from any members of the Book Group in annotating the proofs on Thursday.

  • Clifford Jacques had monitored the communal bins in Vine Street for evidence of where fly-tipping came from and had found an item with an address in the area of Preston Park. He had raised the matter with City Clean.

  • Sandy Crowhurst reported from the Conservation Advisory Group (CAG) that Hyde Housing had now withdrawn their proposal for a 17-storey tower block on the Sackville Hotel site after massive opposition from Hove residents and amenity groups.

  • There would be a meeting for all concerned to discuss future plans for the Runner on Wednesday 16th March.

  • An invitation had been received to a workshop organised by the Sussex Energy Group at Sussex University on 'Sustainability through Collaboration'.

  • David Sewell and Geoff Meade were arranging local walks starting on the first Saturday of the Brighton Fringe: a. starting at Pavilion Gardens on Sunday afternoons; b. starting from St Nicholas's church on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm; c. starting from St Peter's church on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 5pm. Details were in the Festival fringe brochure.

  • Catherine Clements announced that Brighton Books would be holding a 25th anniversary tea party on 3rd April at 4 pm to which all were welcome.


TALK: Paul Cheston – My Life in Crime


Paul is a North Laine resident who has just retired after twenty-three years as the Evening Standard courts correspondent, which meant his working week was spent in a world of murder, rape, arson, fraud and corruption - and also justice. Terrorist bombers, jewel thieves and murderers all came his way. He usually worked at the Old Bailey, but also \at the High Court for big libel cases such as Neil Hamilton and cash for questions, or the other London courts such as Southwark, where he saw Rolf Harris, Max Clifford and Dave Lee Travis in the dock, and Isleworth (Nigella Lawson). He had to travel around the country as well, to Winchester for Rosemary West and Preston for the Jamie Bulger killers, as well as to the continent for trials involving Britons there.


Some cases were local, heard at Lewes, including Russell Bishop (the 'Babes in the Wood' double murder at Moulscomb), the Devils Dyke abduction, the Sarah Payne child snatching case, and Jeremy Forrest, the school teacher who ran away with a schoolgirl.


A particular favourite was Jeffrey Archer, who perjured himself in 1987 by claiming in a libel case against the Daily Star not to have had sex with the prostitute Monica Coughlan and giving her two thousand pounds in hush money through an intermediary. In 2001 Archer's friend Ted Francis revealed that he had tried to make him give a false alibi and his secretary, Angela Peppiatt, told how the 1987 diary Archer had presented as evidence for his alibi had been faked. Archer got four years for perjury and perverting the course of justice.


The biggest trial in terms of newspaper coverage was the Soham murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, which ran for twenty court days and was on the front page for seventeen of them. The most important cases that Paul covered were probably the Princess Diana inquest, the Hutton inquiry, and the perjured Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken. The most difficult from a newsman's point of view was the trial of Rebekah Brooks, not just because there were three crimes alleged – hacking phones, paying policemen for stories and destroying evidence – but because the culture she had created at the Murdoch newspapers had drawn in many of Paul's friends and colleagues and led to them being prosecuted as well.


A question that Paul is often asked is how he copes with having to see the horrific details and explicit photographs produced in evidence and then report it all fairly and accurately. Some of the cases he has sat through were gruesome – Rosemary West, Lee Rigby's murderers, Dr Harold Shipman. But he found that detachment came by concentrating on the job in hand – which is to take notes of what is said and focus on how that translates into 800 words by the Evening Standard's deadline, and making sure that nothing you write falls foul of the contempt of court laws.


However, one case that did affect Paul was a little known trial concerning the death of a young man who was shot while watching the Test match on TV in a flat in Putney. He was totally unknown to his killers, who were involved in a drug feud and had gone to the wrong flat. His parents told Paul they had been away in the New Forest when they were told what had happened and drove back hoping it was a case of mistaken identity. The victim was so like himself and the parents' reaction so much like what his own parents' would have been, that it truly came home to him.


Courtroom dramas are the best dramas, from Shakespeare to Rumpole of the Bailey. As the jury returns to court nobody knows what the verdict will be, but everybody will be affected by it – the defendant faces liberty or imprisonment, counsel have their reputations at stake, the judge wants the smooth execution of justice, and the victim's family want retribution. As a reporter, Paul had a front page story and more resting on the result and a deadline to reach. Even after a lifetime, at that point the adrenalin is really pumping and the pulse racing. And trials can hang on an unexpected piece of evidence – Gillian Taylforth lost her libel case when a video was shown of her previous louche behaviour, and Jonathan Aitken went to prison when a reporter finally tracked down the docket that showed that his wife had not paid his bill at the Paris Ritz as he had claimed and that he had lied and forced his family to lie.


Paul explained that the drawings he used to illustrate his talk were court sketches done for ITN television news bulletins by the gifted court artist Priscilla Coleman. Court artists probably only have a few minutes to take in the scene in court and commit it to memory before going elsewhere to create their sketch, as to do the drawing in situ would be contempt of court. A few years ago Paul and Priscilla put together a collection of her sketches with Paul's commentary on each of the trials and they are currently working on a sequel.


After a large number of questions from the audience, the Chair thanked Paul for his highly interesting and entertaining talk.


The meeting ended at 9.46 p.m.

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