Letters to the editor

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Photo credit: The D34n, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Have something to say? Email us at letters@sussexbylines.co.uk

Engels in Eastbourne

11 July 2021

Dear editor

I hope to be moving to Eastbourne in the next couple of months so I was particularly interested in the ‘Engels in Eastbourne’ article by Carol Mills. I look forward to learning more about this great social reformer when I arrive, and to reading more articles by this author.

Dave Appleby

Brighton style – planners give it a chance!

1 July 2021

Dear editor

Excellent article by Rod Watson. It raises many questions that demand considered responses.

M Fieldhouse, Hove

Brighton Fringe: Performers raring to go, by Alivia Arief

16 June 2021

Dear editor,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Alivia’s article in the run up to Brighton Fringe and the way she perfectly captures the palpable excitement at the return of live events to our city. As the Artistic Director of Actors of Dionysus (a Brighton based theatre charity) and freelance theatre maker I have been keeping an ear to the ground across our community through fantastic initiatives such as ‘What Next: Brighton & Hove’. I have been struck by the resilience and tenacity of our artistic community and how we have kept our chins up through this challenging time. 

Writing this letter at this moment in time, I am stepping momentarily away from not one but three shows we are performing this fringe! Someone once said to me “Put the date in the diary, and you’ll have to do it”.

We are performing 13 shows over 3 days from 25-27th June. Nothing if not ambitious. Our venue is a generously sized (for Brighton) garden in an end of terrace house in Queen’s Park. We’ll also be running a bar. It felt so important to put something out there, in the open air and sharing little bit of paradise – at least that’s how our garden seemed to me, especially during lockdown, avid gardener that I am.

Currently in writing, The 3 Graces is a tongue in cheek exploration of ancient Greek myth with particular reference to the Pandora and Prometheus stories. This premiere coincides with the release of Juliet Russell’s new album Vox Salva and the audience will be able to sample a few tracks on offer.

Also featuring award winning Bee in my Beanie with Stories in the Garden for children ages 4-7 and finally a comedy cabaret, Lionhouse Cabaret, featuring a host of local performers including Dyball & Kerr, Graham (Fingers) Lipscomb, Lou Macari, Mark Katz, Tina Warnock, Dandelion Charm, Anthony Ayton, Kate McCann and Hit the Silk.

Now that the date’s in the diary I had better finish this letter and that play……see you in the garden hopefully!

Tamsin Shasha, Artistic Director of Actors of Dionysus.

Book tickets here: https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/

Flyer for Brighton Fringe performances
Flyer for Tamsin Shasha Performances

Engels’ plaque campaign

2 June 2021

Dear editor

Carol Mills’ Engels in Eastbourne article, mentioning the original plaque to Engels, aroused memories for me too, as I helped to organise the unveiling event. I was Secretary of the Britain-GDR Society at the time and was invited by the local organisers to give the commemorative speech at Beachy Head. A dramatic location for a public speech! On the clifftops above the sea clutching my typed script, I read out the history of Engels in Eastbourne, glancing up from time to time at Heinz Birch’s encouraging smile in the front row. A Guardian journalist had spotted this highly unusual event and wrote it up as a feature article, gleefully mocking our little gathering of naïve idealists. The East Germans and I were all very sad when right-wing vandals forced the plaque to be removed. I’d be delighted if it could be reinstated!  It would be fun to be in touch.

Sheila Taylor

Secretary, The Britain-GDR Society (1976-80)

What Europe means to me

12 May 2021

Dear editor,

Thank you for the moving and thought-provoking publications on Europe Day. The article ‘What does Europe mean to you?’ sparked off my own thoughts. 

Like Ginny Foster, I fell in love with France as a teenager when I started holiday exchanges with a French penfriend at the age of 13. We spent two weeks every summer at a sailing school in Brittany, where I learnt how to sail and swear in French, smoked Gauloises and fell for handsome French boys. It was only when I spent a year in the USA as a student that I realised how European I felt, in terms of history and culture. I don’t have direct family links to Europe, though I’m very proud that my mother worked for the Republican cause against Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Since retirement, I’ve spent six months living in Berlin and two months in Spain and am devastated that plans for a longer term relocation to France have been dashed by Brexit. But links with my penfriend Marie’s family and friends remain strong to this day and I will always be European. 

Viv Griffiths, Brighton

Fascists in Sussex and Devon

21 April 2021

Dear editor

Carol Mills’ ‘Engels in Eastbourne’ is a terrific piece, just where Sussex Bylines can find a niche. I would also be interested in right-wing history. Where did the old-school fascists come from in Sussex and where does the virus lurk in ‘quieter’ times? The families, the villages, the traditions.

See this book for similar kind of enquiry in Devon.

It was the thought of NF people spraying the Engels monument that got me started. What are those head cases doing now?

James Joughin, Brighton

Churchill: democrat or fascist?

17 April 2021

Dear editor

Tom Serpell’s article was very good and a timely warning but claiming that Churchill was against Fascism is a bit of a stretch. He showed many Fascistic characteristics in his beliefs and actions and his real reason for fighting Germany wasn’t against their regime but their worrying progress in rivalling Britain’s imperialism.

Dave Poole, Eastbourne

Tom Serpell responds:

Dear Mr Poole

I am no unqualified fan of Winston Churchill, being all too aware of some of his more egregious behaviour in South Africa and as Home Secretary in particular. I do not think that I would characterise him as fascistic, though, not least because he appears to have been a strong advocate of democracy, unlike our current Prime Minister. My reference to him was solely to contrast his undoubted anti-appeasement, anti-fascism with hero worship by his fascistic groupie, Johnson. What his motives for standing up to Hitler and Mussolini were I am not qualified to say; but I am sure that he did.

Tom Serpell, East Hoathly

Firewall on fire

13 April 2021

Dear editor

The other day I heard the estimable Paul Mason say that traditionally, and for many years, the right of the Tory party had effectively operated as a firewall against fascism but now, look around, the firewall is on fire. Well done Tom Serpell for calling this out. We need to wake up and pay attention.

James Joughin, Brighton

Educational inequalities in Brighton

29 March 2021

Dear editor

Great piece by James Joughin on educational inequalities.

Until we have an Opposition which just tells the truth – on education, health & wealth inequalities – as well as on the two big ones – management of the pandemic & Brexit – we cannot expect people to understand the realities of Britain in 2021.

Opposition ultra-caution & focus-grouping every utterance to within an inch of its life is simply re-cycling Murdoch, the Barclay Brothers and the Mail.

If appealing to the Brexity right was giving the opposition a stable lead, ok.  But look at the polls.

In the meantime we have to rely on astute observers like Mr. Joughin to tell us the truth.

Andy Batkin, Brighton  

Second-class citizens?

17 March 2021

Dear editor,

Marianna Ebel’s article on EU citizens struck a chord with me. I have lived in the UK since 1983. I studied here; got married; have two wonderful daughters; have worked, paid taxes and done a lot of voluntary work over the past 35+ years.

And yet, after the 2016 Brexit referendum, I had to prove that I was permanently resident in the UK (this was before the EU Settled Status scheme was introduced). It took several months, and it was a painful, time-consuming and emotional process. Eventually I was ‘granted’ permanent residency status – was I meant to be grateful? 

Then I applied for UK citizenship. Not only did I have to find nearly £1,500; I also had to study for a ‘Life in the UK’ test, which I’m sure most native Brits wouldn’t pass. The next hurdle was applying for a UK passport. I had put this off because I couldn’t face more bureaucracy… Actually, the application process turned out to be quite smooth and well-organised – but I had to have an online ‘identity interview’, and I’m still reeling from the experience.

The interviewer was friendly and chatty, putting me at ease. I answered questions about my name, my place of birth, standard stuff. Then he started asking me about my flat: which floor is it on, how far is it from the sea, can I see the sea from my window? Could I show him the view? This seemed totally out of order, and I suddenly felt that he was trying to ‘catch me out’ in some way. I said no to showing him the view – and then fretted for several hours that my application might be turned down because of it. It wasn’t, and my passport arrived a few days later. But why was I subjected to such intrusive questions? Surely I had already proved my entitlement several times over!

EU citizens like me should not be subjected to this kind of treatment. We have made this country our home, we have contributed, we belong. 

Renate Alwart, Bognor Regis

Defenders of democracy

14 March 2021

Dear editor

I am inspired by the feature on Terry Reintke (MEP) to continue, for as long as it takes, the struggle to regain democratic government in the UK. It is not only Terry Reintke and her fellow nationals who must question the actions of parents and grandparents in speaking out to defend the rule of law and threatened minorities. We all now as individuals,  parents and grandparents, have a duty to speak up now for democracy, the rule of law and civil liberties in the UK or have our children and grandchildren question our inaction.

Ben Taylor (European Union Citizen in exile)

My remarkable aunts

8 March 2021

Dear editor

Re Viv Griffiths’ article on the two women who have been an inspiration in her life: It has made me reflect on the women in my life who were always “in the background, invisible and given little credit for all they did” – my mother and several teachers come to mind. Sussex Bylines: Great work.

Mary Lewis, Sussex

A journey through time

14 February 2021

Dear editor,

I’ve just read your fabulous article about the Newhaven RNLI Lifeboat and can confirm, as a Newhaven resident, that the lifeboat crew are some of our town’s true heroes! And following on from that, I wondered if you may be interested in a couple of items from ‘900 Years – A Journey Through Time’, a project created in conjunction with the 900th anniversary of St Michael’s Church (it is the oldest building in the town).

The project is a collection of new music and song, telling cherry-picked stories from Newhaven’s history. I mention this particularly, because two tracks on the album Brazen Souls and RNLI are about the loss of HMS Brazen and the lifeboat respectively. The first tells the story of the wreck as seen through the eyes of Louisa Hanson, the Captain’s young wife. The second empathises with the loved ones of those in the lifeboat’s crew, and how they feel when a ‘shout’ comes. We do plan on producing a live performance ‘musical’ of the project, initially planned for 2020, the actually 900th anniversary year, but that has been delayed of course, due to the pandemic. However, we did make an extremely well-received short film (funded by the Arts Council) based on Brazen Souls. I’ve set out some links below, in case you’d like to take a look.

Brazen Souls Short Film: https://youtu.be/Cjgq8JFt70o RNLI Lyric Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv3_7qAoYFA 900 Years – A Journey Through Time Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Newhaven900Years

Mike Flood, Newhaven

Covid-19 inquiry

24 January 2021

Dear editor,

I am not impressed by the government saying there will be a Covid-19 inquiry but now is not the time. They seem to expect praise for saying that but it is crazy to think they ignore the findings of the all-party group that shows what a scandalous mess the government has made.

In my opinion, that’s down to ideology of a decade of defunding the NHS, pushing EU people out, raiding taxes to give contracts to chums and blatant disregard of scientific evidence. And now – yet again – they’re being less than honest about vaccine supply and timing of 2nd jabs.

Daisy Cooke, Chichester

The ‘dead good deal’ that’s killing business

Dear editor,

Helen Gibbons’ experience of the effects of Brexit (Selling to Europe from Sussex, 22 January) is a taste of things to ceome.

The Centre for Economic Performance predicts exports to the EU will drop by more than a third over the next decade and total UK trade by 13%. At present, EU countries account for over half of our trade with the world.

Boris Johnson claims his trade deal opens up Britain to more opportunities on the world stage. However, the reality on the ground is lost jobs and lost opportunities that no amount trade deals with distant countries is going to make up for.

Rick Dillon, Hastings

Democracy or populism?

24 January 2021

Dear editor,

The constitution and the institutions of American democracy have held in the face of repeated attacks by Trump and his deluded supporters who remain convinced that the election was stolen. All who care for freedom celebrated with Joe Biden on Wednesday as he affirmed that democracy and prevailed in the United States and that if enough of us agree then that would be enough to carry us all forward to combat the rising tide of populism. But these events have shown us that democracy is fragile and in his words ‘the battle to save it is perennial and victory is never assured’.

So I suggest that we take this seriously with regard to the attacks on our own democratic institutions made by our own government. These include the attempt to prorogue parliament, the imposition of Covid restrictions and the postponing of elections without a vote, Ministers and special advisers above the law, PPE contracts given without competitive tender to supporters and cronies, or threatening to break International Law. Add to this the attacks on the BBC, the judiciary and the Civil Service, the pitiful amount of parliamentary time given to scrutinise the Brexit Deal and the proposals to remove power from local councils to decide on planning applications.

I could cite many more examples but urge all who value consensus and parliamentary government to stand up for our institutions and preserve what is left of our democracy.

Sophie Holman, Lewes

The truth about Covid-19?

23 January 2021

Dear editor,

I get the feeling we’re not getting the truth on Covid-19. Why is it that the Germans now insist everyone wears FFP2 masks outside and in public spaces to try and combat the infectious spread of the new variants?

The UK government is asleep on the job. German press conferences aren’t government-controlled, and the ministers and virologists get hard questions which they actually answer.

Test–trace–vaccinate and mask up as a public duty seems reasonable. 

Matt Bennett, Arundel

Curbing the spread of Covid-19 in Sussex

21 January 2021

Dear editor,

Are councillors across Sussex doing anything to try and curb the spread of Covid-19 in public and communal buildings where only limited airflow ventilation can be achieved? Stagnant and unvented conditions are known to allow the virus establish and spread. 

At the same time, the promenade in Brighton and Hove is understandably crowded with people wanting to walk or exercise. Shouldn’t runners be required to wear masks? Sage and the Zoe research shows that air is expelled at a rate similar to coughing  and sneezing when someone runs. Droplets and aerosols can float onto others a far greater distance than the accepted two metre passive transmission norm, especially wind assisted. 

These are two small steps where we should take the lead.

David Holden, Hove

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