Julie Burchill Julie Burchill

Brighton rock bottom: How the Greens nearly destroyed the city I love

An poster of Green Party MP Caroline Lucas on Brighton beach (Credit: Getty images)

When you’re short-sighted, everyone seems attractive; for this reason, I don’t often wear my glasses, as I think myopia has a felicitous effect on my attitude to life. However, after a whopping 28 years living in Brighton & Hove, it’s dawning on me that this has coloured my view of my adopted hometown too.

I love living in Brighton and wouldn’t dream of moving anywhere else. But I am privileged to do a thing I love for a living, when and where I want; for people who need to get around it on a daily basis, Brighton is an increasingly unpleasant place to be. A good deal of this is the fault of the Green council, the UK’s first ever; looking back on their recently ended rule, it feels like the city was overcome by an invading force who tried their best to destroy it, leaving residents looking around in dazed disbelief.

Oddly, considering the party’s name, the natural world appears to have been one of their main targets. The Greens had something of a slash-and-burn attitude to local flora. Hedges, bushes and even a bowling green, which had been standing for years, were eviscerated. Dutch elm disease ran riot: the council refused to properly treat all of the affected trees, some of which have now been chopped down.

Angry men on bicycles are the kings of our seaside urban jungle

Most perverse was the destruction of a large part of the oldest and longest ‘green wall’ (a vertically built structure intentionally covered by vegetation) in Europe in the spring of 2021, during nesting season for the hundreds of birds who inhabited it. Perhaps as it was established by the Victorians, it was probably a nasty colonialist nature reserve and deserved to die? One specimen of local flora which the Greens did like was weeds, which took over to the point of being a health hazard.

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