Keep Your Zipwire And Your i360 – We Need Homes

From need grows want, from want grows desire, and from desire grows greed.

It is this final stage which now holds hostage the ambitions and policies of decision makers.

In our “civilised society” we cater not for what is needed, but rather what greed encourages us to chase. Implementing changes and enacting policies which are for the benefit of the few rather than to support the basic needs of the many.

Each day every one of us encounters someone forced to live on the streets. My own journey to and from work involves passing at least five of these humans society has deemed surplus to requirement.

These five humans are just the tip of a depressingly large iceberg of neglect. There are many more on our streets and the numbers continue to rise.

One human forced to use the street as their home is a tragedy and should cause outrage. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands across the country is a national disgrace.

None of us can claim with any sort of legitimacy that we are civilised, humane, and progressive when our fellow men and women are made to eke out an existence in the doorways of our cities’ shops.

I do not care about economic growth, nor investment and trade, nor deficit reduction, nor increased GDP, when my fellow citizens are dying on the streets because society has refused to help them.

Before we can even contemplate progress, we need to face, and overcome, the critical problems that we face.

Brighton and Hove, like cities across the UK, has seen a growing homeless problem. With cuts to welfare, support schemes and organisations, and with no attempt being made to tackle the chronic shortage of affordable housing, the safety net that we should take so much pride in is being dismantled to the point of collapse.

Every few weeks Brighton loses one of its citizens. Ignored by society, and abandoned by the council and central government, these are precisely the people who need our help most, and yet they represent the ones we are doing the least to assist.

My 9-5 is spent working in International Development raising funds for poverty alleviation projects in developing countries. Within this role I am told to find a need (a problem that needs fixing), before suggesting an intervention (one of the projects that we deliver) in order to dramatically improve the situation. Once we have proven that our intervention tackles the need we receive funding to carry out the project.

This is how International Development charities conduct their business. Whether the funds come from the public, trusts and foundations, or the government, by and large, this structure of combating a need is represented.

In what can only be seen as anti-British xenophobia by our own government, poverty alleviation abroad receives funding and support, whilst poverty alleviation at home gets cut.

There is a clear and desperate need here on the south coast, and throughout the British aisles, that the issue of homelessness needs addressing. And yet no matter how many times our politicians and councillors are told of this, nothing is done.

This obsession with fulfilling desires and submitting to the greed of society rather than its needs can be evidenced wherever you go.

The mid-January edition of Brighton and Hove Independent ran a number of articles looking at the issue of homelessness and the obscene rise in rent prices, and yet the early March edition gloriously promotes “a new attraction” coming to the seafront.

Just six weeks after reporting on the lack of affordable housing in the city and the shameful homeless situation, the paper waxes lyrical about the latest vulgar piece of entertainment – a zipwire ride which is set to replace the Brighton Wheel. This attraction, just east of the Pier, is set to cost £1.7m.

How can we rightly accept such a project, and at such a cost, when it does nothing to combat the greatest problem this city faces?

Private companies seeking to profit from our citizens need to recognise that they are obligated first and foremost to provide what the people need, rather than what they (may or may not) want.

Only the profit-seeking, money driven lunacy of neoliberal business policy would look at Brighton – with its housing shortage, its rapid rise in foodbanks, and its severe homeless problem – and decide that we need a zipwire.

I find it disgusting that a zipwire could even be contemplated and the British Airways i360 is just as shameful.

If the people of these shores had wanted a rotating viewing deck in the mould of a tower in Mordor, we would have asked for one.

We want support and funding for our services, not multiple expensive vanity projects that seek to give tourists fond memories and pleasant experiences.

At least these tourists have homes and food, many of our citizens do not and its about time those in power started covering our needs before catering to others wants and satisfying their own greed.


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