Saturday, 29 November 2008

A new police station for East Brighton - probably the greenest in the country

Earlier this month something happened I wouldn't have believed possible 18 months ago when I took my seat on Sussex Police Authority: the Chief Constable presented a set of environmental awards to key staff and talked about how sustainability had be mainstreamed into the way policing is delivered.

I have always believed that cutting emissions and improving environmental performance should be seen as an essential component of one of the police's primary remits: keeping the public safe. After all, what's the point of getting burglary, rape and murder rates down if we see Sussex devastated by the worst aspects of climate change in a few short years - and report after report has warned we'll see some of the worst impacts here by the south coast. Of course, the police have got a job to do, and solving climate change isn't their job alone - but it's everyone's job - including the Police - we've all got a duty to cut our emissions, and public services more than anyone.

That's why I'm delighted that, after making just this argument in several Police Authority meetings since my appointment - and playing a key role in persuading the authority to adopt a challenging environmental policy last year (alongside proposals to spend more money on delivering neighbourhood policing, of course) - the concept of sustainability seems to have made the mainstream at Sussex Police HQ.

Which brings me to the new police station opened this week in Hollingbury. As I say, it's probably the greenest in the country. It'll be open to the public (as long as the SPA can find the money to pay the necessary staff), and house neighbourhood police officers serving much of the city.

But it uses light wells instead of fluorescent tubes, was designed to require almost no heating in winter or cooling in summer, is accompanied by bat and bird boxes and other measures to attract and conserve wildlife living nearby, will harvest rainwater (and recycle it for washing cars), and is fitted out with chairs made from recycled tyres and car batteries and the wooden tables and desks are made from wood from a sustainable forest here in Sussex.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Bill Hicks probably said it best

So there's new leader of the so-called 'free world'. Barack Obama has won a landslide in yesterday's US Presidential election. He has galvanised the American people (well a few more than half of them, anyway) around his message of change - and though I'm a little more pessimistic about the difference he is really likely to make than some - I wish him well.

But at this momentus time (I just saw Jesse Jackson crying on telly, and heard someone likening his acceptance speech to the moment man first walked on the moon) I am reminded of the words of the great late Bill Hicks, who warned that every time a new US president is elected he is ushered into a room by a small band of shadowy, overfed white men in dark suits. Through the fug of cigar smoke, a TV screen unfurls from the ceiling and a video of the JFK assassination shot from the perspective of the sniper is shown. 'So here's what you'll be doing for the next four years, ok?' one of the suits rasps...

Seriously, though, if Barack Obama is really going to deliver significant change in the way the US economy, oil industry or war machine do business, the battle with John McCain is just a warm-up act for the struggle to come - with the lobbyists, bankers and money men who have pulled the strings of every US president since FDR almost a century ago.