As reported in last month’s online Whistler, the 7Dials Neighbourhood Group is now up and running. Here’s an update on what we’ve been up to.

We’ve had two discussion meetings in the upstairs room at the Duke of Wellington, sharing experiences and learning on a broader level about the frightening levels of privatisation, failures and wastage through selling off our local NHS services. It’s very worrying to realise that so many of us haven’t a clue about what’s actually happening to our NHS in Brighton & Hove.

For instance:

  • Big increases in consultants appointment / treatment waiting times
  • A 25% drop in number of GPs – 6 surgery closures in Brighton & Hove in the last two years, leaving thousands seeking another surgery with spaces
  • Private company Optum now vetting all GP referrals in order to reduce hospital appointments by 25%
  • Attempted and/or failed privatisation of musculo-skeletal services (knees and hips) locally and elsewhere
  • Massive drop in number of available hospital beds
  • Endoscopy under a new unpleasant process because they won’t employ qualified staff for the recovery room
  • Child health services massively cut, health visitors to be replaced by Nursery Nurses

This has to be our focus for local activities, sharing the knowledge with everyone in our locality. To that end, we are inviting anyone and everyone to come along to our meeting again upstairs at the Duke of Wellington in Upper Gloucester Road (not far from the Dials, above the station) on Monday 26 June. 7.30 – 9pm. We’ll be putting invitations through doors so look out for your reminder!

On Saturday 20 May we had our first stall in the Seven Dials, where crowds of people dropped by, picked up leaflets, signed our petition and chatted to us. We urged everyone, for our children and grandchildren’s sakes, to use their vote for the NHS.

Whatever the result of the election, there’s still work to be done to protect our local NHS and social services.

If you’d like a blue poster for your window, contact Sussex Defend the NHS on defendthenhs@gmail.com or, even better, come along to 7Dials Neighbourhood Group on Monday 26 June, 7.30pm upstairs in the Duke of Wellington, Upper Gloucester Road, collect a poster and tell us your ideas for action!

Katrina Miller


It is funny how, sometimes, unexpected events can suddenly change one’s course of action. I wasn’t going to write this piece: I was going to write on a completely different subject, but a chance meeting changed my mind.

I was walking past an old haunt, and decided to look in, briefly, hoping to have a quick word with the manager on a business matter. Just inside the door was an old friend who I have known since arranging a mortgage for him, some 30 years ago. I greeted him warmly and enquired as to his health. “So, so,” he replied and asked if I could spare a few minutes for a chat. The Boss wasn’t available so I sat down for a word with my old pal. Commenting on his not being his usual chipper self, he told me that he had just been diagnosed with cancer, and asked if I would help him to “get all his ducks in a row.” Needless to say I agreed I would, and said how sorry I was to hear his news.

“No-one should be sad,” he said, “my life has been a great adventure. I have travelled the world; seen countless beautiful things; met many wonderful people; and seen many of my heroes playing beautiful music.” (his passion) “Millions of children are born with little or nothing to eat or drink, and die without even having had the benefit of a basic education.” It is unlike me to be lost for words, but I was, for a minute.

You may wonder what all this has to do with finance, but my friend asked specifically about Equity Release to provide some extra cash, to finance his ‘to do list’ and in these circumstances it is important to have a current will in place, to ensure that one’s estate is distributed in the desired way. Another useful thing to consider is putting some assets (principally policies) in a Trust. This will sidestep the sometimes tortuous process of probate, and ensure that these assets go straight into the hands of the beneficiaries.

End-of-life planning isn’t just for the twilight years. It is something that can start relatively early, principally when we first have financial or family liabilities. In these cases, it is an unexpected death that is protected against by way of Life Assurance policies, but as the years pass the inevitable becomes more so. Moreover, it is worth remembering that in the UK people are five times more likely to protect against death than critical illness; and critical illness policies outsell Income Protection polices, again by five-to-one. The single, most incorrect statement ever must be “It’ll never happen to me”, but that seems to be the subtitle to most people’s lives, in some way, shape, or form. However, too often ‘it’ does and, far too often, no protection is in place to help to deal with the effects. I would be amongst the first to advocate not spending so much on insurance and committing such an amount to savings and investments that you can’t afford to have a life. But it is as vital to allocate something towards protection provisions, as it is to save and invest. Life can be too short!

Sorry if I’ve been a bit low-key this time. Next issue I shall be full of the joys of Summer. Until then, seize the day!

David Foot



A planning application for this property has been considered by the Conservation Advisory Group which recommended approval. The two storey house on the corner of Guildford Road and Clifton Street was a dog grooming parlour for many years and had, before that, been a shop. The proposal will replace the shop window with bay windows in order to make the premises more suitable for residential occupation.


The Conservation Advisory Group, however, recommended refusal for this application to demolish the existing dwelling and erect a three storey building with 2no two bedroom flats and 1no one bedroom flat, considering the design to be inappropriate for the area. There were also concerns about the lack of clarity in the drawings submitted as these did not make clear the parking provision. This is the second application for this site in recent years. The previous application for a single four bedroomed house with a garage has not been implemented. It had been refused by the Council but then allowed on appeal by a planning inspector. In front of the adjacent property (19A Bath Street) it is interesting to note the two (redundant) petrol pumps which are on the local list of heritage assets. These “Shellmex” pumps from the early 1950s are a reminder of what was one of the first, if not the first, petrol station in Brighton. It seems they remained in use into the 21st century which explains why they carry stickers, added in the latter part of the 20th century, indicating “three star” and “four star” petrol. With the introduction of unleaded petrol such terms are themselves of historical interest, being no longer a feature of our modern fuel pumps.


A further application to replace the existing pitched roof with a mansard roof incorporating a single dormer both front and rear has been submitted. The current proposal is to raise the roof line slightly less than proposed in the previous application, which the council refused, and not to raise the height of the front parapet. The current application points out that there are many examples of buildings within Brighton and Hove of a similar size, period and style, which have traditional mansard roofs and that there are also examples of the council’s granting permission for similar mansard alterations to unlisted buildings in other conservation areas.

Have you noticed an increase in the number of ‘lost cat’ signs stuck up on trees, bins etc in the West Hill area?
There is a more effective method to find an aimlessly wandering feline than the traditional photo stapled to a tree.

If you own one or more of these furry little herberts, live in the West Hill area, and think that sharing information about our kitties with a view to their well-being is a good idea, then go on Facebook and look for the group: West Hill Cat Watch. Not just a lost cat page but a place where you can upload photos of your fur bag(s) and exchange information so we can look out for our furry friends.

April saw the return of one of the West Hill and Brighton’s most prominent pubs, lovingly restored and re-launched as The West Hill Tavern. Formerly known as The Belle Vue, and then simply The West Hill, the site has seen many incarnations over the years as a steady stream of management teams have steered the ship; but this time things seem different.

Former Creative Director of London and Brighton-based events and bar group Mothership, interior designer Heather Pistor and her DJ husband Ben have taken on a 10-year lease. Along with their young son Elliott, it seems they are here to stay. With a huge investment from both the landlords and the Pistors, the pub has been given a new lease of life with cosy interiors, traditional pub pantones and a cracking selection of drinks, including craft beers, ‘not-so-crafty beers’, local Sussex ales such as Long Man’s APA and Hammerpot’s Mosaic Pale Ale, alongside a very considered wine list, a bloody good Bloody Mary and goblets of G&T. What more could one want?

The events calendar is beginning to take shape too, with a weekly Jazz night on Thursdays and a twice-monthly quiz to be held on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month; and they are currently on the lookout for local meet-up groups, musicians and promoters to join the community at The Westie. “Our aim is to become the hub of the community with something for everyone, and have that ‘Cheers’ effect where everyone really does know your name,” said Heather. “We’ve been overwhelmed by, and are very thankful for, all the support from so many locals, some of whom hadn’t set foot in the pub for a number of years. It’s such an honour to be given the opportunity to re-instate The West Hill Tavern as the centre of this wonderful West Hill community, and along with our staff, we welcome everyone into our new home.”

And, of course, you can’t have a real pub without a hearty pub food menu and The West Hill Tavern is serving up home-cooked food Wednesday – Sunday, including burgers, fish ‘n’ chips, and that all important Sunday roast.
As the Pistor’s mantra goes, “Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your dog, bring the good times.”

Email thewestiebn1@gmail.com to get involved.

In my last article I wrote about the difference between the in-your-face gooseberry and elderflower flavour of New Zealand Sauvignon, compared to the subtle and hard-to-describe French Sauvignons of the Loire and Bordeaux. Different terroirs produce different wines, I suggested. But what if it’s not the terroir at all but the yeast?

Yeast is what converts the sugars in grape juice to alcohol. But that’s not all they do, or wine would taste like alcoholic grape juice. They also convert chemicals in the juice to the flavours that make it into wine. Traditionally, the yeasts used were those that occurred naturally on the skin of the grape or in the cellar. But now most winemakers use cultured yeast. These are still natural yeasts (not genetically modified) that have been selected because they produce a specific effect that the winemaker wants.

As an example, let’s stick with New Zealand Sauvignon. The most commonly used yeast strain is Zymaflore VL3,X5. It increases the concentration of thiol compounds, which are what give NZ Sauvignon that incredible flavour. And if the winemaker doesn’t want her wine to be too tart, she might add Uvaferm SVG, which will reduce the malic acid content of the wine. And it’s not just Sauvignon. CY3079 will bring out the ‘hazelnut and brioche’ flavour of Chardonnay. Rhone 4600 will increase the apricot-like flavour of Viognier. And so on. And it’s not just about flavour. Enoferm Syrah will increase the amount of glycerol in Syrah, giving the wine more body in the mouth.

What do we think about all this? Winemakers who use cultured yeasts are extraordinarily reticent on this issue, as though they fear they will be accused of manufacturing flavours that wouldn’t be there naturally. Some traditionalists rely on naturally occurring yeast, at least to start the fermentation process, claiming that this yeast is part of the terroir that makes their wine unique. However, science does not support this idea. The strains of yeast found in a cellar or vineyard one year will not necessarily be there the next. Relying on indigenous yeasts that just happen to be there leaves a lot to chance.

The thing to understand is that you can’t take Sauvignon grape juice from the Loire, ferment it with Zymoflore VL3,X5 and make NZ Sauvignon. Cultivated yeasts can only work on the chemicals that are already in the grape juice. They enhance the real flavour that is naturally there. They reveal what might otherwise just be potential. I’m all for it.

I am indebted to Benjamin Lewin MW for the technical detail contained in his article ‘Do you know what’s flavouring your wine?’ in ‘Decanter’ July 2014.

Andrew Polmear

I am amazed to find the Bath Street resurfacing finished today [5th April]. In under 10 hours the whole top surface was all removed, fresh Tarmac laid, new lines and signs repainted on the new surface and the evening rush-hour traffic storming around it at 5-30pm. Compare that with the recent excessive disruption that took place last year on the Seven Dials round-about which went on for weeks.
Jeff Blyth