Local residents, who live in the shadow of the new AMEX head office building in Brighton, fear for the disruption due over the next five to six years as their worries are dismissed. Brighton, UK. 2nd July 2011
These residents are not suffers of nimbyitus! As individuals (before the protest group was formed) they accepted the planning process had been followed, and while it is not an option some preferred they accepted that for the greater good of the area, and Brighton in general, the new head office had to be built. What they did not contemplate was the lack of control exercised during the building process, in as much as the relentless disruption to their daily lives.
After eighteen months of construction the residents feel they have been ‘…treated badly by the builders and to some extent the council’ Phil Meakins. At meetings they have attended with the council the advice they have been given is to follow procedures. They have. The residents claim to be regularly disturbed on Sunday mornings and only an unsympathetic sorry is given time after time. The answer given to the residents from the CEO of Amex when asked whether he would tolerate the disruption was ‘… we have done enough …’
From knowledge the residents have, the building will be ready for occupancy this December (2011). There then follows a two to three year period where transfer of office functions from the old to the new building is completed. After which, the old building is demolished, and the land returned to open space. However, suspicions are raised, and trust lost between parties as the final date for completion is 2016. Doing the basic sums there is possible a two year gap between all building work being completed and the site closing!
An adjacent road has many upset residents who, on being canvassed by the active local residents, claim they are scared to voice their views and opinions. It was mentioned, that a retired resident has to leave her house everyday due the excessive noise.
Ben Duncan, their local Green Councillor; is anticipated to take up this cause, but has only just taken over from the previous administration and needs time to settle in.
I visited the small green area where the protestors had setup their banners and placards just at the time when they were doing an orchestrated set piece of whistles, sirens and shouts. While having a fun element, it was to reconstruct the daily blight the construction site delivers to the local residents.
Phil Meakins organised the team of supporters to make their way to the front of the existing building making sure it was a casual walk and not a banner waving march. Once there the supporters approached the main doors but I believe had no intention of any confrontation: being visible and heard was the order of the day.
Next stop was a roadside standoff with banners at the ready, whistles pouting on lips and fingers delicately poised on car horns: Lots of waving, cheering and chanting took place. Concern was made by the organisers for safety; and fellow protestors were coerced back onto the main footway along the road edge.
This protest outside the head office of a multinational company was reminiscent of David and Goliath. The difference here is the fall of the giant is not the objective. Local residents are fully aware of the other building work AMEX is supporting in the city and the overall benefits it brings, but they just wish they were treated with concern and dignity, and not given the bums rush. The apparent arrogance of the construction company in this day and age should be frowned upon. This is not a green field site it is where people live!