Peyton and Byrne pledges to pay suppliers before quitting Brighton

Catering services at Brighton's Royal Pavilion have been put out to tender

Catering services at Brighton’s Royal Pavilion have been put out to tender

A catering company run by a celebrity restaurateur has insisted it has the cash to pay suppliers before it pulls out of a city’s iconic venues.

Last month Peyton & Byrne announced it will stop delivering catering and hospitality for Brighton Dome, the Royal Pavilion and Hove Museum.

Brighton and Hove Council said  the bars and cafes will return to in-house management, while joint tenders are sought for a new firm to run the catering and the cafe operations.

The GMB union is in negotiations with the council and the caterer over the future of its members employed at the venues.

According to the latest figures filed at Companies House, Peyton & Byrne has a negative balance sheet of £891,056 . It has a net debt of £1,192,751 and has issued a debenture with Barclays bank.

In the previous year it borrowed £300,000 from Olga Polizzi, the mother-in-law of BBC Great British Menu judge Oliver Peyton. The loan has since been repaid.

A spokeswoman for Peyton & Byrne said:“The company is well funded and has had recent further investment from British Growth Fund to ensure its strategic aims are met.  This included a £6.25 million investment deal signed in November 2012.

“Brighton Dome and  Brighton Festival and Royal Pavilion and Museums will be working with Peyton & Byrne to best protect staff and the facilities during the transfers of the bars and the tendering process.  All suppliers will be paid by Peyton & Byrne, who are currently continuing to run the site as per normal.”



Big names behind Brighton’s small screen start-up

Crime writer Peter James is backing Brighton's new TV station

Crime writer Peter James is backing Brighton’s new TV station

The boss of Brighton and Hove Albion football club  has thrown his support behind the city’s fledgling television station.

According to documents filed at Companies House in April, Tony Bloom, chairman at the Championship  side, has bought shares in Latest TV. Other shareholders include best-selling crime writer Peter James and local businessman Mike Holland.

Brighton and Hove is one of the first cities in the country to be awarded a 12-year local TV licence.

The station launches this week and will broadcast from it studios in Manchester Street on Freeview Channel 8 and Virgin 159 seven days a week and up to 24 hours a day.

Among possible projects under negotiation is live coverage of Brighton and Hove Albion Women’s games.

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove Albion said: “We’d like to wish those at Latest TV the very best with the new station. It will be great for the city to have it’s own TV station, alongside an already thriving local media scene. For our fans it will mean they can enjoy even more in-depth coverage of the club and Albion in the Community’s activities across the city.”

Peter James said: “I believe that next to London, Brighton is today the most iconic – as well as the most diverse – city in the UK.  Until now, I don’t think Brighton has ever been well served by any of the past regional television stations, where has received an occasional mention in the context of it being part of the South East region, rather than being recognised in its own right as a major hub.   It is long overdue the professional and informed dedicated television station that Latest TV shows every sign of becoming.”

Mike Holland said: “There are many great things to celebrate in our city. However, until now the one thing we have been lacking is a proper terrestrial TV station. This is all now happily about to change with the launch of Latest TV. As a shareholder in the company, I am immensely excited at the prospect of the benefits this will bring to the city we all love so much.”

The plot thickens at Brighton Hippodrome


"Waiting for Godot?" "No, The Usual Suspects."

“Waiting for Godot?” “No, The Usual Suspects.”

The drama over the future of the Brighton Hippodrome has taken a fresh twist.

Last month, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) wrote to Adrian Smith, a planning officer at Brighton and Hove City Council , to say that the council should hold its horses over plans to turn the derelict building into a cinema.

Secretary of State Eric Pickles has issued an Article 25 holding notice, extending the time limit in which he has to decide whether to call in the plans.

On August 6, Samantha Johnson, inspector of historic buildings and areas at English Heritage’s south east office wrote to Maria Bowen at DCLG to underline the fact that it believes the plans from Alaska Development Consultants to turn the Grade II  listed building into an eight-screen cinema represent “the best chance to conserve the heritage asset.”

She said: “In summary, English Heritage considers that the proposals, while harmful to the significance of the grade II* listed building, are justifiable in policy terms because of the public benefits they would deliver, the principle one of which is securing the future of what is now a very vulnerable building at risk.”

She goes on to say that while English Heritage is aware of the objections from the Victorian Society, Theatres Trust, and Our Brighton Hippodrome, neither English Heritage nor Brighton and Hove City Council has been presented with a detailed alternative scheme that sets out a realistic and viable proposal for a theatre on the site.

The  district valuer’s report has concluded that the development of the building as a theatre would not be commercially viable.

Here is the valuer’s estimated trading performance for a theatre at the Brighton Hippodrome:


Reasonable expectation of Gross receipts

Estimated admissions 145,600 pa

Average ticket price £18



Food and beverage £196,560


Total receipts £2,817,360 pa



Cost of sales

Purchases £128,000

Direct costs £1,756,000


Gross profit £933,360



Indicative expenditure

42% Gross receipts £1,183, 250


Estimated annual loss -£249,890


The valuer’s report points out that although supporters of the theatre plan have said that a reborn Hippodrome would capable of hosting large West End musicals and even circuses, the space is similar to Brighton Dome, which only operates with the assistance of a council subsidy.

The report says: “I also considered whether an additional theatre in Brighton would generate additional custom for Brighton as a theatre destination location and thus would make the theatre proposal commercially viable. There is no evidence to support such a contention. Indeed, the Hippodrome at Leicester Square, surrounded by West End theatres, indicates that the opposite is the case. In my opinion, a concentration of theatres cannot reliably contribute to commercial success.”


Here is the developer’s scheme for a cinema at the site.


Food for thought on the Bribery Act


Organisers of corporate jollies need to be more open about who they are wining and dining.

A conference and events industry expert said transparency is needed to stay on the right side of the UK Bribery Act. The law was introduced to make it easier to prosecute organisations that made corrupt payments.

But analysts say it was not intended to stamp out corporate hospitality.

Last year Brighton and Hove council chiefs entertained eight conference and event organisers to slap up meals in the city.

The dinners took place at English’s restaurant in East Street and Chilli Pickle in Jubilee Square in the wake of the UK Meetings Show in London. They were charged to the credit card of Brighton and Hove’s convention bureau manager as official council business.

John Fisher, managing director at the FMI Group an international hospitality agency based in Shoreditch, said that event promoters and clients have agreed a few ground rules in the wake of the Bribery Act.

1 You don’t offer hospitality shortly before or shortly after the granting of a contract for services. Most people now offer a dead period of, say, three months when no supplier is offered hospitality if a big contract is coming up or just been awarded.

2 Any hospitality offered under the banner of marketing or promotion should be openly discussed and agreed and there should be no do this get that deals or secret arrangements.

3 There is generally more leeway with private firms but as the act is aimed mainly at public sector employees in positions of discretional influence, public sector workers need to be open and above board if any hospitality or promotion is offered.

4 A public record of expenditure should be kept in a register of offers and acceptances that is open to scrutiny. There should be an internal process of approval which again is open to scrutiny. Decisions to offer or accept hospitality should be openly recorded and reviewed from time to time to see if the hospitality has been proportionate and reasonable.

Mr Fisher said: “When the act was passed Ken Clark issued some guidelines from the Ministry of Justice stating very clearly that it was perfectly ok to offer hospitality to promote good relations with potential clients provided it was ‘appropriate and reasonable’. One man’s reasonable is another man’s outrage .

“It’s all about context. If a client is going to bring say £10,000 worth of spend to Brighton then £75 quid for a meal to encourage them to do so is probably reasonable. There are no monetary guidelines in the act so you have to take a view.”

A spokeswoman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “We have had a note from Visit Brighton that reports a successful familiarisation visit following the UK Meeting Show. Lead times for meeting and conference bookings can be in excess of 12 months and Visit Brighton is in dialogue with several of the attendees who may confirm business in the future. To date, one of the attendees has booked two meetings and used two seafront hotels. Another attendee has booked an event with a sailing organisation based at Brighton Marina. A yacht based at the marina has also been chartered by an attendee of the visit.”


David Cameron knows we have no chance against his tie and crest

What a catalyst you turned out to be...

What a catalyst you turned out to be…

It is every unruly pupil’s fantasy to run riot in the classroom and Mick Travis, the anti-hero in Lindsay Anderson’s If …, takes schoolboy rebellion to the limit. This razor-sharp satire eviscerates the British establishment, and Malcolm McDowell relishes his role as the public-school refusenik at war with the society that created him. This was McDowell’s debut, and his work with Anderson was to be his best. Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange made him a household name, but the rest of his career was spent playing minor-league heavies.

McDowell’s roles in Anderson’s loose trilogy comprising If …, O Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital do not trace the development of a single character. Mick Travis is a shape-shifter whose circumstances and attitudes differ according to Anderson’s purpose. The disaffected public schoolboy in If … , the innocent chancer in O Lucky Man! and the investigative reporter in Britannia Hospital share the same name but little else. Each is a cipher through which the director projects his conflicted vision of the state of the nation.

You don’t have to be an old boy from Eton, Harrow or even Cheltenham College (one of the locations where If … was filmed) to sympathise with Travis’s alienated spirit – my own (distant) school days were spent at a Catholic comprehensive in northern England – you just need to share his belief that the game has been rigged so you might as well trash the rules. It’s a nihilistic vision that preceded the negative energy of punk by 10 years, but Travis is no Johnny Rotten dancing to a fashionista’s tune. The school uniforms at the fictional college are deliberately anachronistic, blending Edwardian jackets and pre-revolutionary Russian headwear. There is no groovy soundtrack to set the movie in a specific time frame and nobody mumbles existential one-liners in the style of Marlon Brando.

Street fighting man

Street fighting man

The film was released in 1968 when students in the US and Europe were taking their protest to the streets, but it shares none of the soixante-huitards‘ utopian optimism. McDowell is no student philosopher leading his followers towards a better dawn. His thinking, such as it is, could be based on DH Lawrence’s lines: “If you make a revolution, make it for fun …”

The mood darkens from poking fun at pomposity to murderous rage. It draws its considerable strength from the fact that many of the absurdist elements of the story have roots in reality. The Lindsay Anderson archive at Stirling University contains the school memorabilia he made use of to create his disturbing characters. Anderson claimed that the nonsense spouted by the headmaster was taken verbatim from a 1967 book called Eton – How It Works.

If the rebels have any cause, it is the Maoist belief that change must come from the barrel of a gun so, goaded by their superiors’ idiocy, on school speech day Mick and his cohorts mount a confrontation armed with bazookas. But what are the school kids rebelling against? The bête noire of adolescents through the ages – duty, conformity, the terrifying prospect of growing up and turning into the people you hate. Anderson takes a surrealistic approach to the story, but there is one element that is grimly realistic: the forces of power fight back against the threat to their authority with every weapon in their arsenal. In the end, Mick Travis is no match for the big guns.

Travis stands in a long line of doomed romantic heroes from Beethoven to Russell Brand. The school revolution he leads is bound to fail, but boy is it exhilarating while it lasts. Maturity may bring the realisation that you don’t make the world a better place by shooting all your elders, but it is hard not to sympathise with the view of Anderson that British society is a con trick played at the expense of most of the population.

Apparently, David Cameron once nominated this scathing film as one of his favourites. It is of a piece with his similarly odd statement that the Jam’s Eton Rifles is a regular on his iPod. No doubt the eternally angry Travis would agree with Paul Weller’s question after David Cameron named Eton Rifles as his favourite song in 1998: “Which part of it doesn’t he get?”. It goes to show that you can kick against the pricks all you like, but turning rebellion into money has always been the prerogative of the powerful.


This article was first published in The Guardian on July 29, 2014