'I can imagine Brian Cox explaining how Brighton has decayed quicker than anywhere'

Alistair McNair writes his thoughts about slow progress in Brighton <i>(Image: Andrew Gardner/The Argus)</i>
Alistair McNair writes his thoughts about slow progress in Brighton (Image: Andrew Gardner/The Argus)

My wife wouldn’t let people vote if they didn’t know the second law of thermodynamics. Don’t ask me, I don’t know. Wikipedia tells me that it basically means time equals decay, writes Alistair McNair, leader of Brighton Conservatives.

Brighton is a perfect example of time equalling decay. I can see the physicist and all-round spaceman Brian Cox, the world’s loneliest Mancunian, standing on Ditchling Beacon, gazing across the city, explaining very slowly how Brighton has decayed quicker than anywhere else in the UK. We talk about micro climates – Brighton has a micro time zone. Go to Eastbourne or Worthing and time actually speeds up.

Perhaps that’s why, if it was up to Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, we’d all be high on laughing gas. Maybe it makes time go quicker.

Some people smoke weed, others ride e-scooters or cycle, others just give up trying and buy a beach hut. Beach huts are timeless. I’ve yet to find a cure for this sense of decay.

I was at a meeting in my ward recently and I thought I’d found nirvana.

It started on time, it followed the agenda and after 38 minutes it was all done and dusted – even the hall was dusted. They should be running the city. It must have been an anomaly – a hole in Brighton’s space-time continuum. As soon as I left the community centre, I could hear my watch tick every second.

I understand why e-scooters are popular. Every day I take the number 5 bus. Watching the electronic display count down, I could swear it’s been five minutes for at least ten minutes. The bus crawls to a stop slower than the dandelion grows – if it turns up at all. People actually walk faster.

What’s slower than the bus? The repaving of Western Road? Another example would be grass-cutting. It should happen two or three times a year in a normal time zone but in Brighton we’re lucky it happens at all. Somehow the grass in Brighton just doesn’t grow that fast – that’s the micro time zone in action.

We’re not a Brian Cox or even a Mystic Meg RIP kind of city. We don’t take inspiration from gazing at the stars. Reading The Argus, it’s clear how much Hove Town Hall dominates like an Aztec pyramid – occasionally you can hear the sacrificial screams, or is that fingers being jammed in the photocopier?

Such is the sense of déjà vu each year, you can buy a calendar illustrating not the ubiquitous West Pier – it’s been photographed more than its scaffold-like cousin the Eiffel Tower – but a particular council service.

Instead of the South Downs in snow, January has a picture of recycling. February shows a mountain of rubbish. April pictures a grimacing resident receiving their new tax bill. September shows a half empty school. October, a park with the grass being cut. November is a blocked drain.

Everyone is so used to everything happening once a year that children are named after a service as a kind of lucky charm. Instead of lovely spring names like May or June, children are called Glass Collection or Recycling. Teachers tell each other how many Tax Increases they have in their class each September – it’s the most popular name.

Now the summer holidays are over, you’ll be glad to hear the council is once again dusting down its big book of city problems. The quills have been dipped in fresh ink, new Filofaxes distributed, stools taken out of storage, and phones put back on the hook - at least until 1pm. And next Full Council is not far off – Thursday, October 19.

If you’ve read this far, here’s something useful. The deadline for questions from the public at Full Council is noon on Friday, October 13 – unlucky for some. You don’t need me to think of questions, but, deep breath, here’s some we can ask again.

Why does the council force residents to use parking apps? Why are so many drains blocked? Why is the grass only cut once a year? Why haven’t all the toilets been opened yet? Why does it take so long to repave Western Road? Why are the bins still uncollected?

There won’t be time to ask all of your questions – Full Council runs from 4.30pm till the witching hour but only dedicates 15, maybe 30, minutes to resident questions – it’s the Brighton time zone again.

There are times when it’s nice Brighton has such a slow time zone. When you’re gazing at the sunset from your tent on Brighton beach the council won’t hurry you off; or staring at the South Downs from your caravan in Patcham; or if you’re worried you’ve missed a rubbish collection – you won’t have. Our city’s mascot shouldn’t be the seagull but the groundhog.