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Last modified: 9 November 2004
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Brighton Branch

Brighton & Mid-Sussex Branch was revived early in 1998 after a period of years during which it had been dormant. NUJ members in the area reactivated the branch because they wanted a forum which would provide them with support locally and where they could exchange information and ideas.

The branch has held well attended monthly meetings with a range of speakers including former Fleet Street editor and broadcaster Derek Jameson, cartoonist Steve Bell and Journalist of the Year Nick Davies.

The branch currently has more than 100 members, ranging in experience from students through to life members who have been in the NUJ for decades. All the skills encompassed by the NUJ are represented, including: illustrators; photographers; writers and production editors for books, and for trade and consumer press; radio and TV broadcasters; public relations officers; and workers in new media. The majority of members are freelance (check out our Directory), although the largest NUJ chapel in the area is at the main local paper, the Argus.

First, the news:

1 This month's meeting is in the upstairs theatre room at the Sussex Arts Club which is at 7 Ship Street, Brighton, at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 17 November.

2 But the other date for diary is the Christmas party night next month. We've booked the upstairs room at the Cricketers' pub in Brighton for Thursday 9 December. The bar will be ours from 7.30pm until 11pm and we will be laying on food and possibly some drink. The pub's address is 15 Black Lion St, Brighton BN1 1ND. For those outside Brighton, it's very close to the seafront and there is an underground public car park in the same street. Please make a note of the date as we will not be sending out a reminder in the post (though a reminder email will be despatched), because your secretary won't have time to do so. An invite is enclosed with this mailout. As the branch's new chair, Jemima Kiss, says: it will be a good opportunity to remind ourselves how interesting other members can be.

3 The branch has a new chair - Jemima Kiss, who replaces Fraser Addecott - and a welfare officer for the first time - Virginia Bridgewater - after last month's Annual Meeting. Adrian Colley remains secretary and treasurer. We are still looking for a social secretary, so if anyone would like to take the job on, get in touch or pipe up at a meeting and the job could well be yours.

4 On a tragic note, it is with great sorrow that the branch learnt that former branch chairman Jon Kendrick was found dead in Brighton last month. A man has been charged with his murder.

Jon was a stalwart attender at meetings and served the branch faithfully as chairman for two years as well as attending the union's Annual Delegate Meeting on behalf of members. During his stint as chairman he helped run the branch at a difficult time, stepping into the secretary's shoes to ensure meetings went ahead. A former radio journalist in London and the ex-lecturer at Highbury Journalism College in Portsmouth he knew the industry inside out and his death has come as a shock to everyone who knew and liked him. We have no news on when his funeral is to be held. A minute's silence will be held at next month's meeting to commemorate his memory.

5 You may have read that NUJ membership has climbed by 4,000 nationally in the last five years. Well, Brighton and Mid Sussex has been no exception to the rule and in the last two months we've broken the 200 barrier for the first time and have about 210 members. That's quite a big leap from 1998 when we had something like 80 members when the branch was relaunched.

6 Items on the agenda for this month's meeting include whether to re-affiliate to anti-fascist group Searchlight; a petition to support the public funding of the BBC; a request to support staff striking in Manchester in protest at changes at the Evening News, owned by the same company that owns The Guardian. We'll also be discussing how much to spend on this year's Christmas festivities, so if you have an opinion on that, let's hear it.

7 Does anyone want to attend the 2005 TUC Young Members' Conference? It's in early April in Newcastle. The NUJ can send four delegates and is asking branches to nominate members who might want to take part. You must be under 27 on 1 April 2005. Anyone interested should contact adecolley@1927club.com or make their interest known at this month's meeting.

8 The union's Ethics Council Conference is being held on Saturday, 4 December at the University of Westminster, London. Speakers include our president Jeremy Dear, Sir Christopher Meyer of the Press Complaints Commission and John Lloyd editor of the FT magazine. It's open to members but free places at the event have to be booked in advance – email jpt@mediawise.org.uk.

The themes of the event include: how to encourage journalists to be ethical and who sets the standards and how forms of regulation can help strengthen trust in journalism.

8 The union has launched a two-year drive to improve support to workplace reps. It intends to launch an online pay database and publish a reps' manual for example, as well as tailor training to meet reps' needs better. More information on the Reps Matter survey can be seen at www.nuj.org.

9 Finally, the usual appeal for members to think about receiving updates via email rather than in the post. Unfortunately, despite the record number of members, only one can be found to do the newsletter, admin, posting etc so any help in reducing the workload is appreciated. About 50 people receive branch information via email, which saves a fair bit of cash. During the last three years we have been able to donate hundreds to charitable causes and to causes worth fighting eg anti-fascist organisation Searchlight as a result of the money we've been able to save on admin costs.

Minutes of Annual Meeting on 20 October

Present: Virginia Bridgewater, Adrian Colley, Jemima Kiss, Mike O'Flynn, Claire Rigby, Damien Barr. Apologies: Fraser Addecott, Steve Whitehead

1 Minutes of the September meeting were accepted

2 Several new members were admitted to the branch.

3 Election of officials. Chair – Jemima Kiss elected, proposed by Virginia Bridgewater, seconded by Adrian Colley; Treasurer – Adrian Colley elected, proposed by Claire Rigby, seconded by Jemima Kiss; Secretary – Adrian Colley elected, proposed by Claire Rigby, seconded by Virginia Bridgewater; Welfare Officer – Virginia Bridgewater, proposed Jemima Kiss, seconded by Adrian Colley.

4 Correspondence – copies of Searchlight and Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom pamphlets were handed out.

5 Officers' reports. Treasurer Adrian Colley reported that we had £1,265.10 in the bank.

6 Chapel reportsArgus: Virginia Bridgewater said Argus journalists, who won union recognition in the summer, had submitted a 6% pay claim to their bosses. The recent departure of Simon Bradshaw as Argus editor had not been universally welcomed in the office and management had threatened staff if they wrote to the UK Press Gazette. Sales of the Argus have slipped since the relaunch.

7 There were no motions to be submitted to next year's Annual Delegate Meeting in April.

8 There were no nominations to stand for election as South East representative on the NUJ's National Executive Committee.

9 Christmas Party. Ideas for the form and venue of this year's party were canvassed. Claire Rigby suggested the Cricketers' pub in Brighton. Damien Barr suggested a Thursday night as the best night of the week on which to hold it and that 2 December would be the pick of the December Thursdays. And the Tzar Bar on Brighton seafront was also suggested. The idea of a possible joint party with Evening Argus was floated. The meeting agreed that Adrian Colley could research and, if necessary, book a venue for the event.

10 Any other business: Adrian Colley mentioned that former chairman Jon Kendrick had been murdered a week earlier. The meeting agreed to his suggestion that if the funeral was held and he was able to attend, that the branch would underwrite the cost of a wreath.

Contact adecolley@1927club.com if you would rather receive mailings by email.