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Changes to be decided for one of Brighton and Hove’s accident blackspots

It can be tricky to cross the Seven Dials but it’s trickier to win agreement for changes.

Forty four people have been injured at the Dials over the past five years, nine of them seriously. Eighteen of those injured were cyclists.

It will surprise few people that the busy roundabout is one of the worst accident blackspots in Brighton and Hove.

The Green Party’s transport chief, Councillor Ian Davey, had little trouble persuading people that something should be done.

As so often, agreeing the details of what should be done is proving harder.

A consultation exercise found most support for making it easier to cross the Dials, reducing road speeds, planting more vegetation, removing the guard railings and increasing the size of the roundabout.

The initial proposals have been modified after feedback from the public.

Councillor Ian Davey

Next Tuesday (15 January) Councillor Davey is due to chair the Brighton and Hove City Council Transport Committee at Hove Town Hall when the proposed changes will be debated.

At a council meeting last month he picked up a flavour of the opposition to some of those proposed changes.

Dave Evans, of Addison Road, Hove, raised the issue, asking: “Why are the pelican crossings being downgraded without any specific reference to them on the questionnaire when we have many disabled and vulnerable people that use Seven Dials for their local shops, post office and chemist?

“This question comes from the parents of a wheelchair user who know they are more secure with phased traffic lights on the existing crossing.”

Mr Evans, a member of the Dials North West Community Association, also presented a petition with almost 1,400 signatures to the council.

It urged the council “to reject the proposals as they stand”. It added: “We oppose any scheme at the Dials which may lead to traffic being diverted on to residential streets. We are in favour of changes to our local area which improves the environment for all users.”

After addressing the council Mr Evans criticised the public consultation and said: “Residents don’t want to see the traffic backing up.

“They don’t have confidence in the traffic modelling system.

“There’s a terrific mismatch between what councillors say residents are saying and what we’re hearing on the doorstep.

“Regrettably, this needs a bit more thinking about.”

Another question came from Nigel Jenner, a Labour supporter who stood in the local elections in the affected area, Goldsmid ward.

He also asked about traffic being diverted or other knock-on effects while the proposed changes are carried out.

He said that the knock-on effect of the closure of Old Shoreham Road to build the cycle lanes had led to more drivers using the bridge over the railway line in Wilbury Villas.

Residents raised concerns but say their fears were ignored. In September the bridge was closed to traffic for safety reasons.

Yet safety is a key driver for the proposals being debated next Tuesday.

It will come down to ten councillors, five of them Greens. Councillor Davey has a casting vote if necessary.

If the scheme is approved, work could start as soon as next month with the aim of completing it in the summer.

 

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