The Greens have urged Labour not to risk losing millions of pounds of external funding for a major project in the heart of Brighton.
The party warned that Brighton’s reputation as “can do” city was also in jeopardy if Labour scuppered the Valley Gardens scheme.
Councillor Pete West, who chaired the Brighton and Hove City Council Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee until the local elections last week, spoke out today (Monday 11 May).
Councillor Pete West, who held his seat in St Peter’s and North Laine ward, said: “We successfully secured £14 million of external funds, from the Local Enterprise Partnership, to deliver this important project which has involved over two years of development and design work, been agreed at numerous committee meetings and is almost ready to go ahead.
“Our business case for the scheme was applauded as ‘robust and fit for purpose’ while offering ‘very high value for money’, promising an estimated £40 million worth of benefits over 20 years.
“This includes benefits from improved health, shorter journey times, less pollution, better business links, improved retail frontages, new housing and offices, training and tourism.
“Labour’s proposal to scupper this would not only mean the loss of this opportunity but risk Brighton and Hove’s reputation with funders as a reliable and ‘can-do’ city.
“£8 million is already allocated for the first phases and if the project is delayed or scrapped the money will be reallocated to projects elsewhere in the south east.
“Labour is being hasty and taking a risky and ill-thought position that is not in the interests of this city and I hope they will reconsider.”
His riposte came after Labour leader Councillor Warren Morgan, who heads the largest group on the new council, said that the project should be suspended while a review takes place.
He and his colleagues have concerns about the new road layout being proposed and what would it do for congestion and air pollution levels.
Outline plans have been agreed. Councillor Morgan is expected to receive an early briefing on the subject as the new council prepares for its first meeting on Thursday next week (21 May).