The Brighton and Hove taxi trade has come together to add its collective voice to concerns over Old Steine and Aquarium roundabout revamp.
Cabbies fear that the proposed changes would lead to traffic chaos, with widespread knock-on effects.
They have spoken out as tourism, language school and hotel bosses raised concerns that squeezing all the traffic on to the eastern side of Old Steine would put jobs and their businesses at risk.
And plans to turn the Aquarium roundabout into a T junction with traffic lights, they fear, would add to traffic delays and pollution as well as potentially making the road less safe.
Eleven taxi and private hire organisations – including employers, unions and trade associations – criticised Brighton and Hove City Council for not carrying out a meaningful consultation in good time.
They have sent a joint submission to the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee which is due to discuss the scheme – known as Valley Gardens Phase 3 – this afternoon (Tuesday 27 November).
The submission said: “The trade wishes to express our concern that, as major stakeholders in transportation, earlier consultation was not sought from the trade in addition to the fact that other stakeholders have raised serious concerns over the viability of Phase 3 in its current form on both economic and congestion grounds.
“The trade is very sympathetic to the council’s desire to ensure that a good plan is put in place that will last the city many years and be structured to serve all stakeholders/businesses and the general public.
“However, it has to be stressed that the Lewes Road project has been deemed a failure in proper forward planning that has resulted in excessive congestion.
“In addition the trade had to fight to have the rank in Coombe Terrace reinstated and the trade does not wish for the same to happen in Phase 3 of Valley Gardens.
“The trade considers that (the council’s preferred option) is not viable and will cause unnecessary issues within and outside the planned area.
“From the trade’s economic perspective, we predict that excessive waiting time in traffic will be detrimental to the trade as customers will be forced to pay for the scheme in higher fares.”
This would reflect negatively on the trade, according to the submission.
It warned about “extra ‘taxi meter’ waiting time at the planned (three phased) traffic lights that will replace the current free flow of the existing Aquarium roundabout which will also cause even further congestion as a knock-on effect west to Preston Street, King’s Road and even further back to Adelaide Crescent Hove and east beyond Lower Rock Gardens as currently happens”.
The trade also highlighted “excessive route diversion caused by the planned ‘one-way only’ entry into Madeira Drive that will create a one-mile long ‘cul de sac’ with the only exit via Duke’s Mound which has not been taken into consideration in Phase 3, causing extra cost to taxi passengers wishing to be taken west and northbound”.
And it also said that closing the northbound lanes between Castle Square, at the bottom of North Street, and the bottom of Edward Street would cause queues and congestion for taxis and buses.
The trade pleaded for measures which omitted the proposed removal of the Aquarium roundabout, the proposed one-way only entry to Madeira Drive and the pedestrianisation of the Royal Pavilion road frontage.
The submission added: “The trade has offered an experienced and profession opinion which we hope will be fully considered before any final decision is made.
“Ultimately we urge the council to fully reconsider Phase 3 in its entirety to ensure that this project does not cause any detrimental effect to the flow of traffic or the economic viability of not only the local taxi trade but all trades and businesses that work in the city.”
The council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee is due to discuss the Valley Gardens project at Hove Town Hall this afternoon. The meeting, which is open to the public, is due to start at 4pm.