Labour and Conservative politicians join forces to seek changes to Valley Gardens scheme

Posted On 24 Aug 2019 at 9:10 pm

Politicians from the Labour and Conservative parties have joined forces to call for changes to the controversial Valley Gardens road layout scheme.

Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn and Conservative councillor Lee Wares issued a joint statement after a meeting this week.

They listened and spoke at a packed meeting of the Valley Gardens Forum which brings together residents, businesses and trade associations affected by the scheme.

While the Forum supports improvements to the Old Steine area, members oppose key details of the project known as Valley Gardens phase 3.

They are concerned about plans to replace the Aquarium roundabout with traffic lights and changes at the bottom of North Street, at the Old Steine and Castle Square junction.

They are also unhappy about a proposal to allow vehicles to go into Madeira Drive by the Palace Pier but for a one-way stretch to force drivers to leave at Duke’s Mound.

And they are worried about the road safety risks, an increase in air pollution and the creation of a five-lane super-highway on the eastern side of Old Steine.

Transport user groups, trade associations and big employers have all issued their own warnings about the potentially harmful effects on the local economy.

The three politicians said: “Forum members expressed concern about the continued lack of consultation, the lack of consideration regarding air quality and pollution, the risk to the city’s economy and vehicle congestion and displacement.”

They agreed that the present scheme risked doing more harm than good to the city.

And they supported calls for Brighton and Hove City Council to stop the scheme and rethink its plans.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, said: “There are some very good aspects of this project that everybody seems to support such as cycling, walking and accessibility.

“But removing the access to Madeira Drive and redeveloping the Duke’s Mound junction to compensate is not one of them.

“There are other concerns about how this will affect Kemp Town, including the lack of additional tree-planting on the Kemp Town side, lack of bus stops which will reduce footfall to Kemp Town and the restricted access to the Old Steine for event organisers.”

Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou, the new chair of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “Improving road safety is one of the core objectives.”

She has facilitated a number of meetings with council officers and local elected representatives, including agreeing mediation with the Valley Gardens Forum.

But Mr Russell-Moyle said: “I welcome Councillor Pissaridou’s engagement in this issue but the community don’t believe that the mediation has yet been effective.

“The modelling on the junctions remains only the second-worst option for cyclists and safer options with lights and roundabouts were presented and should be considered.

“The current scheme will also have a large economic detriment to Kemp Town and one of the key ‘high streets’ in our city.

“These developments need to come with mitigation measures to prevent the loss of business in our city.

“I have relayed many of the concerns to officers in the council and I continue to receive reassurances that these will be taken on board in later design iterations but these need now to be in writing and legally binding.”

Councillor Wares, deputy leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “The level of anxiety and anger across a large section of our city is unabated.

“There are so many faults with this project that could be put right if the council were to pause, reopen discussions, get everybody round the table and listen to all the good ideas that exist.

“We can greatly improve sustainable and active travel, create world-class event space and still keep the city moving while protecting our local economy.”

Councillor O’Quinn, who chairs the council’s Licensing Committee, said: “Having listened to the taxi trade and seen first-hand the implications, they will negatively impact the trade and their customers, with Madeira Drive entry-only – and exit at Duke’s Mound.

“Officers have shown a willingness to seek solutions to this, allowing two-way traffic with restricted turning at the pier entrance, these options now need to be confirmed to reassure the community.”

After the Valley Gardens Forum meeting on Wednesday (21 August) Councillor Steve Bell, leader of the Conservative group, said: “We have expressed our concerns about phase 3 from the very beginning and we are grateful for Lloyd’s interest.

“The city has a golden opportunity to use government money to considerably improve the area.

“Our commitment to the Labour administration is that we will work with them, doing whatever it takes, to reach a solution that is good for all our citizens and businesses.”

  1. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    A mystery to me, the obsession with that horrible roundabout. There are traffic lights at the other junctions along the coast.

    • Gilbert Bligh Reply

      What? adding a scheme that clogs up and congests the busiest part of town even further. Every single taxi and bus driver is against it.
      Just goes to show how totally stupid and lacking in common sense you are – a hypocritical green party member, supposed to want to create a less polluted environment that actually supports a scheme that will do just the opposite.

      • Christopher Hawtree Reply

        Your tone suggests somebody sliding down life on a worn rug, and quite possibly related to arch-bore Gerald Wiley

        • Gilbert Bligh Reply

          you and your party’s views are only fit for the knackers yard – your party is almost as bigoted as the third reich

    • Rolivan Reply

      Yes i agree it is a horrible roundabout,however the larger one that was there before was much better.France has 50% of The roundabouts in Europe and they work perfectly well.
      Why wasnt Caroline Lucas at the meeting?

      • Christopher Hawtree Reply

        Interesting! I must look into what was there before. I think roundabouts were a Fifties invention?

        • Rolivan Reply

          Hi Christopher,there is a photo of the larger Roundabout in the Francis Frith Collection c.1950s.
          Photo of Brighton,Aquarium c.1950 it was there I am sure in the 60s also and maybe even 70s.

          • Christopher Hawtree

            Thanks, shall look! Could a larger roundabout be a compromise? Currently it is perilous for one and all.

            We need a geekish history of roundabout in general.

  2. Disapointed Reply

    All those times Labour pretend they won’t work with Tories….

  3. Adycoyote Reply

    The VGF campaign calls for a better, redesigned roundabout. Roundabouts equal efficient traffic flow. With crossings for pedestrians and cyclists positioned elsewhere a roundabout is critical. I have heard both Labour and Green parties speak of the existing roundabout as a ‘death trap’ and the location of numerous serious accidents involving cyclists. Police confirm there have been 7 accidents since start of 2016, 1 counted as serious, 4 as minor. No fatalities. In terms of human harm we might spare a thought for the spike in asthma/heart disease inducing N02 and PM 2.5 pollution that could so easily result from the current officer-led plan as traffic backs up all the way past Milner and other housing areas. ‘Phase 3’ needs a complete re-think and I’m glad to see the Labour MP go on the record. Perhaps local LP/GP councillors will stop behaving like rabbits in the headlights and speak up for their constituents…

  4. Billy Reply

    The first thing to say about the Palace Pier junction is that it is the busiest in the city and it’s a fantasy that all traffic will disappear if you take away the roundabout.
    No alternative routes are being provided for commuters and other essential traffic, and there are no extra park and ride schemes proposed for visitors either. it’s very naive to assume you reduce the number of cars on our streets simply by preventing them getting around the city, and we have no underground transport system here so we also need the buses to move freely.
    The worst thing about the Valley Gardens scheme is that it looks pretty on paper but then shoots itself in the foot in achieving its own objectives. It creates log jams of traffic and slows up the bus services, in turn creating new pollution hotspots. We were supposed to be getting a city centre park which would act as a ‘green lung’ but the latest version of the scheme adds paving and other hard surfaces to many areas which are currently green.
    The new piazzas and pedestrianised areas might be an improvement, but – look at the map – the straight-line flow of walkers from those areas to and from the seafront would be via Pool Valley or east street. Why direct them straight at the busiest traffic junction?
    By directing pedestrians unnecessarily to the main road junction of the city you will not improve road safety. There’s a reason why pedestrian crossings are set back from the Palace Pier junction, and note too that under current proposals all the filter lanes for traffic will be lost, bringing seafront traffic to a standstill at busy times.
    These common sense issues should not become a political football played between the parties either.

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