Brighton’s tourism chief blasts council for ignoring road scheme objectors

Posted On 15 Oct 2019 at 3:17 pm

A leading figure in the tourism sector has slated Brighton and Hove City Council for ignoring concerns about pollution, congestion and economic harm as it pushes ahead with a controversial road scheme.

Tourism and hospitality bosses are among those concerned about phase 3 of the Valley Gardens project, especially plans to scrap the Aquarium roundabout and cram more traffic along the east side of a remodelled Old Steine.

The chair of the Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, Anne Ackord, has set out her concerns in a letter to the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

On Thursday (17 October) the LEP is expected to allocate £6 million towards the final phase of the Valley Gardens project which involves revamping the area from The Level to the seafront.

Mrs Ackord, who is also the chief executive of the Brighton Pier Group, which owns the Palace Pier, said in her letter to the LEP that the latest changes would add to pollution and cost jobs.

She wrote: “While any scheme that improves the environment is welcome, this does not meet the anticipated objective and I believe it will impact adversely on the tourism business upon which the city relies heavily.

“An ambition to get people out of their cars is admirable but this must be preceded with a viable alternative transport strategy.

“Visiting families from out of town need to come by car or train and as you are aware, I’m sure, a large percentage are put off trains by the sheer cost.

“This is a scheme that seeks to reduce traffic but actually increases congestion and therefore environmental damage.

“It is a very simple equation that more congestion leads to less willingness to travel and hence less income for the critical visitor economy.

“Currently there is much debate and work within the council and tourism groups to present a ‘Destination Management Plan’ for the city.

“This scheme flies in the face of the ambitions contained within that plan, to increase visitors and improve the environment.

“The removal of the Aquarium roundabout is ill-thought-through and indeed the ancillary costs of doing so (remodelling Duke’s Mound junction) are not even considered within the scheme.

“The impact of these additional but necessary costs along with the loss of tourism revenue would probably see the scheme move from low value to negative value. However, these factors have been ignored by the council.

A visualisation of the traffic junction planned for the Aquarium roundabout

“The council made a decision on the scheme, consulted, ignored the responses in opposition to the scheme and all along have paid scant attention to the opinions of those most likely to be affected – local businesses and the wider tourism industry.

“Any downturn in number of visitors to our city will lead to job losses in the sector and in the local services who support our industry. It is as simple as that.

“I, and Tourism Alliance businesses, along with many local residents and non-tourist businesses, believe that this scheme is nothing less than detrimental to the city’s economy, its workforce and its reputation as an environmentally friendly city and should not be funded in its present form.”

Her letter to Coast to Capital is included in the meeting papers for the board meeting on Thursday along with other letters of support and objection.

It comes as the council has been criticised for spending £140,000 on resurfacing the Aquarium roundabout – rather than carry out patched repairs – a year before it plans to replace the roundabout with a traffic light junction.

The council has said that the scheme is aimed at creating a green lung in the centre of Brighton and encouraging people to walk and cycle more while also creating dedicated lanes for buses.

  1. Rob Heale Reply

    There has been VERY LITTLE CONSULTATION about this Scheme. It is likely to make journeys longer and more expensive for car users, bus passengers and taxi users. It is likely to cause more congestion and pollution here and in other parts of the City. And some parts of the scheme are ugly concrete additions….Coast to Capital shouldn’t support those parts of the Valley Gardens scheme.

  2. Rob Heale Reply

    This Scheme is flawed:=
    1. There was very little consultation with the community.
    2. There will probably be more delays, more traffic congestion and more subsequent pollution.
    3. There will probably be more traffic displacement into residential areas.
    4. Some parts are ugly and others are impractical.

    • Roberto Cantu Reply

      As a pedestrian who lives in the local area of Kemptown I welcome the proposed changes. The green corridor and cycling lane desperately needed improvement as in some parts were inexistent or dangerous. The roundabout will be replaced by signalised junction which hopefully will reduce so many accidents and should also make it easier to cross for the pedestrians. Surely, the changes will improve the area and city image as a whole. We need to stop giving priority to the cars in our cities and seek new green transport alternatives and improve public transport.

  3. Tim Baker Reply

    I visit the town by bus and fear that as a disabled person I will not be able to travel to Brighton at all for the duration of the work.

  4. Angela Devas Reply

    The current scheme is brilliant and allows for much easier access for pedestrians and cyclists. This is the way forward for our city. We cannot keep plunging our city into a polluted traffic-ridden nightmare where roads are uncrossable, cycling is a dangerous activity and walking deeply unpleasant.We need active, pollution free travel where we can hear the bird song from Valley Gardens and improve everybody’s well being

    • Kristy Reply

      We need a trams in Brighton, not Valley Gardens.

  5. John Hughes Reply

    We have a climate emergency that vehicle traffic contributes to massively. If global temperatures’ rise above the 1.5c predicted we will enter a runaway scenario. Act now to reduce traffic or expect something more dramatic later.

  6. Serena Burt Reply

    The plans, whilst admirable in their objective to create a green lung and encourage cycling/walking, are missing the mark. VG phases 1 and 2 are already pushing impatient traffic up Elm Grove, Southover Street, Richmond Place and Carlton Hill. These roads have a steep incline so the very nature of acceleration is causing more emissions which end up hanging around the streets, unable to disperse. Please consider tweaks to the plans before our “smoke free zone” is rendered laughable and we are abandoned to the particulates left in the air.

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