Councillors to hold first dedicated meeting to discuss economic recovery from coronavirus crisis

Saving the hospitality industry and encouraging active travel are among the challenges facing councillors charged with economic recovery in Brighton and Hove.

The five councillors charged with overseeing how the council comes out of the covid-19 crisis are due to hold their first virtual meeting together on Friday (29 May).

Since the lockdown began in March, it has had a significant impact on “large swathes” of the local economy, according to a report going before councillors.

Tourism supports 21,448 jobs in the city, working out at almost 16 per cent of all employment.

The Spearhead

Last year Visit Brighton’s conference bureau said that 56 conferences and events would generate £40 million for the city.

Workers hit hard by furlough or job losses include those in hospitality and retail who are often low-paid, younger and female.

The report said: “Events, and the cultural industries which support them, are part of the fabric of the city and draw millions of people into the city each year.

“They will, therefore, be critical to the recovery and long-term reputation of the city.

“The events and cultural industries sectors have been badly affected by the covid-19 crisis because they rely heavily on ticket sales generated between April and October.”

An extra £100,000 proposed for Visit Brighton’s budget will cover the loss of six months’ membership for the organisation’s 530 tourism business partners.

The report – to Brighton and Hove City Council’s Policy and Resources Recovery Sub-Committee also looks at safer transport and public spaces.

It said that, as people returned to work, they would be encouraged to cycle or walk and to avoid using public transport and reduce congestion.

The council was in the process of looking at introducing more cycle lanes on major roads and low-traffic areas in the city centre.

The new temporary cycle lane along Old Shoreham Road

Ideas going forward included restricting traffic in The Lanes and North Laine and converting one or two lanes of the A259 King’s Road into cycle lanes.

The council has already introduced new temporary cycle lanes in Old Shoreham Road, Hove.

This policy follows government guidance issued on Saturday 9 May to deliver a “lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities”.

The report said: “With public transport capacity reduced and a government message to avoid using public transport wherever possible, the city could experience significant congestion unless an increased range of alternative sustainable options, including cycling, is facilitated.

“As a result of these changes to how people are travelling and using public space, towns and cities in the UK and around the world are making or proposing radical changes to their highway networks to accommodate active travel.

“Reallocating road space for active travel will not only help the city respond to the next phase of the pandemic but will also promote healthy and active living to help the city become more resilient for the future.”

The report also said that people and businesses should prepare for a second and even a third wave of infection if there was no vaccine against covid-19, adding: “There is unlikely to be a smooth, linear transition to full-scale recovery.

“Instead, a rebound from recovery to response phase is expected for a certain period until treatment and/or vaccination is place.

“This means that the city will need to be working on recovery and response concurrently and that transitioning from pandemic response to recovery is likely to happen in a spiral fashion, with the possibility of a second or third wave of a pandemic if there is no vaccine, and the risk of infection increases, each new wave pushing the risk reduction cycle from the recovery back to the response phase.”

The “virtual” meeting of the council’s Policy and Resources Recovery Sub-Committee is due to start at 1.30pm on Friday 29 May.

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