Madeira Drive compromise put forward by Conservatives

Posted On 04 Jul 2020 at 2:19 pm

Divided opinions about the future of Madeira Drive have prompted the Conservatives to come up with a compromise proposal for the Brighton seafront road which is currently closed to traffic.

They said that proposals by Brighton and Hove City Council to keep Madeira Drive fully closed during the covid-19 coronavirus crisis were causing considerable concern.

Blue badge holders, people who are less able and those who cannot cycle are among the groups to have been adversely affected while businesses in the area have also complained.

The Tories said: “The decision is also having a negative knock-on effect in the wider Kemp Town area and the Marina with displaced parking.

“Absolutely, the council needs to make environments safer for people to social distance as lockdown eases.

“But the current plans are unjustifiably excessive, inequitable and will only serve to hurt businesses that are already struggling while also starving the council of much-needed parking revenue.

“To a great extent, by not thinking this fully through and not listening to all the people the council exists to serve, it is shooting itself in the foot.

“Two e-petitions are presently running, one to keep Madeira Drive closed and the other to reopen it.

“It seems that public opinion is overwhelmingly going in favour of reopening.”

Councillor Lee Wares, who speaks for the Conservatives on transport, said: “Our city is heavily based on tourism that needs to provide for visitors and events.

“Madeira Drive has become a focal point of much discussion and, because of the dogmatic stance of the Labour council, is creating unnecessary and unpleasant tension.

“The issue has become that great that traders are now withholding paying their rent to the council.

“Two opposing petitions are being promoted that polarise the debate to simply close or open the road.

“The Conservative group believe there is a viable and sensible compromise that will help everybody.

“This compromise is similar to what officers had proposed in recent committee papers.

“Our proposal is to create a one-way traffic flow from the Aquarium to Duke’s Mound.

“The northern side of the carriage way can then continue to be used for parking by blue badge holders, motorcycles, coaches, motor vehicles and for loading and unloading and in doing so will provide 70 to 80 per cent of normal parking capacity and revenue.

“The southern carriageway, with the parking bays suspended, can then be repurposed as a two-way physically separated cycle lane and the pavement dedicated to pedestrians.

“These proposals would be temporary but implemented in a tasteful and appropriate way befitting the historic and prominent setting of the road.

Councillor Lee Wares

“When the pandemic is over, and legislation no longer supports the temporary measures, Madeira Drive would revert back to its ‘pre-covid’ arrangement and then the city can have a proper, well-informed and democratic discussion about its future.

“There is no reason why this cannot be done with most of the preliminary work having been completed by officers.

“As much as we continue to contest Valley Gardens Phase 3, the administration and officers continuously claim Madeira Drive will work as a one-way transport solution.

“With Black Rock enabling works having recently been approved and the council having the government’s grant already in the bank, the council can alter the Duke’s Mound A259 junction.”

Conservative group leader Councillor Steve Bell said: “For the good of the city, to help those less able, to support our businesses, help our economy recover from the pandemic, maintain some level of revenue to the council and to create a safe environment to social distance for cyclists and pedestrians, I would hope councillors of all parties or none can agree to do the right thing and support this idea.”

  1. Rob A Reply

    Bingo – something for everyone, so simple but makes so much sense.

  2. Geoff Reply

    A compromise within a compromise: Allow traffic back into the pedestrian space during this pandemic, but only temporarily and on the understanding that the the space will revert to a road and THEN we can start the debate from scratch.

  3. Richard Reply

    Sadly other one of our parties don’t want traffic in town, so for them this is a no go. And other party will just use to say council revenue down and it’s central governments fault.

    This is a win win solution on a temporary basis.

  4. Paul J Williams Reply

    While I applaud Lee Ware’s afforts, I don’t see a problem with re-opening Madeira Drive fully.
    Student numbers are set to fall sharplyfor some years to come. Brighton and Hove needs to pull out ALL THE STOPS to get our events and tourism back.
    The road and pavements are more than wide enough as it is to support social distancing – even more so when Madeira Arches are restored and all the pedestrian space is re-opened within them.
    This public road has been illegally closed in the first place.

  5. Jezz Reply

    Once it is reopened it will be dominated by traffic and unsafe for runners, and people will stop going there for the same reasons they didn’t go there before lockdown. I live right next to it, and I avoided it like the plague. I could hear the traffic down there all day, and and the pollution was terrible, making it unsuitable as a place to exercise. Since lockdown, I have started running or walking the entire length down to the marina pretty much every day, and most days it’s very busy with walkers, cyclists, skaters, skate boarders etc, as well as fellow runners. I do think there should be a two way cycle-lane away from pedestrians, but cars should be kept out, it is just not a safe place to run with cars around, and if all exercisers are restricted to the path it will simply be too busy for all but walking. The council has made a brave and bold step in the right direction, any compromise with cars involved would completely undermine that. There is a huge wasteland down at black rock, use that for parking, and leave the drive for the people of Brighton to go and exercise in peace and safety, away from the dangerous and polluting traffic.

    The idea that we need to open up the drive to traffic for economic reasons is short-sighted, blinkered, and lacking imagination! Perhaps the road could be made available for some weekend rallies but closed to traffic for the rest of the time. That is a better compromise than some half-baked shared system, where only the traffic is going to win.

  6. SamC Reply

    Great Idea. Include it as an option in the consultation.

  7. Norman Howell Reply

    The compromise solution is a good one. Not sure i understand why it then should be considered temporary. If it works, keep it. Not sure I follow the argument about student numbers being down and the connection to Madeira Drive. Is that just students cycle? And why should student numbers be down anyway.

    • Peter Reply

      Perhaps the future students will be studying from home as they are now so they will not need to stay in Brighton

  8. Steve Reply

    Sounds like they got there in the end! A good solution. Someone might now put 2 and 2 together and conclude one way systems are a good way to free up road space for pedestrians and cycle lanes in town centres while still providing vehicle access for deliveries and parking.

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