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.
“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.”
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