OPINION

Greens and Labour are taking us for a ride on bike lanes – they need to own the chaos they created

Posted On 22 Aug 2020 at 11:18 am

It is regretful, yet predictable, that when the catastrophic consequences of the recent introduction of cycle lanes became apparent, the Green administration seeks to blame the government for making them do it.

It is also inevitable the Greens will claim they have only just taken over from the Labour group who had to hand over power after a series of resignations.

To be clear, when Labour came to power they signed an agreement with the Greens and now the Greens are in power, they continue with the agreement with Labour.

Labour chaired the committee that kicked this all off and promoted the measures with the full support of the Greens.

Opportunity was given to both Labour and Green councillors to reconsider what was happening.

Yet unanimously, Labour and Green councillors voted against an urgent meeting to discuss Old Shoreham Road and a compromise for Madeira Drive.

Of course, we now see crocodile tears from those that gave up that opportunity and then the blame game starts.

The truth is that government has provided millions of pounds for social distancing schemes and committed billions to enhance and improve active transport such as cycling and walking. This is welcome news and much needs to be done.

What the government did not do was to make the council do anything. It invited bids from councils for money.

The government did not tell the council which roads in Brighton and Hove to close or where to put cycle lanes.

The government did not tell the council not to consult with people or to avoid undertaking impact assessments on the consequences of what would happen, if schemes were implemented.

The government did not tell the council to be hypocrital by installing measures intended to improve our health and wellbeing while creating traffic jams producing pollution on an epic scale.

It is interesting that the Green administration complains the government doesn’t give them enough power to increase council tax without a referendum yet blames the government for the backlash it is now receiving for how it chose to spend the extra money.

It is also interesting how Labour and the Greens cite lack of time to consult anybody.

It had time to consult with the bus company over St James’s Street yet not the taxi trade when taxi ranks were removed.

It has had enough time to consult with cycling groups yet not with those that represent disabled groups and blue badge holders when it installed potentially lethal disabled parking bays on the seafront.

The new temporary cycle lane along Old Shoreham Road

The simple fact is that time was tight but the Greens and Labour made calculated decisions on who they wanted to consult.

But the complaints and smokescreens from the Greens clear when you read their current bid for more money.

There was no mention from them that they object to the government forcing them to do things!

In fact, they exclaim how fantastic it is and how they have consulted extensively and that the ideas are “demand led”.

They are less cautious about stating some measures will be permanent. They talk about schemes being complementary with the strategic network.

A couple of things have been told to us – impact assessments couldn’t be done so the council is flying a bit in the dark, consultation wasn’t intensive because it is only now beginning to happen and they talk of the strategic network although we don’t yet have one.

Councillor Lee Wares

So, when Labour and the Greens blame each other and then the government, it should be remembered that they created all this in coalition with each other.

They want this to happen – and by design it is being implemented without your prior consent and with no funds to reverse it.

You might love what is happening or you might hate it but, to the Green and Labour councillors, please no more faux concern and no more blaming others.

At least have the courage to own what you have consciously decided to do together.

Councillor Lee Wares speaks for the Conservatives on the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Nathan Adler Reply

    Cllr Wares always talks the sensible option – I wish we had more councilors that would do this. The lack of consultation, or at best a selective consultation hearing from those that you want to hear from is very worrying. The Greens are getting the blame for this and I do find it amusing that some Labour councilors cowardly hide behind them now without having the conviction to stick up for their schemes. So lets name a few Cllr Platts (Leader) Cllr Pissaridou (ex chair of ETS) and of course Cllr Wilkinson, Cllr Williams, Cllr Fowler and Cllr Appich all now on the ETS committee we shall all be watching/ listening in September to see if you make the right decisions on these ‘temporary’ schemes.

  2. Sean Key Reply

    One outcome of the lack of consultation is the lack of consideration for people who are not young, fit men. I can’t see my daughters and wife cycling after dark or in all weathers. Buses are now impeded by the grid-lock caused, as are all other forms of transport used by disabled people, or anyone else eg buses, taxis, disabled drivers cars any other form of transport sacrificed for *active transport*. What use will our bus season tickets be if the buses are gridlocked. We were heavy bus users (and thought we were being green) and now find we are going to be forced onto bikes, in all weathers, all the time.

  3. Andrew Phillips Reply

    Not a very accurate piece from Councillor Wares. The government did not just offer up money, they asked for the details of proposed measures and graded them before giving the money up. His government gave these measures top marks and even gave more money to implement it than was asked for.

  4. Jon Reply

    The Tory Government allocated tax-payers money for emergency measures. Labour & Greens use the funding to implement emergency measures and Tory councillors complain.
    If you look at the bike-route map for B&H and how few and far between bike lanes are it’s laughable how the Tories are making such a drama out of this. Especially as the party that’s presided over one of the highest death rate and biggest loss of GDP in Europe

    • Reggie Dale Reply

      Or perhaps read the article, and try to stay on topic.

      And don’t try to blame the government for disastrous schemes implemented by cluelessly incompetent Labour and Green councillors over the last 15 months without sufficient planning and consultation for ideological reasons.

  5. Simon Reply

    Well done Lee for calling this into question! The lack of consultation, thought and consideration shown by the current council has undermined their position and created much anger – their blinkered attitudes when interviewed and smarmy smiles do not help their cases either! They have put businesses and lives at risk for questionable benefit and have increased pollution and delays across the city. It seems that the Conservatives are the only voice of reason here, with these schemes already being overturned/reversed in other areas such as Harrow, Bromley etc. Lets hope that we can achieve the same in Brighton and Hove, so that experts can do a proper assessment and come up with a better planned and thought through solution which can be presented to all impacted parties so that a democratic decision can be taken based on a business case/benefit analysis before tax payers monies are spent on this vs other essential services.

  6. J Marsden Reply

    Excuses excuses endless excuses. Love the comment from one person, presumably a guy, suggesting only men can cycle. You what? The whole point with cycling lanes is that they help to encourage everyone to cycle, as demonstrated around the world or is the Tory here trying suggest a level of exceptionalism like they normally do. Cycling is the most efficient form of transport in terms of street space usage outside of walking (would love to hear the Councillor logically argue against that fundamental law of physics instead of hiding behind party politics). Its perfect for the typical day to day trips that most people make and which otherwise causes the most congestion and pollution. Usually people with mobility issues are banded around as token mascot by the car lobby but I literally watch outside my window twice a week a charity group bringing different cycle designs like tri-cycles and hand driven recumbants to the local park so people with mobility issues can cycle. It also l doesn’t stop anyone using their existing small electric mobility buggys, so win win. I have been to Tokyo a few times, a city double the size of London, less Congestion, lower pollution bigger economy, fitter population and you see people of all ages, especially the elderly, cycling. Usually on the pavement or side streets which are vehicle free because they build underground car parks and don’t do street parking. The UK was building cycle lanes in the 1930s. It was a corrupt “tarmac” Tory who ripped them and the cobbles up. As the population ages then people need to get fitter and this pandemic has revealed a woeful level of obesity in the population that has damaged the countrys reputation and economy for generations. We need to be a much smarter country if we are to survive.

  7. Lewis Searle Reply

    You can always trust Lee Wares to blame someone else for something his party has done eh

  8. Billy Reply

    I so wish this issue stops being party political or about taking sides. It’s that sort of tribalism that has got us in this mess in the first place.
    It’s not a fight between left and right, or between cyclists and drivers. Nor is it a fight between ecologists and consumers. Nor will new cycles lanes save the planet if they are in the wrong place or if they duplicate existing lanes whilst creating traffic jams.
    Most of us ride a bike and most of us also use cars or buses or taxis. All of us need to travel about, whether that’s to get to school or work, or to visit relatives or to shop, or to reach hospital appointments. Sometimes this can only be done in cars, and if you look at other cities, our public transport is woeful.
    As a van driver, I need to get to work with materials and tools for the job.
    Roads are our long term lines of communication and trade, and we close those at our peril.

    So let’s have a long term transport strategy that takes on board local needs and also makes the right contribution toward reducing carbon emissions. Bring in the park and ride schemes and other means for getting into the city quickly and cheaply. Let’s take a longer term view about how the city can function so that the environment is better but where we all still have jobs to go to. Let’s keep the visitors coming and stop demonising people living normal lives.
    At the moment we have all this faction-forming, where zealots with one set of ideals are trying to out-trump another.
    Our politicians all seem to live in their own bubbles where they want to tick self-imposed strategy boxes, and where what they actually achieve is limited by available funding, which they are then happy to abuse. They then waste further money on pretending to consult and then ignore the outcome. That whole process is wrong.
    Let’s instead have decisions made based on what is right for the community and local economy as a whole.

  9. Paul Reply

    And when will we get together and own climate chaos, rather than pretending there is no need for urgent change in the way we live?

    • Alice J Reply

      If urgent change is needed, then it’s vital those urgent changes are the right ones and not changes that make air quality and pollution worse, that add to congestion, with the health risks it will bring, especially for cyclists and pedestrians in proximity, and that they don’t mess up one of the best bus networks outside London the way the seafront changes have, with the displaced traffic now clogging up other routes too. It’s a mess and it urgently needs undoing and then a proper strategy being put out to a proper consultation, not another sham consultation which Brighton council seems to specialise in.
      Paul, these changes have driven me to take my car to Holmbush for the weekly shop, and to Bluewater instead of Churchill Square for post-lockdown clothes shopping. More miles but a more pleasant experience and I don’t get robbed for parking. My partner has arthritis, relatively mild, but sadly it’s enough to make cycling a no go. Brighton council is disablist and ageist and the way it’s going it will turn a once thriving city into the next Hastings, struggling economically for generations.

  10. Bob Reply

    Might I ask (genuinely) what was wrong with the existing cycle lane on the pavement which already goes (with lanes in both directions) all along the seafront?

    Change for changes sake!

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