Labour councillors are calling for a rethink on proposed new cycle lanes along the seafront and Old Shoreham Road.
They want wider consultation, including with disabilities groups, as well as better evidence that any proposed changes will achieve their aims.
The party said that – when it was in office at the start of the coronavirus lockdown – it acted swiftly on health grounds but residents now needed more time to have their say.
The Conservatives said that they were “pleased to see the Labour group’s u-turn”.
Money for the initial changes came from the government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund and was known as “tranche 1” funding. Brighton and Hove City Council was allocated £663,657.
This went towards the stretch of the A270 Old Shoreham Road cycle lane in Hove between The Drive in the east and the Hangleton Road traffic lights in the west.
It also paid for the A259 seafront cycle lane from the Aquarium roundabout, in Brighton, to the bottom of Fourth Avenue, in Hove, and the closure of Madeira Drive to drivers.
The new cycle lanes, the closure of Madeira Drive and the associated loss of parking spaces have had a mixed reception.
They led to people with disabilities and their carers setting up a lobby group called BADGE (Brighton Access for Disabled Groups Everywhere).
One criticism is that blue badge holders with mobility problems are being discriminated against because they now have to ask permission to use the public toilets in Madeira Drive.
Another concern is the safety of four of the seven remaining disabled parking bays alongside the new A259 cycle lane.
The council has already removed one stretch of the new seafront cycle lane, between the Aquarium roundabout and the bottom of West Street at the behest of Brighton and Hove Buses.
The cycle lane was blamed for creating congestion, gridlock in surrounding streets and unnecessary pollution.
The council expects to receive a further £2,376,000 in “tranche 2” funding from the Department for Transport to cover the cost of more measures to encourage “active travel”.
These include extending the seafront and Old Shoreham Road cycle lanes further west to the boundary of Portslade and Southwick.
The A23 cycle lane would be widened between Church Hill, Patcham, and Stanford Avenue, at the southern end of Preston Park.
And the A259 between the Aquarium roundabout to Duke’s Mound would also include a cycle lane.
The council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee is due to look at the covid-19 emergency transport measures at a meeting on Tuesday 29 September.
Labour said today (Wednesday 9 September) that its councillors had signed up to a three-point motion which outlined its position on the transport measures in advance of the committee meeting.
The three points were
- As Labour we implemented changes during covid under the emergency rules. Post-lockdown, we believe we should pause all “tranche 2” proposals to publicise and consult widely on the plans and consider changes based on the evidence input from residents, user groups and experts including disability groups and equalities.
- We want an evidence-based solution to getting the city moving and a consideration of options to improve the shared use in Madeira Drive so that businesses, blue badge holders and pedestrians can use it in harmony.
- We should look again at Old Shoreham Road, considering an officer report that includes resident consultations and is evidence-based, looking at traffic flows, and includes the position of neighbouring authorities.
Councillor Gary Wilkinson who speaks for the opposition Labour group on the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “In keeping with our manifesto commitments, our priority is to encourage clean transport in the city to help us reach carbon net zero.
“And we remain steadfast in our belief in a green recovery based on the needs of everyone who lives and works in the city and our many visitors who help to drive our local economy.
“We look forward to the climate assembly we set up considering these and a range of other changes to help us tackle the climate crisis in a way that ensures residents across the city have their say and help shape the future of our city.”
Labour said: “It is important to note that the range of emergency temporary measures the council has taken to reallocate road space to pedestrians, cyclists and for active travel have been in response to the need for social distancing during the public health crisis and in line with government guidelines.
“It is also worth noting that covid-19 has not gone away and in places numbers are increasing, making the need for temporary measures to maintain physical distancing event more important.
“The government called on local authorities to take swift action ‘within weeks’ to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians to change travel habits before the easing of lockdown took full effect.
“We acted swiftly but now we want to give residents longer to have their say on the impact of these changes – we want to hear from you.”
Councillor Lee Wares, who speaks for the Conservatives on transport, said “The Conservative group are pleased to see the Labour group’s u-turn on their previous position.
“It is good to see they have recognised their errors as the architects of the chaos that has been brought upon our city.
“I am sure, however, many in the city will be disappointed it has taken Labour so long to come to their senses.”
He said that Labour was now echoing everything that the Tories were saying when Labour pushed through its plans with the Greens in June – when the Conservative group voted against the proposals.
And he added that Labour had voted against all the Conservative amendments and a motion at the meeting of the full council last month and “that would have provided everything they now ask for”.
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