Councillors reject charges for parking at eight Brighton and Hove parks

Proposals to charge drivers for parking at eight parks across Brighton and Hove have been turned down by councillors at a meeting this evening (Tuesday 24 November).

The decision – by members of Brighton and Hove City Council – is unlikely to prevent parking charges from coming into force in Stanmer Park next February.

Drivers already have to pay to park in East Brighton Park and Preston Park.

The council had proposed bringing in the extra charges to try to raise about £50,000 for the parks budget.

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But Conservative and Labour councillors voted together to overturn the proposal at a “virtual” meeting of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee. Read what the Conservatives said before the meeting.

At the meeting this afternoon, councillors said that the charges were likely to hit people from poorer areas, including Moulsecoomb, Holligdean and Portslade.

And the council conceded that it could not charge drivers at one of the parks – the Saltdean Oval – because the car park is leased to the Saltdean Lido Community Interest Company.

Conservative councillor Lee Wares said that sympathised with the council’s parks and gardens team and suggested that they tried finding sponsorship and advertising instead.

Apart from the Saltdean Oval, the other parks in the proposal were

  • Easthill Park
  • Happy Valley
  • Hollingdean Park
  • Saunders Park
  • Vale Park
  • Victoria Recreation Ground
  • Wild Park

Councillor Wares said: “While we are in the middle of this pandemic, when people are going to use our parks and gardens, it is pretty insensitive to be having a consultation on capitalising on their more popular use by wanting to charge them if they go there by vehicle when many have no choice.”

His fellow Conservative, Councillor Vanessa Brown, said: “Our parks are a valuable resource that are free for everyone’s enjoyment, which means they are truly inclusive.

“This could hit the poorest in our city the hardest.”

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson said that spending time in parks was one of the few free options for exercise in the fight against obesity.

He said: “At a time when people’s incomes have been reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing introduced, the ability to visit the park is even more essential than usual.

“Introducing car parking charges will disproportionately affect those who need free access the most. Access to the parks must remain free to all.”

Fellow Labour councillor Theresa Fowler asked why parks in the poorest parts of Brighton and Hove had been chosen for the proposed charges.

And, she said, Saunders Park did not have a car park.

Councillor Fowler said: “Hollingdean Park, which I can agree needs upgrading and would benefit from funding, has only a small car park with only a few spaces, maybe only 10.

“It is mainly used by local people who walk but it will have a detrimental effect on the elderly who do sometimes drive to exercise their dogs or for people who use the park to exercise.

“In these times, during covid, we need to encourage people to exercise, not impede them.”

Labour councillor Carmen Appich said that the council had assured members of Portslade Bowls Club that there would be enough parking when the council persuaded the club to move to Victoria Park.

And, she said, Trafalgar Road residents said that they would have voted against a parking zone if they thought that visitors to the rec would not be able to park for free.

  1. Max Reply

    So, drivers are to have free use of space at parks to the exclusion of everybody else who chooses to travel there by foot, wheelchair, bicycle, scooter or taxi. Why did Councillors assume that people who use cars to get to parks are poorer than those who travel there by other means? The decision maintains the privilege afforded to drivers at the expense of social justice.

    • Greens Out Reply

      Let me guess…

      Green voter.

      No one is being EXCLUDED you idiot.

    • Helen Reply

      Max, you typify what appears to be the anti-disability agenda of the Greens. I drive my elderly aunt to some of our local parks, including Stanmer, as even if I thought she could walk that far, there is too great a risk of her tripping again on the rewilded pavement weeds which are taking root and sprouting all over the place, pushing the slabs up unevenly and the tarred stretches into some kind of ridged and rippled hazard-fest.
      At the park, she sometimes can’t really even get out of the car, maybe because it’s too cold or wet, or because her joints ache too much. Her vision is dimming, but she can make out the colours. Lately, she enjoyed just looking at the grass, the flowers and the autumn’s red and golden carpet.
      The seafront is no longer an option for us. I wouldn’t want to try to get her from the car into a wheelchair now the parking places are islands between cars and bikes. If this turns out to have been her last summer, we lost it to your disablist ideology as Madeira Drive was closed and the new cycle lanes made parking dangerous, even if it had been possible.
      The sad reality is this has affected just about every old lady in the block where she lives, and I dare say many more elsewhere. She worked hard all her life for this. No place for the old, the frail and the disabled. No city of sanctuary. But fine if you’re young, fit and heedless of others less able than yourself.

      • Nigel Furness Reply

        Helen, you’ve composed the most brilliant and succinct synopsis here of not only everything that was wrong with the defeated proposal to begin with but also the DOWNRIGHT DISCRIMINATION against the disabled (of whom I happen to be one).
        I must aso add that it’s a positive pleasure for me to find myself able to warmly congratulate the three LABOUR Councillors (Gary wilkison, Theresa Fowler and Carmen Appich) for their COMMON SENSE—credit , aways where it’s due due!
        Many thanks to all of you.

    • Nick Reply

      Max. As I replied to you yesterday, we all pay for parks, drivers included. And yes, people who walk, cycle (and use public transport which you seem to have forgotten) will still be allowed too. No one is excluded. Unlike the poorly thought out green proposals which would have excluded many families, less mobile, dog walkers and others where public transport isn’t an option.

      Your anti car agenda is really anti people (as cars are a means of transport/freedom for people). And a growing number as living standards have risen – people choose to spend their money this way.

      Yes, you can be anti pollution and promote cars which are electric. However this poorly thought out “green” idea even penalised them as there was no free or reduced parking for e-vehicles

      Being anti car is really about being against peoples’ freedom to travel and choose. It is about limiting people to a very small area – a kind of permanent lockdown.

      I’m glad that Labour saw sense on this. It was a terrible idea which would have cost more than it made and caused numerous local problems.

  2. Hove Guy Reply

    This is excellent news, and thanks goodness we have the Conservative and a few sensible Labour councillors to put an end to such nonsense. Once again it shows just how much the Greens are so utterly out of touch with the needs of the general public, and it is a pleasure to see them being given a “black eye” at last. They have already made life a misery for most us with their misguided and often self-defeating agenda. Let us hope they get kicked out once and for all at the next election, and Brighon & Hove can get back to normal again.

  3. Nathan Adler Reply

    The Greens actually voting for this just shows an anti car agenda at all costs. Momentum Labour backing a Conservative motion – this is the first time in many an ETS meeting Labour have shown any sort of backbone and actually become ‘the opposition’.

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