Plan to ban cars from the centre of Brighton wins councillors’ backing

A move to ban cars from the centre of Brighton edged closer yesterday (Tuesday 19 January).

Councillors asked officials to draw up more detailed plans for a car-free city centre – renamed a “liveable city centre”.

And they asked for detailed options for an “ultra-low emission zone” covering a wider area – possibly the whole of Brighton and Hove inside the A27.

The car ban would come first – possibly as soon as 2023 when the next Brighton and Hove City Council elections are due to be held.

Bringing in an “ultra-low emission zone” would take a few years longer.

Cars could be barred from an area stretching along the seafront between the B2122 Montpelier Road in the west and Lower Rock Gardens in the east. And it could go as far north as the Seven Dials and Preston Circus.

Labour councillor Gill Williams was concerned that people might be unable to drive along the seafront and Edward Street to reach the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

She said that not everyone went to the A&E (Accident and Emergency) Department by ambulance or taxi.

Officials are expected to consider patients’ needs as they draw up more detailed plans.

Conservative councillor Lee Wares said that creating an ultra-low emission zone would, in effect, mean that the council was brining in a congestion charge.

Councillor Wares said: “I sincerely hope that at some point in the process there is a true and proper consultation with the city.

“I really hope that you win the support of citizens to get this done rather than dictate to them how things are going to be.

“I know we keep hearing about how other cities have done it. What I never see is a direct comparison as to how those cities do it and the way we can do the same.

“We need the same things in place to allow it to happen. We are a million miles away from getting this done.”

Councillor Lee Wares

He said that, first, public transport would have to be better and exemptions granted for blue badge holders, delivery drivers and trades such as builders, plumbers and electricians.

He was concerned that his political rivals, having discussed the recommendations from the local climate assembly, were talking about a car-free Brighton as though it was already happening.

Councillor Wares and his fellow Conservative, Councillor Vanessa Brown, abstained as the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee voted to move forward with the car-free and ultra-low emissions schemes.

A report to the committee said that the benefits included

  • Carbon reduction
  • Better health and air quality
  • An enhanced public realm and place-making
  • Fairer access for all, especially disabled people
  • A boost for tourism
  • Stronger “connectivity” for people on foot, bike or bus
  • Safer streets

The council’s head of transport strategy and projects, Andrew Renault, said that an ultra-low emission zone could include most of the built up area.

Charges could be “scalable” depending on the level of emissions, with residents exempt in the early days.

Green councillor Jamie Lloyd said that measures could include extending the Brighton bike share scheme and bringing in electric bikes. And he wanted cheaper bus travel but the council was unable to set fares.

Councillor Jamie Lloyd

Councillor Lloyd said: “In every other city that’s done this, the local economy has benefited, especially small local businesses – the ones we should be supporting.

“This is a positive step, let’s get on with it.”

Fellow Green councillor Steve Davis said that he had spoken with many tradespeople concerned about the effects of the centre of Brighton becoming car-free.

He said: “Of course traders will not be included. I hear ‘how will I get ladders in there and stuff like that?’

“I reply saying, ‘Have you been to Amsterdam? Did you get electrocuted in the bar or were the toilets overflowing? No.’

“The traders will get there – and we need to help them in our recovery.”

Councillor Gill Williams

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson said that he supported a car-free centre and the prospect of “local mobility hubs”.

These would include electric and cargo bikes in neighbourhoods across the city, available to residents.

He said: “The effects of such a transportation change to our city would be incredible.

“There would be fewer deaths or serious injuries from traffic accidents, respiratory and coronary diseases every year would be reduced, reduced depression and social isolation – and an increase in independent traders and a more vibrant local economy.

“We would no longer have toxic illegal air, carbon emissions from transport would be practically zero and everyone would be able to get around where they live regardless of how rich or poor they are.”

Councillor Wilkinson said that he was pleased that the committee would receive further reports in future setting out the business case for the schemes and preparing for wider public consultation.

  1. Jo Reply

    How utterly, utterly shameful from these elected councillors.

    If you are going to impose this scheme (I have no doubt the consultation will be a sham), then ALL residents of the city centre (who btw can’t afford to change their cars for zero/low emissions ones) should be PERMANENTLY exempt from being affected by it.

    By all means, introduce it for non-residents who could potentially travel by other means, but you shouldn’t penalise those with cars already living there.

    The biggest culprit are delivery lorries and smoky OLD diesel buses & cars, not petrol cars which have reduced dramitically in emissions over the years.

    You’ve lost two Green voters here now if this goes ahead.

  2. Shirley Kirsty Reply

    A good move
    Now build affordable housing where all shops that have gone busy are for key workers and single mums
    Also 20 extra universal credit

  3. Tourists Go Home Reply

    I can see the day trip tourist industry loving this one. Worthing and Eastbourne will get a nice big surge in those annoying tourists that we don’t want blocking our streets. It will be good to clear the beach of all those annoying outsiders.

    And the car free North Street works so well. Or is that the one in the top ten most polluted streets in the UK?

  4. Greens Out Reply

    I’m sure these ‘elected’ councillors live in cloud-cuckoo la la land.

  5. Billy Short Reply

    This report is laughable.
    It presents the idea that our city centre can be ‘car free’ and that local businesses will actually benefit from that, despite all evidence to the countrary.

    But there is no alternative transport mentioned. No park and ride schemes.
    They are just closing roads, including, if I’m reading this right, all of Valley Gardens, the main route into the city.
    No mention is made of how we get from west to east or east to west in the city.
    No mention is made about how shops, hotels and restaurants get stock delivered.
    No mention is made about how the shopping centre park parks are accessed
    And no mention is made about how residents in areas like the North Laine and Hanover can still park their cars.
    And there’s no discussion how, in the short term, we are supposed to kick start our tourist economy at the end of this Covid pandemic.
    These are cultist ideas from people who seem to have never done a days work in their lives and who’s understanding of economics seems to be based on their parents giving them money all the time.

    And I love the way these idealists gleefully say: Why can’t we be like Amsterdam? – I guess that will be the Amsterdam that is flat for cycling, which has a canal network for goods deliveries, and which also has a tram network, a fast Metro train service, and an extensive subsidised bus network. The same Amsterdam that also has an extensive network of ring roads for cars and other vehicles.

    • Angela T Reply

      I couldn’t agree with you more and these changes when the local economy is already on its knees will result in more people losing their jobs, livelihoods and businesses.

      Absolutely, no consideration for tourism, retail and hospitality businesses in the town centre and the jobs these support.

      I am shocked that these councillors could even be considering such a proposal and at time like this when the City has taken a devastating blow.

  6. Steve Reply

    The air pollution from traffic wouldn’t be half as bad if you didn’t keep f¥€king up the flow of traffic in the first place

    • Barry Hatcher Reply

      This is what you get for electing idiots to run the council. If you voted for the greens then I have no sympathy for you . B & H Council have always adopted an anti-motorist policy and the idea that you can provide a safe and reliable alternative to cars is for the birds. So pleased I moved to Eastbourne now where they have a fantastic council who strongly believe in the rights of their citizens to drive cars and they even provide ample cheap parking throughout the whole town !

  7. Adam the truth teller Reply

    The stupidity of Brighton & Hove councillors just goes from strength to strength. So few of them have ever been self employed or run a business. I predict even more empty shops and falling visitor numbers. Just so glad I disinvested in time.

  8. Sarah Reply

    How helpful for all the emergency services workers who are on shifts centrally and who cannot rely on the shamefully poor bus routes in and out of the town centre early morning/late night. Another ‘thank you present’ for working throughout this current pandemic. About as successful an idea as the cycle lane system that was too narrow to allow a fire engine access along the seafront. Meanwhile in the real world……

  9. Mr Owen Reply

    I’m a pedestrian with my family in the town centre and my biggest risk is bikes and scooters that go through crossings and on pavements at high speed. Can I suggest enforcement of the current problem before you start multiplying the risks for pedestrians.

  10. Chris Reply

    Perhaps we can close down the Hospital and build one out of town so people can get to it.

  11. Bear Road resident Reply

    I totally agree with Mr. Owens sentiments. Although far more people choose to walk through Brighton than cycle we are always at the bottom of Brighton Council’s priorities when it comes to providing us with a safe environment to do so.
    We not only have to contend with cracked and broken pavements, idiot cyclists and scooter riders who think that they have a god given right to shoot around on them at high speed but also cycles chained to street furniture or just left lying on the pavement whilst the inconsiderate owner pops onto a shop.
    Then we also have to contend with A boards all over the place, cafe furniture blocking whole sections of pavement. Wheelie bins, overflowing communal bins and the idiotic so called dual use pavements. – when is Brighton Council going to give us pedestrians a fair crack of the whip and do something about the horrendous state of our pavements?

  12. Riccardo Reply

    This is great news! All major modern European cities are moving towards car-free city centres.
    I’m very excited and pleased with this!

    Finally I’ll be able to walk and cycle without getting cancer.

    (And having to pay for the damage cars do on people and the environment)

    • Hove Guy Reply

      You are hardly likely to get much walking in if we are to have yet more idiot cyclists and scootermaniacs going along pavements, at fast speeds, as if they own the city.

  13. Mark Reply

    I worked with one of these councilors. She kept trying to tell me how to do my job despite having no experience or qualifications in my field. She was clearly inexperienced and misinformed. I was very concerned when I heard she had been selected as a councilor.

  14. Stu Reply

    Maybe they didn’t get the memo about fossil fuel cars no longer being made after 2030, that’s only 9 years away, most delivery firms and bus companies are building up electric fleets already. So by the time they would realistically be able to make this viable it will be outdated. I imagine no park and ride, tram or metro is getting built before the chaos that is this idea, it will all be for nothing. Great idea B&H council, bravo on yet another scheme to waste tax payers money when the apsolutle state of the cycle paths, roads and pavements is a discrace.

    If you really want to quote Amsterdam for inspiration, maybe you should do what they did to the letter, build tram networks first, build a proper east to west road (old Shoreham Road needs to be better streamlined). The joke is, this idea is viable but you need to build the infrastructure first. It actually makes little sense for the economy however to just close roads to all but plumbers and busses as the vast majority of shops are not in the residential areas, brighton is not a city of towns like Amsterdam or say Manchester or london, its a seaside town with a centralised shopping district, which is already car free.

    Bluesky thinking is always welcome, but it must be backed up with fact and realism, not ideology. When’s the next election?

  15. Hove Guy Reply

    Would somebody please tell us what part of one’s brain has to be missing to get a job running a Green council? This must be the most idiotic council in the history of Brighton and Hove. Time they were kicked out, and/or put away in a home.

  16. Keith Reply

    The older buses used by Brighton and Hove had to be converted to use Ad-Blu in order to continue to be used in town. Originally, Ad-Blu didn’t exist when they were built. The problem is the fuel economy from them. But, they can get up hills better than the newer buses.

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