Cycle lane row prompts call for rare emergency full council meeting

Posted On 13 Jul 2021 at 3:38 pm

The row over the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane has prompted the Conservatives to make a rare call for an emergency council meeting.

At the moment the future of the controversial temporary cycle lane is due to be settled by just three councillors next week.

But one town hall insider said that the Tories were pressing the equivalent of the nuclear button so that the matter could be resolved democratically and accountably once and for all.

All 13 Conservative councillors have signed a letter to Brighton and Hove City Council chief executive Geoff Raw and the mayor, Councillor Alan Robins, calling for the extraordinary meeting.

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It could mean bringing together all 54 councillors at Hove Town Hall, by next Wednesday afternoon at the latest, for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic measures were brought in more than a year ago.

The letter to the mayor and chief executive said: “As far as we are aware, the Conservative group has only once before called an extraordinary meeting.

“This should underscore how strongly we feel about the matter in hand. In taking this rare step, we want to outline our reasons to you both.

“The current arrangements for deciding Active Travel Measures in the City (namely the Special Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday 21 July) are undemocratic.

“It is our view that ‘reduced capacity’ arrangements for committees that Brighton and Hove City Council is currently employing were never intended to be used in the way they have been proposed here, namely to schedule a special committee meeting a matter of days before full attendance meetings are allowed once again to decide a series of highly controversial measures that will impact traffic flow in the city for years to come.

“The reduced capacity arrangements were instead put in place to keep general business ticking over during a short period between May and July 2021.

“‘Active travel’ has been one of the most controversial issues in the city over the past year, having been the subject of many petitions from residents and local issues groups and the source of much public commentary and debate.

“The Active Travel Fund report contains measures which will determine traffic arrangements in the city for many years to come and touches on almost all of these controversial issues that have been raised by residents of this city.

“We understand that there are currently at least 15 draft recommendations to be proposed. Residents expect these to receive scrutiny by more than just three councillors. No agenda for the ‘special meeting’ has even yet been produced.

“We therefore have strong concerns about the democratic standing in the public eye of any decisions made under the reduced capacity provisions of a special meeting with only three councillors present.

“We feel that the circumstances and timing of the meeting would deserve the consideration by the Secretary of State and potentially the Local Government Ombudsman.

“The forum of full council would ensure that these key decisions are taken with a greater number of councillors present. Instead of three councillors making these decisions, a full complement of 54 would be permitted to have their say.”

  1. Sal Reply

    If Labour keeps backing these unwanted and little used cycle lanes, they’ll be committing electoral suicide where I live. I’ve voted Labour for years as we’ve had some really good Labour councillors here, but me and my neighbours are stuck in queues of traffic created entirely artificially by those who wouldn’t know how to find Southern Cross if they were stood overlooking Voctoria Park.

    • Chria Reply

      Assuming they can find Victoria Park as they seem confused about Portslade generally and think renaming the place is a good idea.

  2. Linda Jameson Reply

    The tories taking their distain for public health even further than their government. They agreed to hold these meetings with less present but now seem to be following their idiot in chief Johnson’s lead to let the virus rip. Utterly irresponsibile.

    And how would this change the result of the vote? They just want to get attention. All of these nonsense calls for government scrutiny seems to completely ignore that it’s the government (their party) that allocated the money for this and praised the schemes – yes, the government have seen all the plans and said how good they were.

  3. Rob Heale Reply

    The undemocratic use of “Special” meetings, consisting of very few Councillors is concerning. Those “”Special” meetings have been used for several years by this Council. When those meetings are partly conducted in private (unless they are genuinely confidential matters) they are very concerning. Also attempts to evade Freedom Of Information Act questions…..

    • Linda Jameson Reply

      But there is no suggestion that any of this would otherwise be in private, nor have any of the recent ones been in private so this is a fairly nonsense comment. The meeting of the 3 councillors is due to be webcast.

  4. Nathan Adler Reply

    It’s unnecessary call, as long as Labour actively vote against the OSR cycle lane you will get the same result at ETS as you would full council.
    Not sure what the Tories are trying to acheive.

    • Johny Cobblers Reply

      So as long as the OSR one is removed you are happy and sod the rest of us?

      I do wonder if you would take the same stance if you lived at Roedean and had to get to Portslade daily?

      I ask the same of Rob Arberly and Pippa Hodge. Selfish? I 100% sympathise and can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like. But where are their support for side loaders? How about thinking of us able bodied as well?

      Selfish nimbys

      • Simon Reply

        From what I remember last time I travelled that way since they slowed down traffic and removed lanes it was a complete nightmare for commuters, causing unnecessary congestion and delays as well. Almost as if that was the intent… I’m assuming from your comment that you are an able bodied cyclist that has problems sharing the road with others? If they had not taken away so much of the dual carriageway from motorists to cater for the occasional bus or cyclist then we could all share the space and the world would be a better and more free flowing one with less pollution and annoyed people posting nasty things about cycle lanes/cyclists on the Internet 🙂

  5. Steve Reply

    54 councillors! I had no idea there were so many. What the hell do you they do all day and do they get paid for it? Whatever is it you wouldn’t notice from the deteriorating state of the place. Maybe they should be put on the streets to really contribute and do something useful.

    One thing for sure is that having 54 councillors has not helped one iota in starting to build a quality cycle network. They haven’t a clue. In fact the OSR and seafront lanes are steps backwards. A case where more is less. Employ a consultant (Dutch perhaps) that can come up with a proper plan.

  6. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    Er, why do you not study before replying? There were more than fifty-four coucillors before the number was reduced by a national regulatory body. You would also learn that councillors are paid – on the basis that it is part-time work but, in the event, it fills all hours and involves diverse matters, so many of which are a help to people in desperate circumstances (councillors of all Parties find this).

    • Steve Reply

      Er, because it was a flippant comment but it made points: all those councillors haven’t helped keep the city in order or shown any competency in implementing cycle lanes.

  7. Serena Evans Reply

    I will believe the removal of the OSR cycle lane when I see it and not before.
    But that doesn’t solve the problem of the other cycle lanes in stupid places and causing disability discrimination with these and lost central disabled parking spaces. Or the road reconfigurations causing delay, disruption and pollution. They all need to be ripped out. If the intention was to remove OSR cycle lane to shut us up on everything else that is wrong and the impending Car free Brighton and Hove BHCC is trying to bulldoze through for 2023, think again.
    Whether Green or Labour we have a council which is literally acting against its own taxpayers and is anything but a public servant. Yes, there are a few decent Labour councillors trying to do their best but how do we help them in real terms? Complain to the Electoral Commission?

  8. GE Keys Reply

    I welcome this move by the Tories. The conduct of the ETS Committee in particular has been a complete disgrace in the last 18 months, whether fully attended or down to three Councillors. The council is also refusing to answer whether it is paying for or subsidsing the ETS Chair to undertake a post-grad MA in Law under an FOI request submitted over a month ago.

  9. Rob Heale Reply

    There tends to be less scrutiny with “Special” Meetings. At the “Special” Meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee under the last “Green” Council Administration, for example, big decisions were made about funding the i360. The Greens and Tories voted for it at the secret part of the meeting. Similar with the closure of the N.H.S. and Social Care buildings in Buckingham Road by the “Green” led Administration. Decisions made behind the scenes often at the “Green” Cabinet on the Council. Evasiveness in Freedom of Information responses also. Hardly democratic is it?

  10. Simon Reply

    I’m really pleased that the Tories are taking the stand here, Greens and Labour are no longer options I’d even spend a second considering on any local council ballot paper I see in future. They barely got a few seconds consideration at all in the past, but now its very easy to just skip them and not even think based on their behaviour lately. Roll on the next local council elections, could not come soon enough, lets get these jokers out!!!

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