OPINION

Don’t celebrate too soon on cycle lanes: Labour may yet abstain again

Posted On 13 Jul 2021 at 12:58 pm

Brighton and Hove News reports that Labour, which introduced the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane in May last year, have now said they are against it.

The Remove the A270 Cycle Lane group has celebrated the news and their spokesperson Rob Arbery has gone as far as issuing a public statement congratulating the Labour Party.

But I have a word of caution to Mr Arbery and others who want to see the cycle removed: don’t celebrate too soon or take your eye off the ball.

If the past is any predictor of the future, you and your group will need to be vigilant until the votes are cast at the special council meeting to decide this matter on Wednesday 21 July.

Labour are the great abstainers. It’s been one of the recurring themes of this council over the past two years – the Labour Party making a strong statement that they are against something, only then to abstain when it comes to the vote, allowing measures to go through anyway on the back of Green support.

As reported by this news site, this has happened twice in the course of the past few months on controversial issues which have serious implications for the city.

In the vote on parking permit rises, Brighton and Hove News reported: “The ruling Greens voted for the higher charges and the Conservatives voted against while Labour abstained, having criticised the proposed increases.”

The result of Labour’s abstention was that the outrageous parking permit price rises went through because of the votes of the Greens – and residents across the city have now been hit with parking permit hikes in excess of 30 per cent in some wards.

Labour then did this all over again at the last council meeting – this time on the highly controversial Homeless Bill of Rights.

Some Labour councillors were against it but when it came to the vote they abstained rather than joining with the Conservatives in voting against.

Now, Brighton and Hove City Council is the only council in the country to allow begging and tents in every part of the city as a “right” and our city has a policy at odds with the police.

Labour’s abstentions in these two matters looked like a lack of courage and they allowed the Greens to have their way.

So given this, how confident can we be that Labour will, at the fifth time of asking, finally join with the Conservatives and vote to scrap the temporary Old Shoreham Road cycle lane when the “active travel” package comes before councillors next week?

Remember, Labour councillors have told residents many times in the past year that they are against the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane – including as far back as August last year – but still found a way to vote four times to keep it in place in that time.

Councillor Dawn Barnett

Also remember, the meeting to decide whether to scrap the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane next week will be attended by only three councillors because the Greens do not want full meetings to proceed at the moment.

And the “active travel” document to be voted on is long and complex with many different parts:  there will no doubt be “wiggle room” for Labour to back out or fudge their votes.

Look very closely at Labour’s statement – it contains no iron-clad commitment on how they will vote, only that they “intend” to make a “demand” of their coalition partners, the Greens, that they consider alternative cycle lane routes.

I, for one, am taking no chances. I will be presenting my joint petition with Councillor Nick Lewry urging the council not to close Stapley Road – one small part of the Labour and Green Old Shoreham Road experiment – on Thursday night (15 July) at the meeting of the full council.

My residents want this cycle lane removed in its entirety – including all its component parts and the tacked on road closure schemes.

Mr Arbery, please do not celebrate too soon – Labour do not deserve your congratulations just yet. Hold your congratulations until they finally have the courage to vote with the Conservatives to remove the Old Shoreham Road temporary cycle lane scheme in its entirety. Nothing less will do.

Make sure your group stays vigilant and keeps the pressure on Labour to follow through on their words at the special meeting next week.

If Labour abstains, the Greens will get their way once again and we will be stuck with this unwanted cycle lane for another two years.

Councillor Dawn Barnett is a Conservative member of Brighton and Hove City Council. She represents Hangleton and Knoll ward.

  1. Jonathan Simons Reply

    Two rather large innacuracies where Councillor Barnett tries to pass the blame for things her and her group have supported. Though her general point about fence sitting labour is fair.

    Parking permit price increases were in the council budget which she voted for! They may have noted the proposal at committee but it was only through her and other councillors voting for the budget that made it happen.

    Similarly the decision to hold meetings with 1 councillor from each group was supported by all parties including her own to minimise virus spread. And shouldn’t the tories be happy with it given they get a much bigger proportion of the seats than the voters did.

  2. Rob Arbery Reply

    ”Mr Arbery, please do not celebrate too soon – Labour do not deserve your congratulations just yet. Hold your congratulations until they finally have the courage to vote with the Conservatives to remove the Old Shoreham Road temporary cycle lane scheme in its entirety. Nothing less will do”.

    I whole heartedly agree with this and everyone in the West of the City will expect Labour to be true to their word – it was temporary it didn’t work and it needs to go now.

    • Johny Cobblers Reply

      So which one is it Mr A?

      Congratulate and thank them (as you have already done and encouraged others to do the same), or “I whole heartedly agree with this”?

  3. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    I am not in the west of the city, thank goodness, but I do have a view on abstentions. If these councillors want to get elected next time round, then they need to stand up and vote for what they think is right (although Labour have not done so in the past and just roll over to the Greens). Abstaining is a total cop-out. The question is so simple that a child could answer it. Are the OSR cycle lanes a good idea or are they not? Surely, nobody should just sit on the fence and abstain. And, if they do, then they should be voted out next time round for total lack of any moral fibre. You could ask why Labour seems to be in cahoots with and props up the totally incompetent Greens. Get some cojones, Labour, and vote properly.

  4. Hove Guy Reply

    Begging is a criminal offence under section 3 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 (as amended). In 2019, there were 926 prosecutions and 742 convictions for begging. Most convictions for these offences result in a fine or a conditional discharge however offenders are sometimes sentenced to custody.9 Apr 2021

    So the police should not be bowing down to the B&H council. The law is the law, and unless it is changed begging is a criminal activity. The corrupt and totally incompetenmt council themselves are breaking the law by encouraging it, and those responsinble should be prosecuted for it.

  5. Hangleton Resident Reply

    So, Dawn – I’m a Hangleton resident and I use this cycle daily. You’re NOT representing my needs!

    Without it I’ll have to opt to drive instead, perpetuating the fumes and congestion that most ppl hate?

    Leave the cycle lanes alone and let’s get more cars off the roads!

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