Councillors vote to remove Old Shoreham Road cycle lane

Labour and Conservative councillors voted for the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane to be removed at a meeting this morning (Tuesday 10 August).

The meeting took place at Hove Town Hall with protesters for and against the controversial cycle lane demonstrating outside beforehand.

The Greens voted to keep the cycle lane which runs between The Drive and the Hangleton Road traffic lights.

Green councillor Amy Heley, who chaired the meeting, said that the request to remove the cycle lane was shameful, comments made by her political opponents were hypocritical and the decision a disgrace.

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson said that Labour supported “active travel” but backed residents who had told the council that the cycle lane “does not work”.

He said that his party had called for a pause to consult and listen to local communities with a pledge to respect residents’ views.

His party had brought in a number of “active travel” schemes locally during the first national coronavirus lockdown at the behest of the Conservative government.

The Old Shoreham Road cycle lane was one of them and was created in May last year, in place of a lane of other traffic on each side of the road.

At the time the government was urging people not to use public transport.

Councillor Wilkinson said that the government pushed forward active travel schemes in “challenging times” when public engagement was not possible.

The council had to work “within weeks”, Councillor Wilkinson said, and he quoted a Transport Minister as saying: “We have no interest in requiring councils to keep schemes which are proven not to work.”

Councillor Wilkinson said: “If we are serious about working together to fight climate change in our city, then future progress will depend heavily on leadership, balanced judgments and tolerance, seeking to unite for the good of all.

“Fundamental to this is trust within the city. Good governance is built on a deep and abiding relationship of trust between our leaders and our residents.

“To be candid, trust is preserved by how we are seen to fix and not hide our problems. Our residents need to know what we stand for – and then saying what we will do and doing what we say.

“Only by coming together, engaging and listening to each other can we make Brighton and Hove a carbon-neutral city within the decade.”

Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth said: “We have already had a long debate on the matter with 10 councillors present.

“So it would be pointless to revisit all of the issues that we have already considered, other than to simply point out once again that the cycling cause is damaged when the council uses the great resources that are at its disposal to bully and cajole.

“I fear that the lessons will not be learnt but I nonetheless urge councillors and campaigners to think very carefully about the damage that is done when consultation is either not carried out or simply ignored, especially when there are hopes for other schemes locally.”

James Ferguson protests about the Old Shoreham Road cycle lane

Councillor Heley said that the call for the removal of the cycle lane was “shameful” and Councillor Wilkinson’s comments about supporting active travel measures and tackling climate change were “hypocritical”.

After the meeting, she said: “It’s a disgrace. I feel like no one is listening to young people of my generation.

“I’m scared for the future. This is the tiniest thing we could have done, a step in the right direction, but they just don’t care. It’s very disappointing.”

During the meeting Councillor Heley said that the council had not hold a referendum on whether to scrap the cycle lane but had tried to identify ways to improve cycling options.

She said that the Department for Transport had said that Brighton and Hove City Council would face similar difficulties in bidding for funding to West Sussex County Council which also removed lanes.

A report prepared for the meeting – of the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Urgency Sub-committee – said that almost £280,000 of funding was immediately at risk. It cited a tweet from the Prime Minister’s special adviser Andrew Gilligan.

And the report said that the cost of physically removing the cycle lanes would be about £50,000, which might include some resurfacing work.

The report also set out how the council had received more than £3 million from the government in the first two tranches of “emergency active travel funding”.

  1. Peter Challis Reply

    Fantastic news – the prosecco is on ice for wine o’clock to celebrate. The sooner the lanes are removed the better.

    Pro-cycling activists looked truly dejected, and Amy Heley was “furious”.

    For those wanting to carry on cycling, perhaps try the council’s route planner that never recommended the A270 – http://www.brightonandhovecyclemap.co.uk/

  2. Nick Childs Reply

    Unlike the Greens Labour introduced the various new lanes on a temporary basis with a view to assess their success. We have retained all the new lanes except OSR as the latter is underused, dangerous, unpopular and actually increases congestion and pollution. Labour has put in place more cycle lanes than any administration in the City’s history, but unlike the Greens we will not force through poorly sited lanes against residents wishes.

  3. Billy Short Reply

    Councillor Heley should perhaps take up gardening.
    She’s clearly very good at digging a big hole for herself.

    Those of us who do cycle will carry on doing so, and on the routes we’d rather use.

  4. Martine Reply

    Conservatives councillors pandering to the loud minority, against the wishes of a Conservative government. You couldn’t make it up.

    Labour should be ashamed of themselves.

    Despite the noise the loud minority make, they should expect decisions like this to cause more votes to go to the Greens at the next election – the recent London Local Elections demonstrated that the majority of people are firmly in favour of active travel initiatives.

    Voters won’t look kindly to nimby councillors who pay all their attention to the out of touch, outrage hungry, change hating, minority.

    • Kristin Reply

      The removal the cycle lane means that I will now revert to using my car. This is of course traffic induction, something we have known about since the 60s, I.e. If one builds more roads even more people drive to use them, causing more congestion all round. But hey, never mind, it’s other people that will suffer so why do I care?

  5. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    I continue to boggle that some people relish the Old Shoreham Road dual carriageway trunked through Hove and Portslade (the by-pass was pushed through the Downs to alleviate Old Shoreham Road’s traffic – only Southwick got a tunnel). The Old Shoreham Road dual carriageway has the effect of making the area north of it remoter from the southern area when in fact it is only a few minutes’ walk from, say, Holmes Avenue to Poets’ Corner down Amherst Crescent and under the railway. The cycle lane could have been the first stage in making something better of the sheds-dominated Old Shoreham Road (let us not forget the woman agonisingly killed by a cocaine-snorting driver). Meanwhile we have the terrible spectacle of cllr Wilkinson playing his political violin while Greece, California and Canada burn: “Earth is really dying”, as David Bowie put it fifty years ago.

    • Peter Challis Reply

      That’s what I like about Green councillors past and present. Totally out of touch with reality – all that is happening is the the Old Shoreham Road is being restored to as it was in April 2020 – before your friend Cllr Pete West colluded with Sustrans, and took the opportunity to push through the cycle lane extension that the Conservative led council rejected causing it to stop at The Drive.

      There has been no other change, other than a few more cyclists and a lot less other vehicles using the OSR together with congestion and delays leading to even higher emissions there, and in surrounding areas, than if the cycle lanes had never existed.

      You can still walk from Holmes Avenue to Poets’ Corner.

  6. Hove Guy Reply

    Councillor Heley said that the call for the removal of the cycle lane was “shameful” and Councillor Wilkinson’s comments about supporting active travel measures and tackling climate change were “hypocritical”.
    No, it is Councillors Heley and Wilkinson who are shameful and hypocritical. Their arrogance and stubborness, and that of their colleagues over this matter was appalling. To have squandered a government grant almost overnight, without consulting any of B&H ratepayers is almost beyond belief. As for hypocrisy, to have continued to pretend that this crazy scheme was cutting down pollution, when it was clearly doing just the opposite, it would be hard to find a greater bunch of liars. And then to continue to deny, in the face of all evidence, that it was a huge expensive mistake, just goes to prove what a disaster the Green party has been for the city. This should be remembered when election time comes around again. And voters in other constituencies, where there are Green candidates should take note of all the damage done by this bunch of clowns.
    As for the £50,000, that should not be paid for by local ratepayers, but by Councillors Heley and Wilkinson and all their cronies who landed us in this terrible mess.

  7. Sonia Copland Reply

    Now let’s get rid of the bus lane at Saltdean and Rottingdean and get the traffic moving again!

  8. Paul Temple Reply

    The way Cllr Heley carries on makes you think that this scheme was never temporary in Green’s eyes, so deception from the off. Well done to Labour for not clinging on to a mistake, trying to spin a failure. We need to be honest going forward and listen if we want active travel schemes to succeed.

  9. Malcolm Reply

    Cllr Heley ‘s behaviour was unprofessional and embarrassing. She should resign / be removed from office. She is an affront to democracy

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