Councillor calls for independent review of Valley Gardens scheme

A councillor has called for an independent assessment of changes to the road layout in Valley Gardens in the centre of Brighton.

Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh said that the review should be carried out by a traffic consultant who was “genuinely independent”.

She plans to seek support for the move at a Brighton and Hove City Council meeting on Thursday next week (16 December).

Councillor Fishleigh intends to propose a motion at the meeting of the full council and said that everything previously assumed about the Valley Gardens scheme had changed because of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit.

She said that the final stage – phase three – was the most controversial, with plans to remove the roundabout at the Palace Pier and replace it with a T-junction.

The first two phases came under fire recently when it emerged that thousands of people had been fined every month for going into new bus lanes.

In October alone, more than 9,000 drivers were fined after being caught by one of four bus gates – an estimated one every two minutes during the day.

Councillor Fishleigh said: “The city has experienced many unintentional problems brought about by unmonitored assumptions and miscalculations.

“Notably, the remodelling of North Street has directly contributed to making it one of the 10 most polluted roads in the UK, damaging the health of residents and visitors alike.

“Displaced traffic and punitive fines are causing distress and hardship to residents, visitors, workers and business owners. These have resulted from the poor planning and implementation of phases one and two.”

She said that problems with phase three included

  • Creating a five-lane road directly in front of two city centre doctors’ surgeries as well as homes and businesses
  • Narrowing pavements by more than three metres
  • A “confusing and dangerous” bus loop
  • Putting pedestrians in conflict with a new two-way cycle lane at the Palace Pier and Pavilion Gardens

Business owners and residents created the Valley Gardens Forum to share their concerns with the council.

These have included cutting off the east of the city centre and the effects of a T-junction replacing the Aquarium Roundabout.

Councillor Fishleigh’s motion said: “Valley Gardens phase three will happen but it is our responsibility to ensure that the scheme is implemented in the way that works for all users – and that there are no oversights or unintended consequences.”

She wants an independent consultant to meet “stakeholders” to hear their concerns and produce a report for a future meeting of the full council.

Independent councillor Tony Janio, who was formerly the leader of the Conservative group, is expected to second Councillor Fishleigh’s motion.

The full council meeting is due to start at 4.30pm at Hove Town Hall on Thursday 16 December. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

  1. Peter Talbot Reply

    Valley Gardens 3 has become a totally twisted project instead of improving the area for all users everything is being shunted and squeezed to fit in a cycle lane and to be fair that cycle lane dangerously mixes cyclists and pedestrians and some very busy areas (so doesn’t really serve cyclists). Five lanes of traffic will cut off St James Street and the removal of the roundabout, (despite a majority in the consultation wanting to keep it), is being replaced with a design that will ‘choke’ the traffic. A design like at 7 dials could have really worked. Utter b@lls up.

  2. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Well done, Bridget – a voice of very rare sense in the ongoing council nightmare. Greens and Labour will have none of it, of course, but it should be put up there for discussion.

    What is so very sad about all this traffic stuff/ cycle lanes/ side-lining of the less able residents (of which there are many), apart from the non-consideration of anyone who can’t ride a bike or walk very far without somewhere to take a rest and sit-down (there are not many places for a rest and sit-down anywhere in this Green-scheme nightmare), is that there has never been a coherent overall plan. It’s all just stick a cycle lane here, a bus gate there and never mind the chaos that ensues.

    We have been here before. When the Greens were last in chaotic, arrogant and disastrous charge, they messed about with traffic flow, one-way systems etc, with the result that, where one had previously been able to drive fairly normally from the seafront to the station, it was no longer possible and you got mired and bewildered in the ‘system’.

    If Labour seriously wants to get in power at the next locals (which they now seem to be angling for, very much belatedly, having noticed that the Greens are a complete hypocritical shower, which many of us knew from the last Green administration), then they need to disentangle themselves from the pathetic Greens, purge out their Momentum/TU/ allegedly anti-semitic/pseudo-independent clowns and have a positive agenda which works for the majority of voters and residents.

    No hope of that, sadly.

  3. Mike Beasley Reply

    Oh dear! The Greens won’t like this. We can’t have sensible solutions getting in the way of dogma

  4. GE Keys Reply

    Hear hear! Well done Councillor Fishleigh, one of the few voices of reason on the council. This is an utterly insane project wasting millions in public money for an inferior road result for all users.
    We are a TOURIST city, yet all we do is scare tourists off with terrible roads and sky-high parking schemes and that’s if you can find a space! The disability discrimination is also appalling and unlawful.

  5. Bel Reply

    Brighton is one of the least friendly places I’ve ever known for those whose mobility is limited in any way. I take my elderly parents, who aren’t poor, to spend their money in any one of a dozen other places where they feel more welcome. Don’t even start me on public transport, from the jolty bus drivers, who seem to take pleasure in trying to make them stumble and fall, to the railway platform staff, where for every one who proves helpful, several others show little or no care, and that’s if you can spot one.

  6. Peter Challis Reply

    When Bridget says to use a truly “independent consultant” I assume she means not to use the Green Party’s favourite anti-motorist pro-cycling transport consultant, Mark Strong.

    Mark commented to me that residents are idiots and experts like him know what is best for the city. Seems he has a similar view on us as our adorable Green councillors.

    Hence the imposition of road changes using Experimental Traffic Orders without consultation, and without monitoring or predefined success criteria, and then the council can claim success and ignore negative feedback if they so desire.

  7. Jon Reply

    In this column Councillor Fishleigh doesn’t say what she wants to achieve so if she appoints an independent consultant to do what,
    Does she want more traffic to flow faster ?
    The Council’s plan says it’s about making it easier for pedestrians, cyclists and giving more space for the public to use.
    It’s got to be better for pedestrians and cyclists than the current layout IMO

    • Nathan Adler Reply

      I think Cllr Fishleigh is pretty explicit that she wants it to work for everyone. The detailed plans fail all users pedestrians, (smaller pavements and conflict with a cycle lane), cyclists (a cycle lane through a busy pedestrian area) and buses/ motorists (the layout for the Palace pier junction is utterly ridiculous). This is the worst of all worlds and serves no one.

  8. John McKean Reply

    Great of Bridget Fishleigh to try once more to get this thought about properly – even with the clock at five to twelve, mid the ongoing plague, fast changing work/transport patterns, and now post-COP26… Please, please can the lead councillors join in and explain how these key infrastructure changes are in line with (a) real green thinking for the 2020s-2050s, (b) Labour goals for the future of our country’s priorities, (c) the best future for the people of Brighton (most of whose journeys are made on foot, and thereafter desirable where possible on bike or bus – and (d) NOT in the interests primarily of commercial ease or 20th century car commuters. What ARE the key arguments in 2022 for the Phase 3 etc plans at our city’s heart?

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