Councillors vote through £13m Valley Gardens revamp and reject calls for review

A councillor was rebuffed when she asked for an independent review of plans to revamp the Old Steine road layout in Brighton.

Councillor Bridget Fishleigh

Independent councillor Bridget Fishleigh was thwarted when the Greens and Labour voted against her proposal.

She called for the review at a town hall meeting as councillors approved final designs for the £13 million project known as Valley Gardens Phase 3.

Councillor Fishleigh said that the proposals for the new road layout and cycle lanes from the Palace Pier through Old Steine to Victoria Gardens did not work for buses and pedestrians.

Some of the busiest pavements would be reduced in size, adding to the risks for pedestrians, she said.

The plans include a T-junction and traffic lights to replace the Aquarium Roundabout as well as new separate cycle lanes and an outdoor events space.

The project’s price tag has gone up to almost £13 million from just under £8 million although a government grant will cover £6 million of the cost.

The higher bill was blamed on inflation in the construction sector while the project was delayed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Councillor Fishleigh said that the information around the tweaked scheme was based on “old data” – and any decent private sector business would want to know that such a project was good value for money.

After meeting with senior executives from Brighton and Hove Buses, she said, their view was that the scheme did nothing to improve bus services and was likely to increase journey times.

She urged the committee to ask an independent consultant to review the scheme to ensure that it represented good value for money without increasing congestion and pollution in the centre of Brighton.

Councillor Fishleigh Said: “There is only one reason why anybody wouldn’t want to bring in a fresh pair of eyes.

“They are worried what those eyes would see and what the recommendations would be.”

Councillor Bridget Fishleigh presented a critical evaluation of the £13 million Valley Gardens Phase 3 scheme

Councillor Fishleigh suggested that the council asked the government what it could do with the £6 million that it had already been granted rather than taking out a £5 million loan.

She said: “The common theme across all council meetings is lack of money. Ask an independent consultant what can be delivered for the £6 million you have.

“If you vote for this, then you have learnt nothing from the various cycle lane debacles.”

Another Independent councillor, Tony Janio, supported Councillor Fishleigh’s request and said that he had been involved with the project for many years.

He said that the facts did not matter to those in charge of the scheme – they had come up with a project to create a new cycle lane even though it would hold up buses and cars and cause unnecessary pollution.

Councillor Janio said: “All of these convenient facts have been ignored and have been slain by the ‘yes we must get a cycle lane to go sweeping across that road’.

“I just want all councillors to recognise that they are only putting this in and wasting a lot of money to get a cycle lane that will eventually have to be removed.”

A visualisation of how the Valley Gardens Phase 3 scheme will look

Labour councillor Gary Wilkinson, who is a member of the council’s Valley Gardens Working Group, said that he agreed with some of what Councillor Fishleigh had said because the project was a once in a generation opportunity to change the way people move around the city.

He said: “I am aware that traffic consultancy has occurred – and extensive consultation with all stakeholders.

“The scheme since its inception has been tweaked and changed in many forms following that consultation to make it the success we all hope it will be.”

Councillor Robert Nemeth said that he had no issues with an audit and the two Conservatives on the committee backed the idea.

Green councillor Steve Davis said that every effort had gone into making the designs the best they could be.

He said: “Doing nothing is not an option. We do need to get this through and we do need to do it as collaboratively as possible.

“The only way we’re going to decrease bus journey times is a modal shift. We just have to offer people the infrastructure to do this.”

  1. Chaz. Reply

    Vote Labour, you get the Greens.
    Vote Green, you get Labour.
    Neither of them want independent reviews nor auditors of course.
    Wonder why that is?
    Meanwhile the City is dragged into the mire because of them both.
    B&H should be in special measures, it is our only hope.

    • Katy Reply

      Vote Tory, get Tory and we have all seen where that leads.
      You may not like hearing this Chaz but almost two-thirds of the city voted for Green or Labour councillors in 2019. The tories were rejected in huge areas of the city.
      The only thing that should be in special measures is the government and Boris Johnson. Hold on, them being in more measures, beer and bottles of wine is probably the last thing this country needs!

      • Jack Williams Reply

        Rest assured – it won’t be like that in 2023 or the Greens. We’ve already had parasite cllrs Phillips and Druitt leaving the sinking ship. Who will be next to announce they won’t stand again? The Greens have fooked up big time. Then you have the tiny matter of Phelim’s little jaunt to Glasgow – he is either incredibly stupid or an unctuous hypocrite. Probably both.

  2. Mike Beasley Reply

    The Council reject suggestions for an independent review. This speaks volumes of how BHCC operate. When this scheme inevitably goes wrong, causes accidents, congestion and pollution, who at the Council will be held responsible. Remember, cllr Davis is on record as saying that replacing the Aquarium roundabout will not cause increased congestion, but the again, the Greens said the OSR scheme was a success

  3. Gareth Hall Reply

    I wonder how much an independent review would have cost ?

  4. David Haskell Reply

    Great! Let the groundbreaking begin!

    I respected Cllr Fishleigh up till the committee on Tuesday. But now we see her true colours, a furious anti-cycling advocate. That means she advocates for more pollution, more congestion and more injuries in collisions. Her vision is a congested city packed full of cars and pollution during a climate emergency. Shameful.

    • Martin Burt Reply

      David Haskell
      Lets assume this scheme doesn’t happen, can you explain, how there would be more pollution, congestion and more injuries, logic suggests it will remain at the same level as now.

      Now, when this scheme is in place, the council have already told us, CONGESTION will increase due to the new road layout, therefore creating more pollution.

      You just need to look at the disaster that is VG1 and 2, more congestion and confusion has been caused and Public Transport taking much long to get through.

      This scheme does little to improve public transport, that’s shameful too.
      Nothing ever works when we have the Greens in. People must have pretty short memories. North street a disaster, more congestion. Brighton Station, 7 dials and Elm Grove proven to be poorly planned requiring more council taxes to correct.
      This scheme is geared up to cater mostly for the advantage of cyclists at the expense of Bus users and that is disgusting.

      You need to look at the whole picture not the one sided selfish cyclists needs, councillor Fishleigh has raised some vital points and has recognised the needs of others, unlike you and others who’s only thought is someone is Anti Bike when in fact that is not the case when they raise concerns or make views that don’t match yours.

      This city operates with several modes of transport, and we should be able to cater for all not just one mode.

      • Dsvid Haskell Reply

        Ah another anti-cyclist fanatic.

        19 million cars in the 70s, 40 million in 2020 and the numbers are still rising. More cars = more congestion and more pollution. Cars cause pollution and 124 residents died in Brighton because of it in 2018. Those that drive when they can walk/cycle/bus are the selfish ones.

        “This city operates with several modes of transport, and we should be able to cater for all not just one mode.” – Great so you’ll welcome that this plan provides for cyclists where none currently exist. Glad we can agree on that.

        • Chaz. Reply

          Another pro-cyclist flake.
          If there was a plan from your Greenie friends, you might win more people over.
          Sadly all we get is dogma politics from children.
          We need adults in charge with a vision, not a whim as we get today. We have had enough.

        • Martin Burt Reply

          Dsvid Haskell
          Oh dear ref: Ah another anti-cyclist fanatic.
          Typical reply, what part of THIS CITY SHOULD CATER FOR ALL MODES OF TRANSPORT did not compute. ALL MODES includes, walking, CYCLING, public transport, you know, Buses, Taxi’s, Trains even roller skates and skateboards and anything else.

          You say 19 million cars in the 70s, 40 million in 2020 and the numbers are still rising. So wrong on many counts here.
          But a point to understand in 1970 the population stood at 55,632,000, in 2022 the population stood at 65,761,117. So 10 million more people will generate more vehicles on our roads, you know public transport, buses and taxis, more delivery vehicles and businesses etc.

          You say 19million cars in the 70’s wrong, DfT Stats show Private cars hadn’t reached 20 million until mid 1980’s.
          No where near your 19 million as you wrongly quote.
          As for 40 million in 2020 wrong again:
          The Official stats show :
          2020 31,695,988

          Cars cause pollution, yes they do, so do many other things too and we accept that, but making it EVEN worse without imputing suitable alternatives like better bus services for instance isn’t going to reduce the problem.
          The point YOU missed, this scheme will do nothing to IMPROVE Bus usage for example in fact it will make it worse and will not encourage those that drive when they can walk/cycle/bus .

          Not everybody can use their feet or cycle so rely on other means, make public transport user friendly at a reasonable cost and more reliable and we can start to achieve a car free city fit for all.

          “This city operates with several modes of transport, and we should be able to cater for all not just one mode.” – Great so you’ll welcome that this plan provides for cyclists where none currently exist. Glad we can agree on that.

          Yes I do welcome plans for cyclists I never said I didn’t, you assumed I’m Anti-Cyclist. I referenced Cyclists over BUS USERS in this particular scheme as the plans show major changes that do not include Bus Lanes/Gates and removal of Bus stops close to St James street, and that too, is being closed off and that will generate more congestion with buses having to divert along the seafront and up Edward Street.
          A quick bus count sees routes 1,2,7,18, 37 and a few others serving Jimmy street with 1 & 7’s running every 6-10 minutes so for argument sake lets say 20 buses an hour… That’s a lot of buses.
          Then buses won’t be able to sit at the Old Steine, 25/25X/700 so there’s another ten at least that will be diverted elsewhere every hour.
          Then we have the Buses all converging at the junction of St James/North Street with buses Coming South turning right towards North Street and conflicting with those turning left from North Street. Utter shambles.
          Public Transport should be given better priority not worse.
          Time and time again, road workings has caused major reworkings in Bus schedules causing endless curtailments, re routed, re timed, withdrawn cut short of previous destinations and journey times increased. Valley Gardens 1 & 2 a prime example, buses taking longer from St Peters to Town.

          I used buses at lot before the last round of so called improvements (Before lockdown), that improved nothing. Brighton and Hove’s interpretation of ‘improved’ service’s and mine differ a lot.
          Let me give you an example, service 23 used to have 3 buses an hour, now it proudly runs 4 so they inform me or a bus every 15 minutes. That statement was correct, however, they only run from the UNIVESITY every 15, two stop short at Queen’s Park, the other two continue to the Marina so from marina a thirty minute service so a reduction of frequency that used to be every 20.

          I am far from Anti Cycling, I’m all for improving schemes and recognise the need to reduce car use but there’s no incentives for Motorists to leave their cars at home, we need improvements in Public Transport and the sooner schemes are implemented to give Motorists a better option then the sooner we can achieve what we ALL want.

  5. Sussex square forever Reply

    I met bridget last week at sussex square to discuss our ongoing communal bins issues. She arrived on her bike. I was impressed!

  6. Gary Reply

    Vote Chaz, you get Mike.
    Vote Mike, you get Chaz.

    its all the same illogical backward nonsense

    • Chaz. Reply

      Vote Gary you get Gareth.
      Greenies both the same.

  7. Billy Short Reply

    The fundamental problem with this scheme is that it does nothing to address the city-wide transport issue.
    On the contrary, it directs cyclists and pedestrians straight at the city’s main road junction when those on bikes or on foot aren’t all heading to the Palace Pier – So why would you do that, creating an inevitable traffic jam?
    The seafront road remains the last cross-city route for commuter traffic, for buses, for delivery vans, trades people, and for seafront taxis. Many visitors to the city can only arrive by car or coach and yet we seem determined to keep them out.
    None of this helps combat climate change either. No alternative form of transport has been provided, and there are still no park and ride schemes. The bus routes are being continually slowed up by each road closure.
    If we live outside the city centre then how are we supposed to get to work? Indeed, if you have a heart attack in Hove then how are you going to get to the hospital in Kemp Town?
    What a mess.

    • Katy Reply

      There has been a recent consultation in the city to look at a walking and cycling infrastructure development across the city and there is also a local transport plan in formation. I do hope you managed to share some of your concerns there Billy as well as constructive ideas.
      I believe the idea behind these initiatives is to join up the city for cyclists and pedestrians whilst the Valley Garden scheme should move traffic through this area better. Park and Ride schemes will help and I read that locally Labour are pushing for schemes. What really slows up buses is traffic and even Central government realises the need to encourage active travel via its gear change project.
      Ultimately, it is difficult to drop all these schemes at the same time to give you the desired result but hopefully, a city fit for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike will materialise. In the meantime, keep the constructive comments and solutions coming.

  8. SlowFiets Reply

    This scheme was already subject to a review under Warren Morgan when Labour came to power and insisted that the traffic modelling was re-examined. A “fresh pair of eyes” was deployed and came to the same conclusion of existing scheme – that it was sound.

    The only outcome of this was delay and increased cost.

    Those who oppose sustainable transport schemes to preserve the privilege of motorists find increasingly that the evidence doesn’t back them up and the people don’t support them, and their last stand is a call for endless reviews in the hope that the costs and delay they introduce will finish the project off. Very pleased that our councillors saw through this one and had the confidence to push ahead.

  9. Billy Short Reply

    It’s unfortunate that comments on important articles like this get the obvious spin doctor response.
    All discussion tends to get closed down – usually here with accusations that those raising concerns are somehow part of a ‘car lobby’, or else uncaring about climate change.

    What we actually have is a situation where all party politicians are chasing the same green vote, and yet they spend more time shouting at each other than debating what is right for local residents or for the jobs market and tourist economy.
    The common sense approach to city wide transport policy has gone out of the window in favour of ideology, misdirected funding, and duplicated cycle lanes. It’s no longer about the best use of shared space or about free flowing public transport.

    It’s difficult to know whether the underlying problem is the lobbyists who have state-captured our council, or whether it’s down to inexperienced councillors stuck in a self-congratulatory Zoom bubble.

    Or is it just about funding – and now they have found some money they just have to spend it.

    As a life long resident, I’d rather they sorted out our recycling issues first. Oh, and how about some basic maintenance?

  10. Mr Andrew Camper Reply

    This council makes the city constantly less accesable for the majority in favour of a minority. All in favour of Bike lanes but not at the loss of needed cross city routes. The A259 is the only east west road for residents to get across the city, the A23 the main route into the city. Ambulances Delivery vans, workmens vans and other services need both routes to flow and allow shops homes and business connections. This scheme will just add polution and create a bottle neck in three directions. It will help only to waste money and satisfy a minority of cyclists.

  11. Sue Reply

    Money could have been used to build affordable housing

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