OPINION

Budget council highlighted ‘disconnects’ around funding, carbon neutral aims and fairer fares

Posted On 05 Mar 2022 at 12:01 am

When I spoke at the budget council meeting last week, one point I made in relation to Conservative amendments was about the seeming “disconnect” between the vocal complaints of the local Tories about everything from street lighting to a lack of funding for a statue of the Queen, and the actions of successive national Conservative governments, who have cut no less than £110 million a year from the council’s funding since 2010.

I’ve been thinking about “disconnects” in other ways, too. For example, while the Labour council group rejects the constant, frankly childish accusation from the Tories of a Labour-Green “coalition” in the city, we are genuinely happy to work with other parties in any areas we can agree on, for the good of residents.

In practice, the council’s “corporate plan”, which the current administration is working to, was set by Labour in 2019 – and agreed by all three parties – so obviously there are many areas that we continue to work closely on, since it was our plan!

One important area of agreement is our commitment to carbon neutrality by 2030, and it is here that I always struggle with what seems a “disconnect” with the Greens, too.

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There is much being done that is positive, from low-traffic and 20-minute neighbourhood schemes, to walking and cycling infrastructure improvements.

But the missing piece of the puzzle for me is any real engagement with the cost of our horribly expensive public transport networks.

This was brought home to me again this week, when I read that (regulated) rail fares had gone up by a minimum of 3.8 per cent (some of the unregulated fare increases will be even steeper). This was the highest rise for nine years.

Our local bus services, while they provide good coverage in most (not all) areas, are also very pricey.

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Of course, much of this is again a national government issue, not something any local administration can control.

However, it seems obvious to me that not everyone is fit enough to walk or cycle, particularly in outlying or hilly areas, and that you will never persuade many people to leave the car at home more often unless public transport options are both plentiful and cheap.

If we want to meet our ambitious targets, we need to be lobbying strongly for fare reductions both locally and nationally – and looking closely at the new legislation on bus franchising too.

Councillor Amanda Evans is the deputy leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Hendra Reply

    Amanda – the local Labour Party clearly still is in bed with the Greens. There’s no point denying it – it’s an open secret.
    Why did Labour not vote to have an independent consultant look at the plans for VG3? Let’s face it, BHCC doesn’t have a very good record when it comes to Transport ‘improvements’ and this one has the word ‘disaster’ written all over it . The complicity of Labour will be remembered in 2023. With a few notable exceptions , local Labour councillors no longer represent the very people they should be helping- disgraceful.

    • SlowFiets Reply

      “Let’s face it, BHCC doesn’t have a very good record when it comes to Transport ‘improvements”

      Yes it does. The award winning Lewes Road scheme, the 20mph city the massive improvements to the Valley Gardens, the 7 Dials roundabout, the achieved and proposed improvements to the seafront cycle lane, the Woodingdean/Falmer cycle track, the Low Traffic measures already in place in the Old Town… – BHCC has a good record for transport improvements.
      Where it is still lacking is in the provision of a safe and protected cycle network on our roads. The shameful retreat on the Old Shoreham Road scheme initiated by Labour shows clearly that the two parties are not of one mind, and we are much the worse off because of this.

      • martin Burt Reply

        SlowFiets
        Hmmm
        Sorry you having a laugh or being sarcastic ?

        The award winning Lewes Road, very questionable but awarded for the cycle lane set up not the whole scheme.

        20 MPH, many roads not approved by DfT or police.

        Valley Gardens, a complete and utter shambles from start to finish. Bus services badly delayed and no longer have priority, poorly designed and causing confusion for motorist, or are you unaware of all the controversy printed in many articles in local papers.

        Yes as for the great success that was 7 dials along with Elm Grove and Brighton Station implemented by the Green administration they were so outstandingly well designed and well thought out, all three areas NEEDED reworking at taxes payers expense.

        As for a good record for transport improvements, can you name them because as a regular user of our bus services, I can tell you services are a lot worse now and mean before lockdown 1.

        As for the OSR cycle lane, evidence provided by several sources including BHCC results to the DfT showed beyond doubt that the cycle lanes was used LESS. Explain that ?

        As for VG3, another scheme that even BHCC have already stated, will increase congestion not improve it and the scheme itself has been officially stated by the funding body as being ‘Low value for money’.
        The whole transport and traffic management along with cycle lanes is a complete joke and unfit for purpose.

        Yes we are a lot worse off and that trend continues with every scheme the incompetent BHCC introduces.

  2. David Haskell Reply

    It was surreal in that budget meeting to hear the things the Conservatives are concerned about. The country is obviously working perfectly well for them.

    One thing Labour can do to reduce the cost of fares is to be more supportive of active travel infrastructure. The bus companies have repeatedly said that congestion is a factor in why fares are so high. You’re right to say not everyone can walk or cycle but there are still vast numbers that would if safe infrastructure was provided.

  3. martin Burt Reply

    Councillor Amanda Evans the deputy leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council tells us:
    “If we want to meet our ambitious targets, we need to be lobbying strongly for fare reductions both locally and nationally – and looking closely at the new legislation on bus franchising too”.

    First on fares, Bus companies operate routes commercially and remember that entitled groups are allowed to travel at certain times, according to most ‘Free’. But of course the Governments/local councils pay a subsidy for this, that hardly covers the real costs, therefore the fares that everybody else pays increased.

    Second, franchising, you probably mean London Type Quality Contracts.
    Point is, do we need such a scheme, the local Bus companies provide a decent network to a certain point.
    Third, the council do not actually own any routes to put up for tender except the odd one or two. Transport for London own the routes and put them out for contract.

    If the council were under the new regulations start Quality Contracts or similar, have they actually got the means to do so, probably not is my thinking and what routes would they want to run.
    Local companies have it pretty much tied up but there’s always room for improvement.
    What the council should be doing imo, is working with operators to help improve services by better traffic management and priority schemes, not making them worse like they have done over the last 10 years or so.
    Improve bus services by making them more attractive, more reliable and regular will improve passenger confidence and trust and fares could be reduced or at the very least frozen at an acceptable rate.

  4. Dave Reply

    Hmmm, let’s visit that shall we.
    The 20mph speed limit that not even the police stick to – waste of money
    Lewes road – other than a good cycle lane, the bus lane has created traffic problems and more pedestrians have been in RTAs than when it was a dual carriage way.

    7 dials – more people in accidents and even a death caused by this when a delivery driver hit a pedestrian who was crossing in an area she wouldn’t have been able to before this scheme was implemented

    Moving an perfectly useable and popular cycle lane off the pavement and onto the road on the seafront causing more congestion and pollution.

    OSR cycle lane scandal – the worst road planning disaster in decades. Money that could have been spent putting normal cycle lanes across the rest of the city.

    Viaduct Road… A road that was turned into a 2 lane 1 direction road to make London road a bus only south bound. This has been turned into a 1 lane mess with bins and planters (with no plants in) scattered around all over the place, thus being dangerous for all road users including cycling.

    Busses are insane prices and no fast cross city services

    If this council are good at transport, you could have fooled me.

  5. Mike oxlong Reply

    The greens have zero interest in public transport being cheaper, they hate poor people.

    Torys that recycle.

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