Park and ride trial won’t happen this year

Posted On 25 Apr 2022 at 5:55 pm

The match-day park and ride at Mill Road in Brighton – Picture by Hassocks5489 Creative Commons

A long-awaited trial of a park and ride scheme for Brighton will not happen this year now after the bus company withdrew because of red tape.

The trial was meant to start using the Mill Road car park in mid-June, with buses travelling between there and the city centre.

But with no assurances from the Highways Agency that signs on the A23 and A27 would be in place in time, Brighton and Hove Buses has decided to pull out.

Other factors included the need for a traffic regulation order, which requires three weeks’ consultation, and questions over whether the scheme would require planning permission.

Nick Hill, Brighton and Hove Buses’ commercial director said: “We are disappointed that the trial is unable to take place this summer, but we will work with the city council and other partners to find a solution to the challenges to hopefully enable it to take place in the future.”

The decision was announced by the bus company earlier this month at a meeting of Brighton Area Buswatch.

Its chair Andrew Boag said: “Park and ride was a strong recommendation from the council’s 2020 Climate Assembly, but councillors and environmentalists were known to be divided on the idea.

Some opponents believed it would actually lead to more people to using their cars or it would encourage people to use the park and ride instead of local bus services.

“While there is some evidence from other places that this can happen, the Mill Road site is not near existing bus services.

“Clearly Brighton and Hove Buses would not have been so keen to run a completely new, unsubsidised express service if they believed it would have a detrimental effect on their other services.

The Mill Road park and ride was primarily aimed at people outside Brighton and Hove, especially those living in rural Sussex who don’t have regular bus services and who currently park in the city centre.

“Its strategic location by the A23/A27 interchange was already successfully used as a park and ride site for the Amex stadium.

“The opportunity to remove 500 cars from some of the busiest roads in Brighton, reducing congestion and pollution for everyone, has been lost, for this year at least.”

Labour’s transport and environment spokesperson Cllr Gary Wilkinson said: “We in the Labour Group are shocked and appalled at the news that the long-awaited park and ride scheme is now being scrapped.

“We set up the city’s first ever climate assembly and there our residents specifically called for the city to adopt a park and ride scheme. Despite that, the Green administration has never been keen on the idea, and Labour has had to drag them kicking and screaming every step of the way.

“We eventually got a commitment out of the administration to deliver a park and ride trial scheme at Mill Road later this year, and now we learn from a Buswatch meeting that the rug has been pulled from under residents and no scheme will be going ahead.

“This is a serious failure to deliver basic services for residents and to deliver on the recommendations of the climate assembly. How can we be serious about reaching carbon net zero by 2030 if we can’t even get on with a park and ride trial scheme?

“I will be writing personally to the Green administration and to the chief executive of Brighton and Hove Buses on behalf of residents, who expect and deserve answers.”

A council spokesperson said: “The planned trial park and ride scheme we supported at Mill Road was not a council scheme – it was put forward by Brighton and Hove Bus Company.

“The bus company has advised us that it is no longer pursuing its proposal.

“Mill Road is within the South Downs National Park. So it would always have been contingent on planning and highways approval from the South Downs National Park Authority.

“Our understanding is that approval was unlikely due to their concerns about the impact on the National Park.

“The proposal also required a number of actions from the National Highways to meet the start of any trial, including installing relevant signage on the A23 and A27 in time.

“We felt the scheme would have given the city the opportunity to assess the impact park and ride may have on car use and any changes in uptake of public transport to arrive in the city.

“It also offered a chance to better understand the implications of park and ride schemes on travel into the city, air pollution, sustainability, traffic management and car parking capacity.

“If the bus company or any other transport company wishes to propose an amended or alternative scheme, our Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee will of course consider it in the normal way.”

The temporary scheme was expected to cost about £100,000, with the bus company bearing the operating costs of providing stewards and promoting the scheme.

The car park has about 450 spaces, including disabled bays near the entrance at the bottom end of Mill Road.

When in use, the road would have been one way as when Albion play home matches at the Amex Community Stadium in Falmer.

If it had become permanent, Green councillors said they would then push for car parking in the city centre to be reduced.

This story was updated at 3pm on 26 April to include the council’s response.

  1. Rob Heale Reply

    The so-called “Green” Party have opposed park and ride schemes for many years. They show a lack of commitment to setting up such schemes and are always trying to find obstacles to them. This is scandalous.

    • Gareth Hall Reply

      I’m not sure you read the article

    • Dave Reply

      It’s always best to read the article first, just in case your vast ocean of ill-conceived prejudices make you post something on a subject you’ve not bothered to understand.

      Read it – THEN comment.

    • Dave Reply

      Best to read the article before you blame the wrong people. The Bus Company pulled the plug, not the Green Party.

      • Katy Reply

        The Green administration have control over a Park and Ride Study that the council agreed to. Where is it? Kicked down the road perhaps. They can also work with the bus company to overcome the trial issues if they had the will. Traffic orders can be done easily and so what if the trial is put back a month or two. It all seems like excuses to avoid the trial. Why?

      • mart Burt Reply

        Best to read the post completely and get a full understanding of what’s being said.
        The opening line informs us that yes indeed the Bus company withdrew and confirmed a few lines later, the reason red tape.

        The idea was put forward by the bus company themselves and not a council incentive. It seems to me, B&H Buses, Brighton Area Buswatch and other interested parties are keen to get this trial up and running.

        If our ‘Green’ council really wanted this scheme to go ahead, I’m sure they would have got round the red tape that applies to many projects in and around the city. Red Tape included the need for a traffic regulation order, which requires three weeks’ consultation, and questions over whether the scheme would require planning permission. But with no assurances from the Highways Agency that signs on the A23 and A27 would be in place in time, Brighton and Hove Buses has decided to pull out.

        This scheme was tabled some time ago and the council still don’t know if they need planning permission, come on, should have been one of the first ‘key’ factors to resolve.
        TRO’s wasn’t a problem getting the dots dotted the T’s crossed where it comes to road closures’, cycle lane installations or removals so hardly anything to worry about on that score.
        Signage is down to ‘Highways’, but of course, any interested party with a serious requirement to get any scheme up and running would peruse that avenue with the agency.

        Further reading informs us, opponents believed it would actually lead to more people to using their cars or it would encourage people to use the park and ride instead of local bus services.
        While there is some evidence from other places that this can happen, the Mill Road site is not near existing bus services so would hardly cause local buses to suffer.

        It’s interesting that people have worked to together to get a scheme but no effort from the council to get it implemented. If the council really wanted this scheme, they would’ve got off their back sides and get it all sorted.

  2. Dave Reply

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, Labour has always opposed a Park & Ride scheme. They have been in power for 27 of the past 36 years in Brighton, and rejected every single P&R scheme.

    In short, Cllr Wilkinson’s words count for little, especially given his local party’s attitude to cycling in the city. A greater sense of self-awareness from him wouldn’t go amiss.

    • mart Burt Reply

      Interesting comments.
      Going back 36 years puts us to year 1986.
      The first park and ride started during 1991 and ran until 2009, most of that during labours reign me thinks. During their turn of office I don’t recall them objecting or withdrawing the funding for the P&R.

      Greens took over administration from the tories and failed to reintroduce it. Labour took over and of course defaulted allowing the greens back in control.
      This scheme was planned 2020, so plenty of time to address the concerns raised. Excuses like “it would encourage people to use the park and ride instead of local bus services” is mind blowing. That’s the whole point of park and ride to encourage people to use it.
      How a park and ride could possibly encourage more people to use their cars is mind blowing too, unless they drive and use the P & R and that means more revenue to help fund the scheme and maybe generate enough money to introduce more sites but that’s the green logic at it’s worst.

      Poor excuses, and lets not forget this scheme was to be a trail, but hey ho, had it been a trial cycle lane or road closure, these are installed overnight.

    • Katy Reply

      As pointed out to you, Labour have not rejected Park and Ride. They have been pushing the issue for some time now but the Greens oppose it. Arguably Labour are leading on promoting climate change initiatives and the Greens have lost their way.
      On the issue of cycling and correct me if I am wrong but Labour have promoted cycling and walking across the city and the only time they objected to a cycle lane, it was a temporary one that was rushed through and supported by the Greens. It caused huge problems and a consultation rejected it. Shouldn’t our politicians act on what residents want rather than refusing to admit when something is not working.

  3. Rob Heale Reply

    I certainly did. There has always been an agenda in the Green Party to oppose park and ride schemes. If there was the political will for this then it would happen.

  4. Peter Challis Reply

    Strange that the Greens can push through Experimental Traffic Orders to close roads or put in cycle lanes whenever they want to, but when they don’t support something democratically agreed by the council or recommended by the farcical “Climate Assembly”, then it unfortunately gets delayed.

    But who cares, Councillor Steve Davis (Green ETS co-chair) has announced two active car park hubs right in the city where you can leave your car and then switch to buses or cycle instead.

    I make it £11.50 for parking + £14.80 Stagecoach for a family of 4 to park at the King Alfred for 6 hours and then take the bus into Brighton and back.

    Horsham park-and-ride is £1.90 for up to 5 passengers all day.

  5. Mark Terrill Reply

    Mart Burt.
    P&R was running long before 1991.
    Sites included Mithras House to Saltdean.
    Another was Black Rock to Queen’s Road.

    • mart Burt Reply

      Mark Terrill
      Hi Mark, you’re correct, I got the date from B&H Buses history site but of course, Brighton Corporation started the service off originally with single decker’s borrowed from Southampton and I think B&H ran a double decker too.
      Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Billy Short Reply

    This is just another stitch up that allows the Greens to get what they wanted all along.
    They can now blame the bus company for our lack of park and ride schemes, when really this is about political will.

    The Greens are stuck with the idea that any car park is bad, and their entrenched ideology stops them from coming up with practical solutions for visitors wishing to arrive by car. Never mind that we are still a seaside resort where a substantial part of our economy is based on visitor spending.

    If you think of this from the visitor or day-tripper’s point of view then you’ll probably just head elsewhere. A family of four can no longer afford to arrive here by train – assuming the weekend rail services are running anyway.
    I’m no fan of cars myself but where’s the affordable public transport alternative? People coming here for a long weekend or holiday will not be arriving by bicycle.

    For a couple of decades Brighton established its uniqueness amongst UK resorts on the basis that we had a council that said ‘yes’ to most opportunities. Why does it feel that we now have a council that says ‘no’ to most things? Every step feels like a backward one and even basic services are not fulfilled.

  7. Chas Brigden Reply

    Somewhere in a parallel universe inhabited by Green councillors, it all makes perfect sense

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