OPINION

Labour steers the way to a carbon-neutral city

Posted On 18 Jun 2022 at 5:31 pm

As our council has launched its Circular Economy Route Map and Action Plan, it feels like a good time to give an update on our work towards becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2030.

Under Labour’s administration, we were one of the first councils to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency and got to work setting up a carbon-neutral programme, inviting the other political parties to work together towards a carbon net zero future.

We set up the city’s first ever climate assembly, and a cross-party working group, which we offered the Greens (in opposition then) the co-chair role of.

We initiated our programme immediately – and we’ve been busy.

We installed hundreds of electric vehicle (EV) charging points across the city to incentivise people to give up high-emission car travel.

We extended the BTN Bike Share scheme, closed roads to vehicles and introduced more cycle lanes, paths and infrastructure to encourage active travel.

We developed the Local Transport Plan, the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan to encourage active travel, the Air Quality Action Plan and the Quality Bus Partnership to drive down fares, simplify ticketing, improve services, electrify the fleet of buses and enhance the Ultra-Low Emission Zone.

We installed hundreds of solar panels on council properties, rolled out e-cargo bikes, electrified council vehicles, introduced school streets, pledged to deliver a car-free city centre and a park and ride in line with the recommendations of the climate assembly, and upgraded street lighting with LED fixtures which has helped us see a two thirds reduction in carbon emissions from lighting the city.

Even from opposition, while working cross-party to deliver the carbon-neutral programme, we have pushed the Green administration further and held their feet to the fire when they’ve been unwilling to deliver on the climate assembly’s findings.

This has included identifying funds to roll out 20-minute neighbourhood schemes, to introduce park and ride and improve bus services, to introduce a 20mph city, EV car share clubs, a carbon reduction incentive scheme for residents and more.

It not easy to change our ways of travel and in Labour we certainly recognise that we don’t want to ask residents – particularly those further from the city centre, the disabled, the elderly and families – to leave their cars at home more often unless we can provide efficient and low-cost public transport as well as cycle lanes. After all, this in line with what residents agreed at the climate assembly.

Councillor John Allcock is the joint Labour opposition leader on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    It’s all very well for these currently fashionable zero-carbon zealots (with some voters), by almost next week if possible, to jump on the Green bandwagon and shout from the rooftops about it, but unless you subscribe to this totally unrealistic dream (which many of us don’t but, unfortunately, a lot of people who don’t live in any sort of real world do) then it just makes you more mad than ever about the way B&H is run, or, more accurately, not run at all by anyone with actual sense, whether that be the Greens or the officers. Sorry to say this, and I was not a fan at the time, but it all gets clearer with hindsight, this current stuff makes Warren Morgan look more appealing. He was ousted by his supposed colleagues, but had no time whatsoever for dogmatic rubbish.

    The carbon-neutral, bandwagon dream is becoming a mental health issue for some of us, Mr Allcock, please do note.

    What many of us are about is fixing and delivering just the very basic council services that we pay through the nose for – such as efficient rubbish and recycling services, getting a grip on weeds, disintegrating roads, pavements and desecration of heritage assets which attract tourists and income, and really boring stuff like that.

    • Ed L Reply

      You mention mental health- do you accept that car pollution contributes very negatively to mental and physical health? People vote Green, the people want exactly that. We need cars off the street NOW for the sake of everyone’s health.

  2. Peter Challis Reply

    If you read the council’s web pages on #NetZero, they are throwing funds at various schemes with no defined savings in carbon emissions and no measurements of what is achieved – just read John Allcock’s data space monologue!

    The council then say that they will offset the remaining emissions to make us carbon neutral by 2030.

    If they unable to determine savings, why don’t they just offset everything now?

    And we’ll ignore the minor problem that the council only represents 2% of the city’s carbon emissions and they have no real influence on the remaining 98% from residents, business, and visitors.

    Will they offset these emissions as well?

    #netzero is just an excuse for Green activists to implement pet schemes with Labour acting as their tame puppets as a result of the Labour-Green coalition agreement.

    • fed-up with brighton politics Reply

      You have that right, Peter, but nobody listens to sensible residents.

  3. Benny Reply

    A council that deliberately causes traffic jams in a failed, stupid attempt to reduce car driving isn’t going to achieve net zero.

  4. Jonathan Simons Reply

    Don’t you mean “delayed the way” given the number of schemes you’ve joined with the Tories to kick down the road? Almost everything in this piece is other people’s ideas you’re now claiming credit for. And who was it who clubbed with the Tories to remove a cycle lane?

    • Peter A Reply

      What an incredibly childish article. We need councillors who will do their best for taxpayers and businesses in the city – not indulge in puerile point scoring!

  5. Car Delenda Est Reply

    Big words but it doesn’t ring true with Labour spinelessly bending over for the motor Mafia when they say a cycle lane offends them.

  6. David Haskell Reply

    Actions speak louder than words.

    Your party voted with the Tories to remove a cycle lane in the middle of a Climate Emergency.

    • Mile Oak lass Reply

      Probably something to do with the fact that very few people used it and it caused horrendous congestion and therefore pollution. But don’t let reality come in the way of dogma

    • mart Burt Reply

      David
      I assume Cycle Lane O.S.R.
      The first thing to remember this lane was only temporary.
      Importantly, failures of the council to conduct proper consultations with those it should have under the scheme were non existent or very limited at best.
      We kept getting posts from a certain cycling idiot who informed us they had received ‘Thousands’ of e-mails in support of the O.S.R cycle Lane yet those thousands didn’t bother doing the survey that showed only a few hundred wanted it kept.
      One cyclist, in a lame effort to support the O.S.R cycle Lane, actually told us Bus Service’s in the area were so poor, that highlights the need then to look at public transport especially as cycling numbers didn’t increase.

      There were cyclist too, who said this wasn’t the best scheme.
      This council told us, this lane’s use had increased by a staggering 61%. Under a F.O.I. Report, data supplied by the DfT it was proven there was a decrease in cycle use.
      You bang on about a climate emergency, (how you know we’re in the middle of one is beyond me, unless of course you know when it will end?) yet cant see the Road closure caused more congestion and pollution, like the one at the Old Steine roundabout.

      The idea of putting a Cycle Lane on the O.S.R had been looked at long before. Road traffic experts and those with intelligence made the decision at the time it wasn’t suitable due to the congestion and other related problems it would have caused, and now been proven.
      The decision to reinstate two lanes was a in this case the best solution while a longer term plan is considered.
      On this one, the council got it spot on right, the only downfall, was the waste of funding used in the first place, had they bothered checking the notes from previous consultations and feasibility checks they might have had second thoughts.
      Funding might have been placed elsewhere, like Portland Road as has been suggested by cyclist as well as the general public.

      You have to accept that sometimes not all schemes are suitable and wrongly implemented. It takes guts and a backbone to admit ‘We got it wrong’, people will respect those who put their hands up, instead we have councillors and their equally one sided view and blinkered supporters throwing their toys out their prams, crying and stamping their feet like 4 year olds.

  7. Billy Short Reply

    I’m not sure what is worse here – the Labour party claims or the tribal responses to the article in this comments section.
    We are all concerted about climate change but it’s not just a simplistic battle between motorists and cyclists in Brighton and Hove.

    Firstly, the city’s Climate Change Forum was set up by those most concerned about climate change, was overseen by climate change activists, and was lectured to by a good cross section of climate change experts. The volunteers on the forum were also arguably chosen to be in favour of climate change action. And, despite this bias, they came up with a sensible list of things that should be done, whilst pointing out very clearly that you can’t help at all by just doing one or two things on that list.

    The council has since chosen to cherry pick recommendations on that list, whilst ignoring the ones that didn’t fit in with their existing intentions. This is so frustrating for us residents who see things getting worse and not better. It also should not be a political issue, or an ideological one – but a local one.

    In fairness, Labour councillors once again called for the park and ride schemes we certainly need, but the Greens seem to have kicked that one down the road because it doesn’t fit with their ideology.

    What we have seen are some new cycle lanes but these often duplicate older ones which could have been widened instead, and so it has not been any practical use of shared space. Those cycle lanes have not helped the flow of commuter traffic and in some places have created new traffic jams, adding to pollution and making it more difficult for pedestrians to cross the road. Public transport has also been slowed.

    In addition, we have seen some road narrowing and road closures which in turn cause longer journey times which again – in terms of us becoming ‘carbon neutral’ – make things worse not better.
    The proposed ‘living neighbourhood’ scheme in Hanover will similarly displace traffic, doing nothing to actually help climate change. It’s another fake green idea.

    There is so much goodwill in this city but we are being let down get the obvious lack of any integrated transport strategy.
    Car ownership is already very low in the city and nobody living here will take a trip in their vehicle unless they need to. Most of us try to cycle or walk when we can, but this is not always practical for a long journey or if you live up a steep hill.
    We also have quite a good bus service although that’s expensive and night-time services were cut during the pandemic and have not been restored since. I often find myself having to walk home late at night because the only other choice I have is an expensive taxi ride with just me in the cab.

    Somewhere in the town hall they have a mission statement stuck up on the wall that says we want to be ‘car free’ and for the city to be carbon neutral by the year 2030 – or what ever year it is now.
    On the face of it, these ambitious goals are admirable and something we might all rally behind – but they are clearly a waste of time if you have no budget for change and where what money you have is just spent on projects which actually makes things worse.

    The city continues to expand all the time with thousands of new flats coming into use each month. How are we to get from one side of the city quickly and economically? Where is the better public transport?
    How can we encourage electric cars over gas and diesel ones? And at what point do we embrace electric scooters and other non-polluting wheel craft which people are already buying?

    It seems to me the real problem we have is a council in the hands of self-serving lobbyists and pedagogues, all of whom are failing to see the bigger picture.

    • mart Burt Reply

      Billy Short
      Wow Billy what an excellent and accurate statement that is 100% bang on.

    • Car Delenda Est Reply

      Talks about putting aside ideology but then blames congestion on bike lanes, is anti-LTN and pro-electric car.. right..

      Your ideology is that you should be able to drive everywhere forever.

      • Billy Short Reply

        I don’t think ideology should come into it at all, and I’m no car fan myself.
        My point was that we do need to be able to get from one side of the city to the other and that bike lanes are not the sole answer.
        Duplicating cycles lanes is not a sensible use of limited shared space, especially where they create new bottle necks for other essential traffic.

        It does feel like some bike evangelists aren’t capable of seeing any other point of view.
        Commuting to work on a bike may not be possible if you live outside the city centre, or up a steep hill, or cannot easily store a bike because you live in a flat.
        I have a folding bike which I have to carry up two flights of stairs, and that’s not easy.
        I’ve also had two bikes stolen, despite using all the latest high security locks.

        With those points in mind, we need investment in public transport as another alternative to car ownership.

      • mart Burt Reply

        Car Delenda Est
        Billy made some good points that I agree with.
        You replied to Billy “Your ideology is that you should be able to drive everywhere forever”

        That is not the point they were trying to make, re-read the post.
        You say Billy blames congestion on Bike lanes. Okay, so lets go with the real problem here. Two lanes of traffic reduced to one on main artery roads causes delays, with out there being any suitable scheme to help reduce the vehicles on our roads.
        Cycle lanes is just one, but there’s no improvement to Public Transport, and in many cases, Buses are also delayed by various schemes making them even less attractive as a alternative.

        Billy made a point of duplicate cycle lanes, a waste of funding imo, lanes could have been put in elsewhere or those already installed improved.

        You yourself have a one sided anti-car point of view from your various comments that you’ve made. You are entitled to you opinion but offer no solutions that would help the situation.
        The general feeling is, everything is going to be resolved by improved walking and cycle lanes and anyone who has a point to make that doesn’t agree is always anti bike !!!.

  8. Nissi Nwaozuzu Reply

    I think the city’s first climate assembly is a great idea. We all must work together to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint. I love that they are installing solar panels and electric vehicle charging points.

    These are an excellent incentive for people to use less high-emission transportation. I also appreciate that they are working to improve public transportation options. This will make it easier for people to get around without using their cars.

  9. Adam Reply

    Brighton and Hove is a mess with political leaders to match. The Green Taliban 🤣

    • J gilkes Reply

      With an anti-car fatwa

      • Junia Reply

        Given the unbelievable quantity of cars jamming up every single road in the city, it’s an extremely ineffective fatwa don’t you think?

  10. rob shepherd Reply

    If our council cared about the Climate Emergency, it would investigate why it always misses its all important transport carbon reduction targets so badly … and wouod ask why we have more congestion (generating carbon) and bus delays, at a time when thise roads carry less traffic. They learned nothing from narrowing North Street and their own bus study.

    Those who cannot learn from mistakes are doomed to repeat them … and until you admit to your mistakes, you do not learn from them. Not a happy picture.

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