Proposed Brighton road closure would ‘barricade’ disabled residents in their homes, says campaign group

Plans to close a shopping street on weekdays have received a mixed reception, with campaigners saying that it would “have a direct and detrimental impact on disabled residents”.

In the first coronavirus lockdown, café and restaurant businesses in Gardner Street, Brighton, expanded into the road – as they do at the weekend.

There were problems with disabled access and the latest road closure plan has resulted in fresh concerns from campaigners.

Brighton and Hove City Council has published a traffic regulation order (TRO) on which would restrict “motor vehicles” from travelling along Gardner Street from 11am to 7pm from seven days a week.

Spacewords Brighton

A second traffic regulation order would authorise moving the disabled bays in Gardner Street to nearby Regent Street, with a limited three-hour stay as well as one personalised bay.

If the traffic order is ratified, Gardner Street will still be open to emergency vehicles, specialist vehicles for the disabled, cyclists and undertakers.

Paul Loman, director of the Real Junk Food Project, which has a pay-as-you-feel café in Gardner Street, is enthusiastic about the proposals.

He said: “If you wander down the street now on a weekday, you’ll see that the public act as if the road is already traffic-free and cars and vans have to negotiate round pedestrians.

“During the covid lockdown, the street was traffic free and it worked well. Gardner Street has a fair proportion of food businesses and so the TRO will benefit the local economy.

“I see there has been some push-back with respect to disability access and parking but the second part of the proposal to move disability parking to Regent Street appears to address this issue.”

A post on the Real Junk Food Project’s Facebook page urges people to show their support for part-time pedestrianisation.

Brighton Access for Disabled Groups Everywhere (BADGE) campaigner Pippa Hodge responded by saying that extended pavement licensing had created “no go” areas for people with wheelchairs, mobility aids and those with impaired sight.

Last year BADGE and Possability People met the council’s consultant, Mott McDonald, to raise concerns about safe access for disabled people and to protect the disabled bays from the “sprawl” of café furniture and clothing rails.

Gardner Street in Brighton

Ms Hodge said: “It is pertinent to emphasise that since November 2021, no further invitations were extended to either disability stakeholder group to discuss the proposals.

“So prior to the TRO being published, we were unaware that the council proposes to fully close Gardner Street between the hours of 11am and 7pm during the week.

“The consultant report advised that consultation should take place prior to further decisions being made.

“This proposal will have a direct and detrimental impact on disabled residents – despite the report recognising that at least one of the bays is essential for a disabled resident.

“The TRO rides roughshod over the residents’ identified needs and their rights to be able to live their lives and come and go – never mind be able to be collected by taxi to attend vital medical appointments.

“Imagine waking up one morning to find that the council has erected a barricade across your front door and you are only permitted to leave your home before 11am or after 7pm. In effect, this is the result of removing the disabled bays.”

Pippa Hodge

During the pandemic, Gardner Street was one of the areas in the North Laine subject to an experimental traffic order, closing the road for the same hours proposed now.

In November 2021, the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee members agreed to return to the pre-pandemic weekend and bank holiday road closures as the weekday closures proved so difficult for blue badge holders.

The report before councillors in November said: “Allowing access to blue badge holders to Gardner Street has created a difficult mix of demands on the street.

“The traders have not been able to expand to the same extent as those in Sydney Street so have not benefited from the reduction of vehicles.

“Although blue badge holders are allowed to access the street, they have found doing so difficult with traders’ items restricting access to blue badge bays or the street looking like it was closed.

“Removing the disabled bays would severely impact local residents. As Gardner Street is not closed to all traffic, the space is not as welcoming, and pedestrians can be caught unawares by approaching vehicles.”

The council said: “We are meeting with BADGE and Possability People in the coming weeks. We will ensure their feedback is an intrinsic part of the report being considered by councillors next month where the decision on Gardner Street will be taken.

“The original partial closure of Gardner Street in 2020 was a temporary measure. It was introduced as part of a package of initiatives to support local businesses during the covid pandemic.

“The temporary measure expired in late 2021. Our view at the time was that the partial closure created problems with disabled access for residents and those blue Badge holders wishing to access the shops and therefore it was advised not to make it permanent.

“Since then, we’ve had a large number of local residents and businesses contact us asking for the daytime closure to be reinstated.”

The traffic regulation orders are open for comment on the council’s website until Friday (12 August) by searching for TRO-22a-2022 and TRO-22b-2022.

The Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall at 4pm on Tuesday 20 September. The meeting is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

  1. Linda Jameson Reply

    Pippa Hodge has become a represntative for entitled car drivers not peoples with disabilities – I have a disability and cars running through small streets makes the city centre really unsafe for me so I avoid it. My only chance to safely enjoy roads like Gardner street is if we don’t give cars preference to disabled people. Please listen to disabled people not car drivers and remove cars from it.

    • Nathan Adler Reply

      Linda, oh Linda. BADGE is a group that strictly allows only blue badge holders into their membership and is around 600 of the 11,500 blue badge holders in the city. The process to gain a blue badge has tough criteria and those that do have some of the most severe mobility issues. The two blue badge bays in Gardner Street represent access for all those users but especially the two residents of Gardner Street with blue badges. Regent Street is not a solution, it’s a fudge and the bays would be further than the criteria actually used to obtain a blue badge.

    • mart Burt Reply

      Linda Jameson
      You didn’t read the article properly did you?
      Pippa Hodge represents BADGE or Brighton Access for Disabled Groups Everywhere.
      So SHE is representing disabled.
      Please READ the article.

    • sue Reply

      Hi Pippa, my husband is a blue badge holder and we live in Regent Street. The closure of Gardner Street to vehicles would push the problems to Regent Street. Our disabled bays are already difficult to get into. Also people forget that this is a residential road. My husband had to fight to get an extra disabled parking spot in this street.
      Cars tear up and down it and we had to petition to request that businesses and restaurants from Jubilee street stopped using Regent street for somewhere to park there bins.
      The closure of Gardner Street to traffic will push more and more problems onto Regent Street, which is full of residential apartments.
      Enough is enough. Leave Gardner Street as it is in order to prevent people in Regent Street suffering the fallout. The business’s in Gardner Street will have to put their tables and chairs back inside. Why should other streets suffer for their profit.

  2. Sue Birch Reply

    While it’s true that Pippa represents the concerns of disabled car users and these are not necessarily exactly the same for those not able to drive, it’s difficult to see how that makes Blue Badge holders ‘entitled’. For many , use of a car brings a degree of freedom, independence and the ability to participate in society – something we all value and which is supported by Equal rights legislation. This issue is one that needs to be resolved as the creation of more people friendly streets is likely to increase

    • Mike Beasley Reply

      Who remembers when BHCC rolled out the COVID cycle lanes? They said they had consulted disabled groups, but when this was scrutinised, it was proved they had lied. BHCC purport to be accountable and transparent, but in reality they inhabit a world of lies and deceit

  3. Pippa Hodge Reply

    Hi Linda. I don’t purport to speak on behalf of all disabled people. I am one of the advocates for the members of BADGE and the advocacy that I do is with the encouragement and permission of members. Disabled car drivers are hardly ‘entitled’. Many of us only have a car because we can’t safely or easily use public transport, many of us rely on the Motability scheme as we can’t afford to run a private vehicle, many of us are experiencing fuel poverty. We may live outside the city centre because we need to live in adapted homes. Disability affects us all differently, to varying degrees. As I’m sure you’re aware, the eligibility for the Blue Badge scheme is stringent with many people being refused. Not all Blue Badge holders drive, some are reliant on being driven, and the Blue Badge scheme closes the distance so that those who need it can go about their lives assisted/enabled (rather than ‘entitled’) by having a Blue Badge. The meeting that we had with the Consultant actually focused on safe access for all disabled people, in these overcrowded areas, and the issues caused by ‘sprawl’ of cafe and shop furniture, as this was also something that disabled residents of the city struggled with hugely, during the Covid changes to licensing and the pedestrianisation of some of the city centre. We discussed how important the existing bays were for people trying to use this area. If you look at the TRO, you’ll also see that the proposal would allow bikes (which will include ebikes and in due course e-scooters, which will form part of the city’s micro mobility active travel) to pass through Gardner Street. So I would argue that it won’t be a safe place for disabled people or for young children etc as there is the potential for conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. Some people might also question how cycle access is being prioritised over disability access and parking, when the latter is a protected characteristic, and the former is not. But our focus is and will continue to be preserving the needs for disabled people who rely on the Blue Badge scheme to be able to live their lives, rather than engaging in divisive either/or wrangling. Living our lives independently, is everyone’s ‘entitlement’ and the Blue Badge scheme is an extension of that’. You’re very welcome to contact BADGE if you’d like to discuss this more. Best wishes, Pippa Badge.brightonhove@gmail.com

  4. Adam Campbell Reply

    Well said Pippa, a voice of common sense. Linda Jameson, go and sit on the naughty step with Phelim.

  5. Paul Temple Reply

    As an able bodied person I cannot see why the old scheme where you permitted blue badge access came back could not return and be properly monitored – it certainly was not an issue before. I would not support what is currently proposed because I thought we were an inclusive city and excluding some of our community seems wrong. Once again this appears to be an issue with the council not engaging with those most affected.

  6. Jojo Goldsmith Reply

    Looks to me like a case of profit/ money over disabled access. i bet I can guess which this administration will support.

  7. Phoebe Barrera Reply

    Why are cyclists still allowed access – a pedestrian precinct like George Street in Hove with limited access to blue badge vehicles would be eminently suitable and much more pleasant for pedestrians?

    The technology they use for bus gate fines could be used to allow authorised access.

    But then our council is only interested in deterring cars, encouraging cycling, and ignoring needs of the disabled.

  8. Robert Arbery Reply

    Linda I have no idea what your disability is but turning on those that have a disability and need a blue badge and calling them ‘entitled’ is a new low for a comments section. I wish my son could walk, talk, eat and live a ‘normal’ life. I wish I didn’t have to have a specially adapted WAV vehicle just to give him any sort of freedom. I wish indeed at the age of twenty he could write here himself and tell you how offensive you are being. If this is entitlement you can keep it.

  9. Silas Reply

    We at BHCC love minorities! They just have to be the right sort! Increasingly BHCC and the Greens are legislating in favour of able bodied people.

  10. Penny Tration Reply

    Is this a pure case of discrimination by BHCC? Do a George Street by all means but why let in bikes and the soon to be legal scooters? Why don’t they use the dedicated cycle lane in Jubilee Street, (which runs parallel with Gardner Street). If it’s ok to move the blue badge bays surly its ok to move the cyclists/ scooterists so pedestrians are properly protected.

  11. Glynis Freeman Reply

    Ableism is alive in the city. Disabled people in the city are facing discrimination daily since the pandemic this has become worse. Schemes are put in place and disabled people are an afterthought. Not everyone’s disability is the same we all have varying degrees of mobility/needs. Able bodied people do not have to plan their days, this is something that disabled people must do daily if they are planning to go out, they have to check access to venues, Blue Badge parking (is it available in the area – is it a timed bay?) etc.

    There are no excuses for not consulting disabled people, we are a protected characteristic. We are not just residents of Brighton & Hove; we are people who happen to have a disability but do not appear to have the same right to freedom as their able-bodied friends/relatives/strangers. This needs to change as we need to heard and seen. We live in a supposedly inclusive city, so let us make it inclusive and stop discriminating against disabled people. We need accessibly to the whole city; we will not be hidden. I oppose this scheme.

  12. Ruby Constance Reply

    Gardner Street was Blue Badge accessible all through Covid – it was never traffic free as the Director of the cafe said. And it really worked accept when some shops put their things in the road – it could though have been ‘policed’ better by the road officers. When I used to walk along pre-covid -as a disabled person-I’d be the road because cars have always gone along Gardner Street really slowly. If bikes are encouraged to commute along the road it would be more problematic for bikes and people – bikes need proper spaces too, it seems to be being done ‘on the cheap’. All the people I know are against the roads closure and were so shocked. They don’t want to be in a road buying things if other’s can’t be there. They are all into proper inclusivity and Brighton being welcoming for everyone, they have no idea why the council would want this division between people. I really don’t get the director of the Junk Food cafe, I buy food from there (not now), I thought they understood life and how important it is for everyone to be equal. Apparently they have no idea about this. We want to be able to do the same things as everyone, I just need a vehicle to help.

  13. Chris Reply

    Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Read it.

  14. vintage fan Reply

    It seems crazy indeed obscene that disabled car access is to be banned from the street yet cyclists (of course) and e scooters are allowed free reign. .Typical of the Green council’s bizarre priorities.,

  15. vintagefan Reply

    It seems crazy indeed obscene that disabled car access is to be banned from the street yet cyclists (of course) and e scooters are allowed free reign. .Typical of the Green council’s bizarre priorities.,

  16. Jason Reply

    Stop wasting time and money on all these silly schemes and start to LOOK AFTER the town and it’s people for a change.

    (Oops! We’re supposed to call it a “city” nowadays, but I can imagine some people using a more accurate, but similar-sounding word).

    Cycle lanes on major traffic routes. Complete lunacy that had to be reversed (more waste) before someone was killed.

    How many people will be cycling in bad weather?

    Madeira Drive arches left to rot for years.

    Silly “re-wilding” schemes which really mean doing nothing while Nature destroys everything in it’s path. It’s NOT “making room for Nature”. It’s wanton DESTRUCTION due to a total lack of maintenance.

    Broken pavements, invasive weeds like ivy and bindweed allowed to ruin people’s gardens and fences. They just use the term “re-wilding” as an excuse to do NOTHING.

  17. BAHTAG Reply

    In reading the excellent positive comments made above some additional points come to mind:

    1. Gardner Street is a ‘destination street’, lined on both sides with businesses, any of which a disabled person might want or need to visit.

    Regent Street does not appear to have any retail destinations (except marginally for the Stage Door of Komedia)?

    2. The walk back from Gardner St to a Blue Badge space in Regent St will be difficult for some, especially if carrying purchases made in Gardner St.

    3. Blue Badge spaces near the North Rd end of Gardner St are also convenient for using the crossing outside Infinity Foods to get deeper into North Laine, particularly Kensington Gardens and further into Sydney St etc.

    4. Given that Gardner St falls to be considered as being part of the City’s Cultural Quarter the proposed 3hr Blue Bay timings need amending to be unrestricted from 5pm through to 10am the next day.

    5. Of course the riding of standard bicycles & e-scooters etc (other than toddlers on toy vehicles accompanied by an adult) needs to be banned during the daytime (with active enforcement, both in-person, and by follow-me hi-res digital CCTV).

    6. It looks as tho BHCC needs to pay more attention to the driving preferences of Blue Badge holders (with many now needing to economise on fuel used for urban driving)?

    Gardner St is one-way southbound, so accessed from North Rd, itself readily accessible by traffic from Queens Rd or Spring Gardens.

    Regent Street is one-way northbound, accessed from Church St, less convenient for some!

    7. A logical and sensible solution is to retain the Blue Badge spaces in Gardner St, whilst adding more spaces in Regent Street (and making those ones for the usual Unlimited Stay)?

    8. And in speaking of Regent Street it’s long overdue for BHCC to enforce the Planning Condition for a wheelchair lift to be installed on the mid-way steep steps down to Jubilee St – or did Cncl officers permit the developer to weasel out of that sensible obligation (and possibly without referral back to the Planning Committee)?

    9. A major elephant-in-the-room concerns the all day parking of contractors vans when working on Gardner St premises!

    Modern times call for a modern approach, surely?

    Which suggests all materials and tools to be delivered to site between 7pm-9am (with the vehicles then being parked elsewhere).

    Yes, even scaffolding to be done in that time-frame (with the assistance of LED lighting after dark?).

    And where some equipment or supplies unavoidably need to be outside the premises during the day then use of a slim-line trailer or container. no more than 1000mm wide & approved by BHCC, is a solution – also for works in many other streets of our City where all-day parking of work vehicles is undesirable?

    10. And other Comments made above with regard to ‘Trading from the Public Highway’ (and often creating an unwelcome obstruction) relate to many shopping streets in our City, with more aspects than mentioned by the contributors.

    The obligatory payment of Rates for business premises does NOT entitle a business to profit from using the footpaths and public-highway, which are the joint property of all City taxpayers, and held ‘In Trust’ for us by our City Council.

    Thus, in these cash-strapped times, our Council obviously needs to engage a contract team of professional RICS valuers, to set an equitable charge to businesses where the use of public space can be permitted without obstruction & disadvantage to the general public, surely?

    11. In principle BHCC does have a process to issue ‘Licences’ for use of the Public Highway (incl the footpath), but the licence fees must be cost-neutral (just to cover the costs of issuing and monitoring of Licences, but NOT the costs of prosecuting the unlicensed, or those breaching the terms of whatever licence they do have).

    Thus there’s no commercial rent being charged by our Council for our public spaces!

    12. And even that limited Licensing scheme has additional flaws!

    Unlike alcohol licensing BHCC does not advertise initial and renewal applications for Street Licences, with an invitation for the public to file Representations!

    Indeed the main BHCC website still doesn’t seem to have an obvious tab to click-thru to a Public Notices webpage?

    13. About 4 years ago councillors decreed that henceforth BHCC would apply durable tape to the pavement,
    to mark the border of a licensed area. And where can such marking be seen, if at all?

    Theoretically the cost-neutral Licence fee also covers the expense of ‘monitoring’ – but on a sunny Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, up to midnight, just what monitoring is being done, especially of hospitality businesses who just put more tables & chairs outside, regardless of their licence conditions?

    14. And does BHCC even issue Penalty Notices to traders whose obstructions make life difficult for the disabled – probably not?

    Yet smokers (visitors, mostly?) get fined big money for discarding a cigarette butt!

    15. The process being applied to these TROs by BHCC looks to be deeply sneaky?

    From the article it sounds as if the legal position proposed is the ‘Confirmation’ of a ‘Temporary TRO’, hence the very short time in which to file any further objections?

    If so that’s a very worrying situation. In the early days of the pandemic almost everyone would have believed these to be truly ‘Temporary’ emergency TROs, which would automatically expire whenever the pandemic was considered to be over.

    Given that, in 2020-21, BHCC was on a pandemic footing – quasi-unreachable and with barely any regular services operating, who would have wanted to make an effort (‘unpatriotic’?) to object to an emergency ‘Temporary’ Traffic Order, likely to expire in due course?

    16. Yet again BHCC looks to be betraying whatever trust residents might still have in that ever more dis-functional money-wasting organisation?

    17. And where is the voice of our Elected Councillors, who speak at every opportunity of their avowed support for ‘Equality’?

    Asleep at the wheel, and/or under the thumb of Council officers (threatening to become even less cooperative than many of those officers already are)?

    18. Councillors – please wake up and CANCEL now ALL of the emergency pandemic TROs!

    Then examine each situation carefully to re-commence a normal full TRO process for wherever there might still be any operational & financial justification?

  18. Bike monkey Reply

    Yeah those big vans you see driving down Gardner Street throughout the day are delivering goods to the shops… Most depots don’t get there drivers out until 10am, royal mail also are pushing back on early mornings (hence the strikes) so the idea that you shut the road at 11 and provide some loading bays (always full of disabled and people who can’t get the badges) means the roads around get jammed up with vans on pavements.

    George Street and blatchington Road is a great example.

    A better idea is to let cars down there (not many go down in the day anyway) but to make the road like new road, where you remove the kerbs.

    Equally at the same time, reverse the direction of jubilee street as this is the real cause for the gridlock in the North lanes and has a big push on effect on valley Gardens.

    Will they listen, no they won’t. BHCC don’t listen to feedback, it shows how much lack of commonsense their original plans have

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