Residents who want safety improvements to roads surrounding Hanover were shocked when a senior councillor said that the project had been “killed off”.
People campaigning for changes to Elm Grove, Queen’s Park Road and Egremont Place, in Brighton, were expecting a report to the council’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee yesterday (Tuesday 14 March).
The changes were linked to Brighton and Hove City Council’s Hanover and Tarner Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) project.
But when residents asked questions about the future of proposed crossings and “greening” along the busy boundary roads, they were told that £1.1 million had been cut from the project to refurbish public toilets, ending the scheme.
A Labour amendment to the council’s budget last month, supported by the Conservatives, shifted the £1.1 million from the Carbon Neutral Fund to toilets.
One of the council’s most senior officials, Donna Chisholm, said that she hoped that the project was just paused.
She told councillors that the report, including new designs for the pilot project, had been pulled before the meeting because there was not enough money to start the next stage.
Two residents, Simon Maxwell and Lucy Dunkeyson, asked the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee about the Carbon Neutral Fund and money could be allocated to improve the boundary roads.
Mr Maxwell criticised flaws in the public consultation while voicing support for “climate action”.
Katy Rodda, a cycling campaigner and planner, asked councillors to reinstate the £1.1 million Carbon Neutral Fund money but she was told that the “budget council” decision could not be changed.
Green councillor Steve Davis, who chaired the committee meeting at Hove Town Hall yesterday, said that the “liveable neighbourhood” pilot project had had the “most extensive engagement and consultation” for any local transport scheme.
He said that the new scheme reflected feedback from residents and would reduce “through traffic”, encourage active travel and provide safer greener streets.
Councillor Davis said: “The ring-fenced Carbon Neutral Fund that was allocated to deliver a comprehensive liveable neighbourhood scheme has now been allocated to refurbishing our public toilets. Therefore, that movement of funding has killed this project.
“In the meantime, I hope the pavement parking ban and the prioritisation of two crossings in Elm Grove demonstrate that we are responding to local concerns in this area within the limitations that our minority administration has.”
Labour councillor Nancy Platts said that she had expected to see the report as it was discussed in “pre-meetings” held before the committee met in public yesterday.
She said: “We didn’t take it off the table. You guys took it off the table. We were happy to see it come and have further debates on this. We were surprised not to see it on the agenda.”
But Ms Chisholm said that the amendment to redirect the funding at the budget council meeting meant that the project could not proceed at this stage.
She said: “We, therefore, withdrew the report on the basis that we couldn’t proceed and seek approval for implementing the next stage of the LTN when we didn’t have any funding for it.
“There still is an opportunity to clarify that in due course. That is the position at this point in time.”
The next meeting of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee is due to be held in June – after the council elections which are scheduled to take place in May.