Agenda item - Member Involvement

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Agenda item

Member Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by Members:


(a)          Petitions: To receive any petitions referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee;


(b)          Written Questions: To consider any written questions;


(i)            Trip-wires across cycle paths- Councillor West


(ii)          Horsdean traveller site- Councillor Wares


(c)          Letters: To consider any letters;


(i)        Lewes Road- Woodingdean traffic- Councillors Simson and Bell


(ii)       Coach parking- Councillor G Theobald


(iii)     Local shopping centres- Councillor Janio


(iv)     Craven Vale Estate Controlled Parking Zone- Councillors Barradell and Morgan


(v)      Valley Gardens scheme- Councillors West and Janio


(d)          Notices of Motion: to consider any Notices of Motion referred from Full Council or submitted directly to the Committee.




(b)      Written Questions


(i)        Trip-wires across cycle paths- Councillor West


7.1         Councillor West presented the following question:


“I note with increasing concern a number of local reports of dangerous trip wires being strung across cycle paths. Recently cyclist Darren Gibson was dragged from his bike by a near invisible trip wire while cycling in woodland near East Brighton Golf Course, breaking his collar bone. I understand Police are also investigating at least two other local instances where riders have been injured by trip wires in Coldean Woods. This is not however just an isolated local problem but part of an alarming national picture: neck high wires have also been found strung across cycle paths in Suffolk and spikes have been found deliberately scattered on a hairpin bend in Wales. In 2008 a 17 year old was killed by a trip wire strung across a path in Merseyside.

What urgent action is being taken by Council officers and Police to identify the culprits of the trip-wires in the City? What security measures are being employed to deter other anti-cyclists from creating similar hazards? And, what education will be offered to help combat anti-cycling sentiment that leads to some extremists taking life threatening action?”


7.2         The Chair provided the following response:


“Thank you for your question.

These are very concerning events which can only be regarded as criminal actions.   

The council’s Rights of Way Officers have made an investigation of the local incidents and none have occurred on public rights of way they are in off-road areas used by people on off-road bikes, but that does not diminish the seriousness of the actions.

The police are the principal agency handling this matter and so any action to bring the culprits to justice is a matter for them.

In terms of combatting the anti-cycling feeling that may be leading to such criminal behaviour, the council will continue to promote understanding between all users of public spaces, both in and outside the built up area of the city and ensure that our City Parks and Ranger services are fully aware of the potential for these dangerous activities”.


7.3         Councillor West stated that given the seriousness of the offences, he hoped high priority could be given to the activities before somebody was more seriously hurt and that regular updates could be provided to Members.


7.4         The Chair stated that she would request officers to ask Sussex Police for updates.


(ii)       Horsdean traveller site- Councillor Wares


7.5         Councillor Wares presented the following question:


“We are aware of serious environment and sustainable issues relating to the proposed project to extend Horsdean to provide 12 permanent pitches, namely but not limited to:-


1.    The site is now acknowledged as prone to flooding evidence by the Council’s plans to mitigate this.

2.    Surface water from the proposed 21 transit pitches just runs off to ground. This risks contaminants entering the ground and eventually to the drinking water supply. The site is directly above a man-made adit that collects the City’s drinking water that is pumped through Waterhall.

3.    The risks of contaminants causing pollution are considered high by the Environment Agency evidenced by their letter dated 17th June 2015 that it lists prohibited chemicals and liquids banned for use and storage on site as for example oils, fuels, bleaches, white spirits, paints. All commonly associated with the travelling community.

4.    The Council’s management plan is to evict if such pollutants are stored or used. That prevents a repeat but not an initial accidental or deliberate spillage causing contamination.

5.    If access to the site means not bringing pollutants on then a significant number of travelling families could not enter the site rendering it useless.

6.    The 21 transit pitches will be served by one toilet. 21 transit pitches could accommodate 100-150 people. This is a wholly inadequate standard to provide a reasonable amenity for any community.


Will the Administration therefore agree to suspend the project to enable a fuller environmental study and to revisit the designs and amenity for the transit pitches?”


7.6         The Chair provided the following response:


“The council has always been aware that there are environmental sensitivities around the Horsdean site.  The planning of the site has carefully factored-in these environmental concerns in order to ensure that they are successfully mitigated.  I am not aware of any recent issues that should cause the council to reverse its intention of securing the new permanent travellers site.  With regard to the issues you have raised in your question, my response is as follows:


1.  The site has experienced occasional flooding at times of exceptionally heavy rainfall, as have many parts of the city and the wider area. Such rare floods have always drained away very quickly.  The nature of localised surface water runoff during the January flooding incident has been taken into account in the landscaping design of the proposed facility, which will serve to divert water flows and protect against future flooding.  The design has been signed off by the South Downs National Park Authority.


2.  The purpose of the treatment components within the soakaways is precisely to prevent contaminants from entering the ground and from affecting the drinking water supply.  The design of the surface water soakaways has been supported by the Environment Agency and has been signed off by the South Downs National Park Authority.


3.  The Environment Agency has not stated that the risks of contaminants causing pollution are high.  If this was the case, it is unlikely that the Environment Agency would accept the principle of the permanent site in this location.  In order to minimise the risk of contaminants from entering the site there will be a ban on storage or use of hazardous materials that will be a condition of tenancy for future residents of the permanent site.


4.  The threat of eviction for breaches of the ruling against the use or storage of hazardous materials should not be taken lightly.  There is considerable demand for the 12 permanent units from the traveller community, who will need to enter into appropriate tenancy agreements with the council.  The site will be monitored and a process of continued education will take place with the community regarding the environmental sensitivities of the site and the consequences for non-compliance with site rules and regulations.

5.  There is already an existing ban on bringing hazardous materials onto the transit site, but that does not stop the site from being well used by the traveller community.  A process of continued education already takes place on the transit site and environmentally friendly cleaning products are made available to minimise the threat of pollution.


6.  There are in fact six, not four, toilets in the current transit site wash block.   I recognise, however, that this level and standard of toilet facilities for the transit site is not ideal.  The development of the permanent site will result in the net loss of two transit site pitches, so there will be a slight easing and no exacerbation of the long-standing situation.  In any case, this level of provision is at least better than the lack of any facilities, which is the normal situation on illegal encampments.


There is no justifiable reason for the administration to suspend the project to enable a fuller environmental study.  The scheme has been through considerable scrutiny from the South Downs National Park Authority, statutory bodies such as the Environment Agency and non-statutory amenity groups such as the Patcham and Hollingbury Conservation Association.  


The scheme has been refined and improved to take on board a wide range of environmental concerns and now has planning permission for work to commence.  With regard to the transit site, I have asked officers to see if improvements can be secured to the toilet block within existing financial resources. 

Whatever the outcome, there is no valid reason to suspend work on securing the new permanent facility which received its original grant back in 2008, since when considerable time and effort have been spent in  in site selection exercises, consultation and planning in bringing the scheme to fruition”.


7.7         Councillor Wares asked the following supplementary question:


“I would ask that the Committee reconsiders its decision on the location of the site on the basis of new information”


7.8         The Chair thanked Councillor Wares for his comments.


7.9         Councillor Janio asked officers if water tracing experiments been conducted on the site.


7.10      The Executive Director Environment, Development & Housing stated that the position of officers was the necessary consents had been obtained for the site.


7.11      Councillor Janio stated that he wished to move a motion for a six month suspension to any works on site until assurance was provided that the necessary checks had been carried out.


7.12      The Chair stated that as the question was put directly to her as Chair and not to the committee, is was not possible under the terms of the council’s constitution to permit a motion.


7.13      Councillor Theobald noted that the former Chairman of Southern Water had provided evidence against the site location to the South Downs National Park Authority. Councillor Theobald asked the Deputy Head of Law if the Conservative Group could vary the response provided by the Chair or to take a vote on a decision to suspend work on the site until the necessary checks were conducted.


7.14      The Chair stated that she would not be putting her response to the vote as by the terms of the constitution, Written Questions were put to the Chair and no debate or decision by the wider Members was required.


7.15      Councillor Theobald asked if he could have this confirmed by the Deputy Head of Law.


7.16      The Deputy Head of Law confirmed that the Chair was correct and that the procedure in question was dealt with exclusively by the Chair and there was no remit for a resolution by the committee.


(c)      Members Letters


(i)        Lewes Road- Woodingdean Traffic- Councillors Simson and Bell


7.17      Councillor Simson presented a letter on behalf of the Woodingdean ward councillors that traffic monitoring in relation to the impact of Lewes Road be undertaken as a matter of urgency due to the large increase in traffic through Woodingdean that was of great concern to residents.


7.18      The Chair provided the following response:


“Thank you for your letter seeking an update to the response you received back in October 2014. 

I fully acknowledge the concerns about traffic volumes raised by residents in Woodingdean and the desire to see these addressed.

I am pleased to say that a period of post scheme monitoring of the Lewes Road corridor has now commenced and this is being done in two stages.

Traffic volume and speed data has been collected for the Woodingdean area as part of the first stage.

Second stage surveys are programmed for September following which an evaluation will be made of the overall impact so that any mitigation measures can be considered.

I will ensure that you are both kept fully briefed as this work continues”.


7.19      Councillor West noted that the intention in the design of Lewes Road was to create a reduction in traffic by encouraging a shift to sustainable transport. Councillor West stated that he hoped any report detailing traffic monitoring would also detail the way people living in Woodingdean were travelling to give a wider picture.


7.20      The Chair stated that Councillor West’s question related more to travel planning that the council was monitoring in different ways and the information requested by the Woodingdean ward councillors was a valid request and a separate matter.


7.21      RESOLVED- That the letter be noted.


(ii)       Coach Parking- Councillor Theobald


7.22      Councillor Theobald presented a letter requesting that the Administration urgently prioritise a clear timetable for establishing a new coach park whether temporary or permanent for the summer of 2016.


7.23      The Chair provided the following response:


“Thank you for your letter.

I agree with you that as traffic levels and visitor numbers rise, it is important that sustainable transport modes are encouraged. I fully take your point about the i360 and the other developments planned that will boost visitor numbers and support the local economy.

The inclusion of the provision of a coach park within the Local Transport Plan reflects the following representations


·           From Roedean residents

·           The views of the tourism and business industry

·           The condition of Pool Valley Coach Station


To ensure that a modern coach park with all the driver and passenger facilities can be realised, we will need to have:


·         An investment plan with an allocated budget

·         A site identification process along with any associated planning and other consultation

·         Decisions in relation to the ongoing operation, management and security of the site


All of this will form one of the several key work streams from the LTP that will need to be prioritised by this committee according to available resources.

So, at this stage, I can’t commit to bringing forward any one work stream in isolation. I can commit to bringing forward the report to committee this year that will set out options for taking forward these work streams in a coherent programme within budget”.


7.24      Councillor West noted that the previous Administration had put significant efforts into obtaining a coach parking site in the city to no avail as it was very difficult to find a valid, permanent site.


7.25      RESOLVED- That the letter be noted.


(iii)      Local shopping centres- Councillor Janio


7.26      Councillor Janio presented a letter requesting a report for significant design changes to the Grenadier Shopping area could be improved in relation to transport accessibility.


7.27      The Chair provided the following response:


“Thank you for your letter and I am sorry to read that the measures undertaken so far to improve the parking around The Grenadier have not lived up to expectations. 

I fully agree with your 3rd paragraph in relation to the accessibility of local shopping centres.

As I have mentioned to Cllr Theobald in terms of a coach park being included as a work stream within the LTP, the work to support the accessibility and viability of neighbourhoods and local shopping areas is another of the work streams identified within the LTP, as your letter points out, where the committee will decide on a programme of priorities.

Other work streams in addition to the two mentioned includes Use of Technology & Travel Information and a review of the city’s route hierarchy.

Resources do not allow all of this work to be progressed at once- hence the commitment to bringing a report to committee later this year to get agreement on prioritisation.

This will be a transparent and fair assessment of the city’s strategic and local needs”.


7.28      RESOLVED- That the letter be noted.


(iv)     Craven Vale Estate Controlled Parking Zone- Councillor Barradell


7.29      Councillor Barradell presented a letter on behalf of Craven Vale Community Association detailing a survey they had carried out with residents on a potential controlled parking zone and requesting a report be brought to a future committee with proposals for a way forward. Councillor Barradell provided an update to the survey results that demonstrated from a response rate of 28%, 78% were in favour of a scheme for the area.


7.30      The Chair provided the following response:


“Thank you for your letter and as a fellow ward member I am well aware of the increasing parking pressures in the Craven Vale area.

I’d like to commend the work of the Craven Vale Community Association on their survey.

Officers will ensure that this area is considered as part of the priority timetable for parking schemes coming to this committee in October”.


7.31      RESOLVED- That the letter be noted.


(v)       Valley Gardens Scheme- Councillors West & Janio


7.32      The Committee considered a joint letter from Councillors West and Janio regarding delays to the Valley Garden scheme and requested that, in order for the project to remain to its original timescale agreed at the Committee’s March 2015 meeting, that Members agree that a report be submitted to the 16 July 2015 Full Council meeting covering the matters scheduled to be presented to this meeting.


7.33      The Chair provided the following response:


“I want to be clear that this is a scheme that has the potential to deliver real public urban realm improvements for the city.

Delivered well, it can benefit residents, businesses and visitors.

We are committed to delivering the scheme successfully.

To do this we now need to move from the overall urban realm proposal to the detailed traffic modelling – the devil really is in the detail – and that work is underway based on the conceptual designs presented to committee.

The scheme will impact on the city’s main arterial roads.  Every alteration we make will impact on traffic flow and we have to understand the full impact of the changes proposed.  A tested traffic management plan will need to be produced.

Last month, Cllr Warren Morgan and I met with officials from the Local Enterprise Partnership to explain that we needed a bit of additional time to seek these assurances.  They were very understanding of our need to do this.

I have committed to bringing a report to October’s Policy & Resources Committee that will detail the final designs and get the go ahead for construction to start.  It will need to go to P&R because of the contractual matters.

This will still enable the project to be completed within the LEP’s 3 year funding timescale and I understand they work will begin in February if not before.

If we are to ask businesses and residents to put up with the inconvenience of what will be a long programme of road works, we need to be sure that we get the scheme right and I think you would agree with that.

I’m hoping that we can all work together on this and be able to realise the long term aims and gains of the project”.   


7.34      Councillor Janio asked for clarification on whether there would be an Urgency Sub-Committee of this committee to decide on the final design or whether a decision would be made exclusively by Policy & Resources Committee.


7.35      The Chair stated that the previous agreement was to consider two reports separately- one to agree the design and another to seek approval to construct. The new proposal was to package both together in one report to Policy & Resources Committee to prevent overlap and duplication of work.


7.36      Councillor Janio stated that he was not content that previous agreements on design would be disregarded and a new version presented for approval.


7.37      The Chair clarified that the design work currently underway was based on the concept designs agreed by the committee in March 2015. Furthermore, the garden design was not yet started and any decision on the future of the Mazda Fountain would be for Members to decide. The Chair added that size of the scheme accordingly meant it was extremely important not to rush work and ensure that the traffic modelling and design was right and would work.


7.38      Councillor West stated that a timescale had been clearly set out to the committee and its meeting in March 2015 and at previous stages and was clearly not rushed. Councillor West stated that the description of the design as a concept was erroneous as the plan agreed was the design and since then officers had been working on how to build the scheme.


7.39      The Chair stated that as a new Administration had committed as an manifesto pledge to conduct a rapid appraisal of the scheme and content themselves of other issues such as the wider impact of the scheme and a traffic management plan had been requested. The Chair stated that it was intended to submit a report to Policy & Resources Committee in October.


7.40      Councillor Miller asked if it might be appropriate to hold further Project Management Board meetings ahead of the committee meeting the report would be presented to.


7.41      Councillor Janio asked if Members requested to approve the design at a future committee would be presented just one design or options. Councillor Janio repeated Councillor Miller’s request that the Project Management Board be reconvened.


7.42      The Chair stated that she was happy to re-establish the Project Management Board but she could not guarantee when the designs would be available to present to the Board.


7.43      Councillor Theobald stated that he had been provided assurance in the debate but he had maintained throughout consideration of the scheme that the final design was approved by this Committee not Policy & Resources Committee.


7.44      The Chair stated that the final design could be agreed by this Committee and asked officers if that meant the contractual and financial matters would still have to be decided by Policy & Resources Committee.


7.45      The Executive Director Environment, Development & Housing confirmed that the report would have to be split effectively in two with the design aspects considered by this committee and the contractual and financial matters agreed by Policy &Resources Committee.


7.46      Councillor Nemeth asked if the council had a deadline for completion from the Local Enterprise Partnership.


7.47      The Chair confirmed this was October 2015.


7.48      Councillor Janio thanked the Chair for her clarification on the project schedule and noted his Group would agree to note the letter and a report to the next Full Council meeting was not necessary.


7.49      RESOLVED- That the letter be noted.


Supporting documents:


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