Agenda item - Deputations from members of the public.

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Agenda item

Deputations from members of the public.

A list of deputations received by the due date of 12noon on the 13 December 2019 will be circulated separately as part of an addendum at the meeting.

Minutes:

52.1         The Mayor reported that one deputation had been received from members of the public and invited Mr. Nigel Smith as the spokesperson for the deputation to come forward and address the council.

 

52.2         Mr. Smith thanked the Mayor and stated that:I have lived in Rottingdean for many years and am very familiar with bus and car travel along the A259 to the City.  I am part of the A259 action group which is endorsed by Lewes District Council and East Sussex County Council.  Together we are looking at ways to ease air and traffic pollution on the A259 between Brighton and Eastbourne - and address the growing delays to our vital bus services.

 

This stretch of road was recently named as a Major Road Network (MRN) by the Government.  As such, the A259 is now eligible for funding from central Government to improve how it transports people and provides access to the Strategic Road Network and Rail Network.

 

Lewes District Council is funding a £50,000 survey of this stretch of road. This detailed piece of work will form the evidence basis of future funding bids. I am here today because we have two main problems:

 

1.    The surveyors need detailed and well-modelled information about the Valley Gardens scheme.

2.    If the Valley Gardens phase 3 scheme ends up adding to local congestion, then this may undermine any bids for funds to improve our transport corridor.

 

I appreciate that Valley Gardens phase 3 is an issue that some of you are weary of - and that you want to just get on with it.  However, put simply, the A259 Action Group is worried that our bids for funding will be jeopardised if the relevant bodies have the slightest concern about the calculations on which the VG3 plans are based.

 

Our consultants have already identified a number of errors in the business model for Valley Gardens phase 3.  The queries they have are complicated and difficult for the non-expert to grasp. Four examples:

·           The congestion “disbenefit" has been miscalculated.  It should actually be £22m, possibly £26m, rather than £17million.      

·           The delay time given during the evening is too low, most likely as road widths were not factored into the traffic models and bus traffic has not been adequately assessed.

·           VG3 does not tackle estimated “do nothing" congestion costs of c.£200m plus its associated carbon and Air Pollution.

·           The benefits of VG Option 1 are difficult to reconcile with the data, raising suspicion that another accounting error of up to £4m is involved. 

 

I hope you agree that we need to tackle congestion, delays, pollution and the high carbon footprint along the A259 corridor as well as in central Brighton.

 

To ensure that future funding of the A259 is not jeopardised, I am here to request that an independent audit of the source data and analysis that the Valley Gardens project is based on is undertaken, followed by open publication of their conclusions.

 

Ideally the Department for Transport should be asked to perform this audit. 

 

52.3         Councillor Pissaridou replied, Thank you for your presenting your deputation on behalf of the A259 Action Group about the A259 and the Valley Gardens Phase 3 project, Nigel.  As a stakeholder group, I am sure that the County and District Councils will have due regard to your comments and views about their projects and studies, such as the A259, alongside those of others.  I have also noted your comments about the A259, as we also strongly lobbied with both East and West Sussex County Councils to ensure that the A259 was recognised and included in the Government’sMajor Road Network. 

 

We are aware of the A259 study that the county has chosen to put forward for funding as part of the Major Road Network programme.  The city council’s priority for money from that same fund is focussed on the essential reconstruction of the A259 Seafront Highway Structures (or Arches) that hold up the A259 in the central area of the city.  It really is important that we take every opportunity to secure as much external funding as we possibly can to invest in our transport infrastructure.

 

Councillor Fishleigh recently asked a question about the A259 study at a council meeting in October, which I replied to.  As I said then, once this council has a clearer understanding of the detail and extent of that study, we will be able to fully consider what information may be available that could help to inform it.  We have not been approached for any information yet, and therefore your reference to the need for certain information about Valley Gardens appears somewhat premature. 

 

I therefore can’t accept your suggestion that the Valley Gardens scheme will undermine a funding bid to the Government for a large section of the A259 in East Sussex, because the study criteria and methodology have not yet been fully defined yet; there has been no consultation; and a scheme design has not been developed.  However, should the Government ever require any further scrutiny or audit of the information that it requires to be submitted as part of its future funding processes, such as a complex computer-based transport model, then we would respond positively to such a request.

 

I am aware that the technical points that you have mentioned about the Valley Gardens project are the same as those within the ongoing correspondence that you are having with council officers, as I have also been in receipt of those e:mails.   However, as you know (but I will repeat for the benefit of the councillors and members of the public here)the Business Case has been considered on several occasions by the Local Enterprise Partnership.  This process has included an independent review, carried out at the request of the Local Enterprise Partnership, which has confirmed that it is robust, and this has therefore enabled the £6 million pounds worth of Local Growth Fund money to be allocated to the council. 

 

We have carefully considered the design of the busy and dangerous Palace Pier junction on the A259 to ensure that it is more people-friendly, and not dominated by vehicles.  This will help contribute to the council’s ambitious target of achieving carbon-neutrality by 2030, by making it safer, more attractive and easier for people to walk and cycle.  The new traffic signals will use the latest technology and enable us to manage movements and minimise congestion at peak times in the mornings and evenings, and at busy weekends or event days. Where air quality levels are poor, we will also ensure that legal levels are not exceeded.

 

I remain confident that we have done everything that is required of us to progress the final phase of the Valley Gardens project.  Having secured the funding for it, I am looking forward to the next stage of the design process so that we can complete it project and start to see the regeneration and transport benefits that it will bring to the city centre and adjacent areas for years to come.       

 

52.4         The Mayor thanked Mr. Smith for attending the meeting and speaking on behalf of the deputation. She explained that the points had been noted and the deputation would be referred to the Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee for consideration. The persons forming the deputation would be invited to attend the meeting and would be informed subsequently of any action to be taken or proposed in relation to the matter set out in the deputation.

 

52.5         The Mayor noted that concluded the item.

Supporting documents:

 


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