Agenda item - Public Involvement

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Agenda item

Public Involvement

To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:

 

(a)           Petitions: To receive any petitions presented by members of the public;

 

(1)       Remove the weeds and litter from our streets

 

(b)           Written Questions: To receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 9 March 2022;

 

(c)           Deputations: To receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 9 March 2022.

 

Minutes:

(a)          Petitions

 

(1)          Remove the weeds and litter from our streets

 

81.1      The Committee considered a petition signed by 442 people requesting the council to improve weed removal and litter removal in the city.

 

81.2      The Chair provided the following response in writing:

 

“As you will see, there is a report on today’s agenda providing an update on the council’s weed removal activities in 2021.

With respect, the reduction in the use of pesticides and pressures and staff sickness arising from Covid has impacted on the council’s ability to remove weeds from across the city. As detailed in the report, the service struggled to recruit enough operatives last year to complete its planned weed removal programme, this was a result of Covid and a shortage of manual workers.

City Environment was open and clear when the decision was made to reduce pesticide usage that they would not be able to remove the weeds to the same extent and therefore, there would be more weeds. This has been exacerbated by the other factors, such as Covid and a national labour crisis.

It is also important to note that whilst there has been some negative feedback in relation to weeds across pavements in Brighton & Hove, the council has also received lots of positive feedback in respect of the increase biodiversity, wildflowers and insects that came with them.

The council continues to explore other methods for weed removal as detailed in the report – I’m pleased to update you that this means we’re  investing in new types of equipment to do this and more strimmer’s will be purchased for this year’s weeding.

In addition, I am pleased that in this year’s budget, we have committed an ongoing £70,000 for six additional weed removal operatives”.

 

81.3      Resolved- That the Committee note the petition.

 

(b)          Public Questions

 

(1)          Vale Park Parking

 

81.4      Patricia Sauer read the following question:

 

“Residents and leisure users of south Portslade’s Vale Park are now rarely able to use its small, free car park. Since the introduction in mid-2021 of a new CPZ the car park has become filled with lived-in motorhomes, dumped/often illegal vans and vehicles without parking permits.

Friends of Vale Park committee, with local support, anticipated this problem and has  raised it, offering solutions, with councillors and officers several times in recent years. But the different departments have been unable to agree a workable, permanent measure to resolve the problem.

Will you now find a way to alleviate this community nuisance?”

 

81.5      The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“Thank you for your question.

I have spoken with officers and the only way to ensure parking is available to park users only is to introduce controlled parking and to enforce this. The enforcement is financed from the income generated from the parking, so this would mean charging for parking.

Height barriers have been suggested; however, this will only stop high sided vehicles not prevent long term parking of cars in the car park or parking by residents who chose to park in the park rather than buy a permit.

The issue of controlled parking for Vale Park along with other parks will be brought back to this committee in 2022/23”.

 

(2)          Whitehawk Playground

 

81.6      Daniel Harris readd the following question:

 

“Someone I know has a little boy that needs 24-hour care, and the family we live in the high-rise blocks in Whitehawk, why isn’t there enough for the disabled in north Whitehawk as there is in peace haven and Woodingdean. They have wheelchair swings, why doesn’t Whitehawk have this for disabled children and the lack of seesaws why has it been left for this long neglected?”

 

81.7      The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“As you may be aware, we’re working on playground refurbs - Whitehawk was the first areas in the city to receive a £120,000 refurbishment of the playground in Middle Park. City Parks worked very closely with the local community in completing this refurbishment.

I am pleased to let you know that City Parks will be installing one of the first wheelchair seesaws in the country this month at St Nicholas Park. 

City Parks have been looking at installing a wheelchair swing in the city for over five years and continues to do so. The cost for one unit is around £40,000 and this specialist apparatus needs to be secured from non-wheelchair users for safety reasons.

The Whitehawk Way playground in the north still requires refurbishment; and a consultation for this area will be held this year which the community and you can participate in. At present there is only £35,000 of funding allocated to this area but, City Parks are keen to work with you and the local community to formulate a plan going forward.  A member of City Parks will contact you in the coming weeks to start this process.

Thank you again for your question”.

 

(3)          Speeding on Freshfield Road

 

81.8      Mike Bodkin read the following question:

 

“I write on behalf of our Community Speedwatch Group. Our records show that around 1/3 of those speeding on Freshfield Road are travelling in excess of 30mph, 50% above the limit. We have recorded vehicles travelling at up to 49mph. The 20mph speed limit is clearly not working.

We know that Sussex Police share our concerns and would welcome some simple and inexpensive improvements such as better signage and more roundels in the road. We’d like to know how the ETS Committee intends to assist our efforts to reduce speeding and improve community safety (as well as lowering air pollution)?”

 

81.9      The Chair provided the following reply:

 

Thank you for your question.

Following a related petition received in January, a vehicle speed activated sign was installed on Freshfield Road for six weeks between March and April. During this time, vehicle speed data was collected which showed an average speed of under 22mph and a calculated upper speed of 27mph.

Based on this assessment and the very low collision history here officers wouldn’t recommend any further action at this stage.

However, I completely understand your concerns and officers will review the existing signing and lining and provide additional or refreshed markings if necessary.

In the meantime, other initiatives are already taking place to support safer active travel to schools in this area. A permanent, timed School Street road closure is in place on Queen’s Park Rise to support children and families travelling to St Luke’s Primary school. A School Crossing Patrol is also in place on Queen’s Park Terrace. As part of the School Streets programme, officers are working with eligible schools to implement more closures on roads around schools. A design option for Queen’s Park Primary School on Freshfield Place has recently been consulted on and feedback gathered from local residents and the school community will inform the next stage of design.

Additionally, the Council’s Pedestrian Priority list contains a request for crossing improvements at the junction of Queens Park Terrace and Freshfield Road, which currently sits at number 32 on our priority list, and a further request for crossings at Queens Park Rise and Queens Park Terrace. Both request locations will be reassessed to determine their priority for pedestrian crossing improvement measures which can help to further reduce speeding traffic.

I would like to personally thank you for volunteering on the speedwatch initiative, I recently spent time with residents on Withdean Road in my ward and know it’s not always a pleasant experience. I would add that our local Withdean team encountered very similar speeding traffic to your group”.

 

81.10   Mike Bodkin ask the following supplementary question:

 

“Would Members be happy to attend a (Speedwatch) session?”

 

81.11   The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“Yes, absolutely”.

 

(4)          East Brighton Tennis Courts

 

81.12   On behalf of a ward resident, Councillor Platts put following question:

 

"I used to enjoy playing tennis in East Brighton Park and whilst I understood the need for the Covid test centre, I am hoping it will now no longer needed.

Can the Council tell me when the tennis courts in East Brighton Park will be reinstated and if they will be resurfaced and repairs to the fence be carried out so that residents can use them to play once again?"

 

81.13   The Chair provided the following reply:

 

“In line with the Prime Minister’s announcement on 21 February 2022 and the governments recently published ‘Living with Covid’ Strategy, PCR testing centres such as the one in East Brighton Park will cease at the end March 2022.  The council’s Estates and Public health Teams will be liaising with UKHSA (the UK Health Security Agency) on the removal of the testing centre from East Brighton Park.  Due to the huge number of testing centres across the country that will need to be removed, it is not yet clear how quickly UKSHA will remove the testing centre at East Brighton Park. This is a vast project to undertake and massive task to demobilise the testing centres across the whole country, so it may take some time for the East Brighton Park testing centre to be removed. Council officers are liaising with UKHSA with the aim of getting greater clarity on the timetable for removing the East Brighton Park testing centre.  

Once, the testing centre has been removed, council officers will be appointing a contractor to resurface the tennis courts at East Brighton Park. A budget is in place for the resurfacing of these tennis courts and I have asked officers to keep ward councillors updated on the timescale for resurfacing the courts”.

 

(c)          Deputations

 

(1)          Westdene School Streets

 

81.14   The Committee considered a deputation outlining concerns relating to the Westdene School Streets initiative.

 

81.15   The Chair provided the following response:

 

“Thank you for your deputation, as a Ward Councillor for Withdean ward as well as Co-Chair of this committee, this matter is extremely important to me.

Like many schools in the city, Westdene School has faced ongoing problems with road safety issues stemming from increased traffic, dangerous driving and illegal parking at school drop off and pick up times. Concerns about road safety around Westdene School have been longstanding and raised by local residents, parents and the school as well as by ward Cllrs.

A deputation was presented to this committee in November 2019 which called for a permanent, timed School Street closure to be implemented on Bankside and Barn Rise. At that time, myself and other members of this Committee also raised concerns about the situation at Westdene and it was suggested that the school be included in a pilot of School Streets.

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the introduction of School Streets in Brighton & Hove as there was an additional need to create more space for pedestrians outside school entrances to allow for physical distancing. An amendment was agreed by this committee in June 2020, to introduce a citywide emergency School Streets programme as an amendment to the Interim Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. 14 schools across the city trialled a School Street as part of the emergency programme, with Westdene School offered a one-day taster event.

Following the trialling of School Streets closures as part of the pandemic response, a commitment was made by the Council to deliver a rolling School Streets programme with the aim of implementing timed closures outside as many of the city’s schools as possible. Assessment criteria, based on the Hackney School Streets toolkit, to assess schools for their eligibility for a School Street was agreed by ETS Committee. A total of 55 infant, junior and primary schools were subsequently assessed for their eligibility for a School Streets closure. Based on this assessment, a priority list of 12 schools was determined for implementation in the first two years of the programme, which included Westdene Primary School. This approach was again agreed by the ETS Committee in September of 2021 and officers were given approval to proceed on this basis.

 

It is typical for a preliminary design to be consulted on and for the feedback used from consultations to determine any changes required to improve the design of schemes. For all proposed School Streets schemes, preliminary designs were open to the public to submit their views on for 6 weeks from mid- October to the end of November last year.

The consultation for Westdene School Streets received 260 responses with over 75% respondents in support of the principal of school streets and over 70% in support of the proposed preliminary design. In addition to the consultation, we have also welcomed and accepted stakeholder feedback from other means and are grateful to Westdene Residents Group for their report which was submitted to the School Streets Team. Officers will consider this alongside the consultation feedback as part of the next design phase.

Despite majority support for the preliminary design, the design is not final and officers will ensure changes will be made where possible to respond to issues and concerns raised throughout the process. Traffic monitoring is also being carried out, which will provide a pre-implementation baseline of data to help measure impacts when the scheme is implemented. As a result of the concerns raised about the proposed scheme at Westdene, we will also be implementing the scheme on an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order which will allow us to monitor the impact of the scheme and will allow local residents and members of the school community a further opportunity to report on their experiences with the scheme so any adjustments can then be made, if necessary, before the any measures are made permanent.

We are committed to supporting schools in the city to address these issues and create safer journeys to school, and that also encourage sustainable, active travel modes which contribute to children’s health and wellbeing and reduce emissions from vehicles”.

 

81.16   Resolved- That the Committee note the deputation.

 

(2)          Refund Valley Gardens Bus Gate fines

 

81.17   The Committee considered a deputation that contended that the council had not met its duty in the issuing of PCN’s relating to the Bus Gate on Valley Gardens and all should be refunded.

 

81.18   The Chair provided the following response:

 

“At the last ETS Committee through a verbal update it was agreed that we would review the approaches to the Valley Gardens bus gates to ensure they are as clear as possible for motorists. It was made clear that no changes were required to the current lining and signing within the bus gates and at the entry point. These had already been reviewed and no independent adjudication decisions from the Traffic Penalty Tribunal in relation to appeals have been made that any of the signage is at fault.

 

To clarify no reference to 9.7.3 of the DFT guidance has formed appeals to the Council so, therefore, has not needed to be reviewed by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal. The main reasons for lost appeals include medical emergencies, incorrect Vehicle registration, late provision of evidence, road surface erosion which has been rectified and procedural error back office which is standard for any bus lane enforcement.

The Valley Gardens Bus gates have been designed using DfT guidance specifically Traffic Signs Manual, Section 9.7.3 providing a short length of bus-only street. On a two-way road, access may be restricted to buses in one direction only with all traffic permitted in the opposite direction. It is advised that a traffic island be utilised to separate the traffic lanes but this is not a requirement. In the case of Valley Gardens the carriageway has been narrowed considerably to 3.2 meter running lanes to restrict movements and allow clear sight of ‘No Entry signage’. In line with section 9.7.3 the bus gates have been implemented to allow full access but to restrict through traffic. As this route was previously a through route, signage has been implemented to advise on alternative routes inline with DfT guidance.

New signage has now been installed to ensure the routes are as clear as possible to motorists. Additional advanced CCTV enforcement signs, new lane directional signage at the bottom of North Road and the removal of street clutter at the approach to the bus gates have ensured the approaches are clearly visible. The advanced directional signage on the primary route ( A23) are also due to be upgraded making them more visible to motorists with larger text, these are due to be installed this week. 

There is currently no justification or evidence to review this further or to refund fines as the signage was already legally compliant and clear”.

 

81.19   Councillor Nemeth moved a motion to request an officer report on the matter.

 

81.20   Councillor Peltzer Dunn formally seconded the motion.

 

81.21   The Chair put the motion to the vote that failed.

 

81.22   Resolved- That the Committee note the deputation.

 

(3)          Roundhill Liveable Neighbourhood

 

81.23   The Committee considered a deputation requesting  request formal consideration for Round Hill to be included in the roll-out of the Council’s Low-Traffic Neighbourhood Scheme.

 

81.24   The Chair provided the following response:

 

“Thank you for presenting this deputation Councillor West.   I know that you have had a lot of involvement with residents in the Round Hill area regarding their concerns and ideas for solving some of them.  As a result, officers are supporting the community-led Round Hill Greening Project to deliver planters across the area and we look forward to seeing these installed in the future.  Concerns expressed by residents about traffic will also be addressed in a future report requested by this committee in November last year.

We are aware that interest in creating Liveable Neighbourhoods is growing, and we are looking forward to the ongoing development of the proposals for the Hanover & Tarner pilot project and future reports to this committee.  This pilot will help to inform other future Liveable Neighbourhood projects in the city. 

In response to this committee, officers are also developing a prioritisation framework for other requests for low traffic or liveable neighbourhoods, or similar measures.  This Framework will enable a transparent and objective assessment of requests against a number of factors to help identify the most appropriate locations to manage and reduce traffic and enable more active travel and social activities to take place in local areas.  It is helpful to see that the deputation has included the objectives that residents would like to achieve for the Round Hill area.

The new framework will ensure that there is a consistent and balanced approach to assessing requests and will help inform how we make decisions about where we could direct officer time and budgets.  This will then help manage these types of requests from different parts of the city.   The framework will be considered by this committee, and when approved we will then be able to assess this request for the Round Hill area alongside other locations.  Those outcomes will then be reported to committee and will help ensure that the locations that are prioritised will achieve the greatest impact.  We will ensure that communities are made aware of the progress and outcomes of this work, and those locations that are prioritised to be progressed will then be subject to further study and engagement with communities to help explore issues and develop ideas and options to address them”.

 

81.25   Resolved- That the Committee note the deputation.

Supporting documents:

 


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