Agenda item - Public Involvement
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- Meeting of Environment, Transport & Sustainability Committee, Tuesday, 17th January, 2023 4.00pm (Item 63.)
To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:
(a) Petitions: To receive any petitions presented by members of the public;
(b) Written Questions: To receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 11 January 2023;
(c) Deputations: To receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 11 January 2023.
(B) Public Questions
(1) Smoke Control Areas
63.1 Adrian Hill read the following question:
“14% of the city suffer asthma. Between 1/3 and half of all childhood asthma is caused by poor air quality (Bradford & Barcelona studies). Air pollution also causes heart disease, COPD, lung cancer, low birth weight, premature birth, dementia, organ damage and developmental problems. 38% of particulate emissions (UK) are from solid fuel burning (DEFRA). Particulate pollution increased in Preston Park the last three years (AQASR). A Labour Group amendment was submitted to the recent AQAP delaying a SCA extension and denying residents protection against the worst solid fuel pollution offences; will research into SCA extension be made a priority?”
63.2 The Chair provided the following reply:
“Thank you for your question Adrian. We are pleased that the overall Air Quality Action Plan was approved by the committee last year and provides an indication of the many priorities that the council will want to progress over the next 5 years. These include the introduction of a citywide Smoke Control Area for the city to help address the impacts of visible smoke from building chimneys. Tackling all sources of pollution to minimise their impacts on people’s health is important and we know that domestic burning can contribute to around 25% of national particulate emissions, and just over 15% is due to wood burning. New legislation now bans the sale of the most polluting solid fuels throughout England, including traditional house coal and wet wood.
We were disappointed that at the last committee amended the report so that we couldn’t prioritise smoke control areas officer guidance that the relevant evidence had been gathered. I can assure you that this is being looked at again and officers will be briefing me on this.
Getting the right messages out to people about smoke and air quality is really vital as well, and further updates will be made to the council’s website. This work is being undertaken alongside some of the other important actions that are included in the plan such as real-time monitoring and awareness raising, which I know you are also supportive of”.
(2) Public Toilets
63.3 Joy Robinson read the following question:
“Over the Christmas holidays a number of toilets along the seafront were closed causing discomfort to visitors and residents alike.
I am a resident of Second Avenue and see a notice is posted by the toilets close to the Lawns Cafe, stating they are closed from 28th November until further notice. Can the Chair please advise if the toilets will re-open at all in the next 6 months and an approximate opening date. Can the Chair please advise what alternative provision is being out in place”.
63.4 The Chair provided the following reply:
“Thank you for your question. The reason the toilets near the Hove Lawns café are currently closed is because they are being refurbished. Alternative provision is available at the King Alfred toilets.
The council is facing some really difficult decisions to agree a balanced budget for next year which may impact on public toilet provision. There is a report on today’s agenda which sets out which sites will be open and which will be closed from 1 April, depending on budget available to clean and maintain the toilets. The council’s 54 councillors will meet in February to set the council budget, including the public toilet budget”.
63.5 Joy Robinson put the following supplementary question:
“Surely the council saw the closure problem coming - why doesn't the Green administration have a better plan in place to save our public toilets that are valued so much by local community and the tourists who are essential to our local community?”
63.6 The Chair provided the following response in writing:
“It is with heavy hearts that we are currently having to consider the closure of some public toilets in the city. The council is grappling with a budget gap for 2023/24 in excess of £20m following a decade of huge funding cuts from central government meaning that the council has had to make cuts of more than £110m. Over the past 10 years the council has managed to preserve our public toilets when many other Local Authorities have had to close them in light of central government cuts.
We are now at the stage where we are having to review the provision of all non-statutory services in order to set a balanced budget for 2023/24 which is a legal obligation of the council. We only received notification from central government as to the financial settlement on 19th December 2023/24 and this announcement indicated that we would have an even greater budget deficit than we had anticipated. We are therefore having to look at cuts in service areas that we had intended to try to preserve.
We understand the importance of public toilets for residents and visitors and some toilets in the higher footfall areas of the city will remain open. However without enough funding we will not be able to keep all 36 toilets open.
For toilets that are closed we will work with community groups and other stakeholders to try to find ways to bring them back into operation”.
(3) Bus Service in Ovingdean
63.7 Anna Webb read the following question:
“Ovingdean is frequently let down by buses; eg. at least twice in the last 2 days, the bus did not arrive. We only have one bus service and it is too infrequent to be reliable; the route sometimes goes to the marina, but not always; it sometimes goes to/from the station, but not always; we can only travel west, except on Sundays and it stops far too early to allow people to get home after an evening out.
With hundreds of new homes being built here, what are the council’s plans to improve the bus services to Ovingdean?”
63.8 The Chair provided the following reply:
“We are aware that the council contracted operator for service 52 has faced exceptional challenges recently, related to staffing and vehicle availability, however we understand that these are now largely resolved.
The council’s public transport team is always keen to be made aware of any specific problems on any council supported bus service, so these can be investigated. Should there ever be any issues in the future, then we advise to take note of the location, date and time of the issue to the service, so officers can fully investigate directly with the operator.
There is a travel plan in place for the Ovingdean Road housing development, and we’ve asked for Bus Service improvements like Bus Shelters, and relocating Bus Stops at locations to make them more user-friendly, to encourage modal shift; and ensure viability of the bus services in the area in the longer term which would increase potential demand for buses. With this in mind & subject to resources, it is hoped to introduce later Monday to Saturday evening journeys on service 52 in the spring, funded by the government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP)”.
63.9 Anna Webb put the following supplementary question:
“How does the limited service provision fit with the council’s own policy of encouraging people out of their cars, for example the move to change initative?”
63.10 The Chair provided the following reply:
“We are looking at ways to improve the service as outlined in my response”.
63.11 On behalf of Daniel Roberts, Adrian Hill read the following question:
“We were pleased to hear the Council’s commitment to targeting improved clean air in our city. I crucial part of the plan for this was an extended ULEZ zone. I wanted to enquire when the plans for this would be actioned upon?”
63.12 The Chair provided the following reply:
“A review of the requirements needed to progress the development of an expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (or ULEZ) has indicated that computer-based modelling will help understand the likely impacts of various options. An allocation of funding to develop a citywide transport model has been agreed and a tendering process for this work is planned to begin soon. This will then enable officers to further assess the timescale associated with developing a proportional approach to developing the ULEZ and bringing it forward as soon as possible.
In the meantime, funding has also been allocated to enable the installation of camera technology around or on entry to Air Quality Management Areas to provide baseline and ongoing data collection about vehicle flows and emission categories of vehicles for the ULEZ”.
63.13 Adrian Hill asked the following supplementary question:
“When will the work be completed by?”
63.14 The Chair provided the following reply:
“I do not have the information to hand and can send it in writing”.
(5) Multi Storey Car Parks
63.15 Carolyn Lewis read the following question:
“Instead of attempting to redirect the traffic in Hanover; might BHCC’s ETSC/central budget allocation not be better directed towards repurposing the city’s multi-storey car parks as housing stock? If not, why not as this would surely reduce traffic emissions as well as providing homes and resident consumers?”
63.16 The Chair provided the following reply:
“This committee has agreed to progress the liveable neighbourhood scheme in Hanover and Tarner to the consultation and redesign stage, and is working towards delivering a pilot, subject to committee approval. The scheme fits with the council’s commitment to decarbonise transport by improving public space for walking, wheeling and cycling. The cost of a large housing project would be a lot higher than that of a liveable neighbourhood pilot – and funding for transport and housing projects come from different pots.
Repurposing the City’s multi-storey car parks as housing stock would have a significant impact on traffic management and increased pressure within on-street spaces which would struggle to cope with the demand. This would particularly affect residents who use their permits in shared spaces between paid parking and resident permits and cause a lot of frustration to visitors to the City when trying to find available parking spaces.
It’s also important to note that not all the car parks in the City Centre are owned by the Council. This approach would have a significant impact on the budget allocation and income after the short-term sale price”.
(6) Car use
63.17 Jenni Grey read the following question:
“One of the reasons given for introducing the LTN is to make people more active. But many people who live in Hanover do so because of its proximity to the city and the seafront, and they can walk to the many amenities they offer. As your approach is to make it less viable for people to use their cars, how can you be sure that the LTN will actually make people more active, or whether it could have the reverse effect and mean that people just end up staying in more, or using taxis for short journeys?”
63.18 The Chair provided the following reply:
“Thank you for your question Jenni. In line with one of the city’s Climate Assembly’s top recommendations, we want to bring forward projects that help create ‘healthier low traffic/pedestrianised communities’. The Hanover and Tarner Liveable Neighbourhood is one example and would be the city’s first pilot project of this type. As you have noted, one of the objectives of making an area more liveable is to increase active travel. This can be achieved by reducing the number and impact of vehicles in an area and creating a safer and more attractive, outdoor space for residents to enjoy, and socialise or move about in. More walking and cycling trips, especially as an alternative to the car for some journeys that start in the area, will also improve people’s physical and mental health – something that benefits everybody.
We know that these proposals would be a first for the city and therefore we need to be able to understand and explain what changes occur as a result. A monitoring framework for the project was agreed by this committee in June last year, and a number of questions were asked about travel patterns as part of the consultation that took place over the summer. The responses to these questions will then enable us to gauge changes in people’s travel choices over time”.
63.19 Jennie Grey asked the following supplementary question:
“From what you’ve said you don’t really know how many journeys residents make by car could reasonable be done by foot or by bike. If you haven’t done research into why people use their cars, how do you know you’re not just wasting money on a scheme that has been called a complex solution to a problem that does not exist?”
63.20 The Chair provided the following reply:
“As I mentioned in my answer before, this is a trial. We’re using an ETRO to do something temporary to test the idea of whether we can reduce the number of cars and improve the space in Hanover & Tarner. In other areas it has been very successful so we want to try that here. As I said before, it was number three of the Climate Assemblies top recommendations so we are looking at a framework today which we are going to consider”.
(7) Bus Stop
63.21 John Warmington read the following question:
“Given reports that Phase 3 of the Valley Gardens scheme is proposed to start work in the spring, is the Council going to make sure that the northbound bus stop in Marlborough Place near the "King & Queen" is reinstated before work starts? This was intended to have been done as part of the earlier stages, and it is essential to have the bus stop in place before anything is done to remove the stops outside the Royal Pavilion”.
63.22 The Chair provided the following reply:
“We are aware of requests for a stop in this location. I should clarify that no stop is suspended as there has not been one at this location since the previous bus lanes were installed in the 1990s. However, the changes to the road layout do make this possible and kerbs have been installed for a stop close to Church Street as part of the Valley Gardens project.
Bus operators are however waiting for designs for stops as part of Phase 3 of the scheme (the section between the Royal Pavilion and the Aquarium) to be finalised and implemented before confirming future stopping arrangements.
It would be possible for operators to start using this as a stop in theory; however, unfortunately it is not as straight forward as we would like because of the timetabling implications for buses. This is ultimately a decision for operators as the council is not able to compel commercial operators to run certain services or stopping patterns. We understand the benefit a stop in this location could have, and we hope this can be resolved in future”.
63.23 John Warmington asked the following supplementary question:
“Are those plans you have talked about be in place before construction?”
63.24 The Chair provided the following reply:
“As I said in my response, the operators themselves are the ones who have to make that decision, unfortunately”.
(1) Our Tree
63.25 The Committee considered a deputation requesting the committee investigate the undertaking of planting/re-planting of trees on Sudeley Terrace and Upper Sudeley Street and report their findings.
63.26 The Chair provided the following response:
“It is a real shame to have to remove any of our trees and the council only ever does so for good reason. The tree in question was felled following a failed safety inspection in November 2020. It posed an unacceptable risk to the Highway and the public.
Regrettably the council cannot immediately replace felled street trees as a replacement is dependent on available funding and resources at any given time. Tree stumps remain in situ until trees can be replaced.
The initial plan for replacing this tree was deemed unviable following consideration of underground services, disabled parking bays and visibility issues highlighted through a Highways safety audit.
As such, the planting design and siting of the replacement tree is being revised.
I am afraid that, at this point, I cannot give a timeframe for the completion. Officers hope a viable solution can be agreed during this winter planting season; however this is not possible to guarantee. Please be assured that we will move this forward as quickly as possible”.
63.27 Councillor Platts moved a motion to request an officer report on the matter.
63.28 Councillor Wilkinson formally seconded the motion.
63.29 The Chair put the motion to the vote that passed.
63.30 Resolved- That the committee receive an officer report responding to the deputation.
(2) Climate Assembly
63.31 The Committee considered a deputation that contended that the council were introducing highways and traffic measures which are at odds with the plans and requirements laid out within the Climate Assembly Report.
63.32 The Chair provided the following response:
Thank you for your deputation. The Climate Assembly process was a first for the city and Its recommendations and priorities have helped shape what we are focusing on transport and travel and how we do things.
You have referred to some of them in your deputation, and we are working to:-
- implement measures to reduce the impacts of vehicles in the Old Town and Lanes area of the city centre to make it more ‘liveable’, and more plans will be developed through engagement and consultation;
- create a healthier community and safer environment for active travel through our plans for the first pilot Liveable Neighbourhood in the Hanover and Tarner area; and
- improve public transport as an alternative to the car for some journeys in the city. To support this, our Bus Service Improvement Plan has been successful in securing nearly £30 million pounds of funding to improve services and infrastructure for passengers. It has been prepared in partnership with the city’s bus operators.
We are also ‘prioritising cyclists and creating a well-designed, dedicated cycling network’ and have approved a 10-year strategic plan for cycling and walking infrastructure, and are developing and delivering a number of schemes on key routes.
You have also highlighted a number of specific points within the report about the Climate Assembly’s work and outlined your concerns about our approach to these. Taking each in turn, I can confirm the following:-
Air quality is an important consideration alongside carbon reduction. Our School Streets programme aims to create a safer environment that enables and encourages more active and sustainable travel. Restrictions to traffic in adjacent roads can reduce vehicle emissions and therefore improve air quality levels outside schools. Where monitoring is considered necessary, this will be carried out, although there is limited research data available due to the short-term nature of the closures and the complexity of air quality data collection. However, officers are aware of national studies that have begun to capture air quality improvements as a result of School Streets schemes.
Engagement and consultation are a crucial part of raising awareness of the challenges that we face with the climate and biodiversity emergency, and explaining why changes are needed and the positive actions that people can take. The feedback that we receive helps inform and shape proposals. We will always take account of everybody’s views but when a large consultation is taking place, feedback cannot always be provided directly to an individual or groups. Consultation results will be published, and changes to scheme designs as a result of consultation and engagement with residents and stakeholders are explained.
We need to try and balance everybody’s needs when designing a scheme, but this is not always easy or possible sometimes. Officers frequently engage with representatives of various stakeholder organisations to ensure appropriate consideration is given to all road users. Equality Impact Assessments for projects or programmes of work are part of the council’s legal duty and help to identify and mitigate potential impacts on certain groups, such as people with disabilities. This would include exemptions for access, if not already included. If there are any specific schemes where you believe due consideration has not been given to this, then please let us know.
We often need to work quickly, but not at the expense of following proper processes, such as consultation, or considering alternatives. Not all changes involve formal consultation as some measures are necessary but temporary; to enable roadworks to take place and be managed, for example. There are powers within the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 that allow councils to do this. This was the case for the Western Road improvement scheme. It is a long and busy road in the middle of the city centre and managing such a large project involves some complex and difficult issues, such as the Upper North Street diversion. A number of alternatives were considered by officers and have been explained to residents, and these are available for everyone to see on the project website.
Officers will do all they can to reach a balanced view on designs and construction plans, while ensuring that the council complies with its legal requirements. To deliver a number of schemes that are consistent with the Climate Assembly’s priorities, we will continue to engage and consult to get the best outcome. We acknowledge and expect that there will unfortunately be some disruption as the city is so busy, but we will continue to communicate with residents who are affected and do what we can to alleviate concerns that are raised”.
63.33 Resolved- That the committee note the deputation.
(3) Cycle Storage at Preston Park Velodrome
63.34 The Committee considered a deputation requesting storage facilities at Preston Park Velodrome.
63.35 The Chair provided the following response:
“I think the Brighton Multicultural Women’s Cycle Club is fantastic and I really appreciate the difference that you are making.
Unfortunately, Cityparks are not currently agreeing to any more shipping containers to be placed in parks due to the wider impact on the loss of space, the anti-social behaviour that can arise as a result of them and the detrimental impact on the aesthetic of our parks. Preston Park is a heritage park with Green Flag status and the council is striving to preserve our open spaces and the heritage aspects of our parks.
City Parks allowed several groups in the past to put steel shipping containers in parks to store equipment and some groups have put containers in parks without authorisation.
There are other groups who would like to put shipping containers in parks, including some who provide a great public service such as yours.
As this is not the only container the council is being asked about, a consistent approach is needed. The good news is that Cityparks are recruiting a premises manager to develop a strategy for buildings in parks. As part of this they will audit all of the buildings and spaces in parks; develop a maintenance and investment plan and ensure that we make best use of the space. This strategy will include the development of a policy in relation to new development in parks and storage for community groups. The aim is to bring this strategy and policy to committee this year.
I can’t pre-empt that work by suggesting that this storage container will get the go-ahead but as an administration we would really like to support the Brighton Multicultural Women’s Cycle Club. You would also need to be aware that if a new container or structure is agreed you would also need to apply for planning permission and a decision would be made taking council planning policy into account”.
63.36 Resolved- That the Committee note the deputation.
- Written Questions ET&S Cttee 17.01.22, item 63. PDF 199 KB View as HTML (63./1) 20 KB
- Written Questions 2 ET&S Cttee 17.01.22, item 63. PDF 191 KB View as HTML (63./2) 18 KB
- ET&S deputations 17.01.22, item 63. PDF 123 KB View as HTML (63./3) 35 KB
- BMWs Deputation Supporting information, item 63. PDF 2 MB