Agenda item - Chairs Communications
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22.1 The Chair provided the following communications:
“Last month, I had the great pleasure of attending the Transport for the South East’s “Connecting the South East” conference held in our city. This regional conference highlighted the clear value of developing transport schemes within a coherent strategy. This conference also highlighted the value of partnership and engagement with all stakeholders. This is why as an administration we are keen to develop the Transport Partnership as the pivotal place where all views are heard and input into transport projects and plans. This is why we are including more representatives with a clear focus on active and inclusive engagement by all stakeholders.
After the successful delivery of two School Streets Schemes this summer in Balfour Street and Hangleton Primary; as an administration we are bringing three more School Streets schemes to this committee for approval. Our 50 per cent increase in the number of School Streets schemes in our city within the first 5 months of our administration confirms our commitment to better safer streets for communities and the next generation.
Representatives from the Youth Council gave a compelling presentation and set of questions at the Enhanced Bus Partnership in August; whilst last month’s Kidical Mass family friendly bike ride in our city was, by all accounts, a huge success. We are listening and taking action. Our city’s young people’s engagement with public transport and active travel underlines the huge relevance of ensuring high standards in better, safer and more accessible interconnected transport schemes. A reminder that good strategic planning for the next generation is aligned with Labour’s aim to establish a low carbon transport system for the 2030s for our city.
Better safer roads within a strategic improvement plan of our Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan is central to our commitment to Active Travel in our city. Following a positive meeting with Active Travel England and Department for Transport in August, we are keen to get on in delivering more for our city. Our clear commitment to improving access, cycling and walking is shown by ensuring schemes are better and safer. We are eager to get started on delivering the A23 Phase 1A Active Travel Scheme converting the busy A23 north of Preston Circus to Argyle Street to a better safer and more friendly route for all. This will include significant improvement to a known accident hotspot on the junction of Dyke Road Drive and London Road.
Getting to Carbon Neutrality as a city needs a strategy and an implementation plan. As a new Labour administration, we are absolutely committed to the Carbon Neutral 2030 aim but are deeply concerned to find there is no clear pathway to carbon neutrality. This is why we are committed to setting out strategic decarbonisation pathways and clear climate risk and vulnerability assessments for our city. This has not been done before.
The CN2030 reporting shows an uptick in carbon emissions in 2021. There was a lack of strategic direction and political leadership over the past 3 years as we came out of lockdown both from the Green-led administration in our city seemingly taking an arbitrary, rather than evidence-based policy approach to carbon reduction; and from a national government more intent on partying whilst tens of thousands grieved. Opportunities were definitely missed. While some data on carbon emissions was collected, with no clear strategic plan, it is no wonder that we are not where we should be as a city. Lip service is not the answer. Abandonment of climate and air quality policies is not the answer. Labour is committed to working up a realistic strategy for both carbon neutrality and improving air quality through targeted, data led approach, listening to communities and working in partnership to deliver. Labour are developing effective plans for decarbonisation pathways and targeted improved air quality for a city, reversing the observed recent decline. We know residents across Brighton and Hove from Portslade to Rottingdean deserve much better than before.
Engagement with residents, businesses and communities matter when making improvements and plans. Following a petition from traders at this committee in July, and concerns from disability action groups, as Chair of this committee alongside Cllr Leslie Pumm as Chair of the Equalities, Community Safety & Human Rights Committee; we met in person with Gardner Street traders, residents and disability action groups. Through in person listening and engagement, it very clear that there was a need for an alternative to enable access whilst ensuring the vibrancy of the street cafés, restaurants, bars and shops during the busiest trading periods. I look forward to discussing this with the committee today.
The public rejection of the Hanover and Tarner Liveable Neighbourhood earlier this year is illustrative of what happens when an administration disengage and no longer listens to residents; again highlighting the value and importance of effective public engagement and consultation.
The premise by the previous administration to build this years budget assuming all light touch will go to full parking restrictions ahead of public consultation is one built on sand. We need to first find out where residents are agreeable to or even calling for more regulated parking and then build our data-driven budget on the facts. This is why we are proposing here to bring forward plans to consult with residents in light touch parking zones over the next few months upon which we will build realistic informed budget plans early next year.
Since May, we have become increasingly aware of the level of concern amongst residents and visitors about parking in the city. One of the first decisions Labour made when we took control of the council, was to reverse the Green Party’s decision to quadruple hourly car parking, including around our hospital. This was an indiscriminate and aggressive attack on NHS, care workers, outpatients, small businesses, residents and visitors, which was wholly unacceptable. We are listening to those concerns and we have already commissioned a parking review which will provide a strategic and sustainable thought-through parking policy and strategy which is vital for our city’s prosperity, families, communities and businesses. Completion later this autumn is planned for presented to this committee on 5th December.
Representing Brighton and Hove at my first PATROL (Parking and Traffic Regulations Outside London) Joint Committee meeting; I pressed for central government to enact change to enable local authorities to prevent and enforce pavement parking. Presently, local authorities have very limited powers to act. A nationwide ban would empower Brighton and Hove City Council to act and stop this hazardous and unacceptable practice. At the PATROL meeting, I called for the Secretary of State to increase Penalty Charge Notice fees to disincentivise illegal parking and for local or regional Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) charging to be enabled.
We are in a climate and biodiversity emergency. This is not the time for going into reverse gear nor taking the foot of the pedal when it comes to environmental policies as the Tory government are calling for; nor is it the time to continue trying to guess how to reduce carbon emissions, without a long term strategic policy or plan as absent previously.
For too long our city has not had sufficiently clear, coherent, interconnected and sustainable strategies for parking, for air quality and for reaching carbon neutrality. This administration is changing this. We have the ambition and the political will to do so. We will establish safe and connected active travel, improved air quality especially where it has deteriorated in recent years, with balance that considers the needs of all in our communities, effective stakeholder engagement through holistic inclusive partnerships that work; strategic decarbonisation pathways and clear climate risk and vulnerability assessments for our city. After years of decline and disconnected policy, we have an administration with a plan, a vision and purpose. We will do this”.