Agenda item - Chairs Communications

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Agenda item

Chairs Communications


40.1      The Chair provided the following communications:


“Thank you for attending this our administration's fourth meeting of the newly formed Transport and Sustainability Committee. It is an honour to Chair. There is much to do.


As the COP28 meets in Dubai pressing home the urgency for global climate action, a letter to COP28, signed by the C40 Cities Co-chairs reads: “We must phase out fossil fuels to protect our climate but also to protect people from the unjust impacts on their health and standard of living”.


We are acutely aware that as we came into administration, we were left with a huge amount undone. No administration before us was prepared to sufficiently drive policies that could bring about the scale of change that is needed. As set out at the October Transport and Sustainability Committee, we are genuinely shocked the city had no decarbonisation pathways mapped out, no assessment of risk, no partners with funds committed to enable; and no clear strategy to reach net zero as a city beyond an aspiration and an annual carbon reduction target for the council – an aim without substance.


I asked that we have two committee meetings this Autumn reflecting the importance, breadth and ambition of our administration to transform our city, establishing a sustainable, connected, low carbon, cleaner, citywide transport for the 2030s. We have great ambition to better how each resident and visitor moves around our wonderful city.


We recognise that we cannot bring about the scale of change needed without invested partnerships.


A week ago, Cllr Rowkins as Chair of City Environment, South Downs and the Sea Committee, and I as Chair of this committee had the great pleasure of being shown around the Decarbonisation Academy at Brighton MET College by the Head of the College, Paul Riley.  They are delivering remarkable training and growing the skills needed within our city as we shift to a more equitable, fairer low carbon future.


To move towards a low carbon transport system for the 2030s we are taking action on all fronts. With the next phase of the Bus Service Improvement Plan (or BSIP), we are helping to make our bus service one to be proud of with many more people taking the bus this autumn than we have seen for many years.


Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail’s presentation at last week’s Transport Partnership meeting which I Chair, with council, bus operators, cyclists and pedestrian groups present helped underline the importance of effective and affordable public transport contributing to improved air quality by reducing road congestion.


Our proposed citywide parking review and policy improvements along with our announcement to better utilise two council run city centre car parks during December and January show our commitment to improve parking and access across our city. We need to establish a fairer, simpler, more equitable, cleaner, accessible and digitally inclusive parking that benefits the whole city, improves the environment and adds up. There is more work to do, and we are ambitious to facilitate better parking for the prosperity, health and future of our city.


Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London and Co-Chair of C40 Cities said at COP28 that “Toxic air pollution is a dual threat, impacting both the public health of our cities as well as furthering the climate crisis,”.


With more air quality monitors installed from early 2020, we can see from the data that parts of our city have declining and unacceptable air quality. We cannot and must not sit back and watch this data and not act. We are taking the air quality challenge seriously. This is why we have brought the initiative as part of the next phase of parking improvements for visitors, along with residents, to pay for on-street parking based on their vehicle emissions with low and medium emission vehicles paying less than high emissions vehicles to park. 


Previously, there was an acceptance of second rate, disconnected active travel schemes in places contributing to worsening air quality through congested traffic, that soon after installation required costly retro-fitting to bring to grade, when we knew better was achievable. This has not served our city well. Unsurprisingly, the outcome is that "most of the city is a hot mess for cycling and walking" to quote a summer city visitor.


Once again, we can and must do better. I am looking forward to presenting the outcome from our strategic review of active travel on the A259 seafront all the way from the Marina to our western city boundary in the new year; and I am excited that we have affordable options to deliver a segregated and straight bidirectional cycle path along Hove seafront that does not put pedestrians at peril amongst commuting cyclists, all segregated from the road with safer crossing. Similarly, the outcome of our forensic review of the Valley Gardens 3 plans will be communicated soon. All this as we commence work on the Phase 1A A23 Preston Circus to Argyll Street will demonstrate our commitment to active travel in across our city.


We have a plan and this Transport and Sustainability Committee today helps brings our ambition closer.


Creating a safer lower carbon city needs to integrate more junction improvements under the Safer Better Streets programme. The implementation of Red Routes to facilitate better flow of traffic making cycling, walking, bus routes and driving safer and cleaner. New cycle hanger installations in response to strong public demand underlines our commitment to active travel; the Hove station footbridge maintenance is essential for the local community and train passengers alike; and our joint bid with Brighton and Hove Buses to fund the introduction of zero-emissions fully electric buses are each important strides towards a sustainable, decarbonised, cleaner, equitable and accessible city transport system for the 2030s”.


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