At Tuesday’s meeting of the environment, transport & sustainability committee, Labour Councillors will be raising serious questions about how and why certain council projects and decisions have been rushed through without sufficient democratic oversight, such as the closure of public toilets and the pause to the bikeshare scheme, whilst others that councillors agreed to over a year ago have made no visible progress at all, such as on Park & Ride.
Labour is concerned with the pattern of the Green administration rushing things through without offering timely notification to opposition councillors in order to make representations on behalf of their ward residents.
With the pausing of the BTN Bikeshare scheme, this decision was not brought before committee, and councillors were only given eight minutes notice before the council issued a press release on it. With the temporary closure of public toilets, a report is only now coming to committee after the decision was made.
Meanwhile, decisions that opposition councillors have won support for, are seemingly not being implemented. For example, at the upcoming committee meeting, Labour will be demanding an update on progress on the Park & Ride feasibility study that we called for and was promised over a year ago.
Labour called for the development and publication of a citywide 20-minute neighbourhoods strategy to identify the most appropriate sites many months ago, and whilst there is still no strategy forthcoming, the Green administration rushed to implement an LTN (Low Traffic Neighbourhood) pilot scheme in Hanover.
Labour called for a road danger reduction strategy almost two years ago, and we have supported the many residents who have come to committee and requested speed reduction measures and crossings in their communities – but again, we are still waiting for any of these reports to materialise at committee. Nothing should be more important than protecting our city’s residents on our roads.
The Labour Group will be asking challenging questions at committee on Tuesday.
Labour’s co-spokesperson on environment, transport and sustainability, Cllr Gary Wilkinson said:
“A worrying pattern has emerged in recent months. We truly hope it is not the case that the minority Green administration is deliberately dragging its heels on initiatives that have come from opposition councillors and residents, kicking projects they don’t like into the long grass until the clock runs out to election time, whilst rushing through their own controversial decisions without the chance for opposition scrutiny in a No Overall Control council.”
Labour co-spokesperson on environment, transport and sustainability, Cllr Nancy Platts said:
“A number of residents’ groups have taken the time and trouble to come to ETS committee to express their concerns about road safety, including requests for speed reduction and crossings. The Labour Group have supported all of these requests by asking for reports, so that progress can be made. Coming to Committee is an essential part of the democratic process to ensure local people’s voices are heard. Our communities need to be listened to but the vague response we have received to date demonstrate a lack of commitment and suggests that the Administration do not respect the requests that are being made by local people. Some people just feel ignored.”
Formal questions to ETS Committee
Related written questions (full list found here) that have been submitted by Labour Councillors to the ETS Committee on Tuesday 15 November:
> Councillor Wilkinson – Park & Ride:
At the June ETS committee I asked the Chair why the Park & Ride feasibility study work that was agreed in 2021 had not begun yet and when will it. In replying, the co-chair of the ETS Committee said, ‘the funding available for this work remains allocated to it, but not yet begun owing to officer commitments on other projects and the need to locate and retrieve information on the previous work on possible Park & Ride Sites’ and that ‘the study should be completed before the end of 2022’. The administration has often said it does not support a Park and Ride scheme but In light of the fact that a feasibility study was asked for last year and funds secured for it, can the Co-Chairs of the ETS committee please provide an update on its progress, and confirm that this study will be completed by the end of 2022?
> Councillor Platts – Outstanding reports:
A number of residents’ groups have taken the time and trouble to come to ETS committee to express their concerns about road safety, including requests for speed reduction and crossings. The Class Divide campaign have made several representations on behalf of a disadvantaged community to get better transport to schools as there is no local secondary school in Whitehawk. The Labour Group have supported all of these requests by asking for reports, so that progress can be made. Coming to Committee is an essential part of the democratic process to ensure local people’s voices are heard. Our communities need to be listened to but the vague response we have received to date demonstrate a lack of commitment and suggests that the Administration do not respect the requests that are being made by local people. Some people just feel ignored. To show that the Administration is taking local people’s requests seriously, please can the Co-Chairs of ETS publish a date by when a schedule of all outstanding reports will be provided to ETS Committee?
> Councillor Appich – Bikeshare scheme:
Many of us use and love the Brighton BikeShare scheme so we were shocked and disappointed to hear the scheme will be paused for several months. It is also concerning that this issue wasn’t brought before this Committee before being publicised in local press. In fact, Councillors got only 8 minutes notice of the matter before a press release was issued. Can the administration explain who made the decision to pause including which councillors were consulted, what alternatives were considered and what impacts assessments were taken into account?
> Councillor Wilkinson – Road Safety Strategy:
At the ETS Committee in June of this year, I highlighted that council had asked for an update to our city’s road safety strategy back in January 2021 which would include road danger reduction measures and asked when this committee can expect to see the report. The chair agreed in reply that we have waited long enough and that measuring danger on our roads through metrics other than just the number of casualties is crucial to reducing danger. They further said that a report would be coming to Committee in the Autumn. Do the co-chairs agree with me that waiting almost two years for a report on a road danger safety issue is unacceptable and can you confirm that a report will be coming this Autumn?
You can watch the meeting along live here and follow Labour Group social media channels for updates.