Friday, 25 February 2011

The Evidence: the Conservative plan to reverse sustainable transport in favour of the car

Agenda Item 72(b) Conservative
Many people have responded to my postings off this site with bafflement (Guardian story). Why would any administration want to demolish a world class cycle freeway, flagship of an award winning sustainable transport policy in progressive Brighton and Hove? The uncomfortable answer is contained in a council motion which never saw the light of day - because it was withdrawn in the face of combined Labour and Green opposition on the council. It is Council Agenda Item 72(b) 27 January 2011.

People ask if there is another side to this story, something I haven't told them. I tried to to get the council, or the leadership, to supply evidence of need to close the lane, but they declined (see my story Rubbing Salt in the Wound, below). A Green spokesman says there is no public consultation, traffic demand or other needs assessment. Some residents are concerned about driveways crossing the cycle lane, but these are countered by supporters of the lane. Some say a survey was conducted but this has not been made public. So we are left presuming that we are dealing with a political ideology (out of sync with national Tory pro-sustainable policy) or simply the personal preference and convenience of a small group of conservative councillors whose party won only 37% of the vote in 2007 local elections. But I'm repeating myself.

To the evidence. Over the past year cancellation of cycling schemes could be explained away by lack of money and safety concerns over watered down specs. (The strategic Old Shoreham Road Cycle Freeway scheme and cancellation of the Grand Parade National Cycle Network link). But these didn't necessarily amount to evidence of hostility to sustainable transport and cycling. Yes, I'm coming to that

In January 2011, the Tory admin put a motion to council that would effectively reverse the 11-year-old Local Transport Plan that committed Brighton and Hove to achieve a shift toward 'sustainable transport' - a policy that would improve public transport, cycling and walking facilities, improve the unban environment and promote electric transport. I have a copy of that motion, and I include the link below. Greens and Labour combined to vote the motion down. But the language of Council Agenda Item 72(b) is worth noting:

1. Rule out introducing any further measures which unfairly penalise car drivers under the guise of promoting "sustainable transport".
2. At the earliest opportunity, repeal the provisions in policy CP8 of the Core Strategy (sustainable transport) which promote "car free housing", "fiscal measures" and "modal shift".

If we are repealing the commitment toward promoting modal shift, we are ending moves to get people to change the way they travel. OK, here it is.
Click for Link to Agenda Item 72(b) Conservative Motion 'Promote Choice...
The motion was withdrawn when the Conservatives saw the amendments proposed by thhe Green/Labour opposition
Click for Link to Agenda item 729b) Labour/Green Party amendments.

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