Archive for the 'Environment' Category

More Labour scaremongering – on winter weather

Labour councillors really should stop their irresponsible pre-election scaremongering, this time about the Council’s preparedness for bad winter weather. If Cllr. Warren Morgan had bothered to pick up the phone to council officers, rather than writing to the Government, they could have told him the following:

  • We never came close to running out of salt during this winter’s severe weather and were very well prepared.
  • To be certain, we made a bid to the Strategic Stockpile for 100 tonnes just in case deliveries were not forthcoming for the New Year.
  • But even at that point we had 500 tonnes still stored at West Sussex, and another 200 we called in from East Sussex, which is more than enough to keep us running through heavy snowfall.
  • We have ended the year with over 750 tonnes of salt in stock which shows we had a good supply this year.

I believe that the Council did as good a job as possible – given the severity of the conditions – of keeping 156 miles of main roads and bus routes open and keeping key pavements clear. We also helped people to help themselves by filling the City’s 400 grit bins up to 5 times during the winter season. For Labour councillors to suggest that the system in Brighton & Hove was ‘close to breaking down’ is an insult to all the incredible hard work of council staff and indeed residents, who helped to keep the City moving during the unprecedented heavy snow we experienced.

On pothole filling and road maintenance, it is frankly laughable for the Brighton & Hove Labour Party to try and claim credit for the extra £200 million that the Coalition Government is giving to councils to tackle the problem! This is twice the amount the previous Labour Government gave councils after the last year’s bad weather. Thanks to this extra money we have been able to allocate almost £1.5 million this year for pothole repair and road maintenance in Brighton & Hove and residents can rest assured that this is one of our top transport priorities.

Grand Avenue / The Drive cycle lane safety audit

For those who have been asking about the safety audits undertaken on the Grand Avenue / The Drive cycle lanes I thought it would be useful to post a direct quote from one of the key recommendations of the Stage 3 audit:

Location: various throughout the scheme

Summary: cyclists obscured from traffic by parked vehicles leads to conflict at crossovers and junctions.

Detail: Parked vehicles on the offside of the cycle lane obscure drivers view of cyclists and vice versa. It was observed on site that drivers turning left at junctions and private accesses are not aware of the presence of cyclists (and vice versa) and perform manoeuvres which lead to conflict. This problem is exacerbated in the southern direction where cyclists are travelling at speed downhill.

Recommendation: Remove the splitter islands (the raised kerbs separating the cycle lane from the parked cars) , relocate the parking to the near side kerb and provide a cycle lane with a buffer zone on the offside of the parked cars.

This is taken from the stage 3 independent safety audit carried out in July 2009. This is what I mean by there being a fundamental problem with the cycle lane which can’t be addressed by minor tweaks as some are suggesting. Removing parking spaces wholesale is not an option as it would be completely unfair on residents and visitors and would simply cause more parking problems.

Roadworks will not ruin Christmas!

Here is that text of a letter I sent into the Argus newspaper in response to an article they wrote claiming roadworks in the City could ‘ruin Christmas’:

I am baffled by the elaborate speculation in the Argus about whether roadworks will cause ‘gridlock’ in Brighton and Hove city centre this Christmas (‘Roadworks would ruin our Christmas’, October 5).

You see, the council has banned all planned roadworks from the central shopping area for a month from December 3.

This is the third year we have taken this step to eradicate the impact of road works on pre-Christmas trading.

Your reporter, Nigel Freedman, highlights two ‘key’ work sites to support these doom-laden predictions – resurfacing at Western Road and cabling by EDF in Grand Parade. Yet, both will be finished this week (by October 8), hardly a threat to festive trade. Had Mr Freedman told us he was planning this article (he did not), we could have directed him to this information, which is displayed prominently on our website.

We could also have reminded him that the Western Road works have only been taking place at night. Again, this is a measure being taken specifically to minimise disruption to the local economy.

There are several other successful steps we take in our efforts to reduce congestion caused by roadworks. One, for example, is encouraging utilities firms to co-ordinate maintenance so two or more jobs can be done together in the same hole at the same time.

Another is talking to traders’ representatives when big jobs are planned, like the North Laine Southern Water road works mentioned in your article. In this case, we involved Suzi Campbell, the city centre business representative, in the planning of the work.

Yet, none of these significant facts were allowed to ‘spoil’ the article with a little balance and common sense.

This sort of ill-informed scare-mongering has far greater potential to damage Christmas trade than anything reported in your article.

10:10 carbon reduction challenge

I am delighted to announce that I have committed Brighton & Hove City Council to signing up to the national 10:10 campaign to reduce our carbon emissions. If we are successful in meeting the challenge, the benefits are huge, not just in relation to tackling climate change, but also in terms of improving the energy efficiency of all the Council’s buildings and operations. If we can reduce our bills and expenditure, it follows that the savings can be passed on to council taxpayers.

Here is the text of the notice of motion which we are submitting to our Council meeting next Thursday which sets out the reasons for signing up:

This Council recognises the progress that has been made in recent years to reduce the Council’s and City’s carbon emissions and on wider sustainability initiatives. In particular:
• Launching a £6 million energy efficiency grant scheme over three years to help householders cut costs and carbon emissions
• Committing to installing a network of electric car charging points in the city
• Running a successful Carbon Management Programme, saving more than £50,000 to date in energy efficiency measures, with more to follow
• Committing the council and the city to tough, short-term targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions – by 12% over three years
• Helping secure £180,000 from the Department for International Development for Climate Connections, a three year city-wide public engagement project
• Committing to introduce a network of park and rides sites at key strategic locations in the City
• Launching an impressive bid at an internationally-recognised conference to become the world’s first Urban Biosphere
• Playing an integral part in helping the city’s Food Partnership secure a grant of £500,000 over four years
• Launching a major Be Local Buy Local campaign to support local jobs and the environment.

This Council welcomes the national 10:10 campaign to persuade every sector of British society to work together to achieve a 10% cut in their carbon emissions in 2010. The 10:10 campaign is receiving growing support from a wide range of organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors as well as from individuals and households.

Therefore, as part of its continuing drive towards achieving a low carbon Brighton & Hove, this Council resolves to:
• Call on the Cabinet, as soon as possible, to sign up to the 10:10 campaign to reduce the City Council’s carbon emissions by 10% in 2010/11.
• Request that officers consider bringing a report to the meeting of the Sustainability Cabinet Committee in January 2010 outlining the measures which will be taken to attempt to achieve this ambitious goal.


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