Green party councillors have criticised Labour’s decision to abandon a ‘liveable neighbourhood’ pilot that would have reduced car traffic in Hanover and Tarner – labelling the decision a missed opportunity to lead the city towards a more sustainable and equitable future.
The pilot, which would have been the first of its type in Brighton and Hove, had previously received widespread support from Labour councillors – making the decision to u-turn on the trial all the more disappointing.
The pilot also included plans to stop dangerous rat runs up the narrow streets around Carlton Hill School. Staff and parents at the school were keen to make the area safer for children walking to school and had been in talks with previous Green councillors about how this might be facilitated.
Residents attending the council’s Transport and Sustainability Committee also raised concerns that abandoning the liveable neighbourhood plan will stifle plans to provide safe cycling routes on Elm Grove. Chair of the committee, Cllr Trevor Muten, could not commit to future safe cycling on Elm Grove being introduced soon.
Initial plans for liveable neighbourhoods were originally proposed by Labour following a request from concerned residents in the area. At the time, prominent Labour councillors spoke of expanding the concept to other areas of the city. Revised plans were due to be shared with the local community when Labour pulled funding for the project at Budget Council.
Greens have condemned the decision to u-turn on the pilot, arguing the Labour council’s stance now aligns closely with Rishi Sunak’s approach after the PM recently announced plans to review Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. This puts Labour locally way out of step with more progressive Labour authorities elsewhere in the UK, where such schemes have been introduced successfully.
Councillor Steve Davis, who represents the Greens on the council’s transport committee, said:
“Labour’s decision to abandon the low-traffic neighbourhood pilot they previous supported is another u-turn and a missed opportunity for our city. Introducing the first pilot scheme of this type in the city was always going to be difficult – but dropping it like a stone achieves nothing more than putting us right back at square one.
“Labour could be working more collaboratively with residents to address concerns and advance forward-thinking projects like these. Rather than hastily scrapping the trial, the council should have considered the consultation results, addressed valid concerns, and adapted the initiative accordingly.”
“The Hanover and Tarner Liveable Neighbourhood initiative was planned as a trial — a controlled experiment aimed at evaluating its impact and potential benefits. It was being designed iteratively by listening to residents and local businesses, with adjustments being made to consider community feedback, before funding was pulled.
“These schemes offer residents a glimpse of life without the constant noise and pollution of heavy traffic. If Labour are serious that they have a vision for lowering emissions, they need to be far more bold and champion schemes that make a proven difference.
“Labour councils elsewhere have managed to create a path to a better future for their residents. I don’t believe it is too much to expect the same for the people of Brighton and Hove.”
Schemes aimed at cutting traffic in residential areas have been repeatedly found to reduce a range of road harms in academic studies. The potential advantages are substantial: safer streets for children, cleaner air for residents, a reduction in carbon emissions, and a move toward addressing social inequalities in our community.
The Greens are relieved work to improve crossings and junctions on Elm Grove and Queen’s Park Road will go ahead. However, further improvements which were requested by residents during community engagement meetings organised by the then Green administration, including planting and greening, now appear to be off the table.
Earlier this year the Greens introduced a traffic regulation order, banning parking on Elm Grove’s verges – following a request from residents – which has improved safety.