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Revealed: Business leaders behind Unchain the Brighton Motorist campaign
The Argus can today exclusively reveal the group of business leaders taking on a council over its controversial transport policy.
Lobby group Unchain the Brighton Motorist is behind a campaign attacking Brighton and Hove City Council’s 20mph speed zones and high parking charges.
The local authority claims the proposals are needed to reduce air pollution and improve road safety.
But the group, led by Brighton taxi firms with the support of many of the city’s most popular cafes, restaurants, and hotels, disagrees.
Some of the city’s biggest businesses and tourist attractions are backing the campaign, with opposition councillors sympathising with its hard-hitting views.
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The group, which also includes solicitors and accountants, describes a blanket extension of 20mph speed limits across the city as a “declaration of war” on motorists.
It supports 20mph around schools, hospitals and narrow residential streets – but not on key arterial roads.
It is calling for affordable parking and traders’ permits, and appropriate speed limits and road engineering to safely allow for the free movement of traffic.
Brighton and Hove Radio Cabs, Streamline Taxis, Brighton & Hove Private Hire Association have come forward as key firms behind the group.
The Tourism Alliance, which includes big-name businesses The Sea Life Centre, The Hilton Brighton Metropole and the Palace Pier, has also backed the campaign.
Some companies have been reluctant to come forward citing the “dirty tricks” of a Green councillor who floated the idea of a boycott against City Cabs, a firm thought to be behind the ads.
Chris Nutley, of Brighton and Hove Radio Cabs, said: “How are threats and bluster going to help a debate about these issues? Why do councillors think they can bully and intimidate anyone who has an opinion different from his own? We wanted a grown-up debate.”
Two anonymous, paid-for adverts were placed in The Argus last week attacking the new wave of 20mph speed limits with a third appearing today. Green councillor Ben Duncan asked whether the council should sever links to City Cabs after the firm was linked with the adverts.
Conservative and Labour councillors have sympathised with the campaign.
Former council leader Mary Mears, Conservative, said: “We need to evaluate how the first phase works before implementing another scheme. I would have been devastated as leader of the council to see a full page advert in The Argus criticising my administration.
“Jason Kitcat promised a meeting on the issue in December but if he really wants to get to grips with it, he needs call one now.”
Coun Gill Mitchell, environment spokeswoman for Labour, said: “We have always taken issue with the way that the Greens are implementing their blanket 20mph limit citywide.
“We support these limits in residential neighbourhoods that want them.
“But to impose this expensive so-called ‘self enforcing’ system citywide will lead to it being largely ignored.”
Restrictions on more than 500 streets were first introduced in April, with phase two proposed to expand into Kemp Town, Moulsecoomb, Bevendean, parts of Portslade, Hangleton, West Hove, Westdene, Withdean, Hollingbury and Patcham.
Main roads like Old Shoreham Road, London Road and Ditchling Road, would remain 30mph, with the consultation to run until October 4.
At the time, Ian Davey, the council’s transport spokesman, said: “The council is committed to making the roads in the city safer for everyone and we knowreducing traffic speeds to 20mph in residential streets is a practical and popular way we can do this.
“We are continuing to monitor the areas where the 20mph limit is already in place and whilst it is still early days the feedback so far has been very positive, particularly from pedestrians and cyclists.”
The Tourism Alliance backed the group and renewed calls for a park and ride scheme.
Chair Soozie Campbell said: “We are not convinced that reducing speed limits to 20mph right across the city is the optimum solution to improving road safety and there are certainly better ways to reduce carbon emissions.
“Studies have shown that if traffic is held in a slow moving queue for any length of time 30% of journeys will be abandoned.
“That means 30% fewer car loads of customers coming into the city centre at peak trading times.”
A spokesman for the Green Group said: “We have nothing to add at this time - the consultation on Phase 2 is ongoing and we continue to welcome views.
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