A COUNCIL has taken its first steps to make a city centre car-free by 2023.

Today Brighton and Hove City Council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee (ETS) voted unanimously for a feasibility report into the plans.

Labour and Green group councillors in the city plan to work together to see the scheme through.

The proposal was put forward by Green Councillor Amy Heley.

The Argus:

It stated: “In January 2020, York City Council pledged to become the UK’s first car-free city centre within three years, and in 2019 Bristol pledged to become our country’s first city to ban diesel cars from entering parts of the city centre.

“Edinburgh already hosts regular car-free days and has further plans to shift away from private car use.

“Brighton and Hove City Council must take action on a similar scale.

“The climate emergency, the environmental and public health crisis caused by air pollution and dangerous roads in the city can and must be tackled by drastically reducing private care use in the city centre.

“Therefore this committee requests that a report is brought to the environment, transport and sustainability committee that explores the feasibility and costs of developing a car-free city centre by 2023 in Brighton and Hove, produced by the May committee meeting.

The Argus:

“It also requests that this report will detail costs and practicalities, rules for exemptions (for those with accessibility needs and some trades vehicles for example) and how the council’s plans to introduce an ultra-low emission zone for private vehicles in the city centre can act as a transition to a car-free city centre.”

The Green councillor took to Twitter this afternoon to celebrate after the motion was passed unanimously by councillors at the ETS meeting.

She said: “European cities such as Amsterdam and Oslo have demonstrated that a car-free city centre can be beneficial for all.

“What’s more, limiting car use in city centres makes them safer, more accessible and more attractive to visit, and brings economic benefits as a result.

“Having a greater understanding of city-centre traffic is a realistic response to the emergency of the climate crisis.

“And it offers an opportunity to deal with congestion, road safety, and dangerous levels of air pollution, which is causing a public health crisis.

The Argus:

“It’s vital that all communities in our city feel engaged and informed about what the options are – and we want to see the Labour Council explore several possibilities.

“This could include a trial in a specific area of the city, for example.

“At this stage, it will be useful for a report to help the city understand what the proposals emerging from other UK cities could mean.

"Brighton and Hove has set ambitious climate targets, and our pledge to tackle emissions is directly connected to transport use.

“We are calling on the council to explore thoroughly how we can become the next city to take positive action.”

Ahead of the meeting, Brighton and Hove’s Green and Labour groups had spoken of working together in a cross-party alliance to support the proposal.

The committee’s chairwoman, Labour Councillor Anne Pissaridou, said: “We were elected on a manifesto pledge to make our city carbon neutral by 2030.

“We have declared a climate emergency and are making progress on decarbonisation.

“But, we must take major steps to reach our ambitious target, so we are proud to work cross-party and champion a car free city centre.

“Crucially, though, this will be for the climate assembly to decide, as our residents must lead on how we combat the climate crisis.

“We will continue to listen to and work with residents, stakeholders and campaign groups like Extinction Rebellion – as we must all come together to save the planet, and the work starts at home.”

Now this motion has been passed, a report will be presented to a future ETS committee meeting that will “outline the feasibility and impact of developing a city centre that is free of cars by 2023”.

The motion will be considered by the ETS alongside a range of proposals made by the city-wide climate assembly, which is being set up in the coming weeks.

The assembly aims to “give residents their say on how the council meets its target of making the city carbon neutral by 2030”.

It will be made up of 50 randomly selected residents from the city.