DISABLED groups are angry that they were not consulted on new cycle lane schemes – despite a bid made to government claiming they were.

The controversial lanes on the Old Shoreham Road and A259 seafront Road were funded using £663,000 in government cash. 

In June, in a bid to get that central funding, Brighton and Hove City Council told the Government it had consulted on the plans with bus operators, hauliers and local groups representing disabled people “as appropriate”.

The council stated it had read the statutory guidance which states that “in making any changes to their road networks, authorities must consider the needs of disabled people and those with other protected characteristics. Accessibility requirements apply to temporary measures as they do to permanent ones”.

But The Argus can now reveal that disabled groups were not consulted until July 14 – when they were sent an email from council officers.

The Argus:

Geraldine Desmoulins, chief executive of Possibility People - the largest organisation representing disabled people in the city - said: “The council should be actively consulting, so the fact they did that after the event is unacceptable. 

“Even so, an email is not consultation.

“This is a duty that they are not following and it is so incredibly frustrating.”

Disabled groups are furious at the implementation of the schemes across the city - citing “lethal” disabled bays on the seafront and a situation where Blue Badge holders have to ask to go to the toilet in Madeira Drive.

The Argus:

The June bid told the Government that the “specific details” of the proposal were presented to “key groups” within the city. 

The council stated these “key groups” included “some members” of the Transport Partnership and the bus company but Ms Desmoulins said she was not contacted.

After the Tranche One bid had been successful and the design stage began, an email was sent to 14 organisations – including Possibility People and Pedal People “asking for feedback”. 

This was on July 14, several weeks before installation of the cycle lane on the A259 began. 

Possibility People said they only found this email when similar claims were made in the Tranche 2 bid, published on August 10. 

The Tranche 2 bid applied for £2.6m more cash for additional lanes.

Disabled people now facing 'direct discrimination 

DISABILITY campaigners are writing to the Government to request the money used to build the city’s temporary cycle lanes be rescinded. 

Brighton Access for Disabled Groups Everywhere (Badge) say disabled and elderly people across the city are facing direct discrimination as a result of a lack of consultation. 

The Argus:

Co-founder Rob Arbery said: “Due to the way Tranche One money was applied for, our members are now suffering direct discrimination and that requires fixing now and that money should be returned. 

“The planning for Tranche Two also needs pausing until a consultation is held.”

The group is shocked at the “lethal” disabled bays on the A259. Four of the new bays are sandwiched between traffic on the northern side and the new cycle lane on the southern side.

Mr Arbery, who cares for his physically and mentally disabled son Aidan, said: “There are seven disabled bays on the seafront, four of those are now potentially lethal – people face either unloading into traffic on one side, or cyclists on the other.

The Argus:

“There is 2.5 miles of the seafront and 13,500 blue badge holders in the city. 

“It is so easily fixable, but they believe the bays are safe. 

“We, however, have told our Badge members not to use them until we have seen the risk assessments”

Madeira Drive has been closed off to traffic from west of the Concorde 2. 

The Argus:

Stewards at barriers prevent unauthorised vehicles from accessing the road. 

They are allowing blue badge holders to use the disabled toilets, on the western side, following an uproar.

But they have to take their car away from Madeira Drive once they have finished.

Mr Arbery said: “The issue down Madeira Drive is that everyone with a disability now has to ask to use the toilet, as they have to ask to be able to drive down and park.

“Able-bodied people don’t need to ask to go to the toilet, that is direct discrimination. 

“Those are the only changing places – along the whole of the seafront. 

“Those bays were originally in place for specific families and elderly people who need easy access to the changing facilities, the pier and Sea Life centre.

“The ‘replacements’ are three quarters of a mile along the road.”

Badge state there have been several other changes in the city centre which are affecting disabled people, which they want to review.

‘Council is listening’ 

A BRIGHTON and Hove City Council spokesman said they are now working with disabled groups.

He said: “The council engaged at a high level on our interim Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, including with disability groups, and on the specific details of the bid with some members of the Transport Partnership and the bus company. The Government’s extremely tight timescales (eight working days) meant that it wasn’t possible to engage more widely on this emergency and temporary response to support the city out of lockdown. 

“We are committed to further engagement on these measures, as is the nature of the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order process, which gives us the chance to engage and respond to concerns while the temporary schemes are in place. These, along with our online survey responses, will be reported to a future environment, transport and sustainability committee to determine a way forward.”

The Tranche One bid was submitted under the previous Labour administration. 

The Tranche Two bid – which seeks to extend the current lanes and create more – is being submitted under the new Green administration.

Green councillor Pete West, who co chairs the environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “The Conservative Government requested that councils across the country make changes to walking and cycling on a swift timescale so consultation during the design stage could never be as extensive as we would like. However it is our priority going forward to listen to the concerns raised and make changes where we can. 

“Much of the schemes we are now implementing were planned under the previous Labour administration. In the short time since the Greens became the minority leadership of the council, I have already met with disability groups to understand more about their concerns. I have also met with active travel groups and bus companies to address some of the challenges they have raised. I am working with our transport team to explore solutions.”