COUNCIL claims about the popularity of a temporary cycle lane, which formed part of a bid for millions in government cash, have been called into question.

In a bid for funding, Brighton and Hove City Council said "the Old Shoreham Road temporary cycle lane... has seen an increase of 61 per cent in the number of cyclists using this route".

However, it has been accused of having "no meaningful data" to support this claim after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Officials responded to the FOI request saying they held no data for the route from before September 2020.

The council later clarified the figure was reached by comparing a week-long "video survey" with a "manual count" from four years earlier.

The Conservatives claim the figure of 61 per cent, which has also been used in promotional materials for the council's active travel programme, is "very misleading".

They have called on the the leader of the council "to come forward with an explanation as to how this was allowed to happen on his watch".

Conservative group transport spokesman Councillor Lee Wares said: “We have continuously challenged that the 61 per cent increase in usage on the Old Shoreham Road Covid cycle lane was unfounded.

“This new information now confirms beyond doubt that the council have no meaningful data.

“If information is still being distributed by the council that implies the cycle lane is the reason for the 61 per cent increase then that is very misleading.

“It is also shocking that data has only been collected since September, given the cycle lane has been there since May.

"Where has all the data gone and why can’t council access it, or is it simply they don’t want to?

“The council should also quickly issue a statement to clarify what it told government as it would be highly inappropriate to bid for funding using incorrect information.”

Andrew Peters, a GMB union taxi boss, made the FOI request which also revealed that the council no longer holds any data prior to August 2020 on the Old Shoreham Road.

Officials told him the website holding data for before 2018 was "no longer in operation”.

The FOI was answered after the council was reported to the information watchdog for failing to respond.

The council said the delay was due to “technical computer problems” and “subsequent software licensing issues” which have affected access to all the traffic count data it holds.

Mr Peters said: “Having been in the local taxi trade for 38 years and being a trade rep I have had a lot of dealings with the council and the many various councillors along the way where quotes and figures are used to justify a variety of projects.

“However I soon learnt not to accept such information at face value.

“If that evidence is tangible then all well and good, but if flaws are discovered in that evidence or data then it is reasonable to raise questions to seek the true facts from the fiction.

“From the information I have been provided under an FOI request this matter needs to be taken further.

I have to make the point that this is not about the pros and cons of temporary bike lanes, it is about the apparent creative writing used to justify these that needs to be investigated.”

Last year, Brighton and Hove City Council bid for government cash to expand cycle lanes across the city.

At the time, the council said this would be "building on the tranche one schemes which are already making a difference in our city, for example the Old Shoreham Road temporary cycle lane which has seen an increase of 61 per cent in the number of cyclists using this route".

A spokesman for the council told The Argus: “A seven-day video survey was commissioned and conducted on Old Shoreham Road, just east of Lullington Avenue between Friday, July 17, and Thursday, July 23, 2020.

“This survey recorded a seven-day of average of 545 cyclists travelling along this section.

“The baseline data for this site was taken from a DfT manual count which took place at this location in June 2016.

“The 61 per cent increase was calculated between these two data collections.

“Information about this survey is publicly available and was considered by our environment, transport and sustainability Committee in September 2020.

“However, with hindsight we recognise that it would have been helpful for us to have included it in our original FoI response.”