THE Green Party has responded following a protest outside Hove Town Hall.

Dozens of anti-Brighton and Hove City Council demonstrators gathered outside the building on Friday to protest against changes made to the city’s roads.

The group of about 40 people said the measures, including cycle lanes on the A259 and Old Shoreham Road, were brought in with little-to-no consultation with the community.

Anti-council protesters gather outside Hove Town Hall

Anti-council protesters gather outside Hove Town Hall

A Green Party spokeswoman said: “In May 2020 the Conservative government’s ‘active travel fund’ instructed councils to swiftly reallocate road space for cycling and walking – and clarified that ‘anything that does not meaningfully alter the status quo on the road will not be funded.’

“Brighton and Hove was recognised by the government in subsequently receiving one of the highest funding awards in the country for our second round of schemes – following the first round delivered under the then Labour council.”

READ MORE: Bank Holiday weekend of 'bedlam' in Madeira Drive, Brighton

“One of the first tasks of the new Green leadership of the council was to launch a consultation on these and other schemes, reaching out to business, schools and local residents and working with local disability groups.

“We have put this into practice with the latest A259 cycle lane consultation where we have focused on having a strong conversation with our communities.”

The city-wide consultation on the road changes was launched on January 29 and closed on March 14.

The results are yet to be published.

The Green Party spokeswoman added: “In addition, the climate assembly heard from a cross-section of 50 residents, selected to represent a range of ages, occupations, and areas of the city.

READ MORE: Anti-Brighton council protesters gather outside Hove Town Hall

“They were clear in their recommendations that active and sustainable travel must be prioritised – including a request that the council introduces a ‘car free city centre’.”

The protesters at Hove Town Hall pointed to the concerns of Badge, a campaign group for Blue Badge holders in the city.

Badge previously blasted the council, alleging it failed to consult with disabled rights groups before pressing ahead with the road changes.

In a bid for Government funding, the council said it had consulted with key stakeholders in the city.

However, Badge and Possability People, the largest organisation representing disabled people in the city, said that consultation with disabled groups did not happen.

Badge said the new parking bays on the A259 were dangerous and criticised the council for removing disabled parking spots on Madeira Drive.

In response the council spokeswoman said: “We are also working to address important concerns about accessibility.

“The council has now set up an active and inclusive travel forum, that meets with important local organisations such as Possability People and we are grateful for their input.

“Changes to Madeira Drive, for example, now mean an increase in blue badge bays and there is more work to be done.”

Among the protesters at Friday’s demonstration was Jon Robinson from ASL Locksmiths.

Mr Robinson has lived in the city all his life and has been a self-employed locksmith for five years.

He said the changes were having a financial impact on his business as he was having to turn down jobs in busy parts of the city centre.

The spokeswoman said: “It’s vital the council acts to ensure safer, more accessible streets for everyone in our city. Congestion caused by traffic is a major issue as private car ownership has almost doubled since 1990 and following the pandemic, data shows increased nervousness about using public transport.

“As people often use their car primarily for short journeys, increased traffic will adversely affect those who do need to drive, like blue badge holders or emergency services.

“To help unclog our roads, people who can leave a car at home, need to have alternative, safe options to move around our city with ease.

“This is also important for our health – with air pollution described as a major public health emergency.

“The inquest into the tragic death of 9 year old Ella Kissi-Debra resulted in air pollution being listed as a cause of death by the coroner for the first time. We will all suffer if too little is done to tackle toxic emissions.”

Conservative councillor Robert Nemeth said his party believes the council has to answer questions “of competency, efficiency, democracy and accountability” over the changes.

In response the Green spokeswoman said: “It’s important residents feel able to give their feedback; and it’s clear that many residents do support these active travel changes.

“Just weeks ago, the city elected another Green councillor in Hollingdean and Stanmer, bringing the total up to 20; with Greens also coming a close second in Patcham.

“It is unheard of in the city for the ruling party to receive this sort of affirmation through by-elections.

“We know many are keen that we continue to help the city recover from the pandemic and can be proud of the strong action we are taking on combatting the climate crisis.

“All parties on Brighton and Hove City Council declared a climate emergency, so to reduce toxic emissions by 2030, we must act.”

The Labour Group said that when the first round of temporary measures were introduced, the council was under "extreme time pressure", with the government instructing councils to act “within weeks” to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians. 

However when we moved into the second tranche of measures, there was time to consult more fully and thoroughly than before, the group said.

The group added that this was why it brought forward a motion calling for a consultation of no less than six weeks before any further changes could be made to roads such as Old Shoreham road. 

Labour said it is imperative that residents across the city have the opportunity to influence the decision-making process and have their voices heard and added it was their party that set up the City Climate Assembly in order to engage with our residents.

Opposition Lead for the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee, Labour Councillor Gary Wilkinson said: "It was Labour that called for a meaningful consultation with our residents, businesses and stakeholders on the current transport changes and the potential future changes to ensure the city has their say. 

"It is now important for the council to bring forward the results of the consultation we called for as soon as is possible.  Our residents views on the existing transport changes must be listened to as well as on any future plans before further changes are made to our roads."