Monthly Archives: April 2014

Seafront route could be closed for weeks

From The Argus:

subsroad

A section of Brighton’s seafront could be closed for weeks after the road collapsed into a pub in the historic arches below.

Structural engineers are working to assess the extent of the damage this weekend while a busy stretch of the A259 King’s Road eastbound remains closed off between West Street and Ship Street.

The collapse comes just months after it was revealed another section of structurally unsound arches along the seafront need tens of millions of pounds of work.

At 8am yesterday workmen trying to repair a leak at the back of the Fortune of War pub in the Kings Road Arches removed a piece of plywood on the arched roof.

Earthwork and rocks cascaded into the pub leaving a hole revealing a disused water main and the tarmac of the road about 6ft above.

When the workmen realised there was no longer anything supporting the road they ran up and stopped the traffic on the A259, where the road had sunk.

Sussex Police cordoned off the scene and surveyors from Brighton and Hove City Council and Southern Water assessed the damage.

Laurence Hill, manager of the Fortune of War, said: “We had builders working to shore up a fire exit at the back of the pub.

“They took out part of the ceiling and then loads of rubble just came down.

“It looks like there is nothing holding the road up at some points but luckily no one was hurt.”

At 11.30am yesterday morning the road was reopened east bound only for access and light vehicles, but the city remained congested throughout the day.

In a statement Sussex Police said: “Lorries and the majority of traffic are still being diverted via the B2185 Grand Avenue and The Drive, Hove, onto the A270 Old Shoreham Road.

“Westbound traffic is still being diverted north at the Aquarium roundabout/Palace Pier to follow the A23 London Road to join the A270 New England Road and Old Shoreham Road.”

Mr Hill said surveyors yesterday stripped away more of the panelling to check the integrity of the archway.

Mr Hill said: “I don’t know if there is a problem with the arch, but it looks like the builders came across some repair work done when there were still horses and carriages on the road, rather than heavy traffic.”

The pub reopened but its upper deck seating remained closed while the collapse was investigated.

A spokesman for Southern Water said: “Our engineers have been in Kings Road, Brighton, helping investigate the cause of the subsidence.

“This precautionary work included digging down to check our water mains.

“We have not found any problems with our mains that could have contributed to this issue.”

Brighton and Hove City Council executive director Geoff Raw said: “Structural engineers will be working over the weekend to assess the extent of the problem and which seems to have been caused by historic alterations to premises in the arches.

“We’re working as swiftly as possible with the police and key partners to ensure public safety and to keep the traffic moving as smoothly as possi ble.

“A contra-flow system is now in place between Middle Street and West Street, please allow extra time for journeys through this area and check the council website for updates.”

In January this year The Argus revealed the city council faces a bill for almost £80 million of repair work on the seafront – including £65 million for the arches amid fears of possible collapse.

Mr Raw’s statement that yesterday’s collapse was caused by historic alterations to premises in the arches echoes the council’s statement in January, which said: “Many different forms of construction have been used over the last 125 years to build and then extend the arches.”

A council spokesman said the extent of any structural problem uncovered yesterday would not be determined until a survey was completed.

Yesterday opposition councillors called on Brighton and Hove City Council to take urgent action.

Councillor Warren Morgan, Leader of the Labour and Co-operative Group on Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “The collapse shows how critical the condition of our most important transport arteries is.

“It is vital for business, tourism and of course traffic and major disruption will do immense harm to our city’s economy.”

He said the council knows tens of millions of pounds needs to be invested in the city’s main seafront road and called for funding to be diverted from other projects.

Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald added: “I’m quite surprised that the situation has been allowed to occur.

“It’s a very important road and I’m just surprised it’s been allowed to happen. You assume engineers are constantly checking the road.”

In response Green Councillor Ian Davey, lead member for transport, said: “We recognised immediately that emergency action needed to be taken and working with the police and others, secured the area for urgent investigation.

“Strengthening the seafront is an enormous project which in total costs many millions more than the council has – especially after years of neglect.

“We have bid many times for government funding to help meet the bill, but unfortunately these weren’t successful.

“We are however spending an unprecedented amount of council money – over £2 million a year – on rebuilding sections of our seafront. This work is vital to our city and its economy.

“It’s disingenuous for Cllr Morgan to talk about diverting funds – he knows it’s not possible as that funding has been granted by the Local Enterprise Partnership to a specific project.

“It’s not ours to spend on anything else – and if we were to try, it could be taken away from the city altogether.

“Rather than playing political football and misleading residents about this serious matter, perhaps Cllr Morgan can support the council and police officers working hard to deal with this unforeseeable incident and get the city moving again as quickly as possible.”

Owners of businesses in other seafront arches were confident that the collapse was an isolated problem.

Mike Levy, owner of the Castor and Pollux art gallery, said: “This is not the Brighton seafront falling, it is a localised incident – I am not concerned at all.”

Another business owner, who did not want to be named, said he believed if there was any real danger to their shops they would have been told to close.

Katty McMuarry, owner of Two Kats and a Cow, said: “I was concerned when I came down this morning and saw the road closed and the police around.

“The arches are old structures and we have assured by surveyors that they are structurally sound.

“We thought it was going to be a quiet day with all the rain and then this happened.”

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Play Streets dates announced

Southdown Avenue between Grantham and Rugby Roads-

Fridays 15.15-18.15 (light and weather permitting):

2 May, 13 June, 11 July, 26 Sept, 24 Oct.

Southdown Avenue between Springfield and Florence Roads-

Fridays at the same times:

16 May, 27 June, 12 Sept, 10 Oct.

Plus Christmas special 14.00-16.00 Sunday 7 Dec.

We need volunteers to help with organisation and stewarding, if you would like to be involved  please contact Sally Trelford – strelford@cat-publications.com or 017769 258425.

For background please visit the Play Streets page.

Vogue gyratory revamp to go ahead

From The Argus:

Vogue Gyratory Improvements

Councillors are set to approve plans to improve the safety of one of the city’s most notorious junctions.

The Vogue gyratory in Lewes Road, has been a cause of anxiety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians for years because of its complicated layout and traffic signals.

Now, following years of consultation, work could begin on a £750,000 redevelopment of the road within months if councillors give the final go-ahead next week.

Among the improvements that will be put to Brighton and Hove City Council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee will be the introduction of a simplified road layout and a new continuous northbound cycle lane through the current gyratory system.

The proposed plans also include a new northbound bus lane and a new “floating bus stop” at Sainsbury’s with a larger bus shelter for passengers and a bike lane.

Similar schemes have already been introduced in the new Lewes Road bus lanes.

Research carried out by the council during the consultation found that most people travelling along Lewes Road do not use a car with 34,000 people a day either walking, cycling or using the bus compared with 26,000 motorists.

Because of the layout of the current system, the junction is notorious for serious traffic jams during peak times.

The council is hoping the improvements will further reduce the number of cars going through the junction by improving safety and making bus times faster and more reliable.

It is also hoped pedestrian and cycle safety will be improved with changes to kerb alignments at the entrance and exits to the gyratory to give cyclists and vehicles more space to manoeuvre while giving pedestrians priority over traffic coming from the Sainsbury’s car park.

The plans also include improvements to the pedestrian crossing by simplifying the layout.

An original consultation in May 2012 found that 65% of residents supported improving the junction while the latest consultation produced just three objections from residents and businesses.

Ian Davey, the council’s lead member for transport, said: “There’s solid support for these measures and very little opposition.

“This junction is seen as unpleasant for pedestrians and off-putting for cyclists. It also delays buses, a particular problem, given that more journeys are made by bus along Lewes Road than are made by car.

“The measures will encourage use of public transport improving air quality, travel options and health.”

He added that similar changes made at Seven Dials have shown that improving road designs can have benefits.

If the plans are approved next week then work could begin as early as July.

Neighbourhood Watch?

Are you interested in forming a neighbourhood watch group in our area?

Why not work with your neighbours to make our area a nicer place to live where crime and antisocial behaviour are less likely to happen?

Southdown Rise Residents Association is conducting a survey to determine if there is an interest in forming a group or groups.

SRRA does not have any funds to finance groups but can canvass our area to gauge whether people are motivated to become involved.

We can establish a resource and information module on the SRRA website where members can exchange views, arrange meetings etc.

We have registered with Neighbourhood Watch & Home Watch, a national network of schemes who provide invaluable advice and information on setting up and running groups as well as free Public Liability insurance for affiliated schemes.

There is a possibility of some funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer in Sussex Community Fund if enough residents wish to become involved and can present a convincing case.

If you think you would be interested please let us have your email and street address and any comments you have about local safety and crime prevention.

You can either email or contact us via the website.

March for England and counter protest Sunday 27th April 2014

From Sussex Police:

March for England has held an event in Brighton, consisting of a march and assembly for the last seven years.

This year, the group has announced their intention to hold this event in Brighton on Sunday 27 April. As well as the march, a counter-protest is anticipated to take place.

The route of the march is considered by the partnership as a suitable location to manage the current risks involved. It will be along the coast road between the Aquarium roundabout and West Street.

This location was selected because it provides a suitable environment where people can exercise their legal right to protest.

A number of different options were considered, including large public spaces within the city, but these would be very difficult to effectively police and ensure public safety without significantly increasing the number of police officers required to prevent crime and disorder.

It is highly likely that some disruption will take place in the area of the march and we are committed to working with partners, residents and businesses to minimise disruption wherever possible.

The latest information is available on the following websites www.sussex.police.uk/protest or www.safeinthecity.info/

The Sussex Police website will be updated with live time information on the day of the march.

If you would like to have a discussion in advance of the march and counter protest, please make contact with either
Inspector Gareth Davies: gareth.davies@sussex.pnn.police.uk or communitysafety.casework@brighton-hove.gov.uk

Safe in the city
Brighton & Hove Community Safety Partnership

Brighton & Hove is a city which celebrates diversity and freedom of expression. Peaceful protest is a fundamental element of a democratic society and every year people take part in marches, protests and assemblies in the city to exercise this important right.

Public bodies such as Sussex Police and Brighton & Hove City Council have a positive duty under the Human Rights Act to facilitate peaceful protest.

Can marches be banned?

It is a challenge to balance the rights of both groups to exercise their right to protest in a safe environment. The extreme option of seeking a banning order through the Home Secretary can only be taken when serious disorder cannot be prevented with the resources and legislation available to the police.

  • Serious disorder means an escalation to widespread violent behaviour.
  • A banning order only applies to a procession; no powers exist to preventan assembly.
  • Banning orders apply for a period of up to three months to all events within a locality, they are a severe measure in relation to breaching people’s human rights.

Plans for Brighton train line celebration

From The Argus:

London Road 1200

London Road Station, Brighton, staff in 1925. Can you help identify these men?

Plans are on track for a street party and exhibition at London Road Station to mark the 150th anniversary of the Brighton to Seaford train line in June.

There will also be a guided walk around the area between the viaduct and North Laine to explore the town’s rapid development after the arrival of the line in 1864.

The London Road Station Partnership, made up of residents and train company Southern Railway, is appealing for people to come forward with memories and photographs of the area.

Organiser Elspeth Broady said: “People think of Brighton as a seaside town, but in the second half of the 19th century it was a railway town and we want to celebrate that.

“The difficulty is that this is a transient community and memories about what happened in the area disappear.”

Community knowledge

The group would like more information about the allotments, station staff and local characters, including the station’s adopted tabby cat, Somersby, who amused commuters in the 1990s.

Organisers are particularly interested in photographs which show the station when it was painted an unpopular pink in the 1980s.

Maire McQueeney, 64, an author, will lead the guided walk.

She said the famous viaduct, damaged by five German bombs in 1943, was once the focal point of urbanisation.

“The viaduct is absolutely still the defining feature of our area,” she said.

Brighton and Hove City Council is considering listing London Road Station, which was built in 1877.

The street party is planned to take place in Shaftesbury Place on June 7 with live music and food.

The London Road Station Partnership can be contacted by email at lrsp@hotmail.co.uk or by telephone on 07709 069486.

Lewes Road Triangle Parking Consultation

From The Argus:

More than a dozen streets could see new parking restrictions introduced in a matter of months.

A consultation has been launched into a proposed parking scheme within the Lewes Road Triangle following a city wide review by Brighton and Hove City Council.

Among the proposals are plans to introduce resident permit parking along Upper Lewes Road and nearby streets, introducing double yellow lines and possibly introducing pay and display machines in the area.

The council hopes the plan could help tackle double parking on the narrow streets as well as stopping drivers parking on pavements, making pedestrians walk out in to the road to get past, and improve cycle safety.

It is also hoped the plan could help traffic flow and access for emergency vehicles.

The scheme would be in place between 9am and 8pm from Monday to Sunday and provide parking bays for residents and visitors and for businesses on the affected roads.

A six-week consultation is currently taking place with residents and businesses and a full report is expected to go before the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee on July 1.

Local opinion appeared to be split when The Argus visited. Some said it would free up parking for those who needed it most while others claimed it would simply drive the problems further down the road.

Jackie Jones, who lives in Upper Lewes Road, said: “I’m not in favour of parking restrictions or permits because they just drive the problem on to somewhere else and isn’t a help at all.”

Student Flora Miskin added the only time she’s ever experienced a problem is when her parents visit. She said: “It’s probably not a good idea to introduce restrictions.”

Business owners also spoke out against the proposals. A spokesman for Deacon and Richardson architects said the yellow lines currently in place on one side of Upper Lewes Road had caused him to consider relocating his business.

Councillor Pete West, chairman of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee, said: “As with all consultations it is an opportunity for the community to give their views on the various parking problems they experience on a daily basis and allow us to find the most practical way forward to alleviate them.”