Monthly Archives: September 2014

Brighton and Hove wins Europe’s top transport award

From Brighton & Hove City Council and The Argus

Brighton & Hove has won Europe’s top environmental award for policies to promote clean transport.

It was named as City of the Year in the CIVITAS Awards 2014, today (Friday September 26).

The prize is awarded each year to the city which best demonstrates implementation of ambitious sustainable transport policies.  These must show active involvement of local people, overcome challenges and help meet CIVITAS goals on cleaner, better transport in European cities.

The city council scored heavily with policies to promote cycling and bus travel, as well as offering schools, businesses and residents advice on smarter transport choices with “personal travel planning”.

Bus initiatives have included electronic real-time boards at bus stops linked to satellite tracking which show exactly when the bus will arrive, plus smartcard and smartphone ticketing,

Improved cycle infrastructure includes reconfiguring dangerous junctions such as Seven Dials and the Vogue Gyratory and a ‘floating’ bus stop on Lewes Road which prevent buses having to cross the path of bikes.  The council has also promoted cycle priority and ‘head-start’ lights for bikes at junctions and built cycle lanes to segregate bikes from fast traffic on main routes.

Elsewhere in places such as North Laine, cycle contraflow lanes have been created, meaning bikes can go either way along one-way streets, shortening journeys.

On public engagement, the council said it had consulted almost 85,000 people on Phases 2 and 3 of its roll-out of 20mph speed limits, proven to reduce the severity of accidents.  Some 70,000 people had been visited at home and offered advice on personal travel planning since 2006.

The council says such policies have led to continued growth of bus travel, with 46.4 million passenger journeys being made per year.  Numbers of people cycling to work have doubled in ten years.  Where the council has installed new segregated cycle lanes and floating bus stops on Lewes Road, in 2013, cycle journeys had increased by 14 per cent.  Road safety had improved with a yearly decline in the number and severity of accidents.

Lead councillor for transport Ian Davey said:  “These award-winning initiatives are not novel to Brighton & Hove – instead they represent best practice all across Europe.  However the difference we have made is in actually delivering best practice in Brighton & Hove, instead of the city lagging behind Britain and Europe.

“It’s immensely satisfying to have this recognised by a judging panel of renowned transport experts from the UK and abroad – and to have it recognised that we have involved huge numbers of residents in these decisions.”

City faces £102 million funding shortfall

From The Argus, click here for full story:

BRIGHTON and Hove is facing “extremely challenging” times with the need to cut £100 million from its budget over the next five years.

As central government grants are reduced by £18 million next year, Brighton and Hove City Council is facing a £26 million shortfall.

When looking ahead to 2019/20 the funding gap accumulates to an eye-watering £102.4 million – on top of £70 million already saved over the last four years.

With the Green administration’s bid to raise council tax to 4.75% rejected by opposition parties before it could reach referendum, the council is facing challenging times.

The Green party is now looking to raise council tax by 5.9 % but with this idea facing a backlash too, leaders are asking residents which services they should cut.

Where should the axe fall to save the £102 million over the next five years? Libraries, museums, parks?

Or maybe you believe savings can be made in public health, Adult social care, childrens’ services or – despite the recent problems – bin collections.

As the council starts work on setting its financial plan for the next five years, it is asking residents how they would balance the budget.

The council wants to know what you think they should stop doing or do less of, start doing or do more of, and what you would change or do differently.

Residents will be able to pass on their views of how to balance the budget with an interactive tool to be published this morning on The Argus and City Council website.

Brighton Housing Trust Annual General Meeting

From Andy Winter, BHT

This week Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) held its Annual General Meeting. We reported to our members that we returned a surplus of £59,704 for the year ending 31st March 2014, up from £18,346 in the previous year.

The Chair of the BHT Board, Joan Mortimer, in her annual report, said: “This has been a challenging year for BHT, ironing out some of the problems of the preceding year. It has been a period both of consolidation and innovation. We have a new management structure in place with a new senior management team. These teams have achieved a number of significant successes.

“Last year almost 10,000 people made use of BHT’s services and nearly 7,000 households were either helped into accommodation or helped to remain in accommodation. Without the dedication and hard work of everyone in BHT, it is impossible to imagine what might have happened to these people.”

(For more details of the numbers of people we worked with in the last year, and the outcome of our services, click here for the whole of BHT and here for the work carried out at First Base Day Centre).

Joan recognised the achievement of securing from the Big Lottery Fund the Fulfilling Lives contract worth £9.2 million over 8 years. This contract, dealing with men and women with complex needs (a combination of homelessness, addictions, mental health problems and offending histories), was secured on behalf of a partnership of 62 agencies in three localities; Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings, worth £350k each year in each locality.

She reported that BHT had also secured contracts for a new residential service for people with complex and high support needs, Shore House, and two parts of the Brighton Wellbeing service which was secured partly due to the reputation of BHT’s other mental health services.

Joan Mortimer reported to members that the Finance Department had been streamlined with new improved processes and simplified reporting to the Board, with improved cash monitoring and an overdraft facility in place.
Joan Mortimer said: “Finally, we have also seen the creation of Richardson’s Yard, shipping containers transformed into 36 new homes. On the back of this major project, BHT’s chief executive, Andy Winter, has been named as Inspirational Leader of the Year by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing magazine.

“Of course, despite these successes, BHT still faces tough challenges in this difficult climate of cuts to funding and services.

Joan Mortimer also thanked two retiring board members, Roger Brocklehurst and Rebecca Sycamore, for their service to BHT.

Opportunity to participate in the Community Conversation

Registration has now opened for Brighton & Hove residents to have their say at the first Community Conversation event at Hove Town Hall on Monday 6 October.

The event will provide an opportunity for residents to pose questions about topical issues directly to me, Chief Constable Giles York and Brighton & Hove Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp.

The debate will be chaired by The Argus editor, Michael Beard.

I hope you can make it as I’m sure it will prove to be a lively debate.

Doors open at 6pm and the event will finish at 7.45pm. Hove Town Hall is on Norton Road.

Please click here to register your interest in attending this event.

Please let me know in advance if you would like to raise a question about one of these topics or any other policing or crime issue that is affecting you or your local community. I hope to see you there.

Best wishes,

Katy Bourne

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner

Brighton rail passengers to experience ‘stealth fare rises’

From The Guardian and Brighton & Hove News:

Passengers on services in the new mega-franchise of Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) face “stealth fare rises”, with some season tickets going up by 18%, according to Labour.

The new franchise means First Capital Connect (FCC) and Southern services are merging. Labour said on Monday that where two existing franchises compete – for example, Brighton to London where FCC and Southern both operate – eliminating the cheaper fare is a condition of the new franchise. Labour said it had received confirmation that the cheaper FCC fares will be phased out, but “ministers have failed to state when and how that will happen”. Under the new franchise some commuters from Brighton to London will pay 18%, or £664 a year, more for their season ticket. Day fares on other routes will rise by up to 74%. Last week some off-peak fares were axed on some Northern Rail routes.

Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has tabled an Early Day Motion to protect rail services and jobs from the Government-backed French and German takeover of the new ‘super franchise’. Ms Lucas said:

“The new franchise threatens the livelihoods of skilled local railway workers and our services. I absolutely support today’s protests and call on the Government to review this new super franchise as a matter of urgency to ensure the protection of jobs, services and passenger safety.

“Our once thriving railways, now privatised and fragmented, are today characterised by poor services and some of the most expensive fares in Europe. They’re ripping off passengers, harming the economy and failing the environment.

“If the Government really wants to make savings and improve our transport network for all, it should accept that privatisation has clearly failed and gradually return the railways into public ownership. A publicly-owned railway system will provide quality services, fair prices and protect our jobs: a railway service we can again be rightly proud of.”

The Labour shadow transport secretary, Mary Creagh, said: “Just one week after George Osborne and Nick Clegg hammered their constituents in the north with huge stealth fare increases, the Tories and Lib Dems are at it again. David Cameron has allowed rail companies to hit commuters with inflation-busting fare hikes of more than 20% since 2010, and his government’s plans for secret fare rises in the south-east will leave commuters hundreds of pounds out of pocket.”

She added: “Labour’s plan for the railways would tackle the cost-of-living crisis and drive the biggest reform of the railways since privatisation.

“Labour will cap rail fares, legislate for a public sector operator, devolve the running of regional and local services and deliver a railway which puts passengers first, not profits.”

The Go Ahead Group, which part-owns Govia, said that the new fare levels had not yet been decided and would be decided by the government.

A spokeswoman said: “We are running the new franchise on a management basis, which means that all income from fares goes to the Government rather than to the company. As such it is up to the Department for Transport to set the fares.

“It will be up to them to decide how fast this will happen and set the fare levels, but it does mean that the Thameslink-only fares will increase at a higher rate than the Southern ones in order for them to eventually equalise.

“The rate at which the fares are ‘harmonised’ is yet to be determined by the DfT.”

According to Labour, these fares are going up

Brighton to London season tickets will rise from £3,640 to £4,304 – up £664 (18%); a season ticket from Three Bridges (Crawley) to London will rise from £2,956 to £3,392 – up £436 (15%). An off-peak day return from Brighton to London will rise from £16.40 to £28.50 – up £12.10 (74%); from Three Bridges to London it rises from £11.30 to £17.60 – up £6.30 (56%) and an anytime day return from South Tottenham to Gatwick rises from £20.80 to £31.50 – up £10.70 (51%).

Rampion offshore wind farm approved by government

A wind farm off the Sussex coast which could generate enough electricity to power 450,000 homes has been approved by the government.

The wind farm would be visible from Brighton beach, as seen in this computer-generated image

The 700 megawatt Rampion wind farm would consist of up to 175 turbines built eight miles
(13km) off the coast between Peacehaven and Worthing.

The government said the £2bn project being led by developer E.On would create more than 750 jobs.

Construction should begin in 2015 if the company chooses to go ahead.

E.On must make a final investment decision on the project and apply for subsidies from the government before building work will start.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said the decision was “great news for Sussex” and would create “green jobs as well as driving business opportunities right across the country”.

Climate change goals

Some residents and businesses have previously voiced concerns about the impact on fishing and the environment as the wind farm would be visible from areas like the South Downs National Park.

Michael Lewis, the chief operating officer for E.On Renewables, said he was “delighted” that plans had been approved.

“We firmly believe Rampion will play an important role in helping to ensure future security of supply and make a significant contribution towards meeting the UK’s renewable energy targets,” he said.

Environmental activists Friends of the Earth welcomed the decision saying it was “fantastic news”.

Cabling from the wind farm will go through part of the South Downs National Park

Campaigner Brenda Pollack also called on the government to “seize the opportunity” to support more wind farms.

“The UK’s huge wind potential could make a major contribution to our energy needs and help Britain meet its climate change goals”, she said.

However, Dr Tony Whitbread, the chief executive of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, has raised concerns about the impact it would have on the region.

He said that while he was generally in favour of the plan he was worried about potential damage caused by the route of the cabling across the national park.

Dr Whitbread also said the position of the wind farm would mean a loss of habitat and nesting sites for fish.

E.On has estimated that the site could start generating power from 2018 or 2019.

Click here for the E.On Rampion Newsletter.

From the BBC.