Monthly Archives: March 2015

Brighton and Hove is the fifth worst congested in the country

From The Argus

Commuters in Brighton and Hove lose 68-hours a year in evening rush hour traffic, according to TomTom.

The city is the fifth worst congested in the country according to a report by the sat nav company – behind only Belfast, London, Edinburgh and Manchester.

Peak-time journeys in Brighton and Hove take 59% longer than they would in free flowing traffic.

On average all journeys nationwide took 29% longer than they should and in Brighton and Hove they take 34% longer.

Congestion levels in the city have also got worse since TomTom carried out the same survey last year.

The percentage figures are calculated using an estimated journey time of 30 minutes.

Worldwide, the worst city was Istanbul, with average journeys taking 58% longer than in free-flowing conditions, rising to as high as 109% in the evening peak.

Mexico City was the second-worst city worldwide, followed by Rio de Janeiro.

Ralf-Peter Schaefer, TomTom Traffic vice-president, said: “Road authorities and local governments can use traffic data to better manage traffic flow and businesses can plan smarter working hours, so their employees avoid travelling during the rush-hour.”

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Grant for scheme to reduce congestion

From The Argus

Brighton and Hove City Council has secured a £1.83 million grant to help fund a transport scheme that aims to reduce congestion and improve road safety.

The money, awarded by the Local Transport Body of the Coast to Capital LEP, will be spent on traffic management systems for “smoothing traffic flow” and making journey times “more reliable”.

Cash will be spent on traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and variable message signs for travel and car park information. The total cost of the project is £2.1 million.

The scheme is designed to help the city cope better with unexpected incidents and problems on the network, all while reducing air pollution caused by queuing traffic.

Councillor Ian Davey, lead member for transport, said: “Once again we have been successful in achieving funding for our transport infrastructure. Technology is developing all the time and we want to harness the very latest for the benefit of all our road users.

“This is great news for people however they travel and we have a wealth of expertise in this area, being pioneers of the live bus stop information system and ‘talking bus stops.’ We can harness this technology to provide people with instant information about anything affecting the network, such as traffic incidents or availability of car parking spaces and respond better to traffic incidents to ease congestion quicker.”

Although not part of this bid, the city council is also investigating the use of on-street parking ‘sensors’ that could alert drivers to where there are available parking spaces.

Blakers Park Easter Monday Fun Day

Monday 6th April 2015

Roll up, roll up – for the Easter Funday, including, of course, egg rolling.

Sign on from 10am, bring your own hard-boiled eggs, decorated if you wish, and enter them into the egg-rolling contest which starts at 10.30am. Only 50p an egg – with prizes.

Then try to find the hidden treasure of Blakers Park  in this very special Treasure Hunt – 50p an entry.

Adults will be warmly welcomed if they can lend a hand. Send us an e-mail to show willing.

Boris bikes scheme coming to Brighton and Hove

From The Argus

A Boris bikes-style scheme is set to come to Brighton and Hove after the announcement of a £1 million government award.

The shared bike scheme would see 430 bikes available from 50 docking stations across the city, from the marina to Portslade and along the Lewes Road to the universities.

It is hoped the plan would eliminate around 300,000 car journeys a year from the city, helping reduce congestion, improve air quality and speed journey times.

Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) agreed the funding at a meeting today.

It is expected the service will be operational by 2016/17.

Total costs would be £1.4 million, with £1.16 million coming from the LEP grant, plus a further £290,000 from “local sources”. This would include an initial £60,000 from the council.

A condition of the grant says there must be no further public subsidy.

Around six staff would be required for the scheme, which would be run as a social enterprise, offering training and apprenticeships.

Brighton and Hove City Council said around 46% of households in the scheme area do not own a car.

Yet research has shown a main reason people do not cycle is that they do not own a bike – about half of households do not have one.

It is intended the scheme would help link existing or planned major employment sites and housing such as Circus Street, the i360, the proposed Brighton Waterfront development, Valley Gardens and Preston Barracks.

For tourists it would provide quick links between the stations, seafront and key attractions. Future expansion could offer access to the South Downs National Park.

The council has estimated the scheme would bring benefits for road safety valued at £19,000 a year, £147,000 for health, £33,000 on absenteeism, plus other benefits for users valued at £447,000 a year.

It is also hoped it will tackle physical inactivity which costs local health services over £3 million a year.

The project is backed by public and private sector partners including Southern Railway, both universities, Regency GP surgery, the city’s public health department, Brighton and Hove Buses, Velo Café and the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership.

Lead councillor for transport Ian Davey said “It’s wonderful that the Local Enterprise Partnership have agreed to provide over £1 million towards the start-up costs of a public bike share system for the city.

“The idea has the support of the local business community who recognise the economic benefits it could bring and our partners in health who recognise the health benefits of more active travel.

“We will now work with the LEP to start the procurement process to find the right partners to run a successful system for Brighton and Hove.”

Dr Rachel Cottam, sustainability lead at the local clinical commissioning group said: “This is fantastic news for the citizens of Brighton & Hove – and for the local health economy.

“Exercise really is the ‘magic pill’ – just 15 minutes a day can help prevent heart disease, some forms of cancer, depression and dementia.

“There is also strong evidence that people who use ‘active travel’ are less stressed and less likely to take time off work, but exercise is of value for people of all ages.

“We hope that the bike share scheme will help the people of Brighton and Hove stay healthy.”

Nigel Lambe, chairman of Velo Cafe said: “I am delighted that the Local Enterprise Partnership has agreed to invest in a bike hire scheme for Brighton and Hove.

“We have been working on the business case for the hire scheme for over a year and I have discussed the concept with many local businesses.

“It is clear that the scheme has proved very popular with the Brighton business community.

“It will make Brighton a better place to live and a better place to work and also give further assistance to the hospitality trade by making Brighton and Hove a better place to visit.”

Exact details of how the service will operate and hire costs are yet to be announced.

Schemes elsewhere typically involve users swiping a credit or debit card through the docking station and following on-screen instructions to release the cycle.

Bikes can be returned to any docking station, where they are automatically re-locked into position.

Viaduct Road Traffic – update and reactions

London Road Area Local Action Team

During 2014 we had repeated complaints from residents about the unfriendly and unsafe condition of Viaduct Road – detailed elsewhere on the website.

As part of this we had been looking at measures to calm the traffic , which, so we were told, sometimes reached 50mph on a residential street some 400m in length. Over three meetings, December, January and February 2015 we considered various option and possibilities. We were told that money was going to be tight – but that the Council would try to do what it could to help the residents.

True to their word the Council team re-cycled some planters to produce ad-hoc traffic calming. The adverse reaction was intense – from coverage in local media even up to (?) the Daily Mail.

You can read the adverse responses at your leisure, and for the sake of balance there is also a radically opposing view…

View original post 61 more words

Moving to make Brighton and Hove a City of Sanctuary

From The Argus – full story here

SOME of the most traumatised and vulnerable victims of Syria’s devastating civil war are set to find refuge in Brighton and Hove.

Orphaned children, torture victims and women subjected to sexual attacks in the war-torn Middle Eastern country will be offered an escape route from their nightmare by starting a new life in the city.

Councillors are now pushing for Brighton and Hove to be officially recognised as a ‘City of Sanctuary’ to mark the area’s proud history in supporting victims of persecution.

But elected members concede the city’s attempts to help refugees are being hampered by a shortage of affordable housing.

Green councillor Leo Littman, who has raised the motion, said there was still a “great deal more” the city could be doing to welcome refugees, and hoped the city could accommodate more victims of the conflict, which has now entered its fifth year.

He said: “We have taken in people from communities where they have been forced to flee their homes in the past and currently the most critical situation is Syria so we have agreed to accept a small number of households.

“These are the most extremely vulnerable – orphaned children, victims of sexual violence, those needing specialist hospital treatment and torture victims.”

Half of Syria’s 23 million population have been forced from their home and 200,000 people have been killed since war broke out in 2011.

The UK, while offering more than £700 million in humanitarian aid, is lagging behind other countries in offering refuge for the victims of Syria’s internal conflict and charities such as Amnesty International have been urging the Government to do more.

So far the country has taken on about 150 refugees compared to Norway and Sweden who have taken in around 1,000.

The biggest burden and pressures have fallen on Syria’s neighbouring countries with 97% of the country’s victims fleeing to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

Coun Littman said: “Given our history and the role that we have played in last few decades in the Middle East, it is regrettable that we have taken in so few people in so far and now is the time for the Government to act a bit quicker.

“Other European countries and other Middle Eastern countries have taken in huge numbers of people, we could be doing more than we are.”

While the numbers of refugees the city will accept is dependent on the cooperation with central Government, Coun Littman is hopeful that gaining the status will send out a positive message at the very least. He added: “I’m not sure if getting the status will make a huge difference in speeding up the process but it’s a good way to raise the flag, to say this is how we as a city see ourselves and how we feel we should be behaving.

“It may help us to work more closely with other local authorities which already have this status.

“I’m hopeful that councillors from all parties will support the motion, we are trying to help out the most vulnerable people on the planet so I hope everyone can get behind that.” A Parliamentary briefing paper on the UK’s support to Syrian refugees published at the start of the month said that there is pressure for the UK to accept more Syrian refugees as the crisis “gets ever deeper”.

Until January last year, the Government’s policy was to be “generous with humanitarian aid” to Syria’s neighbours rather than to accept large numbers of refugees.

But just over a year ago Home Secretary Theresa May announced the establishment of the Vulnerable Person Relocation Scheme.

Those resettled under the scheme are granted five years humanitarian protection and given access to public funds and the labour market.

The Government expects several hundred refugees to arrive over the next three years with the first group of up to 20 arriving in March last year.

Syrians can also claim asylum to the UK while the Home Office has extended a temporary concession allowing Syrians in the UK to apply for an extension to their visa or switch into a different visa category until February 28 next year.

Last year there were more than 2,000 asylum applications from Syrians, the third biggest nationality for asylum applicants after Eritreans and Pakistanis, with 86% of applications granted.

Culture of hospitality

CITY of Sanctuary is a movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK.

Organisers hope to create a network of towns and cities throughout the country which are proud to be places of safety, and which include people seeking sanctuary fully in the life of their communities.

The movement began in October 2005 in Sheffield and within two years it had become the UK’s first official City of Sanctuary.

Since then, organisers have supported the development of more than 30 other City of Sanctuary initiatives in towns and cities across the UK.

Swansea became the UK’s second official City of Sanctuary in May 2010 following the support of more than 100 community organisations and Swansea City Council.

The group hopes to establish a national network of cities to promote a more just and humane approach to people seeking sanctuary in this country.

City has a solid history in welcoming the needy

COUNCILLOR Leo Littman hopes to achieve the City of Sanctuary status in part to recognise the role the city has played in welcoming in refugees down through the years.

Concrete evidence, or at least red brick evidence, of one of an earlier wave of refugees can be found in Queensbury Mews – the only French Protestant Church in the UK outside of London until its closure and conversion into a house in 2008.

Huguenot teachings were first brought to Brighton in 1548 by a French-speaking Flemish man called Deryck Carver who fled to Sussex to escape persecution for his Calvinist beliefs.

Mr Carver also formed Brighton’s first brewery, the Black Lion, but unfortunately his respite lasted only so long before he was martyred by Queen Mary I for holding bible reading sessions.

The church itself was built in 1887 and cost more than £1,500.

The first recorded Jewish settlers arrived in the 1760s and the first synagogue was built in 1792.

After the Second World War, Brighton became a port of call for leading supporters of the state of Israel to make speeches and rally support for the fledgling state, including the state’s fourth prime minister Golda Meir, who made a speech at the Royal Pavilion in 1950.

Among many notable Jewish refugees in the city’s history is Rabbi Erwin Solomon Rosenblum of the Brighton and Hove Reform Synagogue who fled to Sussex in 1939 and whose family died at Auschwitz.

In more recent times, 80 members of the Oromo tribe came to Brighton and Hove as refugees in September 2006 through the Gateway Programme Protection arranged by the Home Office.

The tribe were forced to flee persecution in Ethiopia and came to the city from a refugee camp in Kenya.

Eleven children from the persecuted Ethiopian ethnic group started lessons at Hove Park School from October 2006.

Six years later, a special mayoral reception at Brighton Town Hall was held to celebrate their integration into the city and their newly received eligibility to apply for British citizenship.

The city also offered a safe haven to Sudanese refugees in the 1980s and Somalians in the 1990s.

Hundreds of Kosovans were airlifted to Sussex from squalid camps in Macedonia and Albania in the wake of violence breaking out in the fledgling Balkan state.

‘Huge housing pressure’

WITH the best will in the world, the number of refugees Brighton and Hove can accommodate is limited by housing shortages and the wishes of central Government.

With more than 20,000 local residents on the housing register, there is not an abundance of affordable housing that they can be rehomed into.

The council is also reliant on the Home Office allocating refugees to the city and by the end of last year, the country had accepted just 143 refugees in total.

Coun Littman said: “It’s difficult to take on refugees in large numbers because of the pressure on housing in the city.

“We are restricted in taking on a relatively small number because of the number of available social housing and housing association properties.

“It would be impossible really to house anyone in the private sector at the current market rates.

“It’s one of those chicken and the egg situations. We need to be able to offer people housing before the Home Office can confirm how many people want to come to Brighton and Hove so it needs a bit more joined up thinking.”