From The Argus – full story here
The £18 million regeneration of Valley Gardens will go ahead under the city council’s new Labour leaders but big changes are expected.
The transport project put forward by Brighton and Hove City Council’s former Green Party administration has come under scrutiny straight after the local elections.
Labour leader, councillor Warren Morgan, vowed straight away to suspend the city centre scheme but yesterday he said it will go ahead with alterations.
The current five-year construction time, the council’s own financial commitments, the amount of road space and the fate of the Aquarium roundabout and the Mazda Fountain are all likely to change.
Coun Morgan said there was no prospect of the scheme being scrapped but he was not certain how long his “suspend and review” delay might take.
Opposition councillors accused the incoming Labour administration of “bluster” over their much-hyped suspension of Green projects.
Council officers are currently drawing up detailed finalised plans for the project and work was due to begin in September under the previous Green administration’s timetable.
Coun Morgan said his new administration would listen to residents’ concerns and that many had raised concerns about the current Valley Gardens plan.
More than 1,500 residents signed a petition to save the Mazda Fountain, which has been in the centre of the city for the past 80 years.
Coun Morgan said he also had concerns about limiting general traffic to just two lanes in each direction and the five year timespan for the plan’s completion.
He said: “There has been a very clear message from the public that we don’t want Valley Gardens to go on for five years of roadworks, we don’t want an open-ended financial commitment, we don’t want to see two lanes of traffic taken out or taking out the Aquarium roundabout.”
Conservative group leader, councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “A lot of what the Labour party said before the election was purely for political gain.
“I always felt that they were very supportive of the scheme and then in the run-up to the election they came up with these objections.”
Councillor Pete West, outgoing Green chairman of the city’s environment, transport and sustainability committee said the business case for the scheme had been clearly made and the project offered “very high value for money”.
He said any prospect of cancelling the project would risk Brighton and Hove’s reputation with funders as “a reliable and can-do city”.
He added: “Labour is being hasty and taking a risky and ill-thought position that is not in the interests of this city and I hope they will re-consider.”