Into the Valley – the Green Party’s other costly legacy

Valley-Gardens-proposal-southern-sectionWe all know that last year the Green council, with support from the Conservative group on the council, voted through a 25 year loan of £36 million to the i360 project, against Labour opposition. That is a legacy to the council and the taxpayer that we have to live with, and hope that the project is a success. However, it is not the only legacy the outgoing Greens are leaving us with.

This week, in the dying days of their council administration, the Green Party is seeking to tie the council to a £20 million + five year project that would use all the available transport funding for the lifetime of the next Administration. It would condemn the city centre around the Old Steine to five years of roadworks. It would turn Valley Gardens – the area from St Peter’s down to the Aquarium roundabout – into an enormous park, at a time when the council is having funding for parks maintenance cut to almost nothing.

It would halve the road capacity of the major route from London on to our seafront, at a time when we are planning several major new developments and attractions there.

It would remove the Mazda Fountain and the Aquarium roundabout and replace it with an unworkable junction – despite assurances that it would not. It would bring in £14m of government funding, but the council would need to match 25% of that with its own money – money the council does not have. It is a project that has already cost the council £2 million at a time of unprecedented cuts.

The area does need better pedestrian access and cycle routes, and Labour pushed for improvements in 2006 when “Urban Realm” funding was available from the Labour government, but spending £14 million on a five year scheme is going too far.

All this at a time when the A259 seafront road, seafront arches and Madeira Terrace is literally crumbling onto the beach. All this at a time when more road capacity is needed to service the seafront, new shopping centre and new seafront arena – as well as the i360 – not less.

Make no mistake, this is a Green vanity project on a scale not seen before, a legacy of unfunded and unsustainable roadworks that will cripple a new administrations ability to do anything. That they have duped the Conservatives into supporting it – as they did with the i360 – is breathtaking. The Local Enterprise Partnership had concerns but these were dismissed by the Greens, who have built just 3% into the funding for “optimism bias” cost overruns, when the standard expected in major projects is 25%.

A Labour council under my leadership would immediately suspend all work on the Valley Gardens scheme, review whether it can be afforded or completed, and whether any of the funding can be used on what is surely our priority; Brighton and Hove seafront.

UPDATE: the Greens and Conservatives voted to move the scheme to the next phase at the final Environment and Transport Committee yesterday (17th March). Work will begin in September.

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10 thoughts on “Into the Valley – the Green Party’s other costly legacy

  1. I have voted Conservative all of my voting life, but now noting that my Party has once again descended into madness I have to question my loyalties. We have all witnessed the “RAPE” of once proud Brighton & Hove by this apparent “Green Party” and to think that the Conservatives are actually voting with these creatures is astonishing. Councillor Theobold what would your Father think of these Conservative actions.

  2. I’m not especially a Green supporter but I dislike that they are blamed for everything without justification. Are Labour not in favour of improving our environment and the main tourist gateways to Brighton (around the station, Grand Parade, London Road)? This post is sad, manipulative, negative election propaganda.
    – The Greens have only 20 out of 54 seats on Brighton & Hove Council and hence cannot have a legacy. Council decisions are the joint responsibility of at least two political parties.
    – According to this article, Conservative councillors are not responsible for their own decisions and have been ‘duped’ by, the Greens. Really? The Greens must have some persuasive and attractive arguments?
    – This project will cost the Council about £3.5 million (a further £14 million will be paid by central Government if I understand you correctly). The article implies this is the entire transport budget for 5 years. In fact, it is less than 1% of the 5 years’ £4 billion Brighton & Hove Council budget (£200 million for transport, parks & leisure etc). About £20 million is collected from parking alone each year.
    – Seafront structural repairs appear to have been going on continuously over the last two years?

    1. They are not “blamed for everything” but do have to take responsibility for their actions, policies and decisions. We have backed improvements where they are needed, appropriate and affordable.
      Strange that you use the defence that the Greens can’t be blamed for anything because they have never really held power in Brighton and Hove, which appears on their webste. For two years they had unfettered Cabinet power, and until they had to expel two cllrs and lost a by-election they had 23 seats. Being minority administrations did not stop the Greens laying blame for everything at the door of Labour 2003-7 and the Tories 2007-11. They decide what comes to committee, what is done under delegated powers, how the Budget is set.
      – Duped? Have you watched/listened to our Tories?
      – As the Greens have said many times to justify their eye-watering increases in parking charges, most of the income goes towards bus passes for older people. That’s why they are borrowing millions from the transport budget over the next two years to pay for their vanity schemes now.
      – Seafront structural repairs have been going on for a year – to allow for construction of the i360.

      Not “especially” a Green supporter? https://www.facebook.com/brightonhovegreens/posts/10152381677410127

  3. Thank you for your reply Warren.
    I’m surprised in your role as, Group Spokesperson for the, Policy & Resources Committee that you are not aware of the extensive structural seafront repairs reported in The Argus here?…
    http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/11752178.Brighton_seafront_repair_work_to_be_finished_by_the_end_of_the_month/?ref=mr
    2. You say, The Greens had “unfettered” power when they have never had a majority on the Council? Maybe I misunderstand how democracy works in the Council? Can you explain?
    3. Not sure what your purpose was in selectively providing the fb event link I posted? As I stated I am not especially Green voter and usually vote Labour. I do though help organise a monthly event to support Brighton’s Migrant English Project which helps migrants integrate and become more productive in our city. Something I’m sure you support. And yes, I market the event extensively including on The Green Party fb page, Vegan Brighton (though I am not a vegan), and on your own Labour Party fb page which you kindly allow.

    Linden

    1. Our council operated under a Cabinet system between 2008 and 2013. Cabinet members had full executive power to make decisions, without opposition councillors being able to vote on them, for the first two years of the Green administration. The Greens agreed – unanimously – to return to a committee system in 2012 where opposition councillors again had a vote. They retained a majority on the two most powerful committees – Policy and Resources and Environment, Transport and Sustainability, until they lost a by-election in 2013. Committee decisions cannot be overturned by full council. So the idea that Green-initiated measures have been outvoted is false.

  4. Thanks Warren for the clarification but the point remains, the i360, and this Valley scheme have been agreed by at least two political political parties and hence cannot be Green legacies. And let’s not forget…

    LABOUR PROPOSED THIS IN 2006…
    Labour originally proposed a similar scheme in 2006. Why have Labour changed their minds?

    You say, “COSTLY LEGACY”…
    It’s less than one million per year (£700k) from the Council’s £800 million budget. So in fact this excellent scheme will make a green walkway from The Level to The Pier and is financed by central Govt. who will pay £14 million over 5 years while local taxpayers will pay only £3.5 million. That’s way less than one million each year. For me this would be a great legacy for the Green’s to have.

    So I’m sorry Warren but for me your article is pure anti-Green electioneering that deliberately misleads the public by emphasising a £20 million price tag when in fact it’s an excellent and cheap opportunity to create an attractive Green walkway. This is sad and to be honest, makes me more inclined to vote Green this time.

    1. I’ve never argued that the i360 loan and Valley Gardens were solely down to the Greens, you are right neither would have happened without Tory support. You are right that Labour did propose improvements to Valley Gardens in 2006, using Labour Government Urban Realm funding – this is a much more ambitious scheme costing a lot more money over a longer period, with an open-ended financial commitment on maintaining the paths, cycle lanes, park and more.

      It’s only a million. From a council budget that is being cut by £100 million. People are going to lose their jobs, services are going to be cut, vulnerable people are going to suffer – and yet you and the Greens want to spend £18 million on this.

      Tood right this is electioneering – I’m trying to win an election against the Greens precisely because they can’t be trusted to run our city or look after its finances. You can vote for them and their “attractive Green walkway” but that is so far removed from the needs of people living in poverty in our estates that it makes me angry.

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