Parking: the panacea antonym for Brighton & Hove

2 08 2011

At least, it is for Brighton & Hove. In general, the so-called “war on the motorist” is a complete fabrication: the cost of motor travel has grown significantly less than the costs of public transport (see here).  In larger cities though (#Brighton anyone?), there is certainly a war on parkers. Let me preface this by saying that I am strongly in favour of public transport, and, in fact, believe the best solution available to us here in Brighton & Hove is the promotion of competition in public transport (see, for example, how competition from the Big Lemon forced B&H Buses to reduce their fares).  This can best be achieved via incentivising competition e.g by providing transport subsidies to companies serving new routes (to encourage expansion) or by promoting other forms of public transport (such as expanding cycle lanes)

Neither am I opposed to paid parking in general: as you can see here, paying to park is necessary when demand outstrips supply significantly, if anyone is to ever find a space.

On the other hand, there is a detriment to the city, both to its residents, such as myself (and all other motorists), but also the wider city and its income (see: tourist tax.)  As a city earning a significant proportion of its income from tourism, I feel it is foolish in the extreme to discourage visitors from coming to Brighton.

We clearly need a review of parking and whilst the Greens are currently conducting one I feel, perhaps unfairly, that they have an equanimous view with regards to use of motor cars (e.g. their notion of introducing a city wide 20mph limit which would increase pollution as well as congestion (although 20mph zones do have  other benefits as you can see here)).

If we are to have a parking system, which we clearly need given the available road-space and population density, then we need a realistic system for handling it.  I would suggest buying out the NCP car parks so their rates can be made reasonable (perhaps scaling them down from their current rates until the purchase is covered).  Introduction of park and ride for tourists (perhaps based at the university since the bus routes from there are already in place).  Then we need to introduce an oyster card which would not only simplify our brighton-london links, our use of buses, but could be integrated with parking meters so that one pays only for the time one is parked.

This automation of parking meters could also ensure that no-one overstays their ticket (i.e. is lucky enough to miss a warden).

I will be pushing for the introduction of a Brighton & Hove extension of the oyster card, and its integration with parking meters, to be included in our next manifesto.  Let me know if you are in favour in the comments.

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Your candidate for Regency Ward

1 04 2011

I have always loved Brighton, being raised in Eastbourne.  At first I thought it was the diverse and vibrant music culture that was so appealing, but as time’s gone on I realised it is the atmosphere of tolerance and inclusion that makes Brighton & Hove such a fantastic place to be.   I truly love this city and am proud & honoured to be a candidate to represent the people on the council.

If elected, I intend to work hard to increase transparency and accountability on the council, and am strongly in favour of not only publically available but also publically accessible information- i.e. in formats that are useful and informative to the public.  I am firmly localist and am happy to be supporting devolution of power to community groups as put forward in our manifesto.

I am very keen on promoting business development- Brighton & Hove has one of the country’s most qualified workforces, and it is on us to provide the environment that will both grow local business and encourage new ones so as to make the most of that workforce.  Unemployment is a serious issue, particularly among young people, and I think we need a serious and realistic business agenda if we are to tackle it.

I believe in promoting public transport in the city (i.e. expansions of cycle lanes, more competition and incentives for buses), further incentivising & expanding our recycling programme and helping Brighton’s vibrant culture expand and improve.  Our music & entertainment scene is a true asset to the city, as is the City’s unique culture of  not only acceptance, but celebration of diversity.  It was this culture that so drew me to live here, and I intend to work hard to see that it is valued and promoted.

 





Engagement is a two way street

4 01 2011

Seems my comment over on Ben Duncan’s blog got lost somewhere, so I thought I’d repost it here, where I can ensure things don’t get…misplaced.

Hi Ben

I’ll start by saying I completely agree that it’s very positive seeing so much political engagement, but I must add I don’t think you’re really helping the situation with your commentary.

Whilst it’s true that pay freezes result in real-term losses of “real” earnings due to inflation, the VAT increase only affects luxury items and not essentials or “reduced” items such as (just for example- *public transport*- which is at 5%)

See: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/introduction.htm#4

I can appreciate you’re trying to help, but as you say- not trying to “bring the office of councillor into disrepute”- perhaps accuracy with respect to VAT is in order? I don’t think scaring people unnecessarily is helpful do you?

Equally, you’re essentially saying “the silver lining” to people’s economic suffering is that your party will gain politically? I often wonder where the green party stand beyond green issues, guess that clarifies it.

Have to say I think it’s a shame that someone who openly encourages “engagement” in political issues would miss an opportunity to engage with a voter in his city.  It’s not the first time either.





An introduction to my co-candidate

5 11 2010

Larissa is the other Liberal Democrat candidate running in Brighton’s regency ward. Check out her blog here:

I feel that perhaps before I start on my tirades on various issues I should set the scene as it were, the background to my political views and situation. I believe my political interest begun in joining LGBT forums online when I was young and getting involved in issues of and campaigns on equality that way.  I became fully politically interested at college when I chose, perhaps slightly on a whim, to study Politics and Sociology among my A levels … Read More

via Larissa’s Blog





Costs of democracy

29 10 2010

I’ve tried to avoid posting about this because it’s such a contentious issue, but this most recent letter in the Argus, and the comments it incited, is difficult to leave without response.

Now first off- the post itself- is about the accuracy, or lack thereof, in the original article posted by the paper, and the letter to that effect by one of the local Conservative Councillors (Dawn Barnett).  I have to say that I agree- the article isn’t particularly well balanced, nor does it seek to derive both sides of the argument.  What got to me though wasn’t the post, but the commentary- all about whether the actions of Smash EDO (both past and present) were justifiable.

For me, this completely misses the point, and aggravates me considerably.  I remember clearly seeing the news board outside my local Mulberry’s read: “Smash EDO policing bill to top £1m.”  Personally, instantly, I wanted to re-write that board to read: “Cost of right to protest £1m.”

Why not do it Mastercard?

Cost of policing: £1m, cost of free speech: priceless.

I hope people don’t misinterpret this post- for me the entire point is that the actions of Smash EDO are not the issue– what is fundamental is that a group is using its legal right to protest.  That legal right is fundamental to liberty and democracy, and as such is beyond price.

Certainly Smash EDO’s attitudes and the consequences of how they chose to protest can be criticised and debated, as can the choices and attitudes of the police.  I just think it’s unfortunate that people are portraying negatively something citizens of a democracy must have access to- even people we don’t agree with.





Licenses, Teas & Red Herrings

19 10 2010

In response to the recent Argus article “Opponents fight plan for city centre Brighton cafe“, I think it’s important to clarify the approach towards licensing in Brighton & Hove, particularly in the Cumulative Impact Area (CIA).

Let me open by saying that dealing with anti-social behaviour is one of the Council’s major roles in the City, and in my view, one that will only grow, not only because it is clearly the desire of the residents of the area, but for the culture of the City at large.  However, I think it is important to recognise with licensing issues that it is the implementation and the effects of it; the type of business and the intended customers that need to be considered, not the license or lack thereof.

As the commenters on the article quite rightly point out- this is a café, seeking to expand its offering and provide alcohol amongst its other beverages and food.  The objection raised is by a neighbouring bar owner (read: competitor).  I am writing this because I hope that what is clearly uncompetitive behaviour is not sanctioned in an attempt at political point scoring with respect to licensing restrictions.





Brighton & Hove Local Council

24 08 2010

I have just received my approval to run as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the Brighton & Hove unitary authority local elections in May 2011.  In an attempt to paint a picture of the current political landscape, I’ve pulled together some facts, figures & maps courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Council consists of 54 councillors  elected from 21 wards every four years via multi-member plurality voting.   The most recent boundary changes have left the city looking like this:

Brighton & Hove Electoral Wards

Brighton & Hove Electoral Wards

For a full view of which councillors are currently representing which wards, have a look here.

Year Conservative Green Labour Liberal Democrats Independent
2007 26 12 13 2 1
2003 20 6 24 3 1
1999 23 3 44 5 3

As you can see, Labour were in effective control of the council until 2003, whereupon I believe they ruled in a coalition.  Since 2007 there has been a Conservative minority administration.

I’m currently pulling together some statistics to do a realistic analysis and will post again soon.  Alas, one of the difficulties is consistency given the changes in wards.  A useful analysis would show voting trends, including turnout and voter preference, for each ward since year dot.  As it is, with regular boundary changes it is difficult to establish this.