Deep in the political heart-land of his rival, Simon Kirby MP for Brighton Kemptown, received an ugly reception at a public meeting at Moulsecoomb Leisure centre, on Friday 13th December, to discuss the changes to Lewes Road.
Sitting alongside Robin Reed, the Principal Transport Planner of Brighton and Hove council, Simon Kirby started of the meeting by reiterating that the purpose was to discuss the Lewes road scheme only.
Setting the boundaries, Simon Kirby adopted the role of an umpire as he set out the rules to “keep comments to a minimum” and “no hogging of the time.”
Robin Reed assured a crowd of 50 local residents that he has listened to their concerns, while Simon Kirby MP reiterated he hasn’t got a magic wand to make everything alright, while Graham Cox, Councillor for Westbourne Ward, Hove, addressed the crowd and said he won’t promise to deliver “undeliverable promises”, and explained there was “No turning back” because to do so, would mean paying the money back, “We all voted for it to go ahead!” he said.
Mike Best, Operations Director at Brighton and Hove Bus Company also made a brief contribution to the meeting by praising their services as a “good thing”, while boasting of “making a huge difference”, with a 4% year on year increase, with a 7% increase along Lewes Road. “We are responding with a more reliable bus service,” he said.
The floor was opened for questions.
Jane, a local resident was the first to raise concerns of Coldean Avenue being used as a racing lane, in which she has been “knocked off twice” and been told to “fuck off” by a cyclist, before raising the issue of pollution and the raw data of the air quality systems in place.
Robin Reed tried to assure fears and said, “There are 2000 fewer cars on Lewes road,” to which the audience laughed.
Lively banter ensued and within minutes the meeting steadily got worse and worse. Simon Kirby in his role as umpire, reminded his constituents to allow speakers to speak and for people to put up their hands if they wanted to ask a question.
John, a local resident stripped away the spin and called it “morally wrong to give a whole lane to a private bus company,” to which other residents replied, “They’ve been brought.”
The question was firmly put to Robin Reed, “Are you adamant that you won’t be change anything,” to which the answer was an equally adamantly, “We are not looking to change the scheme in it’s entirety.”
Lots of Hands Up.
The meeting quickly turned into chaos as Duncan Blickhorn, chairman of Lewes Road for Clean Air group, took the mike and wouldn’t let it go.
Ignoring the rule not to hog the time, Duncan launched into a tirade of the benefits of riding a bike, over driving a car, and why the scheme is a good idea.
“Bikers should be put under a wheel and squashed,” one resident remarked.
With shouts of “let other people speak,” Simon Kirby rose again to remind everyone that he hadn’t “given up his Friday night to argue with people,” to which a resident curtly replied, “We (the people) gave up our time, you get paid, we don’t.”
Resident concerns include:
- Lack of respect from cyclists.
- Cyclist not sticking to the cycle lane.
- Cyclists not using lights.
- More safety for cyclists.
- Brighton and Hove Council and Brighton and Hove Bus Company not listening.
- Static traffic and air pollution.
- Cost of bus travel, makes it cheaper to take a car.
- Nightmare for taxi drivers.
- Long tail-backs during peak times, with up to a 25 minute wait to drive through a junction.
“Give us our Bus Lane Back.”
In response to a comment from a resident that the price of £10 for a family to use the bus was simply too high, Mike Best replied:
“We are currently offering a special price of £9 for two adults and three kids.”
Arguing that fuel and insurance increases mean bus prices stay high, Mike Best rubs salt into the wounds of cash strapped residents, by saying that to safe money on bus travel is to “pay for tickets with a key card or mobile phone card.”
The Ghettoisation of Brighton.
Such high prices being forced on hard-working-class people, to pay for increased fuel tax and insurance, demonstrates an attack on the pocket of the common man, to line the pockets of the elite few.
Matt Taylor, who wants to be MP for Brighton Kemptown in 2015 warns of a ghettoisation of Brighton, in which sub-cultures will develop because people can’t afford to travel outside of their neighbourhood.
One resident complained, “You have pulled our pants down and put a cock up our arse.”
Simon Kirby MP, deflected any and all criticism of the scheme by referring to his fall-guy, Graham Cox.
Introducing Graham Cox.
Its worthy of note that when approached by Matt Taylor, in his capacity as the Shadow Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Graham Cox denied all knowledge of making a comment about Katy Bourne. See source.
The conversation went something like this:
MT: Hello Mr Cox, its good to finally meet you.
MT: I can’t believe you said “even her opponents agree that Sussex made a good choice” in your recent blog about Katy Bourne.
GC: Ummmm, I don’t know what you mean?
MT: You wrote in your blog that even Katy Bourne’s opponents think Sussex made a good choice in voting for her, when it’s clearly untrue.
GC: No, I don’t know what you mean?
MT: You are Graham Cox right?
MT: You wrote a blog about Katy Bourne right?
MT: And you don’t remember what you wrote in its opening sentence?
GC: No, err, yes
MT: Well let me remind you, you said that “even her opponents agree that Sussex made a good choice in choosing Katy Bourne,” which is untrue because I am the Shadow Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, I am Katy Bourne’s opponent and I think she should resign!
Read Katy Bourne’s first year in office by Matt Taylor here.
It makes you wonder?
Now keeping in mind Graham Cox was a policeman in Sussex Police and earned the rank of Superintendent, it beggars belief that he makes decisions on our behalf, and cannot remember what he said only ten days ago. Typical of a politician to conveniently forget.
“Where’s the Justice?”
The meeting ended on time and lived up to it’s billing as an opportunity for constructive debate. The general message from the residents was clearly expressed:
“Give us our road back.”
Simon Kirby set out his position with, “The scheme could be improved in areas.”
“What we need is a new train station for Moulsecoomb.”
Matt Taylor, the prospective member of Parliament for Brighton Kemptown and Simon Kirby’s main rival, proposed that in light of the massive injection of cash coming into the Moulsecoomb area, citing the recent develops of Preston Barracks, the Keep and the proposed 5 star hotel and Bridge centre, that the Kingspan recycling cite at the bottom of Moulsecoomb way, should be redeveloped and turned into a new Moulsecoomb train centre, taking local residents directly into the heart of Brighton, faster and cheaper than using the bus and car.
He said to residents, “Moulsecoomb needs a new train station to accommodate local residences and university students. This is the perfect opportunity to pull out all the stops and make Moulsecoomb the best place to live in Brighton.”
Davy Jones, the Green Party candidate was present at the meeting, while Nancy Platts made her own statement by her absence.