Over the last few years there have been many changes made to routes and driving legislation in Brighton and Hove, one way systems put in place, parking permits, police operation Casper and, lately, the lowered 20mph zone scheme. All leading the country’s leading motoring group the AA to brand Brighton and Hove’s new policies as anti-car and a “disgrace”.
The AA made the claims in response to the results of the latest census figures, which revealed Brighton and Hove car ownership has fallen by a large margin, Brighton and Hove now has the lowest number of car owners in the South East. In Brighton fewer than 20% of households own more than one car. The South East is the seventh lowest car ownership levels in England and Wales, with 40% of households owning more than one car.
In comments made the The Argus the AA said that “motorists in Brighton and Hove are being forced to abandon their cars in the face of increasing parking charges, rising fees for resident permits and other schemes targeting drivers.” An AA spokesperson attacked the council’s policies combined with rising fuel costs: “If they [the council] are forcing people out of their cars and reducing mobility and hitting low income people in particular it is a disgrace…It is saying you do not earn enough to enjoy the freedom of mobility to shop, or search for jobs, or leave the city limits.”
In contrast, Brighton and Hove council are delighted with the news of the fall in car ownership. Brighton and Hove Councillor Ian Davey, who chairs the Transport Committee, said: “These figures show that in Brighton and Hove people are choosing to travel by bus, bike or on foot and the council has an important part to play in supporting those making sustainable travel choices by providing improved facilities… Leaving the car at home also saves money, helps keep you fit and reduces carbon emissions.”
The amount of people travelling to work by bus is double in Brighton and Hove than that in the rest of England and Wales on average. 14% of Brightonians travel to work by bus and 21% walk to work – an increase of 4% from 2001. 5% getting on their bikes and cycling to work.
While over a third of Brighton households do not own a car, there has been a rise in membership of the City Car Club. With membership in the region rising to over 3000, Brighton is beaten only by the capital in membership numbers. The club has plans to increase its current fleet of 72 to 100 in 2014.
Speaking to the Argus, Vicky Shipway of the City Car Club noted the high number of commuters to London living in the Brighton and Hove area who travel by train to work as being a factor in the levels of car ownership. Shipway said: “There has been a huge demand for hybrid cars in the city – more than anywhere else. There is something about Brighton and Hove that makes the residents more environmentally aware. It is the mentality of a young, urban city. People might not own their house or flat now and also do not own a car.”
In order to join the local Brighton car share scheme you have to have been in possession of a valid driving licence for 12 months minimum and be over the age of 19 years old.