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Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth (BHFOE) has criticised the notice of motion agreed at yesterday’s Brighton & Hove City Council Full Council meeting, which has proposed free parking at a number of car parks throughout the city in the run up to Christmas

BHFOE is concerned that this could cost Council taxpayers at lot of money, will penalise the nearly 40% of households in the city without a car, will increase air pollution and congestion and could undermine public transport.

BHFOE believes that it goes against the Council’s policies on equality and will penalise the least well off in the city. BHFOE believes that if it was essential to provide incentives for people to come into Brighton & Hove to do their Christmas shopping, then politicians should have provided a transport discount to all residents that could be used on both the buses and in car parks. This would be fairer and benefit everyone.

Chris Todd from BHFOE said:

“Nearly 40% of households in Brighton & Hove do not have a car and will receive no benefit from this parking giveaway. Many of these will be people who cannot afford a car and rely on the buses to get around. Just as motorists might be concerned with the cost of car parking, bus users are concerned with the cost of bus fares. Why is there no giveaway for them or has Scrooge come early this year?

“Bus services are incredibly important for the city’s economy. They are the most effective way of moving vast numbers of people in a compact city like Brighton & Hove. If councillors want to boost trade why are they not trying to fill empty seats on the buses?

“Retailers also undervalue bus users (and pedestrians and cyclists) and always seem to obsess with car parking, which doesn’t help the situation. Yet if car parking is really such a problem, why is the city doing better than many other major shopping centres?

“However, the biggest question is how are we going to afford this? At a time of big cuts to public finances, will this mean fewer pedestrian crossings will be installed to pay for this? While we remain opposed to this giveaway, if it is taken forward it needs to be made fair and opened up so that all residents can benefit.”