Despite the challenges presented by reducing budgets, the Labour-led council is pressing ahead with measures to keep our streets clean, and renew and improve the city environment. Modernising the on-street services that we all use as well as investing in good quality public open space remain key priorities. With many improvements made and more planned, we are listening to what residents say makes a real difference to the quality of life in the city.
The first of the 298 new parking machines that will take contactless card payments are being installed, new replacement communal waste bins are on order to help smarten our streets, while our Big Belly litter bins have proved to be a huge success, keeping the streets cleaner and reducing costs. New mechanised sweepers are proving more adept at coping with the narrow pavements in the city centre, but good old fashioned brooms have not been left on the shelf.
Supporting these initiatives is our much tougher approach to littering and fly-tipping that has resulted in the first prosecutions and hefty fines. Plans are also in hand to renew the city’s street lighting, with a multi-million investment in ‘smart’ LED systems that could also extend city-wide wifi.
Our work to regenerate one of the city’s greatest assets - the seafront - continues, with two landscaping projects either side of the BA i360 now well underway along with more beautifully restored seafront arches available for letting to local businesses.
In the next few months proposals for the re-designed Valley Gardens will be unveiled for public comment; a project that we hope will deliver a far more accessible open space right in the heart of the city for people to enjoy.
Looking forward, there will be further opportunities to attract funding for our public spaces, and maximise the potential for public benefit that the major developments, currently in the planning stage, can bring.
It is very easy to get pinned down in the day-to-day minutiae of running things, but having a vision for the future and working steadily to deliver it is what gets us up in the morning, and what residents and visitors can expect from their council.
Cllr Gill Mitchell is the chairman of environment, transport and sustainability committee on Brighton and Hove City Council.