‘Reduce congestion to encourage visitors to return to Brighton and Hove’

Tourists stuck in traffic jams trying to reach Brighton could be put off from coming back, a councillor has warned.

Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion

Conservative councillor Dee Simson said: “I had the misfortune on bank holiday Monday to have to leave the city and then try to get back into the city.

“I was witnessing cars full of big families loaded up, full of gear for the beaches, umbrellas, parasols and chairs, things they can’t carry on buses and trains.

“They were just queued in traffic trying to get into the city.”

Congestion had also worsened in her ward, she said, because satellite navigation systems were sending drivers through Woodingdean rather than down the A23.

She said that the roads needed to be sorted out because of the effect of congestion on visitors and people staying over.

She told a Brighton and Hove City Council committee that successful tourism meant more people staying and spending their money in the city, supporting the local economy.

At a meeting of the council’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, Councillor Simson added: “People coming to stay for a week in a hotel, they don’t necessarily want to stay in Brighton and Hove. They may want to go out into the South Downs National Park.

“They will want to use a vehicle because they have a lot of paraphernalia, children and family and all sorts of things.”

She made the remarks as the committee discussed the Brighton and Hove Tourism Recovery Plan 2021-23.

A co-opted member of the committee, Stephanie Prior, said that fewer people should be coming to Brighton and Hove by car.

Ms Prior said that a campaign was needed to promote park and ride – to reduce the number of people driving into the city.

She also suggested more collaboration with ethnic minority groups and event specialists to “enhance the city’s identity” and highlighting the council’s anti-racism pledge.

Ms Prior said: “Many visitors come to our city for more than just the traditional seaside offerings.

“In many ways, we are more than just a fish and chips city. Many are attracted to the modernity and diversity of what the city increasingly offers.”

Green councillor Steph Powell, who chairs the committee, said that park and ride was the responsibility of another committee but it could be looked at again.

She said: “The Climate Assembly responded to being a car-free city and discussed park and ride. We do need to get back to that.”

Councillor Simson said that finding a park and ride site was a long-standing problem but it was a potential solution to the congestion problems.

A report before the committee said that the Tourism Recovery Plan included ideas such as promoting Brighton and the surrounding area through press trips and media visits.

It said that Visit Brighton also wanted to encourage tourists to stay longer and more people to come off-season.

In a normal year about 12 million people visit Brighton and Hove, supporting 24,000 jobs and bringing in almost £1 billion a year to the local economy.

The report said that businesses were being encouraged to sign up to Visit Britain’s “Good to Go” accreditation to show that they were following coronavirus guidelines.

This year, the committee was told, visitor numbers were 63 per cent lower in the first three months than in January to March last year.

At the meeting last week (Thursday June 17), Labour councillor Amanda Grimshaw praised the Never Normal Brighton campaign, highlighting the city’s diversity and quirkiness.

She said: “It is quite devastating to read about how much of a hit we have taken and so many losses.

“I’m feeling really hopeful about this wonderful recovery plan. I like that it’s based on collective action with everyone working together to get us up and running.”