During the urgency sub committee in relation to the Old Shoreham Road, councillors voted to remove the temporary cycle lane on OSR and not to implement the changes suggested originally.
What happened at the meeting
Labour’s amendment was voted in at 2-1, and so was the Conservatives. These amendments would see the whole cycle lane removed and for officers to work on alternative routes. Consideration for keeping the single carriageway section which was recommended was initially supported by Labour, however chose to remove this section as well.
What happens now?
First of all, the lanes cannot be removed immediately. Before that can happen there is a required statutory consultation which needs to take place, followed by a further committee meeting where a final decision would be made to proceed with the removal. This consultation period would need to be no less than 21 days long, which means it would be unlikely to finish before mid September, after the end of the consultation a report would need to be made to present to councillors which would take a few more weeks. This could then be presented at the Committee likely on the 16th November. However removal is unlikely to start directly after this date.
The amendment in the previous meeting suggested that the alternative cycle route (likely Portland Road amongst others) may need to be complete before the decommissioning of the OSR could commence. This would also be subjected to consultation, these options needs to be drawn up and investigated before putting to the public. It could be expected that this consultation would start and finish later than the one for the removal, however could be finished and have its report published for the meeting on the 16th November. This consultation would be 21 days long.
This new alternative cycle lane likely on Portland Road (and others) would then have to enter construction & be completed before removal of the OSR cycle lane begins, this could take several months which would see the earliest likely removal of the OSR cycle lane being in February 2022, although could realistically be as late as July 2022.
The new cycle lane likely on Portland road could use funding from the Active Travel fund, although Portland Road is technically more challenging due to extensive frontages, side roads & crossings along with on-street parking to deal with. This means that it would cost snificantly more to implement the cycle lane along Portland Road than OSR, with B&HCC likely having to use their own income streams to fund part of it.
The removal of the OSR would have to be funded by B&HCC at a sum of about £50,000.
The removal of the lane would also have consequences in the future. To begin with the quarter of a million pounds of Capability Funding (cycling training & travel campaigns) which the council had successfully bided for will be withdrawn. DtF will likely punish B&HCC further by barring or limiting access to Tranche 3 funding which could be worth more than £3 million. This may mean schemes planned in 22/23 would be delayed for a year or longer, these schemes include: Old Town, NCN20 (A23) & Marine Parade (A259) which is time sensitive as needs to be delivered with Valley Gardens Phase 3. There could also be further impacts to funding beyond the Tranche 3 timeline.
Will be actually be removed?
There are still many hurdles to jump over to actually have it removed, a stumble at a single one could let it survive as the status quo.
DtF and central government do have the potential to influence this decision. Directly threatening the council with being completely barred and having reduced funds in future years could well make councillors to change their stance and keep it, although in my view the damage is already done and B&HCC can no longer hope to get one of the largest Active Travel Fund grants in the country again.
Another major obstacle is funding. Forgetting future Active Travel Fund applications, this would cost £50,000 to remove and likely in excess of half a million to install an alternative scheme on Portland Road. The Council would have to fund this almost entirely if not entirely by themselves, it is still cheaper to retain the OSR cycle lane, even after the damage its done to their reputation and loss of a quarter of a million on Capability Funding.