Tuesday, 30 June 2020

The Battle for Madeira Drive!

Scarcely six months since the 40th anniversary celebrations of the cult film Quadrophenia in September 2019, Brighton's iconic Madeira Drive, possibly one of the most famous stretches of road in England, found itself unceremoniously closed, no warning or public notice, ostensibly to 'provide more space to exercise' under lockdown.

Come June and travel restrictions were lifted but Stewards continued to guard the entrances and exits to all traffic and the traders grew restless, demanding a meeting with the council. Meantime my partner Ollie (mod, biker, cyclist, walker and occasional driver) often cycled down there for a cup of tea and a chat with the cafe owners. He was astonished to be told by one that a council official had come to visit and advised him that the council were planning to make Madeira Drive closure permanent!

We were both shocked. How could the council even dream of doing this and when the city had just been economically crashed for three months?

No more veteren car rallies? No more Mod weekends? No more Brightona and other events?
And what about visitors? What about the disabled? What about the restoration of Madeira Terraces? We are supposed to be a resort town!

We immediately set up a petition here to re-open Madeira Drive and Ollie started a blog here, which he updates daily, detailing every twist and turn in the saga.

Amazing people started approaching us and offering to help spread the word, but it soon became apparent we were up against some dark and determined forces who were not above underhand tactics.

Various articles and letters appeared in the Brighton Argus, Ollie was interviewed for Brighton Argus, BBC Sussex Radio and Latest TV. I made a list of pros and cons below and found there were virtually no pros to keeping Madeira Drive shut!

If you would like to see Madeira Drive open again, please sign our petition here and also fill in the council's newly created consultation here. The matter will go to full council on 23rd July 2020.
Thank you. Let's keep Madeira Drive alive!

Madeira Drive Closure
Makes Momentum/The Greens happy
Will cause businesses to close down (souvenir shop already gone)
Provides more pedestrian and cycling space (though in reality, few are using the middle of the road for these purposes)
Restoring Madeira Arches would provide more pedestrian space as would re-open covered walkway, upper footpaths, slopes, staircases and cliff lift.

Losing money through:
·        Lost revenue from 393 parking spaces
·        Trader’s rent strike
·        Hiring a minimum of 4 x staff for 7 days a week to stop traffic using it.
·        No events and minimal visitors
·        Possibility of being sued by both traders and event hosts.

Discriminates against disabled, carers, visitors, bikers, scooterists and anyone who is not fit or local enough to drive or walk everywhere. Disabled have been told they have to park in Black Rock car park, a mile away!

May be used as an excuse NOT to restore Madeira Terraces or preserve unique Green Wall.

Traffic parking in Kemp Town or Hove instead, affecting residents who cannot park there.

No coach parking, particularly overnight and supporting local hotels or to take bands/equipment/audience to Concorde II

No taxi access

No through traffic, though was never much used for through traffic, but as a destination

Chicanes already in place to prevent boy racers

Not most polluting road in Brighton and no emissions studies to evidence pollution.

Permanent closure mooted without public consultation under the auspices of the (temporary) Coronavirus Act 2020 and without requisite public notice or applying for A TTRO under Road Traffic Act 1984 (currently being legally challenged by two events organisers, we understand).

Bad cycling accidents by speeding cyclists

It is naïve to assume that Madeira Drive would be allowed to lie fallow indefinitely. Once businesses are gone, it could easily be sold off to developers and lost to the citizens of Brighton and Hove as an iconic promenade and events destination forever!


gothamstar said...

Thanks to all you and Ollie are doing. Totally scandalous the current situation, misplaced green signaling and political posturing

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Thanks for your lovely comment Gothamstar. Madeira Drive is such a stunning piece of heritage. It has been sadly neglected and closed by stealth, but that must not be allowed to continue.
The events bring such life and vibrancy to the city!