Brighton is considering a plan to ban cars from its centre, as local authorities grapple with the push for cleaner air.
Next week Brighton and Hove city council is set to vote on a blanket ban of private vehicles in a bid to influence nationwide net zero emissions by 2050.
“The climate emergency, the environmental and public health crisis caused by air pollution, and dangerous roads can and must be tackled by drastically reducing private car use in the city centre,” the Green Party proposal reads.
Research suggests that up to 54 people living in Brighton centre die early each year from the effects of nitrous oxide emitted from cars.
The Labour-led council has previously vowed to take radical steps to tackle air pollution, but told The Argus earlier this month it has “no current plans to ban any type of car from the city centre.”
Concern over impact
The proposal has divided residents.
Neil Reggae said: “Driving in Brighton is daft. You’re in a queue for ages and there’s nowhere to park when you get to your destination. Plus the air quality is dire thanks to the slow-moving traffic clogging up the town.”
But Justin Hill, another resident, said of the prospect of the ban being introduced, “just watch how fast the shops and restaurants start to close down.”
Others are worried that those with disabilities could suffer. “Car-free city centres are a nightmare for disabled people: they are cut off from shops, cafés etc unless there is a frequent, free, electric ‘golf cart’ system or permitted access to cars and taxis,” said Alex Tulip.
However Green councillor Amy Heley, who is behind the proposals, told The Argus: “I have always made it clear that people with disabilities should be exempt.”
Wave of councils sign up
It is the latest attempt by local officials to lower carbon footprints. Birmingham city council pledged to ban cars from travelling through the city centre last week and introduce a 20mph speed limit, while plans for a ban on private cars have passed in in York.
Bristol city council announced in November that it was becoming the first UK city to ban diesel cars from its central region, but had already spent £2.7m purchasing a new fleet of vans that use the fuel.
Neighbouring Bath recently approved plans to charge lorries and coaches £100 to enter the city, after concern at frequent busloads of tourists causing damage to its famed limestone structures. Taxis and private hire vehicles will be charged £9, while private cars will go uncharged.
Oxford is planning to charge drivers £10 or more to enter a “zero-emission zone” city centre, with Cardiff trying to enforce a £2 daily congestion charge on visiting vehicles.
Central London rolled out an ultra-low emission zone last year which saw pre-2006 petrol and pre-2016 diesel cars charged £12.50 a day for entry, cutting toxic gas by a third.