Proposed new Police powers to combat nuisance in Kings Heath

There are various nuisance behaviours which have been giving concern on Kings Heath High Street and in Moseley Village. Currently these areas are part of an Alcohol Restriction Area. The City Council and Police are proposing to replace this with a new Order under recent laws to pick up a wider number of problem behaviours. This Public Space Protection Order would give the Police additional powers to stop harassment, verbal abuse, threats of violence, carrying open bottles or cans of alcohol, possessing or using “intoxicating substances” (mainly drugs) and making graffiti. Views from the public are being sought  by Friday 11 March 2016.

The widening of Police powers to intervene under this Order is likely to be warmly welcomed by the Forum. However, there is concern at the drafting of certain sections. We are likely to suggest some changes to make it clear that it does not prohibit peaceful gatherings and peaceful protest, that “verbal abuse” is defined, that it does not prohibit the collection of empty cans, that it does not prohibit “authorised” graffiti and that reasonable cafe style outdoor drinking on privately owned spaces or organised events (e.g. the Hare and Hounds, the Village Square, Street Fair, etc.) is not prohibited.

The public have to be consulted before this Order can be made so your views are important.

To have your say in support or against this Order by Friday 11 March 2016, go to the Birmingham Be Heard website.

Also see more information about the consultation and the full details of the Order (pdf).

Please feel free to let us know your views in comments on this blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Ken Clayton and Tom Tierney

Objections to Lidl planning application

The Forum has lodged an objection to a planning application announced by Lidl. The multinational supermarket giant wanted to replace the current Silver Street store with a new, and much bigger building. Lidl is a low-cost supermarket, so it is important to many Kings Heath residents but the plans raised serious concerns.

One of the most important was concern about increase in heavy goods traffic. The company denied that there would be any increase in the number of juggernauts turning into Silver Street. However, it is difficult to see how such a claim could be made. The new store shown on the plans would have been bigger than the existing one so it would need more stock. It was clearly designed to attract more shoppers. That would have meant more sales and therefore there would have to be more deliveries.

The only way to cut the number of lorries arriving would have been to use even bigger vehicles.

This, in turn, would have made congestion in Kings Heath even worse. In addition, these extra lorries would add to air pollution which has already made the High Street the fourth most polluted street in Birmingham. (Birmingham’s most polluted roads)

The Forum also raised concern about parking. Lidl has already bought the nearby car park from Birmingham City Council. The company has attracted criticism recently for the way it tries to enforce parking fines. In some places it is alleged to have provided 10-minute free parking. However, anybody overstaying their time is hit with a £90 fine. There are already proposals to take parking off the High Street. Losing this 102-space public car park will be a major blow for shoppers in Kings Heath.

The proposed building would be considerably higher than the existing store. That would be bound to affect local residents as would the increased traffic and other matters, such as things bigger, more powerful air conditioning units.

Overall the Kings Heath Residents’ Forum said that the proposal by Lidl could only be damaging to Kings Heath residents. That is why the Residents’ Forum lodged a formal objection to the planning application.

The latest development in this story is that Lidl has recently withdrawn the original planning application. However, it is preparing a new scheme. Councillor Claire Spencer has said that she would like the scheme to be discussed with residents. The period for lodging objections to the  original proposal has ended but members of the Residents’ Forum will be watching developments closely  and will assess the new proposals before deciding what to do next.

Forum response to Boundary Commission’s proposal for a Kings Heath Ward

We have submitted our response welcoming the draft proposal from the Local Government Boundary Commission to establish a Kings Heath Ward. However, our suggestion is that it should be based on the current area served by the Residents’ Forum rather than the area identified in the Commission’s draft proposal as we had consulted widely about that in 2011. The Commission’s final recommendations are due to be published in May and new electoral wards should be in place throughout Birmingham in May 2018.

Read the Forum’s response: