Parking – Day of Action 21 October

Councillor Claire Spencer has launched a day of action on Saturday 21 October about parking locally. She has asked us to inform residents and is requesting that people actively support it by printing off a petition sheet and getting signatures on or around their own street. The petition says:

“We, the undersigned, would like Birmingham City Council to explore the possibility of a Kings Heath-wide residents’ parking scheme, to include Newport Road, as part of a collection of measures (including improved public transport and cycling routes) to reduce parking pressure on our streets.”

Claire says:

“Our parking issues in Moseley, Kings Heath and beyond stem from having more cars than there is space for cars. And while I think we all understand that public transport needs to improve for this to happen, there is no solution to these issues that does not involve people giving up (some of) their cars.

“However, streets without driveways near to the centres of both Moseley and Kings Heath are finding it harder to park anywhere near their homes, and I understand (living as I do on Addison Road) the frustration that that brings. People are increasingly telling me that they would like residents parking, and I would like to make a case to Birmingham City Council’s Highways Department that they should start to work out how that could work.

“So, on Saturday October 21st, I would like people to volunteer to collect signatures from their street to make the case for a residents parking scheme in Moseley, and another in Kings Heath.

“It will work like this:

  1. Email me on claire.spencer@birmingham.gov.uk to let me know which street (or part of a street) you plan to do, and with whom;
  2. I will let you know if anyone else has already signed up to do that street so that you can work together in such a case, and direct you to the petition sheets;
  3. On Saturday October 21st, you take your sheets and gather as many signatures as possible;
  4. Make arrangements to return them to me — either by dropping them at my house or at Moseley Exchange;
  5. I will present the petitions to Full Council in November, for the attention of the Cabinet Member and the Highways Department.”

Full information is on Claire’s blog.

Feel free to leave comments here but it might be best also to send them directly to Claire Spencer at the email address above.

New way to gather evidence of anti-social activities in Kings Heath

A new public shared drive on Google Drive has been started to enable local people to gather evidence of anti-social activities. It covers all areas of Kings Heath. The shared drive “is a way for the people of Kings Heath to collectively gather evidence for change, particularly relating to bad driving and parking, but also on fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour, and other issues.”  No doubt other issues could include anything to do with street design, pavements etc

Residents are invited to take a photograph, if possible, and to add it and other information to the relevant street’s folder in the shared drive. If you haven’t used this before please don’t be put off it is very easy to post  pictures and comments.

Given the volume of recent comments about inconsiderate parking and reckless moped drivers, it seems likely that the site will become very busy very quickly.

To access the shared drive please visit:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BwBQKk7uJaXQcEQ3NXJqRk4wdlE

There are also notes on etiquette when using the shared drive.

Keeping pavements clear

Obstructions on the pavements in Kings Heath High Street have been annoying residents for several years. Recently, the road safety group within the Kings Heath Forum took up the problem with local councillors and Birmingham Highways Maintenance and Management Service.

There are a number of issues covered by this subject but they all relate to one concern: whether there is enough space available for people with limited mobility, visual impairment or parents with push-chairs.

The restrictions usually have one of three causes:

  • parking on pavements
  • ‘A boards’ outside shops
  • work on pavements by the utility companies

It has been difficult to get any solid information so far but it seems that there is a standard that should be applied. In areas with few pedestrians such as the High Street near Sports Direct, there must be a 1.2 metre (almost 4 feet) width of pavement available free of obstructions. In areas with more people moving around, the minimum is 2 metres (about 6 feet 6 inches).

One of the difficulties is that there seems to be some confusion over who should be enforcing these standards. A statement from Birmingham Highways Maintenance and Management Service seems to suggest that enforcement is a matter for the Police although the highway authority can remove ‘A boards’.

However, the statement also said that local traders agreed at a meeting ‘several years ago’ to self-police the ‘A board’ problem. Since then, it has been suggested that Amey, which is the highways maintenance contractor for Birmingham, has a contractual responsibility for making sure that pavements are kept clear. This has yet to be absolutely confirmed.

The difficulty now seems to be that the traders’ agreement is being overlooked and ‘A boards’ are being positioned in such a way as to obstruct pavements. As a result, the available width of pavement is narrower than it should be.

In February the Residents’ Forum asked Birmingham Highways Maintenance and Management Service a number of questions in relation to this issue and suggested that clear guidance should be produced for local businesses.

As yet, no further information has been provided. When it is, an update will be posted.

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.

DIY Street Design Event 8 March 2014

DIY Streets Kings Heath flyer

Just a reminder that the DIY Street Design Event organised by Sustrans takes place on Saturday, 8 March 2014, 11am–2pm at 127 High Street opposite The Hare & Hounds pub.

The event will be in the form of a ‘parklet’ where a High Street car parking bay is transformed into a small temporary park for the day.

You can follow more updates from DIY Streets Kings Heath via Twitter @DIYstreetsKH and Facebook.