Kings Heath residents have complained recently about problems caused by illegally or inconsiderately parked cars. Councillor Straker Welds took this up with Birmingham City Council (BCC) and has been given some very useful information.
Action is taken against the owners of badly parked cars but who takes the action depends on where the car was parked.
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.
The traditional approach to litter problems, risky pavement areas and the other difficulties that affect our streets has often been to say that ‘somebody should do something’. In the past it seemed clearly to be the local authority’s responsibility. With major budget cuts over recent years, local authorities say they don’t have the resources to deal with these problems. So what can be done?
This question will form a major part of the Kings Heath Residents’ Forum Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 2 March at 7pm at Kings Heath Community Centre, 8 Heathfield Rd, B14 7DB.
The meeting, open to all, will include guests speakers from local action groups. They will explain what has been done already to improve conditions on Kings Heath’s streets and outline what is going to be done in the future.
But the important part of the meeting will involve local residents sharing their views and ideas on how Kings Heath can be improved.
Local councillors will also be there along with committee members from Kings Heath Residents’ Forum. They want to hear what you think so that your views can be taken into account when they’re planning ways to improve our streets.
This will also be Kings Heath Residents’ Forum Annual General Meeting and reports will be available on the Forum’s work in the past year.
For reference here is a link to the Residents’ Forum Constitution.
This event is an opportunity for residents to meet Amey and see what their planned works are for footways, pathways and cycleways over the next five years. You’ll be able to discuss the proposed footway and road programme with Amey contractors and local councillors.
The event is on Wednesday, 14 January 2015 at Kings Heath Community Centre, 8 Heathfield Road, B14 7DB and starts at 6pm.