In February 2019 a petition was presented to Councillor Zaffar of Birmingham City Council calling for a traffic impact assessment study and a full consultation on the six separate options that had been proposed.
In February 2019 Cllr Zaffar and our two ward Councillors, Kerry Jenkins and Martin Straker Welds committed at a ward meeting to a full consultation before any preferred option was selected.
Fast forward to June 2020:
It is very unfortunate that despite a number of requests for progress and assurances it was due ‘any time soon’ the promised consultation has never taken place. Had it happened in good time this continuing debate would have been decided a long time ago.
There is to be no consultation on this plan which is using emergency powers. Whether these are being correctly used to re introduce pre – existing schemes is a possible future debate.
People who have been calling for action to deal with the traffic issues on School Road for the last three years are rightfully happy that something is finally happening, but there is also a clear sense of frustration amongst a wider group of residents, who understandably feel that the Covid19 situation is being used to push through unpopular and ill thought out measures via the back door, and that once again their views are being ignored.
I feel that the Council should now be absolutely clear with residents what the real aim of this scheme is. It is currently being sold as temporary measures to assist with social distancing, however what are the longer term aims? Is it to solve the issue of vehicles mounting the pavement on one short and narrow section of School Road or is it to introduce the beginnings of a Mini Holland low traffic neighbourhood to the wider area? I believe this vagueness over several years has helped to exacerbate the contentiousness of the scheme and has caused distrust, confusion and uncertainty.
I look forward to learning of the finalised proposals and how they are to be communicated to the local community. I anticipate there will be more representations as the wider community, especially those not engaged on social media, become aware. I am sure there will be many more demands for traffic calming measures in surrounding streets. I am aware residents in Cambridge Road, Greenhill Road, Oxford Road, Prospect Road, Springfield Road and Billesley Lane are all concerned of an increase in traffic displaced due to this scheme.
Billesley Lane already suffers from an alarming number of serious incidents of excessive speed. Only last month a racing, out of control car and it’s driver ended up in front gardens and badly damaged two houses, and there have been at least one fatal and several very serious accidents. Is it really fair to those residents that more traffic should be diverted down this already busy road, without their being even given a chance to make representations?
So to address all of this and to restore community confidence in local consultation and involvement I have proposed to the Councillors that a working group be set up with representatives who can communicate with people from all of the affected streets, to also include members of the community who are often forgotten, such as people with limited mobility who rely on the car to get about. The brief would be to properly discuss and examine the options first put forward to residents in 2018, with as much evidence as possible and support from people with expertise in traffic management and council officers.
They would also gather evidence of issues in surrounding streets and aspirations of residents in dealing with them. The end result should be a decent community led neighbourhood plan, which could be a low traffic neighbourhood or something else, to be implemented possibly in stages but with a time line and evidenced rationale.
The group could report to the Councillors ward meeting, to the Moseley Forum or to the Moseley Regeneration group.