NO MORE FREE ON STREET PARKING
As you are aware, both as Editor of The Hockley Flyer and as President/Hon Secretary of the JQA, ‘Parking’ has always been a priority for me. This article is prompted by remarks made to me about proposals to change the parking layouts. A lot of people believe that Permits to park on street are a good idea but seem to think that they will be able to park FREE in an allocated spot near to where they work, but this is far from the truth.
The JQRP are hosting a Parking ‘Surgery’ on 7th March at 57 Frederick Street and I cannot stress too strongly how important it is that EVERY business in the Quarter finds a few minutes to drop in, look at the planned layout and changes proposed and make sure their views are recorded (not necessarily on a questionnaire as they don’t always ask the relevant questions!)
This extensive parking survey is being carried out by Consultants (Atkins), paid for by Birmingham City Council which is now reaching the point when the recommendations will go forward to the Council for implementation. Once accepted, it will be TOO LATE!
It is quite obvious that the overall object of the City Council is to put an end once and for all to ‘free on street parking’ and the Quarter will be treated as part of the City Centre where EVERYONE will have to pay to park, and of course the Council will increase its revenue by thousands of pounds in fees, and fines!
Some 20 years ago, after a huge campaign and full support of the trade, the JQA managed to convince the Council that the Jewellery Quarter is a ‘special area with special needs’ but this time it will be more difficult. We are negotiating hard for the best deal for the Quarter but need your help and support.
It is most important that you understand the implications of what is proposed and hope that this item will help you to make up your own mind as to what is good (or bad) for the Quarter and MAKE YOUR FEELINGS KNOWN!
PAY AND DISPLAY
The ‘Pay & Display’ bays will stay the same, except the proposal is to reduce the time from 4 hours to 2 hours – does this give people time to visit the Museum/Galleries, have a cup of tea, queue at the one public toilet and visit the shops!
Do you agree with this change?
ALL DAY AND TWO HOUR BAYS
Every on street ‘ALL DAY’ and ‘2 HOUR’ bay will be replaced by ‘Parking Permit’ only bays which mean that:
- You will have to buy a Permit from the Council IN ADVANCE to park on street in what are ‘free’ bays at the moment. Once the permits are all sold you will have to wait for a Permit to become available. The Permits will be payable ANNUALLY in advance – you will not be able to buy one at a meter!
- Even if you buy a Permit this will not guarantee that there will be a parking space available when you come to park – you may have to park streets away or there may be no spaces at all! Can you imagine how you will feel if you cannot find a space, even though you have bought a permit, or how a business visitor who finds a space, won’t be able to use it because he/she will not have a Permit and will be fined or even ‘lifted’!
- These ‘Permit Only’ bays will be shared between residents and businesses (don’t know the ratio although we do know the residents permits will be less expensive). Looking ahead, when all the residential developments are completed (probably around 3,000 units), the trade will be under extreme pressure. Although Planning Control introduced a one apartment/one parking space ratio, unfortunately the parking space is often sold separately if a resident cannot afford to buy it. This has the effect of creating more residents parking on street.
- Any vehicle parked on the street without a Permit (which you cannot buy at the time from a meter) will be FINED and could even be ‘lifted’.
- When all the Permits are sold, it will create a static car park on all streets in the Jewellery Quarter.
- At the present time, I don’t know how much these Business and Residents parking permits will cost but one thing is sure – they will not be FREE!
- Any delivery vehicles will need to double park which is illegal and will cause traffic congestion.
- Do you agree with the loss of all ‘Free’ parking bays? and
- Do you agree with Parking Permits when you have considered all the implications?
There will be no provision for Disabled Parking anywhere in the Quarter. The only spaces they can use is in the Pay & Display bays.
ISSUE: Do you feel the disabled are being discriminated against?
It is up to businesses to say if they need Loading/Unloading facilities: One instance is Frederick Street (opposite Albion Street). With the opening of two new restaurants (and another four in close proximity with planning permission), it is necessary to provide for loading/unloading of food/beer etc. and a company who has moved into Frederick Street has large vehicle deliveries/collection am/pm every day, plus of course the visitors to the Natwest bank and cash-point. (Restaurants and businesses in St Paul’s Square use this particular bank as there is no bank in the Square) and of course the Security van also needs to pull in. A loading/unloading bay is required urgently here.
There is no doubt many streets where creating NEW loading/unloading bays are appropriate but it is up to the companies concerned to ask for them …. NOW! I am trying to find out the time limits in these bays – (when the guys concerned have agreed on what they are!)
The Quarter is changing almost daily and very soon there will be no quiet back-streets and already there are shops and galleries opening up in these once quiet areas. How can they survive if they are surrounded by ‘Permit only’ bays?
- Although the survey has discovered over 100 extra parking bays, all of these will be either Pay & Display or Permit Only bays.
- Out of this ‘activity’ the JQA have already secured ‘Workers Permits’ in the main car park and making the two unused coach/bus bays into on street parking bays (but again ‘Pay & Display’ or Permit only bays, or loading/unloading bays).
- The new system will cost the Council a great deal of money to put into place and make a lot of extra work for wardens. All of the 2 hour and all day parking bays signs will need replacing – what will the wording be on the signs – will they be 24 hours?
Having been so close to this problem for over 20 years, I personally feel that given the present climate it is not a good time to make drastic and expensive changes to the street parking layout. In about five years time, with the trade struggling to survive and the influx of commercial and residential use, the parking needs will change considerably. Surely it is better sense to wait until the large developments are completed and then seek out priorities regarding parking?
The present parking scheme has worked reasonably well for 20 years – why change something that works? Or, as many people are suggesting, is it just the Council out to make more revenue from the long-suffering jewellers?
There are several options:
- Leave the parking bays as they are – the layout is still working even after 20 years – (we discussed and rejected the idea of Permits way back then as unworkable – and then they were going to be free!) Scrap the Permits idea and just pick out the good points in the survey such as the ‘extra’ parking bays, removal of two of the coach bays and creating more loading/unloading bays (plus put in more pedestrian crossings) and create some disabled bays.
- Not sure, but understand that the disabled will not be able to park in Permit bays only in Pay & Display bays. Is this discrimination?
- Go ahead with the Atkins parking proposals and the Quarter will change forever, with streets clogged up with ‘Permit Parking’, an added financial burden on the trade and the sheer frustration this will cause. Resulting in zero trade visitors.
- Change the plan altogether and make EVERY street in the Jewellery Quarter ‘Pay & Display’ only (at least you could pay at a meter and the traffic would keep ‘moving’ and make things much simpler, allowing vehicles to move and park around the Quarter).
This could be the way to go in about five years time – but the next survey will not take place for 20 years!
Your option is to either:
(a) Call in at the JQRP offices on 7th March and make sure your needs and views are recorded.
(b) Reply to the above issues by post/fax/email to The Hockley Flyer
(c) Write to Cllr Len Gregory, Cabinet Member for Transportation at the City Council and make sure he knows of your views..