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UPDATE - Councillors VOTE DOWN attempt to review Birmingham Council PARKING CHARGES plan for City's Flagship Parks
Local Conservative Councillors have opposed the plan, but were overruled by Labour Councillors at a crunch meeting of the Council's Scrutiny Committee.
Labour-run Birmingham City Council announced last month a plan to introduce car parking charges to the flagship parks across the city, including Woodgate Valley Country Park, Lickey Hills Country Park, Rectory Park, Sheldon Country Park and Sutton Park.
The Council’s Scrutiny Committee had the opportunity to support a Conservative Councillors’ ‘call-in’ which would have returned the matter to the City Council’s Cabinet for further deliberation. Instead, the Labour-dominated Committee voted down the opportunity to further review the decision, making it easier for the Labour administration to push ahead with their proposals.
The Cabinet Member for Environment at the Council, Cllr Majid Mahmood (Lab), argues that the plans are required to provide additional income to maintain the parks in question, but local Conservatives have vocally criticised the plans.
Conservative MP for Birmingham Northfield, Gary Sambrook has voiced his opposition to the plan for Lickey Hills, writing on social media, “there are not sufficient public transport links and with the pressure on cost of living all this will do is turn people away from the Hills.”
Cllr Adrian Delaney (Cons, Rubery & Rednal) told Counter Cut, “the City’s Parks don’t belong to the Council but to the people of Birmingham, to whom they were gifted.
“Access to parks, and other green spaces, is vital for both physical and mental health. Sadly, the Labour Council in Birmingham - as well as building on green space bigger than the size of Vatican City - are now seeking to make it as difficult as possible for people to use the parks that remain.”
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Cllr Delaney is one of two Conservative City Councillors who represented their colleagues at the Council’s Scrutiny Committee on Monday 26th September to challenge the plan.
His colleague Cllr Bruce Lines, whose Bartley Green residents will be effected by charges at Woodgate Valley Country Park, will join Cllr Delaney at the Committee. He told Counter Cut, “In the midst of a cost of living crisis, Birmingham Labour continue to reach into the pockets of hard working people.
“Just when we should be doing all we can to help those struggling with bills, they are looking to introduce charges for people to carry out what should be a free activity. Those who enjoy Woodgate Valley and other parks in the City may now sadly have to think twice before attending and for many it may simply be too much.”
The Conservatives in Birmingham have launched a campaign to oppose the plans for parking charges at parks across the city. They are calling on residents to sign their petition here: www.birminghamconservatives.org.uk/campaigns/keep-parking-free-public-parks
Counter Cut spoke to Bartley Green Councillor Kerry Brewer (Cons, Bartley Green) to find out why she was behind their campaign. She spoke of her concerns for local business if charges are introduced at Woodgate Valley:
“I am really concerned for the Woodgate Valley Urban Farm - visitors often bring young children to see the animals and the additional cost of parking could put families off and really negatively effect the business.
“Equally, the riding school, which is a real asset to our community, will likely take a hit.”
Cllr Brewer also told Counter Cut that it is ‘ridiculous’ for the Council to expect teams and groups who rent football pitches at Woodgate Valley from the Council to pay for parking too:
“It hardly seems fair to charge them more. So many Council-owned football pitches have been lost since Labour took control of the Council - this decision could put our community’s pitch at risk. This is a hugely disappointing plan and we are strongly opposing it”.
On the other side of the city, where Sutton Park faces charges under the plans, the Town Council have also expressed their disappointment - both at the plans, and at Birmingham Labour’s lack of communication.
Leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council, Simon Ward said, “yet again Birmingham City Council shows a lack of understanding of Sutton Park and a disrespect for the Town Council who it has failed to consult on this ill considered plan.
“Sutton Park covers around 2,400 acres and accessibility in all forms is crucial.”
Raising concerns on behalf of vulnerable groups, he continued, “imposing parking charges will not only penalise the elderly and those with young families who often need to drive both to and within the park but will undoubtedly cause major parking issues around the park.
“Sutton Park is a fantastic and unique place that should be available to the widest audience - not a cash cow for Birmingham City Council.”
Will these charges effect you? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Dominic Stanford
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