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UPDATE - Quinton Councillor Helps Bring PARKING CHARGES at Woodgate Valley Country Park One Step Closer
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 several flagship parks across the city, including Woodgate Valley Country 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.
It is understood that Quinton Councillor Lauren Rainbow (Labour), who sits on the Scrutiny Committee in question voted with her colleagues to block the call-in, removing the possibility of further scrutiny over the plan to implement parking charges.
Some fear that parking charges will lead visitors to park in residential roads in Quinton that back on to Woodgate Valley for free, including Simmons Drive, Highfield Lane and the surrounding cul-de-sacs. Cllr Rainbow’s decision may come as a surprise to local residents given this concern.
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 Conservative Councillors have vocally criticised the plans.
Cllr Bruce Lines (Cons, Bartley Green) 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.”
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Cllr Lines is one of two Conservative Councillors who represented their colleagues at the Council’s Scrutiny Committee on Monday 26th September to challenge the plan.
Counter Cut also spoke to Bartley Green Councillor Kerry Brewer (Cons, Bartley Green) who spoke of her concerns for local business:
“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”.
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
The other sites at risk from the plans are Lickey Hills Country Park, Rectory Park, Sheldon Country Park and Sutton Park.
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