The Conservative Group on Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council was left bemused by a decision made by Birmingham City Council this week. In order to support Sutton Coldfield Town Centre retailers and hospitality venues after an incredibly hard 18 months, the Town Council wanted to subsidise car parking, via their own funding, for visitors but Birmingham City Council blocked the scheme by refusing access to the Car Parks they own.
Cllr Simon Ward, Leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council said, “By subsidising car parking we wanted to ensure that businesses are supported in the Town after an incredibly tough year. All we wanted to do was encourage footfall in the town centre and support our night-time economy. it is surprising and disappointing that Birmingham City Council have blocked a scheme that was designed to support Sutton Coldfield’s Town centre and would have cost them nothing.”
This comes after over 12 months difficult trading in the Town Centre, the Town Council had planned the proposal to subsidise car parking as a short-term measure to support retail and hospitality in the Town Centre and form part of the Town Council’s package of measures to support Covid-19 recovery.
Cllr Ewan Mackey, the Deputy Leader of the Conservatives on Birmingham City Council stated, that he was positive about the moves that the Town Council were making to support retail in Sutton Coldfield post Covid and the free parking proposal was to be admired and supported, rather than be shunned and blocked by Birmingham City Council. “This comes at the same time that Birmingham City Council are ending the free car parking scheme for critical care workers across the city, who have sacrificed so much in this past year, forcing those who work in the City Centre to have to pay for parking as well as cough up £8 a day if their car is not new enough. Not everyone is able to use public transport, and this is particularly true of shift workers.”
The Royal Town’s Member of Parliament, Andrew Mitchell MP said that he was disappointed to hear that Birmingham City Council have taken this decision. “It is great to see the Town Council coming up with innovative solutions for the Town Centre, but I am disappointed that Birmingham City Council are not interested in a scheme that will not cost them a penny and will help our Town’s local economy after a difficult 12 months for retailers.”