Behind The BID: Keeping things moving
11 June 2020
Paul Fielding, Chair of Accessible & Connected Working Group
I have been on the board of Colmore BID for many years now, and despite being a Wealth Manager, the Accessible and Connected working group is always where I have sat, largely as the groups chair. Accessible and Connected, as the name suggests, deals mainly with matters surrounding transport and freight. Over the years we have lobbied various council leaders and politicians to try and influence real change as to how we all move around and receive our goods, be it as a business or an individual.
At the start of the year the council and partners published a draft transport plan, which provided some encouraging headlines, including the much needed ambition to reduce the dominance of motor vehicles in our great city. The recent, and indeed, current lockdown has, however, provided the council with a great opportunity to make real, sustainable change to movement much quicker than hoped, particularly in and around the city centre. This is a virtual once in a lifetime opportunity that we cannot ignore.
The emergency measures, which we have been asked to provide our thoughts on, include some radical ideas that we believe will be truly transformational. These are reallocating road space to make more room for safe, socially distanced walking and cycling, transforming the city centre by limiting car access and repurposing car parking spaces. The long-term benefits of implementing these are profound. When combined, these will substantially reduce the toxic levels of pollution, improve people’s general health because of the extra exercise and it will make the city and even more attractive place to be. Over the long-term this will attract even more of the top companies and talent that have been flocking to Birmingham in recent years and will provide a major boost to the local economy.
In a previous blog, published many years ago, I highlighted the need for individuals to try and change their approach to how they move around, albeit with the caveat that the alternatives to the car are far from ideal. Sadly, the one issue that makes this even less ideal right now is social distancing. As a result of this, it is highly likely to be some time until public transport can get anywhere near back to where it was. The obvious temptation for many will be to jump in the car instead. We at Colmore BID would urge you to consider all alternative options before doing so. For those who do drive into the centre, you will know that traffic congestion is, and as a result pollution, bad nearly all the time. If we all suddenly begin driving, the city will literally become gridlocked not to mention the unseen health issues that the extra deadly toxins will bring.
Whilst we obviously want you back in the city centre, enjoying our fabulous hospitality venues, any return must be carefully orchestrated, so we do not all cause chaos and put people in danger. We would therefore urge all businesses and individuals to plan their return to the city very carefully. I’m sure that you all are and I’m probably preaching to the converted, but if any of you need any support with this then please do contact the BID as we would be more than happy to provide guidance.