Safer Colmore and beyond
This year has been another key year for the Safe and Sound Work Stream. Our ever-present Street Operations Team have continued to provide a visible presence in the District. As the city has become busier, we have seen an accompanying increase in our street population. The team have worked to reduce antisocial behaviour and assist over 100 vulnerable people. We also understand the importance of how an area looks and feels, and we have, through the BID’s caretaker service and cleaning contracts, seen over 1000 hours of additional cleaning being delivered, as well as our Ambassador tackling a number of complex hotspots in the District.
Our Street Operations Manager, John-Jo Von Johnson, has continued to spearhead partnership working in the city in his capacity as Vice Chair of the Local Partnership Delivery Group, leading on a broad range of initiatives, including the drafting and consultation of the latest Public Space Protection Order in the city centre. Special Projects Officer Paul Street has also worked closely with the Food Justice Network, Birmingham Voluntary Services Council and other partners to support those key volunteer networks that provide vital safety net services to those in the greatest need in the city centre.
All of this underpins our commitment to make Colmore Business District, and the wider city centre, as safe as possible. Our Street Operations Team have all had specific training around counterterrorism, and we have offered this training, to appropriate staff in businesses within the District. In addition to this, we have secured free access to the Action Counters Terrorism App for all businesses in the District. This app provides updates to people who are responsible for the security of their businesses, and we are the only BID in the UK to have this level of access. When we think of businesses resilience, sadly, terrorism is usually the principal item that comes to mind, but a global pandemic has served as a good reminder that disruption can come in many forms. In late 2021, we ran a tabletop planning exercise with the city’s Emergency Planning Team to help businesses think about how they can better plan for future business interruptions.
It’s a testament to the strength of the District that, despite the devastating impact of the COVID Pandemic, Colmore BID continues to have a blossoming hospitality offering that extends into the evenings. However, we aren’t complacent to the challenges that this brings. We prefer to be honest and proactive about this, implementing two key projects this year. Firstly, we have installed a Bleed Kit in the District. This life-saving kit was developed after the unfortunate stabbing of a young man on a night out elsewhere in the city. The kit forms part of the infrastructure of kits within the city centre; hopefully it wont be needed, but it is ready to save a life if the worst happens. Secondly, we have worked with venues to launch Ask for Angela, a national campaign to tackle violence against women, within the District. The campaign helps people to discreetly ask hospitality staff for assistance. Again, we hope that no-one who visits our bars, pubs and restaurants will need this resource, but we want our businesses to be prepared for the worst.
We have continued to share information and resources with the District. All of this can be found on the Safer Colmore section of our website.
As workers start to return to offices, we will reintroduce our popular personal safety training sessions which we suspended during the pandemic. The Street Operations Team will continue to build on our partnerships to provide support to businesses. We will also improve and formalise the governance around this, allowing us to do more to tackle on-street issues. We also want to showcase to businesses the excellent work done by partners in the city centre, and to encourage businesses to think philanthropically about how they can support those important charities. We will continue to grow our Security Network and our Licencing Network.
This year, we will also be working to incorporate some of the propositions from our response to our pioneering Future Business District Research. We will be looking to review some of the key walking routes around the District with a view to improving their safety at night, and we will be putting forward proposals for venues around accreditation so that people can be confident that they will be safe on their night out, both at their chosen venue and as they move in and out of the city. We are also investigating the creation of dedicated space that can help people when things go wrong, and we are looking at how we can gain more general accreditation for the District so that you can have a night out in confidence.
With the Commonwealth Games, this is set to be a year of celebration for the city. We want people to be able to return to the office and enjoy the city centre as safely as possible.