Investing in our city parks through parking charges

Cllr Majid Mahmood, Cabinet Member for Environment at Birmingham City Council, writes on the proposed roll out of car parking charging at five park sites…

“It is entirely understandable why some people may be concerned when they hear that there are plans to make people pay to park at five of our parks – but I would urge people to look at the story behind the headlines.

“The proposal before the council’s Cabinet on September 6 was for the approval of the full business case for the funding that would facilitate this move. It was not for the actual introduction of charges, which is subject to public consultation on a case-by-case basis.

“We know from the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic just how much our parks mean to the people of Birmingham. But to ensure they remain assets that people want to visit and use we need to ensure that we continue to invest in them.

“If we want to continue having parks and open spaces that people can enjoy, we need to find ways of generating income that are proportionate and have a clear and related link to the venues in question.

“Under these proposals, Lickey Hills Country Park, Rectory Park, Sheldon Country Park, Woodgate Valley Country Park and Sutton Park would all see charging introduced if the individual plans are approved.

“As explained in the Cabinet papers, the charging would create a sustainable income stream to enable improvements to the car parks themselves such as resurfacing and the introduction of formal disabled parking bays that have been previously lacking. It would also help invest in other maintenance such as fence repairs and contribute to the delivery of new infrastructure such as new outdoor gym equipment to further enhance the sites as places that improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Birmingham.

“The fact we would have regular parking enforcement patrols after the introduction of charges may also help deter anti-social behaviour as there will be a visible, uniformed presence at regular intervals at the sites in question.

“We are also mindful that people living near all of the earmarked sites will have concerns about the displacement of parked vehicles. Traffic management surveys (of specific roads around each park) would be completed pre and post implementation, to determine the requirements for restrictions and the impact that displacement has on the surrounding roads.

“It must be remembered this all comes five years after the council’s Cabinet approved the introduction of car park charges at Cannon Hill Park.

“We’ve got the experience from the success of that scheme to act as the foundation for what is now proposed – and must not lose sight of the fact that this is a widespread practice embedded by other councils.

“Within the metropolitan West Midlands, the likes of Coventry, Dudley and Sandwell all charge at some sites. In the wider West Midlands this is an approach adopted by councils including Lichfield, Stratford, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Further afield, other big cities like Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield do exactly the same, proving they can charge and generate income from their key parks.

“The plan is to introduce car parking charges in each of the selected parks over the next two years, but I must stress again that will be contingent on the outcome of informal and formal consultation and subsequent approval of the individual Full Business Cases for each scheme.”

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