Free parking plan for downtown Sutton Coldfield to boost commerce



Discussions are underway on plans to introduce free parking in a Birmingham shopping area to help retailers recover from a year of disruption caused by the pandemic.

Royal Sutton Coldfield City Council is considering subsidizing downtown parking, which could include free parking for a period or free parking after a certain time of the day.

A report was reviewed by the Parish Authority’s Strategy and Resources Committee last week and options are currently being explored on how the free parking plan could be implemented in the city.

Sutton Coldfield has a mix of municipal and private parking options

Birmingham City Council car parks currently charge £ 1.40 for two hours, £ 2.40 for four hours or £ 4.50 for a day Monday through Saturday. On Sundays the rate is £ 1.30 for two hours or £ 2.30 until 10 a.m. The car parks are paid every day except Christmas Day.

There are 305 council-owned parking spaces in Duke Street, Lower Reddicroft, Mill Street, Station Street and Upper Reddicroft, according to the report. Some are rented via a subscription.

The report by Deputy City Authority CEO Chris Hurst shows a cost of £ 91,169 which is expected to be paid to City Council by City Council for free parking on weekends and from 4pm to midnight on weekdays, on the basis of an average schedule. income from available places.

This total is based on free parking from May 1 to Sunday January 2, 2022 and possibly more depending on the length and terms of any agreement.

The owners of the Gracechurch Center have been approached by Sutton Coldfield City Council to offer free or subsidized parking to entice shoppers back to town.

Sutton Coldfield City Council Chief Cllr Simon Ward (Four Oaks, Cons.) Said the plan was to help Sutton compete with commercial sites like Ventura Park in Tamworth and the new MacArthurGlen development in Cannock, which offer a free parking.

Cllr Ward told BirminghamLive: “We want to do something to promote local businesses in our city center.

“We want to favor downtown users. When we did some polling on this, one of the reasons people said they could go shopping elsewhere is because of the free parking.

“This is intended to help retailers, restaurants and the nightlife economy. “

There would be limits, the head of the council said. He continued, “It has to be targeted. We can’t have people use it to get around. It’s maybe two hours of free parking. Whatever works most concretely to encourage people to come in. the city center.

“We want to tell local businesses that you have been through a very difficult time and that the city council needs to do something in the shorter term to help them. The city center has a big regeneration project anyway but it can help now.

“It has to be for a reasonable period of time. We said until the end of the year. “

Cllr Ward added, “I increased the parking subsidy with [Birmingham City Council leader] Ian Ward on the grant both, but when it wasn’t agreed, we said we would do it on our own. But if they don’t agree, hopefully Newhall Walk or Gracechurch will.

An offer had been made to city council to jointly contribute a grant, but was not accepted as this would encourage more cars to come to Sutton and go against city authority policy to reduce travel. by car.

Other options include entering into an agreement with private car parks, the owners of the Newhall Walk car park, off Queen Street, or with the owners of the multi-storey Gracechurch center.

Selfridges new coat in the bullring - pictured next to St Martin in the Bull Ring Church and overlooking the Bull Ring Open Market on June 26, 2021

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Cllr Ewan Mackey (Roughley, Cons.), Who also sits on the Strategy Committee, added, “We want to subsidize parking and make it free where possible to give downtown businesses and retailers the support they need to compete with other areas like Tamworth.

“They had an absolutely nightmarish pandemic. This is what we are here as a city council to do.

“It is a supportive trade measure rather than a pro automobile measure.”

The City Council’s report on subsidized parking said it would be difficult to measure the expected benefit because there is a lack of data – but Cllr Ward said he was hoping to get attendance figures from the Gracechurch Center.

During the strategy and resources committee meeting on April 20, councilors supported the principle proposal, which is still under discussion and should in any case be approved in the plenary session of the city council. Details of opening hours are yet to be determined.

A proposed start date of June 17, just before the proposed end of coronavirus restrictions on June 21, has been launched, with a suggested end date of March 31 next year.


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