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Red route "devastates" Stratford Road businesses

8/1/2008

Red route traffic restrictions on the Stratford Road in Sparkbrook, Birmingham are having a devastating effect on businesses, a new report reveals. But similar red route restrictions have been hailed a success further along the same road in Shirley, according to the latest impact study. The scheme, introduced in April, means that parking is not allowed at any time and that loading is severely limited.

The report by Dr Jonathan Scott of Aston Business School and Dr Javed Hussain of Birmingham City University calls for the scheme to be abolished, but does offer some short term solutions while alternatives are sought.

Based on a survey of 110 businesses in the red route area, the report found that 88% of the firms who responded felt the red route had caused a loss of customers because of the lack of parking. 77% of those think that they will have to reduce their staffing levels as a result. This could mean as many of 110 local people losing their jobs.

According to some businesses, problems of parking and vehicle access are being exacerbated by the intimidating behaviour of parking attendants, and some believe this is creating a real climate of fear that contributes to keeping customers away.

Dr Jonathan Scott of Aston University said “There are significant physical differences between the Stratford Road in Sparkbrook and in Shirley.

Nearer to the city, the properties are denser and closer to the carriageway, leaving no space for off road parking, whilst in suburban Shirley, there is more space for parking, including three dedicated car parks. We believe this is the fundamental reason that the red route is having such a negative impact for Sparkbrook businesses. People need to be able to park where they shop, and if they can’t, they’ll go elsewhere.”

The report also criticises Birmingham City Council and the consultants employed to implement the scheme for lack of consultation with businesses likely to be affected.

Dr Scott added “we believe that the economy of this deprived area as a whole has been damaged, as numbers of customers have decreased, and overall sales have been as a result reduced. It appears that employment figures will also be impacted upon which only serves to negatively affect the local economy and an already fragile community.”

Suggestions from the report that could immediately relieve some of the red route problems include the introduction of variable enforcement hours, instead of the current 24 as well as major support for affected businesses from regional stakeholders including Advantage West Midlands, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Business Link West Midlands.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Red routes are major roads in urban areas, on which stopping (even to load or unload a vehicle) is prohibited or only allowed during very restricted periods at times displayed on nearby signs. The intention is to enhance the flow of commuter traffic. The routes are marked with continuous red lines painted along the road adjacent to the kerb.

Information on red routes in the west midlands can be found at http://www.westmidlandsltp.gov.uk/redroutes.php?id=2493

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