Sunday, August 05, 2007

Carnival time

It was the hottest day for months yesterday for the Birmingham Carnival and it brought out the crowds in their thousands.

Perry Park was heaving with people to an unprecedented level, having a great party.

We wanted to know whether the extra steps that had been taken would reduce traffic pressures.

Two years ago the procession was 90 minutes late setting off, leading to road closures being extended and thousands of cars blocking off the Aldridge Road.

This year the procession left on time and was just half an hour late.

From our point of view the event was not problem-free and calls of complaint have been trickling in today about different aspects. Some are distressing to hear about like the woman who was prevented from driving to her home off the Walsall Road when it was closed at Tower Hill. She had an access pass but some jobsworth could not be bothered to use their head to let her through.

The ward councillors spent the day trouble-shooting. We learnt early in the day that a number of roads, mainly smallish cul-de-sacs, had not received residents' access passes. There will need to be an inquiry as to why. It means that about 100 passes went astray. So we went on the doors getting passes for residents who needed them and explaining to others what to do if they did decide to go out.

The big issue for the carnival is to get cars into official car parking spaces and sadly this continues to be problematic. At about 5pm we noticed Perry Avenue and the access to car parking in Perry Hall Park had been closed and a few minutes later that barricades protecting Derrydown Road had been closed. Thankfully event manager Kevin Brown was in the neighbourhood and he and Jon Hunt rapidly walked the patch.

We found that stewards were operating Chinese whispers, passing on incorrect messages there was no more room. Additional problems were caused because the cricket pitch south of Rocky Lane was meant to have been used for parking - instead two cricket teams got on to it and nobody moved them off or reported the matter to the right managers. It didn't matter - there was space for cars if they could be directed into the car park - a whole grass area that could be used. So that free car park was reopened.

Thankfully Derrydown was only open for a short while but maybe a dozen vehicles got up there. All this may have contributed to problems on Beeches Road and Dyas Avenue as during the procession cars were coming north up Walsall Road without being directed to car parking.

However a walk to the other side of Perry Park revealed mayhem on the Aldridge Road. In future private properties here should be included in the exclusion zone. There were hundreds of cars here jammed on to every pavement and grass verge. Some more cars could have been admitted to the car parks in Perry Park - again too hastily closed - but only a fraction.

Two years ago the problem was the procession starting so late. That was solved. Four years ago the exclusion zone broke down as stewards abandoned their posts under pressure from aggressive visitors. That was solved as the police provided back-up on key junctions. And in addition the ward councillors insisted on being represented on planning groups. It feels like different problems are being solved each time.

Conclusion: there were hiccups in the running of things this year but if there was a traffic problem, it was almost certainly because of unexpectedly large numbers of people. If future events take place, they must put adequate resources in to car-parking and properly stewarding cars into car parks.

1 comment:

Betty said...

My daughter lives in Dewsbury Grove (off Perry Avenue) She was unable to leave her road in the afternoon due to the very heavy traffic in Perry Avenue and had to return home. She spoke to the steward at the end of the road who said that he had stopped almost 30 motorists who claimed to be "visiting their relations in Dewsbury Grove". He had received lots of abuse from them. My daughter took him some water and food because although he had been told it would be provided it was in Perry Park and he was unable to leave the barrier.
I did not experience any problems in Derrydown Rd.