Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Transport 2

Jon Hunt writes:
several significant things that I was involved in getting through the transport authority (Centro) on Monday.

1/ there's an agreement to review the cost of child and young people's concessionary passes. This budget has been under-spending by more than £1 million because of declining numbers of children and young people. There's been quite a lot of pressure to look at London's free pass system and the UK Youth Parliament has organised several events recently. In fact the West Midlands has a very good pass system which allows students up to the age of 18 to get discounted travel. However more work needs to be done to encourage young people to use public transport (rather than family cars) to get to school. And an annual pass does cost several hundred pounds.

2/ Saving bus routes. I steered through an agreement with National Express (former TWM) which will now cover the whole region. The deal seeks to encourage more bus use. We've had some good local deals recently but often they've been undermined by axing of other bus routes. Under this deal, Centro and local councils will get plenty of notice and a chance to save threatened bus routes before they are withdrawn. Ray O'Toole, MD of National Express, joined us to sign the deal on Monday.

3/ Our Lib Dem group continues to keep up the pressure to get local rail lines reopened in Birmingham. This hardly affects Perry Barr very much at all but I need to mention it! The plan is to put two new routes into Moor Street Station, enabling half a dozen new local stations to open. We're disappointed that regional spending plans of Network Rail and the regional local authorities and AWM do not envisage work starting until 2014 - especially when they want to put hundreds of millions into road schemes around the region.

Perry Hall Park "row"

The users of this lovely park are up in arms about a request from the cricket league to take on more pitches.

A local campaign has been launched and it's great to see that people care.

However we need to make clear that this is not an agreed council plan. Several years ago when a strategy for the parks was agreed we made it clear that in our view the cricket should stay the west side of the river and the east side should continue to be enhanced for general leisure. Under park warden Jez Lilley there have been some terrific improvements and a lot of work by volunteers also.

Ray Hassall is cabinet member for leisure and he confirmed to the Ward Advisory Board on Monday night that he has put a block on any cricket pitches returning to what is known as the "air field", a large green south of Rocky Lane where people used to fly model planes and where football pitches are located. The site was used for cricket five years ago when work was under way on the River Tame and we had a bit of a battle to get it reinstated. (A classic example was two years ago when some cricketers hijacked it on Carnival Day causing major traffic chaos).

So we support the bulk of the aims of the campaigners but wish to make it clear that this is not an agreed plan! Our position as ward councillors has not changed - the Park is a Park, not just a Playing Field! Here's a link to their site.

* More park news. On May 30th the Friends of Perry Hall Park are planning an open day to celebrate the work they have done. There's a plan for a local history exhibition. They're having one or two problems with red-tape which need to be resolved and Ray has offered to help ensure that no jobsworth gets in the way!

Link back to winter pictures of the park.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Clifton Cinema

The plan to convert the historic Clifton Cinema at Tower Hill to a Chinese buffet has been welcomed by most people in the local community following its closure as a bingo hall. The new owners are promising considerable investment for a tasteful conversion and many people are looking forward to their tasty menus.

Sadly a new proposal is antagonising the local community. This is to extend opening and licensed hours until 230 in the morning. Applications have been placed with both the licensing committee and the planning committee.

Licensing laws mean that only direct neighbours can object to the licensing committee and by the time licensing applications are circulated not many comments can be submitted.

However the planning application has now arrived and is likely to meet opposition. We know that immediate neighbours on Tower Hill and Law Cliff Road are concerned about car doors banging into the early hours. The problem we have is we don't know what the hours will be used for - if there is any suggestion of holding large parties with large amounts of alcohol into the early hours the wider community will also be affected - it's not a good place for a night-club! If it's just for the sake of a few late-night diners, it's hard to complain.

In the meantime we can report that ten days has been added to the consultation time for the planning application - taking it into early May. The consultation letter that went out earlier this week originally stated the application was until 14.30 hrs - it should have read 2.30am! So we are now awaiting a new consultation letter.