Drivers may have to pay to park at Lickey Hills, Woodgate Valley Country Park and Sutton Park under plans

Lickey Hills, Woodgate Valley Country Park and Sutton Park may start charging all visitors to park their cars there, it has been revealed.

Longmore Pool, Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield
Longmore Pool, Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield

Councillors debated a report which sought to create both informal and formal consultations – and a full business case – for each car parking scheme.

The parks outlined to have a car park charge include Lickey Hills, Rectory Park, Sheldon Country Park, Woodgate Valley Country Park and Sutton Park.

A document supplied to the cabinet meeting at Birmingham city council on Tuesday noted the council could have a net position of £140,000 if car parking charges were approved.

Cabinet documents show the city council to be largely in favour of bringing in the charges. Management of the parks, including upkeep, investment opportunities, and improving disabled parking bays, were cited as reasons.

Birmingham city council outlined a borrowing spend of of £1.907 million to facilitate the costs of introducing the car parking charges.

Councillor Majid Mahmood, cabinet member for environment, said: “These charges will be contingent on the outcome of consultation or approval of individual business cases.

“The car parking charges will be necessary to improve accessibility such as the installation of formal disabled parking, and manage incidents of displacement car parking for residents.

“Other councils such as Derby city council and Warwickshire county council generate income from their flagship parks via car parking charges. Birmingham city council is one of the last local authorities in the country to seek to introduce car parking charges within its parks.”

The council’s own equality and impact assessment, noted pay & display car parks will make “users think about driving to parks and encourage other sustainable transport options”.

It added: “Improved definition of car park boundaries will prevent unregulated parking across grass areas thereby protecting the soil.”

But Birmingham Conservative leader Robert Alden said he had some “serious reservations” about the proposed car parking charges.

He said: “Parks are available to all residents of Birmingham and they are an important public health measure. Their vital for physical health, and are vital for mental health.

“What this is running the risk of creating is a two-tier park system in a city where less well off people are denied access to the premier parks in the city because of these charges.

“The people who live within walking distance are generally wealthier than the average income of people who will drive in. For example, many people who use Sutton Park come from Kingstanding. They do not live walking distance to the parks. I fear they are going to be penalised financially for wanting to be able to use the park.”

“What this Labour council proposes is a system where those who live in walking distance get free access to the park, although most people have to travel. I think that’s something that needs to be looked at again.”

Birmingham Liberal Democrats leader Jon Hunt feared people may park on streets to not pay for the charges.

He said: “My colleagues and Sheldon I’m very very concerned about the potential of traffic and parking onto onto neighbouring residential roads. The report refers to management of displacement but what does that mean?

“There needs to be a great deal more detail to have any meaningful consultation, and you also need to be willing to accept that the proposals don’t work in some locations.

“I fully understand the need to raise money for the parks and footfall reinvestment, the principle is well established, but we do have to look at each individual circumstance.”

The councillor for Perry Barr also queried why Sutton Coldfield town council, the neighbouring council close to Sutton Park, were not consulted on the measures.

The decision to introduce car parking charges across several parks in Birmingham has been spearheaded by a charging scheme at Cannon Hill Park, proposed in in June 2017.

Councillor Liz Clements, the cabinet member for transport, defended the proposals, adding: “Three of these parks I visit relatively regularly, and as I don’t drive I might have to go there, on foot, by bike, or public transport. It’s perfectly possible to get there.

“I think we’ve got to start looking at what is possible to do already in this city. We’ve got to start encouraging people to go these fantastic green spaces in a in a sustainable way.”

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