Birmingham City Council (BCC) is to allow the pedestrianisation of Hurst Street for a limited period of time to help the Southside economy get back on its feet.
The road will be closed to vehicles on Friday in preparation for businesses to make use of the pedestrianised area on Saturday (15 August).
The announcement comes after Southside BID (Business Improvement District) called on the council to provide the area with more support as venues struggle to survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many local businesses have not been eligible for government support during lockdown.
Southside BID last week publicly urged the council to step up to the plate, but said that BCC had actually hampered the district’s attempts to kickstart the local economy - most recently in terms of the Hurst Street pedestrianisation scheme, an initiative aimed at allowing venues to make use of outdoor areas.
The about-turn will come as welcome news to the owners of bars, clubs and restaurants in Southside.
Speaking to BBC Midlands Today last week, Southside BID Director, local businessman and Birmingham Pride Festival Director Lawrence Barton urged the council to help rather than hinder the district’s businesses: “Our own council are simply not being proactive enough. We’ve had to pull a scheme today to have the whole of Southside set up as restaurants so that people can eat on the street, but they’ve made it so difficult and put so many barriers in the way that we’ve pulled the scheme. The businesses within Southside desperately need support. We need financial support directly to business.”
In a social-media post, Southside BID said: “Despite working for over eight weeks to try and secure the opportunity to close Hurst Street here in Southside to provide more outside space for our hospitality venues, who have been hit incredibly hard in recent months, these plans are now in doubt as we have been faced with an increasing number of requirements from Birmingham City Council.
“If we are forced to cancel these plans, it will be a huge blow to the district and sadly another example of how Birmingham is falling behind other cities across the UK in terms of working creatively to support the leisure sector during this challenging time.”
In a similar vein, Southside businessman David Nash added: “The council leader and Birmingham City Council should be doing everything they can to support the nighttime economy in Southside.
“All of the businesses in our area, most of which are independents, are doing everything possible to trade, support the local economy and save jobs.
“We need a forward-thinking local authority who move mountains to help us in such challenging times.
“We do not need pen-pushers and bureaucrats creating barriers and obstacles to progress. Remove the red tape and help us out.
“Step outside of your ivory towers and realise our city does not begin and end in Victoria or Centenary Square.”
Eden Bar co-owner Cal Eden said: “Southside Birmingham are working so hard to arrange the street closures for the hospitality industry in the Southside district.
“Despite the possible boost this will give the local economy and helping to save jobs, Birmingham City Council are instead putting up obstacles in their way rather than doing everything possible to help these businesses survive.
“It does make you wonder if there is another hidden agenda here. If these businesses close down, there will be less resistance to new developments.”
Tell us what you think below...
Join our Newsletter today!
The weekend stabbings have seen the city council come under pressure to act
The Colwyn Bay-born star is hosting a quiz at Digbeth venue The Mill
Andy Bell and Vince Clarke will bring their The Neon show to the city
This year’s Shout Festival will go online, due to Covid-19, from 5 to 15 November
Steve has used the walk to raise vital funds for the Birmingham theatre
Adore's tour includes a stop-off at the Nightingale in Birmingham's Gay Village
Steve is raising funds for The REP by walking to London's Leicester Square
Lockdown policies have had dire consequences for transgender people
The work will see Rosie dance on stage for the first time in five years