Southside BID (Business Improvement District) has called on Birmingham City Council (BCC) to provide the area with more support as venues struggle to survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement yesterday that Birmingham Hippodrome will remain closed until at least February is another blow for a district already devastated by the effects of Covid-19, with many local businesses not eligible for government support.
Southside BID has urged the council to step up to the plate, but says that BCC has actually hampered the district’s attempts to kickstart the local economy - most recently in terms of a scheme which would have seen Hurst Street temporarily pedestrianised so that venues could make use of outdoor areas.
Speaking to BBC Midlands Today, Southside BID Director, local businessman and Birmingham Pride Festival Director Lawrence Barton said: “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 last night 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.”
Southside businessman David Nash said: “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.”
In a post this morning, Southside BID urged people to contact the council and express their concerns about the situation: “We are afraid that our council does not care about the evening economy, about its Chinatown or Gay Village. Apparently it’s not their sons and daughters, brothers or sisters who work, live or enjoy themselves there. But ours do and WE CARE about it. So if you can spare the time, email...
...and tell them what their officers are doing to the place we love. Tell them after eight weeks of BCC barriers to trade, we finally gave up as we saw the end of the summer weather approaching. Tell them this weekend you could have been sitting outside socially distant in one of the many cafes and bars in Hurst Street if they had supported us eight weeks ago. Tell them how much that would have meant to you and to those struggling businesses trying to get back on their feet again.”
Tell us what you think below...
Join our Newsletter today!
The weekend stabbings have seen the city council come under pressure to act
This year’s Shout Festival will go online, due to Covid-19, from 5 to 15 November
Andy Bell and Vince Clarke will bring their The Neon show to the city
The Colwyn Bay-born star is hosting a quiz at Digbeth venue The Mill
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
The work will see Rosie dance on stage for the first time in five years
Manchester's Hotel Brooklyn has sold four of its Marsha P Johnson cocktails
Powerhouse Theatre's White Noise will be performed live on Zoom at 7.30pm