Transport

50 Night Bus Service Launched

Moseley and Kings Heath Councillors at Bus StopNational Express West Midlands has announced that from the 20 July they will be running an ‘extended service’ which will mean buses running through the night.

The last normal 50 service will be run from Druids Heath at 11.33pm and the City Centre at 12.08am. The first night service will leave Moor Street by Selfridges at 1.03am and will run at three minutes past the hour until 4.03am. There will then be buses at 4.35, 5.05, 5.35, 5.50, 6.00, 6.10 and 6.20 when a normal daytime service will resume.

Buses will be run to Maypole rather than Druids Heath and the journeys into the City Centre will be at 29 minutes past the hour. The fares will be the same as during the daytime and bus passes will be valid. The timetables should be published soon.

This is very good news both in terms of an additional service but also in providing an inexpensive means for people to get home. The Council has regularly run campaigns warning people of the dangers of using unlicensed mini cabs. If people are struggling to find a way home they will know that there are regular night buses with the normal safety features.

In other good news there are to be improvements to the 50 Service bus stop outside Selfridges. The canopy is to be extended and the seating will be improved. Selfridges have not been keen on having shelters outside the store but Labour Councillor Kath Hartley has been pressing on the Passanger Transport Authority for provision to be made and the additional provision for the 50 service is very welcome.

DIY Streets in Kings Heath

Lisa and Claire looking at plansKings Heath High Street is said to host the busiest bus route in Europe. In addition it sees some 10,000 pedestrians – many of whom are of school age at peak times – plus 1,500 cyclists every week. All of these share a road space which was built and designed when the favoured mode of transport was a horse and cart. They share it with a large amount of vehicle traffic including HGVs (as we appear to be their favoured route). It is no surprise that road safety is a key concern in the area. We have therefore worked with residents, the Neighbourhood Forum and businesses to produce a road safety plan for that area that addresses its complexity as well as its heavy use.

The reality is that we cannot do away with traffic in Kings Heath. Having said that, road safety is a big issue on the A435 and that must be addressed. In addition to tackling road safety we should make sure there is a community feel to the centre. I believe that there is a vibrancy to many parts of Kings Heath which have seen different businesses nestling amongst more traditional shops.

Unlike some places people go to shop we do not have a ‘shopping centre’ (a ‘mall’ to borrow an American term). Therefore the streets are important and we need to make those feel safe and welcoming for everyone and try to limit the impact that the traffic has.

Over the past few months Sustrans have been working with the Council, local schools and businesses on a project looking at how we could redesign Kings Heath High Street. Sustrans are a national charity that works to improve transport particularly by promoting less car use and more healthy, clean and cheap journeys. Sustrans have approached this by using a DIY Streets concept. This encourages communities to come up with the ideas and make them feel more in control of their area. Every project will be different and shaped by the particular features and factors that exist. Having said that some of the ideas that have been introduced to shift the balance have been quite radical road markings that might be patterned and coloured, the use of plants and trees or reclaiming part of the road space from traffic.

On Saturday, the Sustrans team set up a ‘parklet’ in a parking bay on the High Street and engaged people in discussion around some of the ideas so far. It was a great event and a novel way of consulting the public that hopefully drew more people into having their say.

There is more work to do. At the time of writing you can still complete a survey to feed into the work that is being done here. You can also stay in touch with what is happening on a dedicated Facebook page or by following a dedicated twitter feed.

The project is a partnership between Sustrans and Birmingham City Council partly funded by the Big Lottery. It would be great to get as many people involved as possible.

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Claire Spencer and Cllrs Lisa Trickett and Martin Straker-Welds at the Sustrans Consultation

What’s next for cycling in Moseley & Kings Heath?

by Claire Spencer

A few weeks ago, Birmingham found out that it had been successful in obtaining a £17m grant from the Department for Transport’s ‘Cycle City Ambition’ fund. Combined with a further £7m of match-funding from Birmingham City Council, we have just over £24m to invest over the next two years. I firmly believe that a city that is better for cyclists is better for everyone, and having read the bid, I really wanted to share it with people locally. So I popped over to see Councillor James McKay (Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe & Smart City) during a lunchbreak, and asked him a few questions:

 

 

Moseley & Kings Heath falls under the South Quadrant part of the bid – but will also benefit from links to the city centre and other areas of the city being improved. I’ve pulled together a few key pages from the full bid into a pdf which you can read here.

You can also read the full bid here, but in brief, the intention is to achieve four key outcomes in our part of the city (which also includes Sparkbrook, Springfield, Selly Oak and Edgbaston):

  1. An increase in the number of people cycling to school;
  2. Rising numbers of people cycling to work;
  3. Improved perceptions of cycling safety;
  4. A reduction in child obesity levels in the more deprived areas;

There are a few things that I’d like to highlight. As James pointed out, the introduction of 20mph zones is likely to be well-received locally, given that there have been several campaigns on that recently, as well as being a prominent part of the Moseley Big Plan. The mix of main routes for confident cyclists and quieter routes for learners/less frequent cyclists will give people the chance to build their confidence – and clearer signage will help motorists to drive with cyclists in mind. And the potential for further ‘cycle hubs’ after the pilot in Selly Oak could put Moseley & Kings Heath in a good place to push for one here.

I am a timid cyclist, but did make an effort a couple of years ago to replace more of my short journeys (which I tend to do on foot) around Moseley & Kings Heath with cycling, as well as making better use of the Rea Valley route. Admittedly, this only lasted until my bike got stolen, but in that time, I had built up a bit of confidence, but still got off my bike and walked when it came to busy junctions, or bridging gaps between local cycle routes. Connecting existing cycle routes, clearer markings and slower cars will make it that bit easier to build confidence, and to create spaces on our streets where cyclists have a more equal relationship with other road users.

I’m (slowly) saving up for a bike at the moment, so as the improvements are implemented, I hope to try out a few more routes and see how I get on. Let me know if you do too.

Will the sale of BCC land affect railway stations in Moseley & Kings Heath?

by Claire Spencer

Over the last few weeks, questions have been raised over whether the sale of Birmingham City Council land near Bordesley railway station will have an impact on plans to reopen railway stations in Moseley and Kings Heath, as well as in several other locations around Birmingham. Some residents have been worried that the sale will act as further disincentive to reopen the stations.

Local Labour Party members – including the councillors – are in favour of reopening the stations in Moseley & Kings Heath. I haven’t yet met a resident that isn’t, come to think of it. So before the Cabinet made their decision to sell the freehold, Councillor Martin Straker-Welds had several discussions with Birmingham Property Services, to find out what impact it would have.

Firstly, let’s establish the site we’re talking about. The wider site is located along Bedford Road and is bounded by Trinity Terrace and Camp Hill. The Council freehold ownership is indicated by an arrow:

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Prior to the sale being agreed, the site was let on a 75 year lease with effect from 1976 with 38 years left to elapse. The land is already developed and in use. The tenant – Sulzer Dowding and Mills – had indicated to their landlord (the current leaseholder) that they would have to relocate to find a site that was more suitably configured, unless the landlord was able to reconfigure the current site. The landlord was unable to borrow the required funds against a 38-year lease – hence their request to BCC to purchase the freehold.

The second part of the map above shows the current line and the potential new line (marked in green). This indicates that – in order to realise the new connection – that other land (which already belongs to the same landlord) would need to be compulsorily purchased anyway if the reopening of the stations was to go ahead. 

Birmingham Property Services have summarised the two possible scenarios thus:

1. The Council retains its freehold land: Any scheme would still need to compulsorily acquire the long leasehold interest. It would also then need to acquire the Council’s freehold interest (voluntarily or by compulsory purchase order (CPO)), then acquire by CPO the required land from the landlord’s freehold interest on either side.

2. The Council sells its freehold interest: Any scheme would then seek to place a CPO the required land from the landlord. There would no longer be a need for BCC to be included in the CPO order for that land.

If the Council had held onto the freehold, they would still be unable to control or influence that land for another 38 years. In order to end the lease earlier, they would have needed to negotiate with the landlord.

So in the short term – and while there is still uncertainty as to when the project could go ahead – it makes a lot of sense to safeguard the jobs that that site supports.

For us in Moseley & Kings Heath, our task is to focus on getting our railway stations. Centro indicated in their draft strategy that the West Midlands Regional Rail Forum wished for the Camp Hill chords development to commence in the next control period (2014-2019), and to continue into the subsequent control period (2019-2024).

If you would like to find out more about this – and what the next steps for any local campaigns might look like – Chris Tunstall, Director of Sustainability, Transportation and Partnerships (BCC) and Toby Ratcliff, Rail Development Manager (Centro) will be taking questions at the next Moseley Forum meeting on July 1st (7pm; Moseley Exchange). These meetings are open to the public, so please attend.

Moseley & Kings Heath railway stations update

At the full council meeting on Tuesday June 14th, Councillor Martin Straker-Welds raised the question of reopening the Moseley & Kings Heath railway stations with the Cabinet Member for Transportation, Councillor Huxtable. In the run-up to the local elections in May, it was clear that the reopening of the stations was a really important issue to the citizens of Moseley and Kings Heath.

Councillor Huxtable emphasised his support for the scheme, and said he was investigating the possibility of a Regional Growth Fund bid in order for the necessary infrastructure, including the ‘Camp Hill Chord’, so that the trains could be brought into Moor Street Station (the current line goes into New Street Station, but there isn’t enough capacity to reinstate a service that terminated there).

He added that he was aiming for the scheme to be part of the 2014-2019 control period. This is by no means confirmed, but is certainly something to work to.

You may also be interested in this report, which illustrates all the potential schemes which are competing to be approved in the 2014-2019 control period, and a list of potential drivers and constraints. One of the more worrying ones is that the lack of rolling stock will need to be taken into account: i.e. Centro will need to purchase more trains in order to reopen our line.

Challenges notwithstanding, Councillor Straker-Welds and Labour remain committed to reopening the stations, and are putting together the strongest case possible. We’d love to know your thoughts, particularly if you have any constructive suggestions for the business case for reopening the line, or any other evidence that will help this to become reality.

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