The motorist is being “airbrushed” out of Birmingham city centre under the new much-heralded transport strategy document, it has been claimed.
While embracing and celebrating the railways, buses, the Metro and pedestrian links through the city centre, the Vision for Birmingham strategy has come under fire for only talking of reducing car use and promoting parking outside the ring road.
Presenting the plans to the council’s transport and regeneration scrutiny committee, officers highlighted an £800 million investment in city centre transport.
This includes the £600 million New Street Station Gateway, a series of new bus interchanges and the £125 million Metro extension, together with future prospects such as High Speed rail and the Sprint rapid bus scheme.
But according to committee member Coun Dennis Birbeck (Cons, Sutton New Hall) they had forgotten a ‘three-letter word’.
“What is happening with the car? It is the most important method of transport in the city. Where is the highway plan for the city centre?
“What about the shops, the businesses, the hotels that need services and deliveries and those who commute by car? In my area, Sutton Coldfield, there is high car ownership and people are going to use their cars to get into the city.
“There’s no mention in this brochure. It is very disappointing.”
A spokesman for the AA Policy Team said that failure to put the car at the heart of planning was ‘short changing’ drivers whose taxes pay for most transport initiatives.
He said: “We come across this all the time. The car is simply airbrushed from transport planning.
“It is a constant complaint from road users, especially when parking fees are raised. They feel they are subsidising public transport and paying an unfair price.”
The document, an offshoot of the Big City Plan, has been drawn up by the council and public transport co-ordinator Centro to guide and shape city centre transport over the next 20 years.