Residents 'living in fear' as Birmingham City Council axes key road safety role

Residents living 'in fear' of their roads have told of their anger at the council's decision to axe its separate transport brief as part of a cabinet reshuffle. Teachers, religious leaders, and community activists said they were 'worried' about the decision to merge cabinet oversight for transport with waste management, which was announced on May 13.

A petition calling on the council to reinstate the transport and road safety Cabinet Member role, previously held by Cllr Liz Clements, has been set up. Petition organiser Rachel Segal Hamilton said 'the people of Birmingham deserve better' and that 'barely a week goes by without news of another collision' in the city.

Residents across the city have come out in support of the petition sharing their concerns about what the Cabinet merger might mean in their own communities. Birmingham City Council said it was aware of the petition but that its 'determination' to roll out the Birmingham Transport Plan had 'not changed.'

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Reverend Ann Knight, whose church on Reddings Lane in Tysley has twice been hit by speeding vehicles said that she and her congregation 'live in fear of the roads around the church, schools and the community.'

"The roads are very dangerous around the church and the schools," she continued, saying that despite involving the council following the collisions, "nothing had been done." She felt merging the two roles together would be 'wrong in many ways.'

Abdullah Rehman, a resident of Balsall Heath, said he had witnessed 'first hand the pressing issues surrounding transportation, particularly illegal parking and speeding, which have tragically resulted in fatal accidents'. Mr Rehman acknowledged the council had made 'positive efforts' to address these challenges, but that axing the transport brief role would prove 'detrimental' to these efforts.

He said: "By merging them, there is a risk of diluting the focus and effectiveness of initiatives aimed at tackling transportation issues. I urge Birmingham city council to reconsider this proposal and prioritize the importance of dedicated attention to transportation matters - the safety and well-being of our residents depends on it."

Pete Foley, a head teacher at St. Bernard’s primary school on Wake Green Road, added: "Both morning and afternoon, we witness highly dangerous speeding and inconsiderate parking that puts our children and parents at severe risk. Over the past three years we have witnessed at least four major incidents on Wake Green as a direct result of speeding - it is a matter of time until somebody is killed within our community."

Poet Ruben Whitter, from Handsworth, where 31-year-old father Hizar Hanif was killed in a crash on February 18 this year, paid an emotional tribute to the lives lost on Birmingham’s roads. He said: "Every person knows a son, a daughter, has a friend, or a neighbour that deserves to live in a city with reliably safe roads where we can expect our loved ones to return home.

"Birmingham City Council needs to do better to prevent more people’s lives from being taken too soon - like Hizar Hanif in my home of Handsworth - by giving our city dedicated leadership on each area of concern."

Liz Clements is the former transport and highways Cabinet Member at Birmingham City Council.
Damage to St Edmunds Church from a speeding vehicle last September.

Every year, 25 people are killed on Birmingham's roads - with a further 400 seriously injured. The council’s Road Harm Reduction strategy, announced earlier this year, has vowed to make the streets safer by lowering the number of cars in the city and improving protection for the most vulnerable road users.

Birmingham City Council said it was aware of the petition which would be 'submitted for presentation to the council in due course.' A spokesperson added: "The Birmingham Transport Plan has not changed - the officers delivering that work have not changed - nor has the council’s determination to see that through."