Birmingham Councillors have voted to keep their own cushy, city centre car park, despite congestion levels reaching all-time highs across the City.
Councillors on the Labour run authority overwhelmingly voted to preserve their exclusive car park, in the heart of the city, despite calls on the authority to lead by example in an effort to combat their city’s obesity and congestion problems, the Birmingham Mail reports.
Labour’s Cllr. Sam Burden, who proposed ditching the cushy councillors’ car park, described cars as a ‘plague’ and said: “I would like to propose that we do away with the councillors’ car park for good and actually set an example to the rest of the city by saying we’re going to use public transport or bikes on a regular basis. Cars restrict walking and cycling in this city and we need to change behaviours so that more people are using public transport.”
Last November the City Council unveiled Birmingham Connected, a plan with a £4 billion price tag and central Government support,which could punish those for driving in the City, while offering an improved network of public transport for taxpayers. The Council Leader, Sir Albert Bore said “There is a growth in car usage and we have to reverse that. If we don’t, the congestion we see at peak times will be there throughout the day”.
Bore has refused to say whether these costly plans will be funded by a Birmingham-wide road user toll or workplace parking tax. A giant tunnel running the length of the City is also being considered as a solution, as are “green travel zones” where residents will be encouraged to walk or cycle.
The City Council are also desperately trying to combat the number of overweight or obese residents. 29% of the adult population of the city are classified as obese, costing the city’s health service £330 million a year. Only last September the Council re-launched an initiative aimed at reducing the epidemic of obesity in pre-school children; the City Council’s figures reveal that 25% of Birmingham’s children are overweight or obese and this figure balloons to 40% by the time children leave primary school.
The councillors had a trial run with the temporary closure of the underground car park as part of development work, but councillors ensured they were still looked after and sealed off a floor in a local multi story car park.
Although councillors failed to rally behind Coun Burden’s call, Labour deputy leader Ian Ward announced he is setting a different example by agreeing to run the Birmingham Half-Marathon.