Traffic wardens patrolling Birmingham’s controversial Stratford Road red route issued almost 7,000 parking tickets in just 10 months, generating about £400,000 in fines for the city council.
The largest number of tickets, 4,348, were handed out in Springfield in the heart of the Balti Belt, providing further ammunition for traders who claim the zero-tolerance approach to on-street parking is hitting takings in restaurants and shops. A further 1,123 tickets were issued in Sparkbrook and 1,402 in Hall Green between April 2007 and January this year , according to research published by the local authority today.
The figures mean the small stretch of the Stratford Road has easily overtaken Alum Rock Road as Birmingham’s parking fines capital.
During the same period, 4,854 tickets were issued in Alum Rock Road compared with 6,873 in Stratford Road.
The council’s head of transportation believes drivers caught by the assault have only themselves to blame for acting "illegally".
Councillor Martin Mullaney (Lib Dem Moseley & Kings Heath) claimed a blind eye had been turned for years to parking on double yellow lines along the A34 Stratford Road.
He said a two-tier system, sanctioned by the council, had operated in Birmingham prior to the introduction of the red route last April.
Traffic wardens would routinely issue tickets when cars were parked illegally in the city centre, but an unofficial agreement allowed motorists to park on the street at will in Sparkbrook, Springhill and Hall Green, Coun Mullaney said.
He added: "There was general lawlessness and when you enforce the law you are likely to end up with a lot of people getting tickets."
Coun Mullaney’s transportation scrutiny committee was holding an inquiry into the Stratford Road red route on Tuesday and will recommend whether the scheme should be made permanent.
Council officials, traders and independent experts were due to give evidence about the impact of the parking restrictions.
Research published by the council suggests the changes have helped traffic move more quickly along one of Birmingham’s busiest commuter routes. Bus patronage along Stratford Road has risen by four per cent since April – against a trend of declining usage elsewhere in the city.
Council officials, who want the experiment to be made permanent, are stressing that an additional 203 off-street parking spaces have been made available along the red route, as well as an additional 40 loading bays for deliveries to local shops.
Coun Mullaney said: "We have managed to increase bus patronage simply by enforcing the law. This shows you can get people back on to the buses if you can make buses reliable."
Traders insist takings are down since last April, and they blame the parking restrictions.
The Stratford Road Business Association wants the council to order an independent assessment of the red route before deciding its future.
SRBA chairman Abdul Vanant said: "I do not understand why the council cannot accept that the red route is causing traders big problems and will lead to shops closing down and redundancies."
Research by academics from Aston University and Birmingham City University criticised the council for failing to invest in car parking over many years "as a result of a historical understanding that customers can pull up to use the local shops".
The study, by Dr Jonathan Scott and Dr Javed Hussain, warned that local businesses would be forced to cut jobs and close down.
The report, which accused the council of failing to understand the specific problems of Sparkbrook, Sparkhill and Springfield, added: "There is a general feeling that the red route has been devastating for traders and for the local area.
"The loss of the temporary arrangement of parking in front of shops was a significant issue, which has a major impact on passing trade and the ability of customers to use convenience shops or other establishments with outside parking."