Plans to sell off three car parks to pay for repairs to Sutton Coldfield Library have been slammed by a local businessman.
Birmingham City Council plans to use the money from the sales to fund work at the library – the city’s second busiest – which closed after an asbestos scare in May 2010.
Car parks in Mill Street, with 23 spaces, Station Street, with 119 spaces, and Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, with 30 spaces, have been identified for quick sales with the aim of raising almost £1.7 million.
However, Keith Ward, who runs the Station pub, which faces the Station Street car park, raised concerns at a meeting of the Sutton Coldfield constituency committee.
“This decision has been made without any kind of consultation,” he said. “The council has not calculated how these closures could damage the night time economy.
“I asked at the meeting if any survey of how much the car parks were used at night had been done and I discovered they had not. I don’t know where people will be expected to park at night as some of the other council-owned car parks are closed and so are the privately-owned ones.
“The two dates provided for analysis of car park usage were from a Sunday in August 2008 and a Tuesday in February when it was snowing.”
The council needs to find around £2.5 million to repair the three-storey town centre building, off South Parade.
It has a lease on the building until 2073 and has had to continue paying annual rent of £33,000 during the closure.
If the repairs are not made the city could also be charged a whopping £600,000 for breach of contract by the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which owns the building.
Mr Ward added: “I fully support the refurbishment of the library, but the council is selling prime assets at the very bottom of the market to spend £2.5 million of public money on a building we do not even own.”
Coun David Pears (Con, Sutton Trinity) said: “This is one of the most difficult decisions we have had to make. We have to be careful that this does not put people off coming to the town.”
A report from Service Integration Head, Gary Ladbrooke, said: “There is sufficient spare capacity available at other car parks in the town centre to cater for the loss of these car parks. External consultation was not therefore necessary.’’