Dear Editor, Re: City Centre Neighbourhood Forum’s response to recent city centre disturbances.
Whilst we welcome the overall outcome of the police’s actions during the protests on August 8, Birmingham City Centre Neighbourhood Forum believes that the impact on city centre residents was ignored. We protested, therefore, to the Chief Constable, West Midlands Police, over the apparent indifference of the members of his force.
The significant number of people who live in New Street, Corporation Street and surrounding streets were forced to endure several hours of violent disorder on their doorsteps. Not only was this upsetting to view, it effectively meant that they were prisoners in their own homes.
Briefings beforehand and subsequent interviews reinforced the impression that the impact on residents was not adequately addressed. West Midlands Police talked about the impact on retailers and shoppers but did not mention residents.
Furthermore, one senior officer appeared to be ignorant of the existence of residents in the affected area – there are probably some hundreds!
Whilst we concur that a balance needs to be achieved between allowing people their right to protest, equally the “human rights of residents” need to be given sufficient consideration by the relevant authorities.
These disturbances have emphasised the unsuitability of the main shopping area for large-scale protests and demonstrations.
The constrained environment amplifies the negative impact on residents, businesses and visitors alike. This time we came off relatively lightly but next time we may not be so fortunate.
Before we are faced with potential damage to property and injury to residents, the City Centre Neighbourhood Forum suggests that consideration be given to moving such protests to more suitable locations which can be controlled effectively and are away from residents.
Chair, Birmingham City Centre Neighbourhood Forum.