A #28 million scheme to outlaw parking on three of Birmingham's busiest commuter routes is to go ahead.
After two years of consultation, and despite complaints from scores of shopkeepers, Birmingham City Council transportation cabinet member Len Gregory has agreed to turn the A34 Stratford Road, A34 Walsall Road and A38 Tyburn Road into Red Routes.
The new designation means that police and traffic wardens will take a zero-tolerance approach to illegal parking. Motorists parking on the side of the road will be hit with an instant #30 fine and risk having their cars towed away.
The red route system is widely used in London, where it has been responsible for helping peak-time traffic to run more freely. It has also been adopted in Solihull and Wolverhampton, leading to a 17 per cent fall in congestion.
But the Birmingham scheme prompted objections from traders, particularly along the Stratford Road where shopkeepers and market traders in Sparkbrook and Sparkhill fear a dramatic fall in business if customers are unable to park on the road.
Noor Hussain, chairman of the Stratford Road Business Association, said: "The red route might be good for Shirley and Solihull, but not for areas like Springfield, Sparkbrook, and Sparkhill.
"The red route will drive small businesses to the wall. We will be consulting with traders to discuss what action we take."
The council, however, insists it has more than compensated for the loss of on-street parking by providing additional parking places within easy walking distance of the shops.
Coun Gregory (Con Billesley) said: "Local councillors, residents and traders have been involved in a long consultation process over the past few years and plans have frequently been modified in response to their comments and suggestions.
"We've jumped through all the hoops and given traders everything they asked for. There is now more legal parking available than ever before, particularly in the Stratford Road area where 195 additional parking spaces and 37 loading bays have been provided."
Coun Gregory, who will introduce the red routes after Christmas for an experimental 18-month period, added: "By making the best use of the existing transport network the red routes will help keep traffic moving for the people who travel on our roads, the businesses based beside the routes, and residents who live nearby."
Jerry Blackett, policy director at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the West Midlands Business Transport Group, said: "Red routes have been proven to speed up journey times and improve journey reliability – both of which are vital to business.
"Implementing individual routes can vary enormously in terms of difficulty.
"There are no easy solutions to reducing congestion in the West Midlands and we must continue to couple investment in new roads and public transport with other measures such as red routes."