Allotment users furious about car ban during Commonwealth Games this summer


Allotment users are furious as Commonwealth Games road arrangements mean they will not be able to drive to the site during parts of the event. Birmingham 2022, Birmingham City Council and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) this week issued maps of road arrangements including closures around key Games venues in Birmingham.

The map for Alexander Stadium shows Church Road in Perry Barr will become permit-only during the Games. Separately, there will be days when the users of the Walsall Road Allotments can access the allotments even though the permits are in operation on Church Road.

But there will be restrictions on cars being allowed at the allotments on certain days for security reasons. Despite meeting with Birmingham 2022 about the problem, allotment users are concerned they won’t have full access at a time of year when plants urgently need watering.

In addition, the allotment is home to cats including Robert the Allotment Cat as well as wildlife and chickens and users are worried for the health of the animals if they cannot be tended to during the period. Birmingham 2022 has said there will be ten days from July 22 to August 10 when vehicles cannot be brought on site.

READ MORE:Residents to be given parking permits under Commonwealth Games transport plans

Betty Farruggia, allotments site manager and “Robert’s human” said: “It’s like they don’t care. More than 80 per cent of [around 110] plot holders rely on a car to get to the allotments – a lot are elderly and some have mobility problems. Apart from the cats, people will have plants growing. For people with greenhouses – especially if it’s dry weather in the day – the plants must be watered.

“With the cats – we have got to rely on people from the allotment to go and feed them and keep an eye on their medical conditions. We need people regularly there every day to notice things. I agree the Games are important but we are as well.”

She said the allotment users would be happy with access at limited times of day. Other allotment users have said they are unsure about using a shuttle bus service due to Covid fears.

Dominic Olliff, director of venues for Birmingham 2022, said: “Games partners have been in regular conversation with tenants from the Walsall Road Allotments and have also visited on several occasions. Access to the allotments will be maintained throughout the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

“The Games will be the largest event ever to be staged at the Alexander Stadium, with up to 30,000 spectators attending the opening and closing ceremonies and each session of the athletics programme. With this in mind, and to ensure the safety of spectators, athletes, officials, and everyone else involved, there will be a small number of days when it won’t be possible to bring a vehicle on site and access to the allotment will therefore be on foot. We are continuing to work with the allotment tenants to support them and to make sure the cats and other animals can continue to be fed on a daily basis.”

There has been previous controversy around how the Walsall Road Allotments fitted into future plans for the Alexander Stadium. The city council had said in 2019 “ all options were being considered ” for the site and campaigners were at the time concerned this could have meant the closure of the site post-Games.

The council later said an “early conclusion” of master planning was that “there is not a need to relocate the allotments”. A Birmingham 2022 spokesperson said: “Those discussions back in 2019 between other organisations and the allotment holders were about the ‘master plan’ and the long-term future for the Alexander Stadium site and were never about what was required at Games time.”

READ MORE:Birmingham Council ‘considering all options’ over allotments

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