A recently released statement from Digbeth businesses red: “In a meeting held on Thursday 2 February, Digbeth businesses came together to raise concerns around policing, street cleaning, and mitigation and compensation for the ongoing Midlands Metro Alliance works which have directly led to several businesses closing permanently in recent months.
“During the meeting, Mr Lawrence Barton, newly appointed Night-Time Economy Champion for Birmingham City Council, suggested the lack of support - acknowledged by council leader Ian Ward - was due to Digbeth lacking a Business Improvement District (BID). “This claim is contested by businesses who feel they already pay for services.
“For example, a number of businesses in the area have paid £25,000 between them for road closures to ensure the safety of pedestrians in a heavily congested area and to enable access for emergency services. The tragic murder of Cody Fisher at Crane on Monday 26 December 2022 saw extensive national media coverage, leading to concerns about safety in the UK’s night-time economy.
“We look to Birmingham City Council for support in overcoming or countering negative publicity and promoting Digbeth as a safe, friendly and welcoming destination. Whilst the meeting was productive, the decision by the organisers to invite media has generated further negative publicity.”
“Business owners are already facing difficult trading conditions as a result of the increase in the cost of living and energy prices, with the issues of reduced footfall due to Metro works and bad publicity encouraged by Birmingham City Council who appear to be pushing a BID agenda for the area. Attendees felt that there was a misrepresentation of the purpose and spirit of the meeting which characterised the area as having bigger safety issues than was acknowledged by the inspector present.
“Ian Ward and Lawrence Barton can and must do better for us beyond media opportunities and focus on important issues within the local community. We demand better support and services from Birmingham City Council now.”