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Council leader apologises for ‘entirely predictable’ Birmingham traffic chaos

Council leader apologises for ‘entirely predictable’ Birmingham traffic chaos

🕔14.Jan 2016

City council leader John Clancy has issued a public apology for poorly plannedroad works that have plunged Birmingham into the worst traffic congestion for years.

Cllr Clancy said it was almost unbelievable that major repairs to the M6, M42, Aston Expressway as well as numerous city road improvement schemes should have been permitted to go ahead at the same time, leaving motorists fuming daily at lengthy delays.

He put the blame on a lack of consultation between the council, Highways England and Amey, the company with a £3 billion 25-year contract to improve and manage all of Birmingham’s roads.

Speaking to business ratepayers during a consultation meeting on the 2016-17 council spending plans, Cllr Clancy said the problems arising from so many schemes being allowed to go ahead at the same time could and should have been predicted.

The resulting chaos was frustrating for motorists and bad for the image of Birmingham, he declared.

Cllr Clancy said:

I have been astonished at the total lack of any co-ordination between the Highways Agency, the Government and the city council. They failed to predict what must have seemed obvious to most people.

If you carry out all this work on the M6, the Expressway and the main arterial roads at the same time what will result is real harm to Birmingham.

I can only apologise.

The strong remarks by Cllr Clancy, who became council leader on December 1, may not please some of his cabinet colleagues and senior council officers who took part in a publicity campaign last summer to convince the public that roadworks in Birmingham were well planned and that inconvenience to motorists would be kept to a minimum.

As it turned out, a perfect storm of roadworks has reduced travelling times across Birmingham to snail’s pace:

  • The Paradise Circus gyratory system has been shut off in most directions as work continues on demolishing the former Central Library.
  • The southbound slip road to join the M6 at junction five will be closed from Sunday, January 10, for 25 weeks to allow maintenance work to take place and the northbound slip road to leave the M6 will close overnight from Monday for one week.
  • Major maintenance works at Spaghetti Junction, which brought traffic on the A38(M) Aston Expressway to a virtual standstill last year, are due to recommence shortly.
  • Roadworks around Spitfire Island, where the A452 Chester Road meets Fort Parkway in Castle Bromwich, continue to run behind schedule, with long queues of traffic building up at peak times.

At the same time ongoing work by Amey continues to disrupt traffic flows along many of the city’s main roads.

Cllr Clancy said he intended to renegotiate the contract the council has with Amey in an effort to give local councillors and residents more say about when roadworks planned for their communities should take place. A “one size fits all” approach could not be allowed to continue.

He added:

We have a 25-year contract with Amey and this is one of the things I want to look at again. Not just in terms of the effect this is having on businesses but also the difficulties ordinary citizens of Birmingham have in getting around the place.

I share your frustration. We need to look at the Amey contract again.

When you hand over control for 25 years councillors tend to lose a bit of control and there are issues with Amey. I do think we need to refresh the relationship so that ordinary citizens can have a bit more say over what happens on the roads of our city.

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