BIRMINGHAM: Birmingham Wheels could be ‘lost to the city’ – claim
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Businesses operating at the Birmingham Wheels site could be ‘lost to the city’ if the council does not find an appropriate site for them, it has been claimed.
But the deputy leader of the council has insisted that the council keeps its ‘eyes on the prize’ in regard to relocation, with the current occupants required to vacate the site by the end of the month.
Speaking today at a Cabinet meeting, leader of the Conservative group Cllr Robert Alden expressed his concern at the fact that no alternative site has yet been found for the businesses operating out of Birmingham Wheels.
The site had originally been earmarked for redevelopment at the start of January 2020, but was granted a ‘stay of execution’ until the end of October to continue operations and work with the council to find a suitable replacement.
The council, which owns the land, says that it needs to take control of it to rid it of an ‘infestation’ of Japanese knotweed, while it also plans to redevelop the area and create up to 3,000 jobs in the local area.
However Cllr Alden feels that the council has not given enough assistance to the businesses that need to relocate, leaving them very little time to find an alternative.
“Within the Birmingham Development Plan (BDP) it was made really clear that the council must ensure that there’s either protection or enhancement on existing sites, or that an alternative site would be found,” he said.
“And what seems to be clear so far is that the council isn’t helping them move, but rather just pointing them in the direction of retailers of land and aren’t actually doing much more than that.
“And to me that doesn’t feel like it meets the requirements of the BDP where the Birmingham Wheels site is either technically enhanced or relocated.
“And the way the council is going about this currently, this group will be put out of business before any relocation happens. Which means they’ll be lost to the city, which is something we were ensured wouldn’t happen.
“And I think we need to ensure that Birmingham Wheels get the protection they need, either as they’ve proposed with a reduced footprint on the current site, or on an alternative site in the city.”
Speaking back in July the director of the Wheels site, Philip Bond, claimed that the council was merely using the knotweed as an excuse for taking over the site, adding that they knew it existed when they took on the lease back in 2020.
However speaking today, Deputy Leader of the Council Brigid Jones said that the council had been ‘up front’ with occupants of the site from the beginning, and emphasised the need to create more jobs in the local area.
“We have had representations from people I know are currently on the site, and it’s clear that this is causing some distress with them needing to move on,” she said.
“But we have been up front with the people who took on the lease around the nature of that and the time we would need it back.
“And we do need to keep our eyes focused on the prize here – we have record unemployment in some wards adjoining it.”
Words: Tom Dare, Local Democracy Reporter
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