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SOLIHULL: Residents’ bus stop battle rumbles on

SOLIHULL: Residents’ bus stop battle rumbles on

Photo by Local Democracy Reporter David Irwin.

Residents fed-up with bus passengers staring into their windows and loud crowds shouting just yards from their homes fear a new scheme could make matters worse.

Those living in a small row of cottages along Lode Lane, in Solihull, were appalled to learn that a “large, lit-up” shelter could be installed to serve a new Sprint service.

It’s around 10 years since they fought to have a shelter outside their properties replaced with a simple pole.

While this didn’t address many of their concerns about large groups on the pavement and a lack of privacy, it at least appeared to reduce litter and anti-social behaviour; the old screens had been frequently smashed.

So those living nearby were concerned to be told during the summer that a shelter could be reinstated as part of the tram-style Sprint route.

Mary Cain, a retired nurse who has lived on the road over 20 years, worried the structure would be a magnet for bored groups of youths.

“What concerns me is that if it’s all lit-up right outside your window, it’s an even bigger invasion of privacy,” said the 76-year-old.

“It’s going to be like a honeypot for kids all out there on their phones, looking for somewhere to gather.”

The grandmother-of-four said that the compromise agreed around a decade ago had made things better, but residents still feel the best solution would be to remove the stop altogether.

Front gardens are a short distance from the kerb and those on the top deck of passing double-deckers can see directly into upstairs rooms.

Neighbour Adam Sztolc, who moved in seven years ago, said that large crowds of waiting passengers also caused a headache early in the morning; the stop is commonly used by Jaguar Land Rover shift workers

“The amount of people here swearing, shouting, talking and they don’t care.

“They have just finished work and they are not thinking about it. But people want to sleep.”

Residents had received notice of the proposed shelter, one of several being installed along the Sprint route, back in mid-June.

The following month, Fiona Pagett – among those living nearby – made a representation to a Solihull Council’s environment and infrastructure meeting to make clear that locals had grave concerns.

“We propose the bus stop should be removed altogether as it is already blighting our lives,” she had said. “We are impacted negatively on a daily basis.

“Residents’ opposition to this bus stop is not new.

“10 years ago residents campaigned to remove the bus stop and shelter as it was constantly being vandalised by youths – our campaign was partially successful.”

She also cited concerns that a shelter would make it even harder for drivers pulling out onto one of the busiest routes in and out of Solihull town centre.

Lyndon ward councillor Kathryn Thomas (Lib Dem) had urged transport chiefs not to make matters worse for those living along the route.

“This has been a long-term issue that has actually [previously been mitigated] and it would be a shame to undo this during Sprint.”

At the same meeting, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) said the more modern “enhanced” shelters were designed to improve facilities for bus users.

Around a dozen are originally planned during the first phase of works on the the Solihull leg, with a further eight scheduled for a later date.

Officials had indicated that plans for this particular site had been put on hold to allow for further discussions and this was confirmed in an official statement.

A TfWM spokesman said the comments from those living near to what is designated as “the Dovehouse Lane” stop were the only objections received.

“The concerns they raised about crowding and privacy – it’s a key stop for JLR workers – are valid and indeed understood, so it was decided to defer any decision on this stop and include as part of possible later phase two of Sprint works.

“This gives plenty of time to consult further with residents and the ward councillor and to work with Solihull officers in finding an acceptable solution that works for both residents and a future Sprint service.”

On the scheme more generally, they added: “Initial works are due to be completed in time to support the upcoming Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and will provide greater connectivity between key locations including Alexander Stadium, the NEC, and Birmingham Airport.

“In keeping with WMCA’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2041, the corridor will feature environmentally friendly travel, including the use of zero-emission vehicles, and tree planting along the route.”

Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter

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