Digbeth businesses hit back at Birmingham City Council

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Digbeth businesses say they are looking to Birmingham city council to help overcome or counter negative publicity

Clubs, bars and restaurants in Digbeth have collectively called out Birmingham city council for not championing their business needs during a difficult few months.

A safety forum on Thursday (February 2) brought together select Digbeth businesses, the local authority, and night-time economy champion Lawrence Barton, to discuss how to improve policing and street cleaning for people visiting the area.

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It comes after the death of footballer Cody Fisher at Crane nightclub – located on Adderely Street – which has since had its licence revoked – on Boxing Day last year.

Businesses in Digbeth suggest 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.”

According to the businesses, Mr Barton and the leader of Birmingham city council, Ian Ward, claimed the lack of support and safety improvements was due to Digbeth “lacking a Business Improvement District (BID)”.

But the businesses contest this claim and suggest they already pay thousands of pounds for road closures.

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Crane Nightclub, Digbeth, BirminghamCrane Nightclub, Digbeth, Birmingham
Crane Nightclub, Digbeth, Birmingham | Emma Trimble / SWNS

They said: “In a meeting held yesterday (Thursday February 2), 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.”

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Digbeth businesses say they are looking to Birmingham city council to help overcome or counter negative publicity and help promote Digbeth as a “safe, friendly and welcoming destination”.

They also suggest business owners are already face 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.

They continued: “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.”

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A Birmingham city council spokesperson said: “This meeting – organised by the night-time economy champion – was a listening exercise and part of the ongoing dialogue with businesses in Digbeth. It was an opportunity to share concerns and, as the businesses have said, the meeting was productive.

“Digbeth is an important and unique part of what makes Birmingham so special and we will work with businesses in the area to address issues raised at the meeting.”

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