Following an on-line consultation with interested parties last night, the Council has decided NOT to go ahead with the proposal for a temporary closure of the High street.  See the Council’s public statement:-

Following on from the Government’s announcement to provide a funding opportunity to introduce temporary measures to help support Active Travel, Solihull Council has spoken to Local Ward Members, representatives from Knowle Society and Visit Knowle, to consider what is currently appropriate for Knowle, to support economic recovery during the COVID19 pandemic.

Whilst options to pedestrianise, introduce a one-way traffic systems or shuttle two-way working were considered, the consensus from the initial conversation was that no changes will be introduced, it was also agreed that any future proposals for schemes would be subject to full public consultation before any decision would be made.

Councillor Ken Hawkins, Cabinet Member for Environment & Highways, said:

“Due to the current light traffic conditions, we will take the opportunity to replace the street lighting system and provide new LED energy efficient technology. This work will require temporary two-way working controlled by temporary traffic signals, which is expected to help reduce traffic speeds whilst the work takes place.

One minor temporary change was supported and will be introduced as soon as possible. The introduction of a 20 mph speed limit along the High Street, Lodge Road and part of Station Road. This is to help make drivers aware of the need to travel at lower speeds due to the increased risk of more pedestrians and cyclists using the roads around the village.

In addition to these roadworks, the Council, in partnership with Visit Knowle, will be providing support to local retailers and businesses to help them re-open to the public safely from the 15th June. Information signs to remind people about the need to follow the Government’s latest social distancing advice will also be provided around the village.”

“With regard to the Village car parks, these will remain free of charge for all customers. We will review this on the 23rd June 2020.”

INSTALLATION OF NEW STREET LIGHTS

Those who have been in the High Street in recent days might have noticed yellow marks on the lamp-posts and pavements.  These are in preparation for the replacement of all the street lights in the High Street.  The existing ones are beyond their life and cannot be repaired or replaced with identical designs. It has therefore been decided to replace all of them with a new design.  The locations will also be changed, partly to move them away from the edge of the pavement for safety and partly to avoid being in front of the notable buildings.

The works will start on Monday 15th June and will be managed to minimise disruption.

PROPOSED TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF KNOWLE HIGH STREET

Some of you will be aware of a proposal by Solihull Council to close the High Street in Knowle on a temporary basis as the shops re-opened to make it a safer environment for shoppers whilst full social distancing is in force and queues may form outside shops. You may also be aware that a significant number of residents, including some of our members, expressed disquiet about this plan and the impact on diversionary routes.

At a Council meeting last night, the Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways determined that the proposal should not be approved and there should be a period of wider consultation on the matter.

It was particularly unfortunate that, in the lead-up to the meeting:-

  •  There was a lack of clarity about what was being proposed, why it was felt necessary and the timescale for the proposal, apparently because of the speed with which the proposal was developed.  We expect these will be corrected in the consultation process.
  • There was an error in the Officer’s report to the Council Committee – it incorrectly stated your Society as having given support to the proposal. The Society had not been formally consulted. Informally, the relevant officers of the Society, given just a couple of days to consider the idea, indicated that we might not object if reassurances on a short duration and appropriate traffic mitigation measures were given.
Once we were aware of the error, the Council were immediately made aware of it.  This resulted in a very swift apology from the Council which we believe assisted the Council in the decision taken at that meeting.
We believe that in agreeing to undertake a more thorough consultative process, a sound decision has been made and we will provide a further update when details of next stage are available.

Meanwhile, there was good news at the same meeting last night, in that the suspension of parking charges in local car parks was extended for at least a few more weeks. The next review is expected on 23 June. Again, we will keep you informed.

CHANGES TO SERVICES AT SOLIHULL HOSPITAL

With the reduction in the demand for hospital beds to treat virus patients, Solihull Hospital is being prepared to concentrate on patients with other conditions requiring surgery.  It will continue to treat patients needing to visit these departments:-
Dialysis; Pharmacy; Pathology; Outpatients; Women’s Unit (inc. Birthing Unit); Cardiac Catheterisation Lab; Cardiology Diagnostic Testing; Physiotherapy; Chronic Pain; Dermatology; Rheumatology; Haematology/Oncology; Imaging; Ophthalmology. 

As a consequence of the changes, the Minor Injuries Unit has been CLOSED and patients have been advised to:-

“Visit a local pharmacy or 111.nhs.uk or call 111 (free and open 24/7); travel to another local minor injuries unit or walk-in centre; contact their GP; or for more serious issues (including suspected broken bones), travel to Heartlands Hospital or Queen Elizabeth Hospital A&E departments.”  See www.nhs.uk  for further information.

MENTAL HEALTH WEEK

This is Mental Health Awareness Week and during these especially difficult times, it is important to be kind to others and kind to yourself. If you are struggling, there is support available. You are not alone. Click here for resources and advice on how to stay on top of your mental wellbeing whilst staying at home.

Please remember –  if you are ill, whether or not that illness is COVID, seek help.