Politicians and authorities praised for helping more Westside venues to reopen outside

After months of planning, new outside hospitality spaces have been agreed in principle in and around Broad Street. Westside business leader MIKE OLLEY says a big ‘thank you’ to everyone involved.

Every week on Westside’s Broad Street, I generally have a ‘unique experience’, (calm down, you undernourished lot, let’s keep this clean!).

When the street is in full swing it can range from seeing the latest clothes fashions to at times a lack of clothes. But please don’t feel its all down to dress sense. It could be remarkable work undertaken by a street pastor, a doorman or indeed a glass collector. The street is full of marvels, constantly.

Last week I had a tour of numerous spots on Westside looking to supporting the development of outside drinking spaces. On tour with me were about 20 local government, police and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM, the tram builder) officers.

Now to set the scene, you may have heard government ministers saying how much they value the hospitality sector, and how they are going to cut red tape. Well, government ministers sometimes talk good sense. They are also highly adept at spinning us a good line in telling us what they think we want to hear.

Equally I have heard Cllr Ian Ward, the leader of Birmingham City Council, make similar observations, (and from personal conversations I comprehensively believe his goodwill). Indeed, West Midlands mayor Andy Street has also been very focussed on business recovery and support. We therefore have a powerful bunch in government ministers, the leader of the council and the elected mayor, but are they serious and sincere?

The proof is in in the experience, of course. Last week out and about with the officials I had my latest ‘unique experience’. Good people, all with very strict disciplines, looking to do something good for our city. All with a strong “can do” attitude. I was genuinely taken aback and emotionally exulted.

Essentially, we want to build a couple of tented areas where the great British public can safely have a drink out (remember that!). Some of our pubs and clubs don’t have enough outside seating to justify opening, but with a tent outside, on the pavement, they can. Our group of officers therefore had to look, consider and decide if they could deliver this.

They did look, they did consider and from their collective and individual attitudes I am very hopeful this will deliver. This is truly wonderful news. News made possible by public servants at their best.

I should therefore apologise to whichever minister it was who I now freely admit I wronged by not believing him. I’d also like to say ‘thank you’ to Cllr Ward and mayor Street, plus the leader of TfWM.

But above all, could I take my hat off to all of those 20 or so local government, police and TfWM officers? Their commitment to delivering business recovery is truly touching. To you all and your colleagues back at home or in the office, a massive ‘thank you’ from Westside BID.

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