Pressure to end disruption on Northfield High Street


Over the past few weeks prolonged works to repair water mains in Northfield has been severely disrupting the high street, and trade for local businesses on it.

Severn Trent Water opened up a hole at the junction of Bell Lane and Bristol Road South on the 14th June, after it was found that four leaks in the trunk main supplying water to Birmingham have slowly been eroding the ground underneath Northfield town centre. But despite opening up the hole, action to fix the problem has been slow. Many local business owners, who began to see footfall on the high street decrease, were understandably concerned and frustrated about the lack of updates and urgency from Severn Trent.

Along with local traders and the Northfield Business Improvement District (BID), I have been putting pressure on Severn Trent, the City Council and Amey to get the work finished as soon as possible. Local businesses should not have had to put up with all this disruption for so long.

Three of the leaks have now been repaired, but the fourth will still need to be opened and refilled.  Severn Trent have said they are working with council highways officers to find a suitable time to do this work and cause a minimal level of disruption for local people.

I have now asked Severn Trent, Birmingham City Council and Amey to produce a report on the lessons learned from the last two weeks. I want to ensure that any future disruption is minimised and that we don’t end up in the same situation again. As Labour’s Shadow Roads Minister I know how disruptive road works by utility companies can be – particularly when you see a road being dug up by one company, only to see the same piece of road dug up by a different company again a couple of months later. I want to get the different authorities and companies coordinating their activities much better.

I know there is best practice from elsewhere which we can learn from, and I will continue to push for an improved system of road maintenance and repair –  both at a local and national level.



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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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