This weekend I woke up to a Passle reminder that I haven’t posted anything recently. I haven't met my target!!  Welcome to 2020 - an automated bot is telling me I’m not good enough! 

Put that into context a colleague pointed out to my horror that apparently I’m also a millennial (with Google assistance I was shocked to prove him right, but only just). So welcoming in a new decade with my first post of the year I thought I’d check in how Birmingham is doing.

First up; we’ve moved! Irwin Mitchell have swanky new offices... But in terms of the state of this city - were not the only ones - Paradise has its first new occupants - at 1 Chamberlain Square.

Powerhouse 

The latest Powerhouse Report is out!  And it's good news for Birmingham and the rest of the Midlands.

Birmingham is set to see the fastest annual GVA growth out of the Midlands Cities in Q4 2020.  We're upto 10th!  Nottingham, Stoke, Derby and Leicester are all in the top 20 based on year on year growth.

Placemaking

West Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street launched the West Midlands Design Charter this week too!  It badges the West Midlands as the UK's Growth Capital but more importantly looks to shape placemaking in the region.

In part a Modal Shift is targeted. Proposals should demonstrate an understanding of the changing face of transport and movement patterns across the West Midlands; promoting walking, cycling and public transport use.  Funnily enough this brings me on to my final point - below.

Congestion Charge Mark 2

The draft Birmingham Transport Plan will be out to consultation from this week.  If it works it could be seen to be the carrot to the stick that is coming in the summer in the CAZ.  On one read it can come across as quite radical, reflecting the vision of the city of the future and some of the thought processes in my favourite "work" book Happy City.  

Opposition Cllr's are not happy.

To me though it is like the penny has finally dropped - to create sustainable transport models you have to positively plan for them.  My personal favourite - "manage the link between parking cost and public transport fares – ensuring public transport is more competitive and attractive"*&  Let's face it - the cheapest most convenient choice is usually the one most people will go for.  

But the more radical "traffic cells initiative" has got people up in arms, stopping commuters crossing the city meaning you come in to a place, and then go out again before coming back in.  This model is fully explored by the Happy City movement and shown to work.  Radical but if the tram and other public transport is in place in time and works habits should change.  Clearly the key to this is getting the infrastructure in place before the stick and penalties bite.

The future of the city, particularly the one I work in most days, certainly has an interesting decade ahead of it.

*& the cynic in me remembering that we still do not know the pricing structure for HS2.