Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing in anticipation of this year’s German market, which I’ve enjoyed every year since moving to Birmingham from the south for uni in 2007 – except the year I was studying in Germany.

I would just like to raise again the issue of crowd control on the route between Chamberlain and Centenary Squares. Especially the Paradise Circus bottleneck, which did last year have crowd control during some of the busiest periods (Saturdays and weekday evenings).

It concerns me that since last Christmas the work on Paradise Circus has potentially made the crowd control situation even more challenging and the bottleneck at Paradise Forum even more crowded – and even potentially dangerous considering incidents like the Love Parde disaster.

Since last year, one alternative pedestrian route between Chamberlain and Cenntenay Squares has now disappeared – the route via Congreve Passage behind the old library and past the Copthorne.

The opening hours of Fletchers Walk have been reduced, and the steps – which acted as an escape valve from the crowds (for the able bodied at least) – between the Paradise Forum-Centenary Square bridge that led to Paradise Forum and the rest of Broad Street are blocked off.

This leaves Fletchers Walk as an alternative route during its limited hours – although it is normally closed on Sunday (I saw people walking on the edge of Fletchers Walk in the carriageway to avoid the crowds one Sunday), and then far longer persions via the Mailbox, or via the Newhall St pedestrian crossing over Great Charles St Queensway.

Due to the above, I would like to strongly suggest at a minimum that Fletchers Walk is kept open on Sundays for the duration of the market to partially alleviate the Paradise Forum bottleneck.

I also feel in addition to occasional crowd control far better signage is required pointing to alternative routes, especially since so many visitors unfamiliar with the city centre come to the market – as do many Birmingham residents who aren’t always familiar with alternative routes.

Moreover, people on foot who aren’t visiting the market should easily be able to avoid the area during the busiest periods to avoid adding to the overcrowding.

Last year an “Alternative route to New Street station” sign was put on Broad St pointing towards Fletchers Walk and the Mailbox (though only a few days after the market began) which is a step in the right direction. But no clear signage seemed to point through Fletchers Walk or through the Suffolk Street Queensway underpass by the Mailbox.

And as far as I’m aware, there has never been persion signage pointing past the Town Hall to Fletchers Walk, nor persion signage at the Chamberlain Square entrance to Paradise Forum itself pointing past the BCU buildng and down the steps to Fletchers Walk (if this route hasn’t also been closed due to the works) which I believe would help considerably, since so many people feeding the Paradise Circus bottleneck last year clearly weren’t aware of alternative, less crowded routes.

I wish you all the best and look forward to drinking my German beer and English cider at a fun and safe market.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Wright

Harborne, Birmingham

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