Transport Plan: what can Birmingham learn from Ghent?

A controversial plan to ban cars from Birmingham city centre will today be put to the Council Cabinet ahead of a public consultation.

Photo of car drivers waiting in heavy congestion in central Birmingham Credit: ITV News Central

Last week we reported how Birmingham City Council plans to place a ban on cars in parts of the city centre, add 20-mph limits and ban cars outside schools, as part of Birmingham Transport Plan 2031.

More details of its pollution charge being introduced in July were also given.

The Transport Plans include:


limit additions in some areas

No cars

outside schools

Council teams say these and other measures are designed to prevent congestion and to allow public transport to serve more people.

But there's been anger from people who commute, as well as a major backlash on social media.

Ghent in Belgium boasts a congestion-free experience Credit: YouTube/Ghent tourism video

Birmingham City Council's plans are modelled on the transport success seen in the Belgian city of Ghent. It's described as Belgium's most authentic and quirky city.

So when it comes to tackling transport, what has the city of Ghent achieved ?

  • Ghent has the largest low-traffic pedestrian zone in Europe

  • The inner city of Ghent is considered as a low-emission zone

  • Ghent's City Council implemented their Circulation Plan in April 2017, in a bid to improve the city's accessibility and livability in the future

  • Ghent’s city centre is a pedestrian zone, so no cars are allowed

  • Some student residences have free parking spaces in the immediate surroundings

What else is Ghent famous for ?

  • The city promotes a "Veggie Day" every Thursday - the first city on earth with an official day to stimulate people into becoming vegetarian

  • It has been twinned with the Japanese city of Kanazawa since 1971

  • It is home to The Ghent Altarpiece by the Van Eyck brothers, completed in 1432. This painting is adored worldwide - and is also the most stolen work of art in history

  • First Belgian City with 40% less CO2 by the year 2030

Council teams in Birmingham say the city needs to find different and more eco-friendly ways of balancing their transport needs.

“As a city, we have been over-reliant on private cars for too long and with more people choosing to live and work in Birmingham, we need to find innovative new ways to keep the city moving in an efficient but sustainable way.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment

If the Cabinet approve the plans, the draft plan will then go out to public consultation from the 28th January 2020, before a final version is formally adopted by Birmingham City Council.

Watch Hannah Bechelet's full report below:

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