Pics & quotes taken by Claire Taylor / Intro by Ed King
Erdington High Street was once one of the busiest in Birmingham. But even before Covid closed shops and businesses across the country, Erdington’s central vein of commerce was already getting clogged – with many local shoppers put off by an increase in antisocial behaviour and street crime.
Recently, there have been more hopes dashed as Erdington missed out on two multi million pound pots of Government funding that would have kickstarted major regeneration of the High Street – being rejected for the Future High Street Fund on Boxing Day 2020, then the Levelling Up Fund in October last year.
And whilst more banks move out and budget shops move in, those responsible for promoting Erdington’s business community continue to try and turn an increasingly troubling tide – with the recently reinstated Erdington Business Improvement District (Erdington BID) allotting ‘£20000 towards marketing, events and promotion’ from their annual budget.
But whilst Westminster side steps Erdington’s ambitions and recognised national chains hover on the side lines, the local arts community has been making an impact – with creative events and community projects bringing crowds and attention to the waning High Street.
In October 2021, the global phenomenal and ‘living puppet’ Little Amal visited Erdington High Street, as she came through selected places in the UK at the end of her 8,000m walk across the world – raising awareness for the plight of child refugees and displaced people.
Hundreds of people gathered on Erdington High Street in celebration and solidarity, joining Little Amal as she walked from the Co-op supermarket to Central Square Shopping Centre.
So, can art and creative activity help breath life back into Erdington High Street? Are the creative industries picking up the slack from a distant Government and nervous national brands?
Or do these events bring more problems to an already strained shopping hub, distracting people’s attention from the shelves and taking footfall out of the shops and onto the pavement?
Erdington Local’s VOX POP reporter, Claire Taylor, went onto the High Street to ask local shops and shoppers alike… would you like more art, music, and events on Erdington High Street?
Pete and Pat Ferrans, Erdington
“We came to the puppet one (Little Amal), the big walking puppet one, and thought that was great. Anything that would bring people to the High Street. If its that, or a food fair, or a farmer’s market.”
Raven Dixon, Erdington
“I’m a creative person; I’d love to see more arts and events on the High Street.
“I can’t think off hand of any specific events, but what was really great is when the big puppet (Little Amal) came – everybody was talking about it, including people who don’t normally come to Erdington. More high-profile stuff like that.”
Daniel Byrne, Erdington
“I think they’re a good idea. You know when there was the big doll (Little Amal) here, I saw that. I was up there (car park above Wilton Market) watching it, I’d love to see more things like that.
“But anything that livens it (High Street) up is good, like music – I love seeing people playing, I give them a bit of money every now and again. I love to see it.”
Nancy Singh, clothing stall – Wilton Market
“I would like to see more events; it encourages people to come here when they see things happening on the High Street. Music, or whatever people like and will bring them here.”
Kevin Boustead, The Wilton Cobbler – Wilton Market
“I like having the events, but it just takes everyone out of the (Wilton) market. I’ve been here for 30 years next month; we want to bring people into the market.
“What you’ve got to do is to get the people, the general public, not to be frightened to come into Erdington. They can still be scare stiff of the High Street.”
Sohrab Hesari, Aster Alterations
“I like the events on the High Street. I think music events would be better, and food events, for the High Street. Better for the public.
“Better for me too, when she came (Little Amal) it brought more people into the shop.”
Aparna Binoop, New Oscott
“More events would benefit the High Street, for sure. I would like to see some areas made specially for people, so they can gather around and play.”
Caitlin Wood, Erdington
“Definitely. It would be really nice if there were more live music events, I always thought that would be good. But it would be good if there was a venue for 18-30 year olds.”
If you have something to say about any of the issues raised in this VOX POP (or anything else you want to tell us about) please email: firstname.lastname@example.org