Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Further cuts expected as council prepares budget

COUNCILLORS are set to agree Solihull's spending plans for the year ahead at the annual budget meeting next Wednesday (March 1).
With a continuing squeeze on public spending, the council is expected to slash budgets across the board - part of a drive to save in the region of £8.3billion over the course of the next three years.
There will also be increases in council tax bills as the local authority grapples with rising costs, particularly in relation to adult social care.
A full report on the budget will be available on the site next week.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Council plans to remove "unauthorised" tributes from Woodlands Cemetery

SOLIHULL Council has voiced concerns about the number of "unauthorised" ornaments being left at local cemeteries and has said that any items which break regulations will be taken away as of next month.
The local authority said that a large number of objects were being left by way of tribute on lawns and hanging from trees at Woodlands Cemetery, near Chelmsley Wood, and two other burial sites elsewhere in the borough.
It has argued these items are against cemetery regulations, on the grounds that they could create problems for other visitors attempting to access graves and make it harder for staff to carry out routine maintenance.
From March, any pieces that fall foul of the rules will be removed and put in storage.
Councillor Tony Dicicco, cabinet member for stronger communities & partnerships, said: "We realise this is a very sensitive issue and try to balance the needs and wishes of all users of our cemeteries.
"If, unfortunately, items have been placed in an unauthorised manner, they will be removed and kept securely on site for a period of six weeks for people to collect.
"Signage has been installed at each cemetery to make people aware of what’s permitted, but if they are still unsure I would encourage them to contact our Bereavement Services team for further guidance."
The issue has led to a number of flashpoints in the past. Last autumn, a mum criticised the council for taking items she had left in memory of her son.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

End in sight for project at Castle Brom church

THE bells at a Castle Bromwich church are set to fall silent as a major restoration project gets underway later this month.
Having raised the £100,000 needed to refurbish the six current bells and install two new ones alongside them, the team at St Mary and St Margaret's Church are ready for the long-awaiting renovation to begin.
Work will start next weekend on loosening the current fixtures in the belfry, with a bell hanger from the famous Taylor's Bell Foundry scheduled to work on the ring from February 28 to March 10.
The Loughborough-based company - which has a history stretching back centuries - will be installing a new cast iron frame to replace the ageing timbers presently in place.
Because some parts of the current frame are very old, it makes it harder to ring the bells. 
Fear that the installation would eventually fail prompted the bell ringing team to launch their fundraising project several years ago. 
Despite the sum of money required being more than three times what they had originally estimated, they reached the £100,000 total last year and have achieved their aim of having the work done in time to celebrate the 300th anniversary of a set of bells being installed at the church by Sir John Bridgeman.
Bill Dargue, a member of the bellringing team, has said the installation will be completed in August. Once the work is finished a service will be held in the spring to welcome the new bells.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

"People want to be listened to" argues Chelmsley Wood writer

AN AUTHOR who grew up in Chelmsley Wood has written about shifting political allegiances on the estate.
Lynsey Hanley has penned a piece for The Guardian examining why many local voters have switched their vote from Labour to the Green Party in recent years.
You can read the full article here.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Police appeal after knifepoint robbery in Castle Brom

WANTED: CCTV stills of
the suspects
POLICE have appealed for help in finding three youths who robbed a teenager at knife point in Castle Bromwich last month.
The 16-year-old had got off the No 72 bus in Bradford Road and was threatened with a blade not far from the former Coach and Horses pub.
He was told to hand over his phone, wallet, coat and shopping bags and although he escaped unhurt, he was left badly shaken by the incident.
The robbery happened on January 6, at around 7.30 in the evening.
Solihull Police have now issued CCTV of three suspects, who they want to speak to in connection with the incident.
If you have any information please contact Det Con James Smith on 101 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Smith's Wood sixth form set to close

PLANS to close the sixth form at Smith's Wood Sports College will be discussed by councillors tomorrow evening.
The school launched a Post 16 service in 2009, envisioning it would cater for up to 200 students.
But less than a decade on, staff have admitted that a dwindling roll-call has left the college with little option but to close the sixth form.
Ann Pearson, Solihull Council's director of children's services and skills, said: "Pupil numbers in the sixth form peaked in September 2012 at 160 but have been in steady decline ever since.
"In September 2016 there were 67 on roll of which only 37 are Year 12. Such small numbers...are not viable."
It is intended that the college allows current students to complete their studies, but they will not be taking on any more from September.
A consultation exercise is due to take place in the coming weeks, ahead of the school converting to an academy on April 1.
A full report will be included in the next edition of Other Side of Solihull.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Investigation after pensioner dies in Chelmsley Wood fire

AN ELDERLY man has died following a shed fire in Chelmsley Wood this afternoon.
The 78-year-old, who has not been named by authorities, perished after the blaze broke out in the back garden of a property in Nineacres Drive.
Emergency services were called at around 3pm. They said the pensioner had been found in a critical condition but died at the scene.
Police officers have sealed off the site and an investigation has begun to determine how the fire broke out.
A second man suffered smoke inhalation, but apparently did not require hospital treatment.
West Midlands Fire Service said it had sent crews from Coventry, Sheldon and Hay Mills following the 999 call. A hose reel was used to extinguish the blaze.