Sunday, 22 October 2017

Solihull Council insists it is ready for a harsher winter


AS the dark nights set in and the borough’s leaves start to turn, Solihull Council is already planning for the winter.
A fleet of nine new vehicles will be used to keep the roads clear in the event of ice and snow, with 3,500 tonnes of gritting salt having been stockpiled at the council depot. Half a dozen “hand salters” will be used to treat the borough’s six main retail centres, which include Chelmsley Wood and Marston Green.
The local authority has acknowledged that last winter was far milder than usual – only 29 gritting runs were completed, all of them precautionary.
Highways officers are nonetheless confident that the council is prepared should we experience more severe conditions this year.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Wife's appeal a year on from Kingshurst murder

APPEAL: Dawn Lewis, whose husband Giovanni was killed last October.

THE wife of a man murdered in Kingshurst 12 months ago has appealed for the public's help in tracing a key suspect.
Giovanni Lewis, 28, died in Hadfield Way after being stabbed through the heart on October 18 last year.
Despite a number of public appeals and a £5,000 reward being offered by Crimestoppers, the police have yet to locate Jammal Chase, a 20-year-old who they want to speak to in relation to the incident.
Twelve months on from Mr Lewis' death, his wife Dawn described her late husband as "a gentle giant" and yesterday made an emotional appeal.
"I just want him to hand himself in, its been long enough now, he does not know what pain it is causing my family and I, we want to lay Giovanni to rest but there can be no rest until he is in custody. Please do the right thing, stop our suffering and hand yourself in." 
Det Insp Paul Joyce warned that anyone who was helping to shelter Chase risked prosecution themselves.
"Our enquiries lead us to believe that Chase remains in the West Midlands. Do you know where he is? Do you have any information? Do the right thing and give us a call.
"The family of Giovanni have had to live the last 12 months knowing that the person who murdered him still hasn’t been brought to justice for what they did. This is still very much a live investigation and we are determined to get answers to help bring closure to Giovanni ’s loved ones."
Anyone with information is urged to contact the West Midlands Police homicide team on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Memorial to woman "who pulled the community together"

TRIBUTE: A sketch of the porch window design
WORSHIPPERS at a Marston Green church are raising money for a special memorial window, to be installed in tribute to a much-loved member of the local community.
Anne Dunkley, who was a churchwarden at St Leonard’s for seven years, died in June 2015 after being attacked at her home.
Now efforts are underway to create a lasting memorial to the 67-year-old, with a design for the porch window posted online last month.
The glasswork, set to be fitted in a wall which will catch the sunlight, will incorporate a number of emblems which represent Anne’s involvement in various aspects of village life.
These include an open book and pen, acknowledging her teaching career, and symbols recognising her long-standing involvement in the Scouts and Guides.
Reverend Penny Harrison, from St Leonard’s, said that the Parochial Church Council (PCC) had put around 18 months’ work into getting the design right.
“Anne was one of those people who pulled the whole community together,” she told Other Side of Solihull.
“She had a wicked sense of humour and was somebody always determined to get things done.”
It is anticipated that the window will cost in the region of £2,500, although the timetable for its installation will depend on getting a Faculty - the permission needed from the CofE to make changes to a church building.

  • Residents can send a cheque made payable to St. Leonard’s PCC - with ‘Anne Dunkley Memorial Window’ on the reverse. Please send to St. Leonard’s Church, Elmdon Road, Marston Green, B37 7BT.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Castle Brom schoolgirl among theatre show's young cast


WHAT a star! A schoolgirl from Castle Bromwich is among 27 youngsters who have been picked to appear in a show coming to the Birmingham Rep this month.
Grace Green, aged 10, will be among the cast of Nativity! The Musical, which begins its run tomorrow (Friday).
The all-singing, all-dancing production is inspired by the Christmas comedy film, which starred Martin Freeman and Ashley Jensen.
Director Debbie Isitt said she was looking forward to starting rehearsals with the “sweet and funny young cast”.
Nativity! The Musical is on until November 12, with tickets available from the theatre's website.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Local families hit hard by desperate shortage of affordable homes


A CHELMSLEY Wood councillor has said that radical action is needed to address a desperate housing “crisis” in the borough.
James Burn, the leader of the Greens on Solihull Council, said that he typically took a couple of calls a week from concerned residents, who have often been brought to tears by the situation they face.
With thousands of families on the waiting list, Coun Burn (pictured below) said that only a massive social housing programme could solve the problems.
He highlighted the case of one local family who are currently in private rented accommodation, but with the levels of rent spiralling upwards they are at risk of losing the property.
“They have been registered with the council and waiting for a home since January 2014. One family member has a disability that is getting worse.
“I come across people who have been sofa surfing for three years, families living in incredibly cramped and damp conditions and more. They come to me as they just can’t believe that there are no homes available. But that’s the reality of it.”
At a recent public meeting at St Barnabas Church, Kingshurst, both Meriden’s MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, and representatives of Solihull Council acknowledged there was an urgent need to identify sites for new homes.
Coun Tony Dicicco, cabinet member for stronger communities and partnerships, said that the council was trying to balance protecting the green belt with ensuring there were more “affordable” properties.
“Solihull’s got to take more on,” he admitted.
But residents’ anger over the Babbs Mill development has arguably been made worse by the fact that the dwellings being built on land, which was formerly part of the Local Nature Reserve, are well out of the price range of local people.
Similarly, as the council begins to earmark development sites as part of its latest Local Plan, questions have already been raised about the affordability of the properties which will be incorporated into the new-look Kingshurst Parade.
On a national level, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, this month announced £2billion a year extra for a new generation of council housing.
She said: “Whether you’re trying to buy your own, renting privately and looking for more security, or have been waiting for years on a council list, help is on its way.”
Coun Burn said that he welcomed the announcement made at the Conservatives’ Autumn Conference, but argued the funding would be “a drop in the ocean”, with suggestions it would deliver only 5,000 extra homes a year

The new edition of our digital newspaper is out now


THE latest edition of our digital newspaper is now available to download at Issuu.
If you have any comments, suggestions or stories for our next issue please get in touch.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Constituency would barely change under new plans

LITTLE CHANGE: The Meriden constituency would survive pretty much
intact under the latest set of proposals.

YET another set of plans to redraw the boundaries of MPs' constituencies was published today, with officials now set to retain the seat of Meriden.
Previous proposals would have seen the creation of a new constituency - Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North, encompassing Chelmsley, Kingshurst, Castle Bromwich, Smith's Wood, Marston Green, Sheldon, Elmdon and Lyndon.
But following a consultation, the Boundary Commission has decided on rather more limited changes.
Under the proposal, the borough would be made up of two constituencies bearing the same names as at present (Solihull and Meriden).
The Boundary Commission report said: "[We] rejected suggestions to change the name of the Meriden constituency, such as suggested by the Liberal Democrat Party who wanted to include reference to Chelmsley Wood within the constituency name, because there had only been minimal change to the existing constituency."
The main change is that two of the wards would swap places as part of efforts to give the seats a more even number of voters; Elmdon would move into Meriden, while the more sparsely-populated Blythe would form part of Solihull.
Neither seat would incorporate communities from other councils areas, which was one of the most controversial aspects of the previous set of proposals.
The nationwide shake-up would see the total number of constituencies cut from 650 to 600, meaning that dozens of current MPs would face a scrabble to be selected.
If approved, the new boundaries would come into effect for the next General Election, currently scheduled for 2022. However, some have speculated that the Prime Minister will struggle to get the plans through the Commons now she no longer commands a majority.

Analysis: As far as Solihull is concerned, the plans published today are much less radical than those which were brought forward last year.
Both sitting MPs and a good many councillors had objected to the previous proposals, arguing that plans to match together areas from different council areas would have created confusion. Residents were particularly unhappy about plans to lump the likes of Knowle and Balsall Common in with a Coventry constituency.
That said, some had argued that North Solihull itself may have actually fared slightly better under the previous set of proposals, which would have seen the area at the centre of a generally more urban constituency.
Some of those who are dissatisfied with the make-up of the current seat (which survives pretty much intact under the new plan) argue that it covers too wide an area and ties the north of the borough to rural communities with which it has little in common.