Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Blooming marvellous: Wildflower meadows to be created

A SPLASH of colour will be brought to patches of grassland in North Solihull.
Solihull Council will be creating wildflower meadows in Ludlow Walk (Chelmsley Wood) Falkland Way (Smith’s Wood) and Beech Croft (Castle Bromwich).
They are just three of 15 sites across the borough which are being sown with seeds.
It is hoping the meadows, which won’t be mown until the end of summer, will bring butterflies and bees to local neighbourhoods.
This type of habitat was massively reduced during the 20th century, with around 95 per cent of sites destroyed in a 40 year period.
Those residents living close by the chosen locations will receive letters about the project and signs will be erected at each site to provide more information.
The 12 remaining sites include Catney Common, Catherine-de-Barnes and Seven Star Road, near Solihull town centre.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Repairs to roads damaged by floods.

FOUR roads in Castle Bromwich that were badly damaged by flooding are set to be resurfaced.
Solihull Council has been awarded more than £720,000 by the Government to help repair 11 stretches of road around the borough.
The four that will be restored in North Solihull are the A452 Collector Road, Bradford Road, Green Lane and Old Croft Lane.
The grant will be added to the £2.6m that the council had already put aside for road maintenance. The repairs are due to be carried out in the coming months.
Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, said that the wettest winter since records began was to blame for the crumbling tarmac.
"The constant rainfall has caused severe damage to our roads creating pot holes and causing older roads to wear away and break up earlier.
"We will carry out the works in the most efficient way possible to cause the least disruption to our residents."
Other roads in Solihull which were badly damaged by floodwater include the Kenilworth Road, in Balsall Common, Hampton Lane and the A45 Coventry Road.

Friday, 21 March 2014

CTC students in Sport Relief challenge

Celebrities including Victoria Pendleton are supporting Sport Relief

SUPER-fit students from the CTC Kingshurst Academy have run, rowed and cycled over 1800 miles since the start of the week.
The pupils have thrown themselves into the furious five-day fundraiser, hoping to raise over £5000 for Sport Relief.
By home time yesterday they'd clocked up 1830 miles, which in real life would have got them as far as Greenland or Algeria.
By the end of today (Friday) they hope to have added at least another 400 miles, which would mean they've covered a distance equivalent to the journey between London and Canada.
Two years ago, the CTC drummed up £4700 for Sport Relief, a charity which supports vulnerable people in the UK and abroad.
Only three schools in the entire country collected more for the good cause, but the Cooks Lane academy is determined to do even better this time.
Find out how the students fare on the final day of the challenge, by going to

  • Sport Relief is on BBC One tonight from 7pm. Among the celebrities supporting this year's event are ex-England footballer David Beckham, champion cyclist Victoria Pendleton and girl band Little Mix - who have recorded the official charity single.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

40 flat plan gets planning approval

PLANS to build 40 new homes in Chelmsley Wood have been given the go-ahead by Solihull Council.
The planning committee last week approved the proposals to build the mix of one and two-bedroom flats on land off Fillingham Close.
Bellway Homes, who submitted the application, said the flats were specially designed for over 55s.
At a public meeting in January, some residents had voiced concerns about parking problems in the area and disruption during the construction. Two locals wrote to object.
But Solihull Council officers said the scheme would create much-needed affordable housing and councillors voted to give the project the green light.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Students raise the roof at world-famous venue

Solihull Music Service has forged close links with the iconic Cavern Club

TUNEFUL students from North Solihull took to the stage of one of the nation’s most notable venues last week.
Pupils from Park Hall, Grace Academy, John Henry Newman Catholic College and Castle Bromwich Junior School were among more than 100 students who performed at the world-famous Cavern Club.
The concert was held at the Liverpool nightclub – where The Beatles made over 200 appearances – to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Solihull Music Service.
Set up in 1974, the organisation helps to nurture the talent of young musicians around the borough.
During the past four decades, members have performed around the region, including gigs at the NEC and Birmingham Town Hall.
But they have also travelled further afield, wowing crowds in Cholet, France and making the  “annual pilgrimage” to the Cavern.
Last Monday's concert saw children and teenagers from over a dozen local schools perform on the same stage where the Fab Four cut their teeth.
Half a century on from The Beatles' barnstorming performances, the Cavern continues to attract award-winning artists including Adele and the Arctic Monkeys.
Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Joe Tildesley, who joined the young musicians during the jam-packed day, said he was “honoured” to take part in the event.
To find out more about Solihull Music Service, visit their website.

Thief stole epileptic teenager's phone.

A CRUEL thief stole from a teenage boy as he suffered an epileptic fit in a busy street, police have revealed.
This week, detectives appealed to the public to help catch the opportunist, who snatched the 19-year-old's iPhone 5 and then fled the scene.
The victim had just got off the No 97 bus in Chelmsley Road, near North Solihull Sports Centre, when he collapsed to the ground.
The quick-thinking driver had got out of the vehicle and went to help the teenager. As he was doing so, another man walked up and picked the phone up off the floor, before running off down the road.
The suspect is described as a heavily-built white man, in his 30s. At the time he was wearing a green hat.
PC Keith Tedds, from Solihull Police, said: "This was a shocking and callous crime.
"The young man was on the floor, unaware of what was going on around him and unable to prevent himself from becoming a victim of crime."
The incident happened on Monday, February 10 at around 9.40pm, although details were only released this week. Following the theft, the victim is recovering from his ordeal and hopes his phone, worth several hundred pounds, will be recovered.
Anyone with information should call the Solihull Investigation Team on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Spring Walk in Chelmsley Wood

END the week with a leisurely stroll organised by Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church.
The Spring Walk, is taking place this Friday (March 21) and makes the most of the increasingly lighter nights.
Walkers will set out on a saunter to Coleshill from the Three Trees Centre, in Hedingham Grove.
The walk will take around 45 minutes, with the option of a pint on arrival in the village.
Meet at 6.30 for a 6.45pm start. For more information call the Baptist Church on 0121 770 8590.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A HS2 FAQ - The latest information on High Speed Rail

A RAIL HEADACHE: Trains will pass within 200m of Yorkminster Drive

FOUR years ago this month, the lives of many local residents were thrown into disarray with the announcement that a high speed rail line would pass near to Chelmsley Wood.
Since first details about the "preferred route" were published in March 2010 the HS2 project has been a cause of great uncertainty to communities up-and-down the country.
Business leaders have said that cutting travel times between Birmingham to London to 45 minutes would be a massive boost to the economy and create thousands of new jobs.
For those whose homes are on the frontline of the multi-billion pound project, there has been serious worries about noise levels, a sharp drop in property prices and the destruction of much-loved countryside and green space.

Question & Answers:

How will the HS2 project affect North Solihull?
It was announced in 2010 that the line would pass near to Yorkminster Drive and surrounding roads on its way into Birmingham city centre. In the original plans, some homes would have been less than 100m away - closer to the track than anywhere else in Solihull. Last summer the route was shifted 125m to the east, meaning it wouldn't pass as close to the estate as originally feared. The changes were seen as a "mixed blessing" by many residents. The line would no longer cut through the Bluebell Recreation Ground, but football pitches at Heath Park were now under threat. Worse still, the Chelmsley Wood section of the tracks would now be carried on a viaduct (between 10-16metres) high.

Where else is being affected locally?
Around 13km of line will be laid through Solihull. Trains will enter the borough from Warwickshire and pass near to the villages of Berkswell and Balsall Common. From there the line will travel up past Hampton-in-Arden and on to the NEC, where a new interchange station will be built. After that, the rail link will carry on past Chelmsley Wood towards Water Orton.

Does Solihull Council support HS2?
The council's position on high speed rail is "conditional support in principle". Put simply, the council's support is subject to HS2 bosses maximising the economic benefits and providing the best compensation for local residents who will suffer as a result of proposals. Councillors from all political parties meet roughly once a month for the HS2 Working Party - a committee who discuss ways to get the best deal for Solihull. The public can attend these meetings - the next one will be held at Solihull Civic Suite this Thursday (March 20), starting at 6pm.

But aren't some councillors against HS2?
Yes. The Green Party (which has seven members on Solihull Council) have said that the local authority needs to change its position. Councillor Chris Williams (Green, Chelmsley Wood) argued last year that HS2 bosses were rejecting the suggestions being put forward to limit the impact on local people. Following this failure to win significant concessions, he called for the council to ditch its "conditional support in principle" and take a harder line. While the other parties remain committed to the original position, all of them are adamant that no cost from the construction of the project should fall on the local taxpayer.

CONCEPT: An artist's impression of the rail line.

What are the main concerns for those living near the line?
HS2 trains travel at up to 250mph (faster than anywhere else in Europe) so one of the main worries is the noise as the carriages pass by. Exactly how loud they'll sound depends on how close you live to the line and the type of track (the noise levels will be much worse if a train is travelling overground, as opposed to being carried through a deep-bore tunnel, for example.) There is also anger about what will be removed to make way for the line - near Chelmsley Wood for instance, recreation ground will be lost. Finally there are fears about disruption during the construction process, which could include extra traffic on local roads and the creation of compounds for workers.

What compensation is available to these people?
This is an area where there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Some buildings will need to be demolished and will be subject to Compulsory Purchase Orders, with compensation packages for the owners. The question mark hangs over what compensation will be available to those living in locations like Yorkminster Drive. There is no plan to pull down these properties, but those who live there face major upheaval. At a meeting of the HS2 Working Party in 2012, one resident told councillors that the issue needed to be looked at urgently.

What are the arguments for HS2?
The Government says Britain's railways are in urgent need of modernisation and it's no longer an option just to improve the existing network.  MPs claim that the London to West Midlands section of the line will create 40,000 jobs and move more business away from the South East to other parts of the country. The boost for business means that HS2 has many supporters in the Solihull area, including the NEC, Birmingham Airport and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

Will the project definitely go ahead?
At the moment, the scheme has the backing of the three main political parties nationally (Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats). However, Labour did suggest last year that it may have to reconsider its position if the cost of the project (£42 billion) continued to rise. Kingshurst councillor David Jamieson (Lab) agreed that HS2 was "a good idea but not at any price." If Labour did decide to withdraw support this would pose a serious threat to the future of the project.

If it does go ahead, when will work start?
At the moment, the plan is for building work to get underway around 2017 and the first section of the line (from London to Birmingham) would open in 2026. The second phase of the project would see the lines continue north from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, but this would not be finished until around 2033.

Web links: - The main homepage for HS2, includes interactive maps of the route. - Dates and times for meetings of Solihull Council's HS2 Working Party. - Meriden MP Caroline Spelman's page on HS2

More questions?
If you have other questions or concerns about HS2, you can call their enquiry line on 020 7944 4908, Monday to Friday (9am-5pm)

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Buses get into a tight spot in Chelmsley Wood

TWO buses turning up at once isn't unheard of, but they don't normally get stuck together...
But that's what happened in Chelmsley Wood on Friday evening, when double-deckers travelling in opposite directions attempted to pass one another in Helmswood Drive.
Unfortunately the pair of No 97s didn't have the space to squeeze past one another and ended up stranded in the street.
Mandi-Jayne Caddick, who witnessed the incident while walking home, told the Birmingham Mail:
"They were jammed up the kerb and it had tipped the bus on to the other by a couple of feet."
A National Express spokesman said: "The width of the road had been significantly reduced due to parked vehicles.
"As the buses couldn't safely pass one another, the drivers had to manoeuvre the buses so they could do so."