Monday, 28 April 2014

Local Election Countdown - Who's standing where you live?

POLLING DAY: Local elections will take place in Solihull next month.

WITH less than four weeks to go until polling day, the candidates have been confirmed for next month’s local elections.
A ferocious battle between Labour and the Green Party is likely to be the centre of the campaign in North Solihull.
The Greens, who won their first seat in Smith’s Wood six years ago and now have seven councillors, are pushing to become the second largest party on Solihull Council.
Further gains on May 22 could edge them ahead of the Lib Dems, who became the official opposition a decade ago.
It would be a major success for the Greens, who continue to capitalise on the anger surrounding high-speed rail and the North Solihull Regeneration.

MOMENTUM: The Green Party will want to build on their
successes in 2012, when Chris Williams (pictured)
was elected in Chelmsley Wood

Their recent run of victories has come at the expense of the Labour Party, who are looking to reverse their fortunes following the shock defeat of several long-standing councillors.
This year, the party will be fighting to protect its last remaining seats in the one-time strongholds of Chelmsley Wood and Smith’s Wood (where Don Cornock is standing down after more than 30 years' service). 
Kingshurst & Fordbridge is now the only ward in Solihull where Labour has a clean-sweep of councillors, with the Greens having failed to make in-roads.
This year, however, Labour leader David Jamieson will have to stave off a challenge from former Conservative councillor Debbie Evans.

CONTEST: Labour councillor David Jamieson will do battle
with UKIP's candidate Debbie Evans in Kingshurst

Ms Evans, who was ousted in 2012, has since left the Tories and will be hoping to retake her old seat, this time as a UKIP candidate.
The eurosceptic outfit has made little impact on previous Solihull elections, but campaigners hope that the party’s surge in the opinion polls nationally may pave the way for a breakthrough.
UKIP has not fielded a full slate of candidates – which it said it would 12 months ago -  but will nonetheless contest nine out of 17 wards.
The rising support for UKIP may also ask questions of the Conservatives, who are the largest party on the council and have enjoyed an overall majority for three years.
Although it’s unlikely the Tories will face any real danger in the ‘safe seat’ of Castle Bromwich – incumbent Mike Robinson has a majority of more than 1600 votes.
The Lib Dems, who do not have any councillors in North Solihull, have chosen to focus their efforts south of the A45. This year, Kingshurst & Fordbridge is the only northern ward where they are putting up a candidate.

Full list of candidates (incumbent in italics):

Bickenhill -inc Marston Green:
Robert Hall (UKIP)
Mike Longfield (Lab)
Gary Macnaughton (Green)
Alison Rolf (Con) - Alan Martin is standing down

Castle Bromwich:
Glen Lawrence (UKIP)
Ian McDonald (Lab)
Mike Robinson (Con)
Mina Tilt (Green)
Mandy Wilson (Ind)

Chelmsley Wood:
Colin Archer-Richards (UKIP)
Sally Bell (Con)
James Burn (Green)
Nick Stephens (Lab)

Kingshurst & Fordbridge:
Debbie Evans (UKIP)
David Jamieson (Lab)
Luke Richards (Lib Dem)
Paul Thomas (Con)
Mark Wilson (Green)

Smith’s Wood:
David Cole (Lab) - Don Cornock is standing down
Stephen Holt (Green)
Graham Juniper (Con)
Mark Lawrence (UKIP)

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Plans advance to improve road safety in Castle Bromwich

CASTLE Bromwich residents have given their overwhelming support to plans to improve road safety and create more parking spaces in the centre of the suburb.
The proposals, which have been drawn up by Solihull Council, will see a number of changes made to Chester Road and Hurst Lane North.
Concerns have been raised that the busy junction is unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians, while a number of businesses along the shopping parade have previously criticised the shortage of parking bays.
Now the council have lifted the lid on the Hurst Lane Place Project, which will plough more than half a million pounds into tackling these concerns.
Among the proposals being considered are plans to overhaul the parking facilities in the nearby service road and to provide new footways. There will also be changes to traffic light signals and the creation of a shared cycleway.
Two consultation events were held recently at Castle Bromwich Junior School, with almost 90 per cent of residents who gave their views saying that they supported the plans as a whole.
However, some have raised concerns that the scheme will not reduce the queueing at the Morrisons Petrol Station, which is known to cause congestion at busy periods. Other locals are worried that creating a mini roundabout outside the supermarket and narrowing a section of the Chester Road could in fact make traffic problems worse.
Solihull Council’s highways officers argue that delays are likely to be “minimal” outside of peak times.
Around £25,000 has been put towards the project by McCarthy and Stone, the developer of Henshaw Court – the retirement complex recently built on the former site of the Chester Arms pub. The remainder of funds would be made available from the council’s own Local Transport Plan.
Last week, Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, noted the progress of the project and agreed for his officers to finalise costs. The item will be considered again at his next decision making session, in June.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Warning about counterfeit flicks after Smith's Wood raid

DODGY DVDs have been seized following a raid in the Smith’s Wood area.
Yesterday (Monday), police and trading standard officers found that a woman was running a counterfeit operation from her own home.
Officers had visited the address after becoming suspicious of a Facebook page, which was offering cheap movies for sale.
At the home they found three laptops and a PC which are suspected to contain hundreds of films illegally downloaded from the internet.
There was also a large number of blank discs, ready to be burned and sold on at the rock bottom prices.
All these items have been seized by trading standards and the woman will be questioned at a later stage.
Councillor Diana Holl-Allen, cabinet member for community cohesion and partnerships, said: “It may be easy to think that selling counterfeit goods is a victimless crime that only affects big global companies.
“This is not the case. Local jobs and businesses rely on selling genuine products.”
Selling counterfeit goods is a crime that can be punished with a crime, community order or, in the most serious cases, a prison sentence.