Friday, 27 June 2014

Thought for a Friday: The Smith's Wood apostrophe

THIS week I thought I’d highlight something that’s often forgotten and sometimes downright ignored… The apostrophe in Smith’s Wood.
Yes the sprawling wood that once stood on the housing estate belonged to a man named Smith. Or possibly someone who was a smith. One way or another, I’ve lost count of the amount of times that the apostrophe has gone missing.
From signs and websites and even documents put out by official bodies like the council. In fact I even asked a few years ago if there were plans afoot to follow Birmingham’s policy and roll out a blanket ban on the punctuation mark being painted on borough roadsigns.
Solihull insisted that it would not be imitating the second city; that the apostrophe wasn’t in peril. That hasn't stopped it being dropped with increasing frequency, in fact some people do away with the space mark as well and insist on christening the area Smithswood. This is a bit bizarre as no one ever talks about Bentleyheath or Cheswickgreen. 
Perhaps I sound pedantic, but let’s not forget how easily the Norton was taken from the King or how the Acocks family were robbed of their Green. Make no mistake that the same could happen in Smith’s Wood.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Two arrested after teenager is hurt in Chelmsley Wood fight

TWO men have been arrested after a 14-year-old boy suffered head injuries during a fight in Chelmsley Wood.
Police were called to the disturbance in Bosworth Drive yesterday (Wednesday) evening, at around 6.20pm.
The teenager was taken to hospital to receive treatment and discharged a few hours later.
However, the road remained closed for three hours while detectives investigated.
Two men, aged 30 and 37 from Shirley and Yardley respectively, have been arrested on suspicion of assault.
Police inquiries continue. Anyone with information about the fight or who saw what happened should call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Free digital media workshops get underway in North Solihull next month

BOOST: Digital media skills could give young people the edge
in an increasingly competitive jobs market
A SERIES of digital media workshops will be starting in Chelmsley Wood next month.
The weekly sessions, aimed at 15 to 24-year-olds, will be held at the Bosworth Community Centre over nine weeks.
Running on Wednesday evenings, the free events will cover topics including blogging, podcasts, journalism and social media; skills that could prove invaluable in helping young people find work.
The workshops, organised by the Ashram Housing Association, get underway on July 23 (7.00-8.30pm).
You can register at For more information call Simeon Bright on 0121 770 8570 or email

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Marston Green couple who tackled armed burglar receive police bravery awards

BRAVERY: Lesley Scudamore receives the medals from
Chief Constable Chris Sims (right) and
Met Police CommissionerSir Bernard Hogan-Howe

A COURAGEOUS couple who tackled a knife-wielding burglar in Castle Bromwich have received national bravery awards.
Peter and Lesley Scudamore, both aged 42, had confronted and attempted to apprehend the crook, who had ransacked the home of an elderly war hero.
Lesley's cheek was slashed in the struggle and the burglar, Justin Irvine, was able to struggle free.
But the husband and wife, from Marston Green, were still able to provide police with a detailed description, which helped officers to track down the thief.
The drama had unfolded in Ronald Grove, a quiet cul-de-sac near Green Lane, in April 2012.
The Scudamores were dropping off a relative in the road at around teatime, when they noticed an elderly neighbour's window had been smashed.
Moments later, Irvine emerged from the address laden with items - including pocket watches that the pensioner had carried through the Second World War.
The plucky pair tried to block the burglar's escape. Peter, who walks with a stick, had grappled with the thief and both men fell to the floor, with Lesley trying to help pin the man to the ground. Irvine managed to get loose and run away despite their valiant efforts.
Following the skirmish, Lesley needed four stitches for the knife wound. But despite the ordeal, the couple were composed enough to tell police about a distinctive red blemish on the burglar's cheek.
This description led police to Irvine, who was discovered with his hands still covered in blood and the watches on his person.
In recognition of their efforts, the Scudamores were nominated for Police Public Bravery Medals and Lesley collected their awards at the Association of Chief Police Officers ceremony last week.
Det Con Chris Burt said: “They both acted bravely to protect the property of a vulnerable neighbour, a man in his 90s, and were determined the burglar wouldn’t get away with what were items of huge sentimental value.
“Undoubtedly this was a shocking incident for them and it would have been understandable had their minds gone blank when trying to provide officers with a description of their attacker. They thoroughly deserve their bravery medals."
Irvine, 34, of Halesowen, later admitted two counts of wounding and was jailed for five years by Warwick Crown Court.

Police appeal after late night attack on cab driver in Smith's Wood

POLICE are appealing for the public’s help to trace the gang of men who attacked a taxi driver and ransacked his vehicle in Smith’s Wood.
The cabbie was driving along Barle Grove in the early hours of May 25 when four men came running out of Clare House.
One of the group asked if he was there to collect them, but the driver explained he was on his way to picking up a fare in the city centre.
At this point they became aggressive, reaching inside the vehicle to repeatedly punch the 42-year-old and shouting racist abuse.
Fearing for his safety, the man got out of his car and fled, leaving the men to ransack the cab. They stole his cash bag, sat nav and mobile.
The victim managed to flag down another taxi a few streets way and was driven back to the scene. But by the time he arrived his attackers had gone.
Det Con Lucinda Wilson, who is investigating the late night robbery, said: "This was a violent and very unpleasant attack on a lone man who was simply doing his job.
"He was punched several times to the face and was so scared that he left his car and possessions as he ran to get away from his attackers.”
Police have released CCTV images of the men they want to speak to in connection with the attack. All four are white males in their mid to late 20s. Three of the group were around 5ft 9, while their accomplice was slightly taller, around 5ft 11, with a heavier build and tattoos.
A 47-year-old man was arrested on May 29 and remains on police bail in connection with the incident.
Anyone who recognises the men or has any information about the crime, should call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Peter Pan performance brings curtain down on arts festival

AN OUTDOOR performance of a classic children’s book will bring Image Fest to an end tomorrow (Tuesday).
In a fitting finale to North Solihull’s arts and heritage festival, Peter Pan will be performed in the leafy surroundings of Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens.
The show, by Heartbreak Productions, brings the famous tale bang up to date – in this version the Lost Boys are a group of modern-day teenagers who find themselves whisked off to Neverland.
The performance has been organised by the Image Fest team and Castle Bromwich Hall Hotel.
The show starts at 7pm. Tickets are £8 (£5 concs, or £20 for a family ticket). Call the box office on 0121 704 6962.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Family fun day in Kingshurst

CLEVER canines and a bungee trampoline will be among the highlights at a family fun day in Kingshurst.
There will also be a climbing wall, table top sale and refreshments at The Pavilions, Meriden Drive, this afternoon (Sunday, June 22). Events run from 1-5pm.

CycleSolihull arrives in Chelmsley Wood

IN THE SADDLE: The CycleSolihull programme has previously
run rides in villages like Cheswick Green
A SERIES of regular bike rides starting in North Solihull gets underway with a five-mile trip this afternoon (Sunday, June 22).
For the last couple of years CycleSolihull has organised a regular timetable of trips, tending to take in the villages and suburbs in the south of the borough.
This summer, however, there will be a shake-up of the programme, with a number of new routes starting from locations including Marston Green, Castle Bromwich and Coleshill.
Of the 42 rides planned between now and the end of October, 11 will set out from North Solihull, starting with today’s “taster” event at Chelmsley Wood.
At just five miles, the afternoon will be ideal for beginners and children. Over the course of the summer there will also be longer trips for more experienced cyclists.
To join today’s event, meet at the Banbury Club, near Asda, at 2pm. The route will take riders to Sheldon Country Park, with a stop for refreshments on the way.
All of the rides are free and no booking is required. For the full programme over the next four months, go to
  • CycleSolihull was set up to encourage and promote cycling in the borough. The club secretary is Stephen Holt, who was last month elected as a Green Party councillor for Smith's Wood.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Appeal to trace owner of stray Staffie found in Chelmsley Wood

SOLIHULL Council want to urgently speak to the owner of a Staffordshire bull terrier found wandering in Bosworth Drive yesterday (Friday).
The white and brindle dog – who appears to have recently given birth - was discovered on the Chelmsley Wood road at around 1.50pm. She was wearing a black leather collar but didn't have a tag or microchip.
Anyone with information about the stray Staffie should call the council’s environmental crime unit on 0121 704 6000.

Smith's Wood Sports College bans teenager from school prom for being late for classes

A TARDY teenager from Smith’s Wood has been banned from her school prom because of poor punctuality, the Birmingham Mail reports. 

Consultation on sale of former Bishop Wilson sports pitch

PLANS to dispose of what remains of a former school sports pitch will be put out to consultation.
Solihull Council is looking to sell the 0.5 hectare of land that had previously been part of the former Bishop Wilson CofE Primary.
The site (pictured above) is being redeveloped after the school's recent move to a £10m new premises. The plan is to build 140 homes at their previous home, off Pike Drive.
The sale of what remains of the pitch – which will have to be rubber stamped by the Education Secretary - will be used to develop new sports facilities in the area.
People can have their say on the proposal from Monday (June 23) to August 4.
Visit to register your views.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Thought for a Friday: Chelmund's Cross

I HAVE to admit that I feel a flutter of excitement when I go past the signs that have sprung up in the last few months around the Chelmund’s Cross construction site.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a regular reaction to any old road sign – I don’t go giddy at the sight of a give way or have palpitations when I enter a 20mph zone.
It’s the name on the sign that gives me cause to smile. Chelmund’s Cross, there to see in black and white (or at least black and yellow).
It’s been over a year now since the rumpus over what to rename the Craig Croft shopping precinct, which was about to undergo a multi-million pound redevelopment.
While the new name would be subject to a public vote, the public were less than pleased when the options were announced. There were three to choose from - Craig Park, Dunster Road and, perhaps most puzzlingly, Craig Croft…
What really rankled, however, was that the name that many residents were keen on, Chelmund’s Cross, had been left off the shortlist.
It seems some had concerns about the idea of taking inspiration from Ceolmund – the Anglo Saxon landowner from whose name Chelmsley is likely derived.
This might have been because a one-eyed warrior - as he was depicted by one local artist - was rather more alarming than plain old Craig (whoever he was).
Others thought that the rather flimsy etymological evidence had been stretched beyond credibility. In a few short months, Chelmund had gone from a name from distant history to a full-blooded folk hero.

HERITAGE: Chelmsley is a name derived from the
Anglo Saxon Ceolmund
Now it may be true that there wasn’t a lot of hard evidence. All the same, lots of local people liked the idea. After another round of negotiations, it was agreed that Chelmund’s Cross would be added to the names to be put to the public vote.
To the chagrin of those who had championed the more conventional choices, Chelmund roundly defeated Craig. It was his name that would be immortalised on the diversion signs and spread across council agendas. If Chelmund was cross, the residents were delighted.
A year on from “The Battle of the Croft”, it’s good to see the first phase of development is almost complete. Some will argue that it’s the work itself – the major investment in a run-down parade of shops - that is the most important thing and the name itself isn’t all that important.
I would beg to differ. A bit of history is no bad thing, especially in an area like Chelmsley Wood where so much has changed in the space of half a century. When council estates were built in days gone by, roads were often named after arbitrary themes – like castles or cars or birds. None had any real link to the local area, which is a shame.
More importantly, however, is that the community were involved. If the regeneration is to succeed, then people have to feel that they have a stake in it. The c-word that could cause sleepless nights for those who have to deliver the project isn’t Chelmund or Craig, but consultation.
If residents aren’t given their say – and there was a danger they would be denied the opportunity last spring – then it will only foster a sense of distrust. To their credit, Solihull Council stepped in and made sure that Chelmund was given a chance. If they hadn’t, the Anglo Saxon wouldn’t have been the only one with an axe to grind.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Concerns raised about planned changes to children's centres

A CHELMSLEY Wood councillor has warned that plans for a shake-up of Solihull’s children’s centres could lead to a “much reduced” service across the borough.
Solihull Council is considering closing all 14 of its dedicated centres, after news that its budget to run the programme would be slashed by more than £600,000 from next year.
The local authority has argued that the cost of keeping the buildings open is substantial and has suggested the service could instead be run from community venues, such as libraries.
A less drastic option would stop short of a blanket closure and keep the dedicated centres in areas with high deprivation, such as Chelmsley Wood, Smith’s Wood and Kingshurst.
This week Councillor Chris Williams (Green) said that the cuts in Government funding were partly to blame, but feared that the council’s money-saving solution could hit families hard.
“The council may like us to believe the cuts are in the best interest of our children but no one is that easily convinced,” he said.
“What may result is that children's centres are closed down and the services are moved to part time services in community centres or similar venues where the specialist set ups we have now are not available. And of course, it may well mean fewer children's centre staff.
“There is a real danger we are sleepwalking into a situation where we have more parents with less support and more children without the best possible start in life. It will be the least well off most affected.”
Solihull Council has made the case that the centres, most of which are attached to schools, cost a minimum of £300,000 each year to staff and maintain.
Given that they’re empty a large proportion of the time, they argue that it made sense to sell off or lease these premises and make the move to community venues.
A council report said: “By reducing building related costs the council would be able to retain more of the budget for services and reach out to families that need additional help.
“From the perspective of parents the change should be limited.”
You can take part in a survey on the proposed changes at

  • There will also be workshops at Kingshurst Children's Centre (June 20, 9am-12noon), Castle Bromwich Children's Centre (June 25, 1-3pm), Chelmsley Wood Children's Centre (June 27, 1-3pm) and Smith's Wood Children's Centre (July 4, 1-3pm).

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A quarter of parking fines in Solihull are torn up

A QUARTER of the parking tickets issued in Solihull in the last financial year were cancelled, it has been revealed.
Council figures show that while almost 18,000 fines were fixed to windscreens in 2013-14 – the first time in three years that the number has risen – just over 25 per cent of people didn’t have to pay up following successful appeals.
Some tickets were torn up because the driver was able to prove they had paid to park or there were other mitigating factors – for instance, the motorist had a valid blue badge.
Reacting to the number of cancelled tickets, a council report said: “The authority has a duty to be seen to be acting reasonably and the percentage of cancelled PCN’s demonstrates that.”
Of the remaining tickets, 59 per cent of people chose to pay a reduced fine, with six per cent coughing up the full amount. The remainder of fines handed out over the 12 month period were still being processed at the time the report was drawn up.
The company contracted by the council to issue tickets, NSL, is currently operating at a loss in Solihull. This is despite the fact that their team of 18 traffic wardens is, on average, issuing a penalty somewhere in the borough on an almost hourly basis.
One change that could be made is the introduction of bodycams. These mini CCTV cameras are worn by wardens and used to record incidents. Councils in Croydon, Bath and Peterborough are among those to have already rolled out the technology, in an effort to keep enforcement officers safe from reprisals.
Solihull Council said the advantage of the cameras was that footage could be reviewed at a later date and that the equipment was likely to see a drop in complaints against wardens.
The update on Solihull's parking fines was due to be considered by the cabinet member for transport and highways, Councillor Ted Richards, tomorrow (Thursday).

Spitfire in the skies of North Solihull

FLYPAST: The Spitfire, built in Castle Bromwich, played
a pivotal part in the Second World War
MARSTON Green residents should keep their eyes on the skies tonight (Wednesday) as one of the most famous planes in the world will be passing overhead.
A Spitfire will be flying over Birmingham Airport at around 7.40pm this evening, following a ten minute display at the Belfry Golf Club.
Once the demonstration is over, the iconic aircraft will be passing over the airport runway before departing to the south.
The flight comes on the day (June 18) that Winston Churchill made his famous “This was their finest hour" speech. Addressing the House of Commons in 1940, the wartime Prime Minister spoke of the approaching “Battle of Britain”, in which the Spitfire played such a crucial part.
For more information call the Birmingham Airport environment team on 0121 767 7433.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Free art exhibition in Chelmsley Wood today

AN ART and heritage exhibition continues at The Loft, Chelmsley Wood today (Tuesday).
There will be photos, paintings and stone carvings produced by local artists.
The event is on all day at the Bosworth Drive venue and entry is free.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Event in Chelmsley Wood to explain Solihull's new recycling service.

A SHAKE-up of Solihull’s recycling collections is set to come into force this autumn, the council has confirmed.
The changes will be introduced in an effort to make the service easier for households by reducing the number of boxes, bags and bins that residents have to use.
The current arrangements – which rely on residents to sort through far more materials before they’re put out on the kerb – have previously faced criticism for being overly complicated.
Under the new system, a single brown wheelie bin will be used for plastic, paper, card and cans. Glass will still have to be put out separately in the existing black box.
The simplified service was made possible after the council secured a £2.9m grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government. Arrangements will also be made to improve collections for those who live in flats, although the council has said these changes will follow a slightly different timetable.

  • A series of roadshows will be taking place this summer to explain the changes on the way. The first will be held at ASDA, Chelmsley Wood, on Thursday, June 19 (from 10am-3pm). Council officers will also be at Chelmund’s Day on July 19 (11am-4pm).

CCTV appeal after seven thugs attack Chelmsley Wood shopkeeper

VIOLENT ATTACK: Police want to speak to these men in
relation to the attack on the shopkeeper in April
SEVEN men armed with baseball bats and a hammer attacked a shopkeeper at a small Chelmsley Wood store.
The brutal assault happened at the Arbor Way Convenience Store on April 1 and police are appealing for help to find the thugs responsible.
The attack happened following a dispute between the store and a teenage customer.
A row had erupted after 18-year-old Ryan Harrison was asked to leave his dog outside and subsequently banned from the premises.
He returned to the shop with six other men and carried out the attack, leaving the victim with bruised ribs, cuts and eye injuries.
Harrison, of Chelmsley Road, Chelmsley Wood, was arrested and found guilty last month of grievous bodily harm against the shopkeeper and actual bodily harm in relation to another member-of-staff.
On May 16, Birmingham Crown Court handed him a 54 month prison sentence.
Now police want to catch those who had returned to the store with him to carry out the attack. These CCTV images show two of the men who officers are keen to speak to in relation to the assault.
If you recognise either of them or have any other information, call police on 101.

Castle Bromwich Trail highlights area's busy history

HIDDEN HISTORY: The trail takes in over a dozen sites
around Castle Bromwich

A LEAFLET which lifts the lid on the rich history of Castle Bromwich will help raise money towards restoring the bells at St Mary and St Margaret’s Church.
The Castle Bromwich Village Trail was the brainchild of Bill Dargue, a bellringer at the parish church and local historian.
Starting at Castle Bromwich Hall, the trail takes in 16 sites of special interest scattered around the suburb.
Some, like the prehistoric mound at Pimple Hill, will be well-known to local people. Others, such as Whateley Green or Beechcroft Farm – the last working farm in the village – may be less familiar.
The leaflet, which comes complete with a map of the landmarks, is available to buy from the church itself or visit
Proceeds from the sale of the trail will help towards raising the £100,000 needed to restore the church bells to their former glory.
The urgency of the work was made apparent only a few weeks ago, when a problem with the pulley and rope silenced the tenor – the largest of the tower’s six bells.
But the appeal has been given a major boost thanks to a recent donation by Castle Bromwich Parish Council.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Parents charged in relation to death of their son, found dead at Smith's Wood home.

PARENTS were today charged with the murder of their young son, who was found dead at an address in Smith’s Wood last year.
Mark Piper, 31, and Danielle Cassin, 26, were remanded in custody and will appear before Birmingham Magistrates tomorrow (Friday).
Cassin, 26, of Frensham Close, Chelmsley Wood, and Piper, of Helmes Close, Handsworth Wood, are also accused of neglect and causing or allowing the death of a child.
Levi Blu Cassin (pictured above) was discovered dead when paramedics attended the house in Nightingale Avenue on February 20 last year. A post mortem revealed that the youngster had died as a result of serious abdominal injuries.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Marston Green man becomes new Leader of Solihull Council

MARSTON Green resident Bob Sleigh was yesterday named as the new Leader of Solihull Council.
Coun Sleigh (pictured) will lead the Conservative-run local authority following the decision by Ken Meeson not to continue in the role.
He assumed his duties at the first Full Council meeting of the new municipal year, which also saw Coun Kate Wild invested as Mayor and councillors appointed to committees and outside bodies.
First elected in Bickenhill ward 14 years ago, Coun Sleigh was seen by many as the obvious choice to succeed Coun Meeson, having spent the past few years as deputy leader.
He has also served as cabinet member for health and wellbeing - a traditionally tricky brief, with responsibility for social services.
In his role as ward councillor he rose to prominence campaigning against controversial housing developments and highlighting the strain that the sudden increase in homes was putting on local villages.
In 2011 he said it was of crucial importance to protect the greenbelt from “predatory” developers.
“Obviously growth is important,” he said at the time, “but it shouldn’t be at the expense of valuable sites in Solihull.”
Coun Sleigh, whose wife Gail is also a councillor, is the latest member from North Solihull to hold the top job (Coun Meeson’s predecessor, Ted Richards, is from Castle Bromwich).

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Castle Bromwich soldier among the first Solihull men to die in the Great War

A SOLIHULL project is appealing for details about the Castle Bromwich man who was among the first men locally to be killed in the First World War.
Eric Birch was just 24-years-old when he died at the First Battle of Aisne on September 14, 1914.
Only a month earlier he had arrived in France as part of the 100,000-strong British Expeditionary Force, the fighting men who were tasked with attempting to stop the German advance.
Rifleman Birch, of the 2nd Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps, had already survived skirmishes at Mons and the Marne in the weeks prior to the Battle of Aisne.
When dawn broke on September 14, his battalion was ordered to march through a thick fog. Tragedy struck when the troops stumbled into an advance party of German soldiers.
As the mist lifted, the British were exposed to artillery fire and suffered heavy losses. Fighting continues until after dark and the beleaguered battalion was not relieved until 9pm that evening.
By this time, 321 soldiers had been killed, wounded or reported missing, including Rifleman Birch. His name is among the fallen inscribed on the Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial to the Missing, some 60 miles outside Paris.
The battle on the banks of the Aisne marked the end of mobile warfare; after more than a month of fighting, it was clear that neither side could gain a swift advantage. A day later, soldiers began to dig shallow pits in the soil. This signalled the start of trench warfare and the bloody stalemate which would last for the next four years.
The battle is significant for Solihull as it’s believed to be the first time that local people lost their lives in the conflict.
Solihull Heritage and Local Studies Service has identified four men who died that day and another three who were killed later the same month.
Among them is Private Albert Newell, of the West Yorkshire Regiment, who is commemorated at the war memorial in Marston Green. He was killed on September 20.
If you know more about the lives of these young men or other early casualties from the local area, then contact Tracey Williams, heritage and local studies librarian, on 0121 704 6934 or email 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

North Solihull Footie Tournament a good curtain-raiser for the World Cup

WITH World Cup fever set to grip the nation once again, could there be a better time for a good old-fashioned kick about?
This Thursday (June 12), the North Solihull Primary School Football Tournament will be taking place at Arden Playing Fields, in Castle Bromwich.
It’ll be quite an event for the young players, who will take to the field only hours before the opening fixture in Brazil – the host nation take on Croatia at 9pm our time.
But before the likes of Fernandino slip on their strip, there’s the matter of finding out which team is top of the pile locally.
The friendly competition has been organised by Bromford Lions Junior FC, Castle Bromwich Parish Council and Vision Sports Academy. The contest is sponsored by TC Cars.

Event starts at 4pm.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Live variety show at Castle Bromwich Junior School

BORED of Britain’s Got Talent? Well why not give Simon Cowell a miss and see a live variety show at Castle Bromwich Junior School.
Starz Performing Arts will be performing there this evening (Saturday, June 7), starting from 7.30pm. Bar opens at 6.30pm.
Proceeds from the show will go to the charity Dream Makers. Tickets are £3 adults, £2 children (or a family ticket for £8) on 0121 747 6760.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Marston Green group says "unfounded rumours" have frightened residents

FALSE rumours that a bail hostel could open in Marston Green have caused “great distress”, an action group has said.
Yesterday we reported how Bickenhill Parish Council had poured cold water on stories that the Ye Olde Wine Lodge, in Elmdon Road, was going to be turned into a home to house offenders.
The whispers started in the village after an application was lodged to turn the premises into a 12 bedroom dwelling – with word spreading quickly that the change of use paved the way for a bail hostel.
In just over a week, almost 200 residents had bombarded Solihull Council’s website with comments.
Now Marston Green Optimising Our Development (MGOOD) has blamed an unsigned letter, circulated among residents, for fuelling the fears.
A spokeswoman said: “The letter, along with all the unfounded rumours, is causing great worry and distress to many people, not least the elderly who live in the vicinity. 
“As we know from past experience, rumours can be very damaging and go round like wildfire, speculation then becoming fact.”
The panic meant that many read the application online and took references to the “HMO” to mean Her Majesty’s Offenders, when in actual fact it stands for House of Multiple Occupancy.
MGOOD has advised that people who object to the application should do so on planning grounds such as overdevelopment or an increase in traffic.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Community hub launched at Chelmsley Wood Library

A COMMUNITY advice hub opened its doors to the public at Chelmsley Wood Library today (Monday).
The service is being run by AgeUK Solihull, the Kingshurst-based charity DIAL and Citizens Advice Solihull Borough.
The team will be working on behalf of Solihull Council offering a range of information and support. In time, other organisations will be dropping in to provide services.

The hub will be open Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm.

Council pours cold water on Marston Green "bail hostel" rumours

RUMOUR MILL: Plans were submitted last month to turn the
wine lodge into a 12-bedroom dwelling. Picture: Carl Baker
RUMOURS that a Marston Green shop will be turned into a “bail hostel” have been quashed by Solihull Council’s planning officers.
Close to 200 residents objected in just over week, following reports that plans had been lodged to convert the Ye Olde Wine Lodge, in Elmdon Road, into a home for offenders.
This caused a storm of criticism on social media, with locals fearful that “drug addicts” and “low lives” would be staying just a stone’s throw from the village junior school and retirement housing.
Fears were fuelled by the fact that last month’s application, to turn the business into a 12 bedroom “multi-occupancy” dwelling, did not state the purpose of the premises.
But at the weekend, Bickenhill Parish Council insisted they have spoken to the borough council and officers there are adamant that the application is not for a hostel.
Despite these reassurances, there remain concerns about the loss of a long-standing village business and the fact that extra dwellings would increase traffic at an already “dangerous” junction.
John Waggott, among those to comment on Solihull Council’s website, said: “This is a totally unsuitable development for the old centre of Marston Green.
“12 bedrooms with inadequate parking in what is already a busy location with the library and the welfare clinic.”
Sarah Neve added: “A potential 12-24  additional parked cars is ludicrous and a real safety issue.
“This will become even worse as the numbers of vehicles using Elmdon Road and Land Lane  dramatically increases as more of the properties on the new Moat House Fields are finished and people move in.”
While Councillor Bob Sleigh (Con, Bickenhill) said the application had caused “considerable public concern” and was inappropriate irrespective of the intended use.
Plans for the site are available to view here. Residents have until June 23 to comment on the application, which is likely to be considered by Solihull Council later this year.