Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Motorcyclist killed in Fordbridge collision was "weeks from her 21st birthday"

TRAGEDY: Lauren Roberts
TRIBUTES have been paid to a young woman who died in a motorbike crash in Fordbridge last week.
Lauren Roberts was killed in the collision at the junction of Forth Drive and Chester Road.
The 20-year-old, from Water Orton, went into cardiac arrest and, despite the valiant efforts of paramedics, was pronounced dead at the scene.
A family statement issued this week said: “On Thursday evening our beautiful Lauren was tragically taken from us just a few weeks before her 21st birthday.
“Lauren was a loving daughter, granddaughter and sister and the whole family are totally devastated by her untimely death. The gap that has been left in our loves can never be filled.”
The motorbike collided with a blue Honda CBR at just before 8.45pm.
West Midlands Ambulance Service said that the car driver, a man in his 30s, was treated for facial injuries and taken to Heartlands Hospital for further assessment.
Emergency services closed the road for several hours after the crash to conduct inquiries and are urging anyone who saw what happened to come forward.
Eyewitnesses should call the collision investigation unit on 101.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Phones 4u store in Chelmsley Wood closes

A CHELMSLEY Wood store shut its doors for the final time last week, with the loss of five jobs.
The Phones 4u branch was one of the 362 outlets to close, after the retailer went into administration earlier this month.
While Vodafone and EE had agreed to buy up a number of premises, the store in Chelmsley Wood shopping centre was not among those to be handed a reprieve.
Rob Hunt, joint administrator, said: “It is with much regret that we made the difficult decision to close a large number of stores.
“It is a sad day for the staff working at those locations and our thoughts are with them.”
Phones 4u was set up by Midlands businessman John Caudwell in 1996 and had more than 700 outlets nationwide.
In recent years the company had started to struggle and the final blow came when the company’s final remaining suppliers ended their contracts a few weeks ago.

Police appeal after teenager assaulted aboard bus in Chelmsley Wood

A PENSIONER was arrested following an alleged sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl aboard a bus in Chelmsley Wood.
The 79-year-old had been questioned by police following the incident on the No 966, on Monday, September 15. He has since been bailed.
The driver of the double-decker service, which runs from Solihull to Erdington, was alerted to the assault of the teenager at around 5.55pm. Police boarded the bus minutes later at Chelmsley Road, near to Keepers Lodge.
Now officers are keen to trace any passengers who may have witnessed the assault and are yet to come forward, particularly a man who is understood to have asked the victim if she was okay.
If you can help with the investigation call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

  •  A report on BBC’s Inside Out programme last Monday revealed that less than five per cent of sexual assaults on buses are reported to the authorities and urged victims to come forward.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The Origin of North Solihull

FORTY years since Chelmsley Wood became part of Solihull, we look back on how it happened and if anything has changed since.

I like to think the deal was done in the sort of shady drinking den that you see in British gangster flicks.
Two men with briefcases sit down at a table to “do business”. They’re there for a while and those sat around hold their breath. At last they strike a deal, shake hands, get up and walk away.
Unfortunately this is complete fiction. The agreement that saw Chelmsley Wood become part of Solihull was hammered out by civil servants.
The only drink on the table would have been tap water and if there were discrete black bags they would have contained papers about electoral boundaries rather than used bank notes.
Although in one way local politics does have something in common with the broken-up boozers of Guy Ritchie’s fantasies. And that’s the fact that no one speaks like a normal person.
On the mean streets of London people say things like “this is my manor”, while local government officials may remark “this is a metropolitan borough”.
To be precise, this is Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council. But about the only time you’ll see the name in full is on the side of your wheelie bin. More likely you’ll refer to the organisation as Solihull Council. Or if you’re particularly hacked off about potholes probably just “the council” – said with the sort of disgust usually reserved for a sexually transmitted disease.
SMBC or “the council” was created 40 years ago. In fact it came into being on April Fool’s Day 1974 – except no-one saw the funny side. The massive reorganisation of local councils had put a lot of noses out of joint.
Towns, villages and suburbs were swapped between local authorities like Panini football stickers. Birmingham was perhaps the biggest bully in the playground. “Got, got, WANT…” yelled the second city, as it seized control of Sutton Coldfield.
In neighbouring Solihull, leafy avenues, sleepy villages and council estates had all been thrown together and told to get along. An area that stretched from Castle Bromwich in the north to Hockley Heath 14 miles away was suddenly represented by one organisation. An organisation that was going to find it hard to make sure everyone had a voice. Even agreeing on a name was difficult, with some pushing for the newly-created council to be christened Hemlingford (a suggestion rejected presumably because every time you say it, you sound like you're in sore need of a Halls soother).
So it wasn't the ideal start for borough councillors. Part of the problem was that population size or the relative wealth of areas were far more important factors than traditional ties when it came to carving up the West Midlands. You only have to look at the map of Solihull to see something is amiss.
The north of the borough sticks out if not like a sore thumb, then a crooked finger. It curls up past areas of Birmingham, like Sheldon, which are in fact far closer to Solihull town centre. Politics was put before the needs of local people.
It’s sad to say that 40 years since Solihull was created, some of the old divisions still remain. Does Kingshurst feel consulted? Would people in Smith’s Wood describe themselves as Silhillians? The answer is often no, although that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of good people on both sides of the A45 who are trying to change that. Many are trying to hammer home the message that the Coventry Road is just a dual carriageway and not the Israeli Separation Barrier.
The trouble is that it will take more than good will from residents. Transport authorities need to finally solve the problem of the pathetic public transport links from the north to south. The eight miles from Castle Brom to the town centre feels far longer when you’re forced to take a trip on the torturous No 71 bus.
Maybe more could be done to organise events that encourage communities to come together. I pay tribute to organisations like Solihull Music Service, who draw together students from schools across the borough, but there needs to be more examples of this.
The fact is that Solihull is here to stay, unless of course it's swallowed up into Greater Birmingham. But that, perhaps, is a story for another day.

A version of this article originally appeared in @Hybrid_Mag

Plans for Smith's Wood takeaway divide local opinion

COUNCILLORS have been urged to throw out proposals to open a new takeaway in Smith’s Wood.
Paul’s Stores, in Rathlin Croft, has applied for planning permission to turn part of the existing convenience store into a hot food outlet.
The plans have divided local opinion, with more than 50 residents leaving comments on Solihull Council’s website.
Many are concerned that the takeaway, which would open until 10pm weeknights and 10.30pm on Saturdays, will lead to littering, parking problems and anti social behaviour in a mostly residential area.
Ian Davison wrote: “The litter in the area is already too much and this will make it worse. No amount of bins will solve the problem.”
Evelyn Hitchman added: “It will bring more traffic to our busy side roads and encourage groups of people to congregate late at night, which can be very unnerving to some of our residents.”
However, others are firmly in favour of the plans and argue that a takeaway would be convenient for families who have to rely on public transport.
Tracy Cater said: “I think it is a brilliant idea. It will be very convenient for those in the area that do not have car.”
Solihull Council’s planning officers have recommended that the application be refused, drawing comparisons with a similar scheme in Wheatcroft Drive, Chelmsley Wood, which was dismissed in February last year.
Among the local authority’s main objection is that opening a takeway so close to Solihull College’s Woodlands Campus would undermine attempts to encourage young people to eat more healthily.
Councillors will consider the application at their meeting on Wednesday evening (October 1).

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The circus comes to Castle Bromwich

DAREDEVILS: These fearless motorcyclists are among
the star attractions.

ROLL up, roll up...Uncle Sam's American Circus has pitched up in Castle Bromwich.
The troupe will be treating locals to a star-spangled spectacle, featuring jugglers, trapeze artists and a team of daredevil motorcyclists.
The big top is based in Water Orton Road and you can buy tickets from the box office (open daily from 9.30am-8pm). For more details visit www.americancircus.co.uk

Performance times:

  • Friday, September 26th - 5.00 and 7.30pm.
  • Saturday, September 27th - 1.30, 4.00 and 6.30pm.
  • Sunday, September 28th - 2.00 and 4.00pm.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Community rallies round after arsonists target Chelmsley Wood playground

ARSON: The charred remains of structures in Meriden Park's
Adventure Playground
YOUNG volunteers will help carry out repairs at Meriden Park’s Adventure Playground, after the facility was targeting by arsonists for the third time this month.
The community has rallied round after yobs set wooden shelters alight on Monday (September 22). A pit used for cooking activities was also damaged by the flames.
While the volunteers who run the playground were dismayed to discover the latest incident, they have vowed they won’t be beaten.
A team of helpers will be hard at work on Saturday, removing the charred timbers and putting the site back to working order.
There have also been many messages of support after the playground posted photos of the damage on their Facebook page.
Becky Causer wrote: “I can’t even find the words to describe how angry I feel seeing that some no hoper has ruined someone’s hard work on this project. It is a brilliant place and I have major respect for it.”
Stephen Franklin added: “I may live in Coventry, but I work in Chelmsley Wood and have a lot of time for the area.
“I think it would be a good idea to get people together to get this playground rebuilt and show how great the community is in standing together against things like this.”
Equipment was previously set ablaze on September 5 and 9, while this blog reported back in May about an arson attack on the playground’s tree house.
Following Monday’s incident, CCTV footage has been passed to Solihull Police and officers have said they will step up patrols in the area.
If you have any information about the arson attack, call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Smith's Wood road sets up Solihull's first Street Association

RESIDENTS in a Smith's Wood street have formed a group to foster a greater sense of community in their cul-de-sac.
Around a dozen residents from Vauxhall Crescent have volunteered to run Solihull's first ever Street Association, organising a series of events for local people.
The initiative was launched on Saturday, September 13, with around 50 locals turning out for a neighbourhood BBQ.
Around half of those who attended the get-together admitted that they had no friends in the road, something that the Street Association team are keen to remedy.
The associations are the brainchild of Birmingham couple Martin and Gina Graham, in response to concerns about the dwindling contact between neighbours.
A recent survey highlighted the growing sense of isolation in many suburbs and estates, with more than half of those questioned admitting they didn't know their neighbours' first names.
Despite the lack of interaction in many parts of the country, the Grahams say their scheme has been well received, with the majority of the street associations being set up in the West Midlands.
Councillor Diana Holl-Allen, cabinet member for community and partnerships, hopes that more communities will be encouraged to follow the example of Vauxhall Crescent.
To find out more about forming a Street Association visit www.streetassociations.org and request a free starter pack, or alternatively call 0121 427 3300.

Chelmsley Wood man arrested after huge haul of heroin is discovered

A CHELMSLEY Wood man was one of several suspected drugs smugglers arrested earlier this month, after Border Force officials discovered a plot to bring millions of pounds worth of heroin into the UK.
Five men were arrested after the huge haul of drugs was uncovered in Felixstowe, Suffolk. The 46 kilo cache had been concealed in a container of industrial machinery, which had arrived at the docks from Pakistan.
The 52-year-old man, who has not been named by the authorities, was arrested on suspicion of importing a Class A drug.  A 56-year-old, from Inverness and three men, aged 21, 52 and 55, from Hinckley, Leicestershire, were detained on the same charge.
All five men were interviewed by the National Crime Agency and have been released on bail pending further inquiries.
Phillip Holliday, Border Force regional director, said that intercepting the heroin had been a great result for the agency.
“The purity of the drugs is still being tested and a precise value of the haul is therefore yet to be established, but it will certainly run to millions of pounds.
“Working with our colleagues at the NCA we are determined to do all we can to stop drug traffickers. Those convicted of drug importation offences face considerable prison sentences.”

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Teenager stabbed in Chelmsley Wood

A TEENAGER has been taken to hospital after being stabbed in Chelmsley Wood last night (Friday).
Police were called to Alder Drive around 9pm and discovered the 19-year-old, who had suffered “puncture wounds”.
It’s understood that he had been attacked in nearby Greenlands Road a short time earlier.
This morning, officers confirmed the injuries were not life threatening and the teenager remained in a stable condition in hospital.
Detectives from West Midlands Police are investigating the incident and urged anyone with information to contact CID on 101.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Jobs' Fair in Chelmsley Wood

A JOBS’ Fair will be taking place in Chelmsley Wood town centre next week.
The event will help those looking for work to find suitable positions, ahead of the busy Christmas recruitment period.
As well as finding out about the temporary and permanent roles on offer, residents will have the chance to meet employers from a range of industries.
Councillor Ian Courts, cabinet member for economic development, urged people to attend and take a look at some of the available vacancies.
“Seasonal job opportunities can provide invaluable work experience, which employers like to see from candidates,” he said. “You never know, they could turn into full-time positions.”
The jobs’ fair will be held on Monday, September 8 at The Loft, Chelmsley Wood Library. It runs from 9.30am-1.30pm.
For more information visit www.solihullforsuccess.co.uk