Saturday, 29 November 2014

Chelmsley Wood Christmas lights switch-on

CHELMSLEY Wood's Christmas lights switch-on takes place this afternoon.
Children's favourite Peppa Pig will be visiting the shopping centre, with music and entertainment from 11.30am.
There will be a parade from 3.30pm and the lights will be turned on at 3.45pm.
Families can also look forward to chocolate giveaways and can meet Father Christmas.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Councillors reject Marston Green "garden-grabbing" scheme

RESIDENTS were celebrating this week after councillors rejected plans for a "garden grabbing" development in Marston Green.
The controversial scheme, which would have seen ten semi-detached homes built to the rear of homes in Holly Lane, was thrown out at last night's planning meeting.
The application had been heavily criticised by neighbours, who thought the development would add to overcrowding in the village.
Writing on Facebook, Karen Powell said that the recent flood of new homes - such as the 125 dwellings built at Moat House Farm - had exacerbated traffic problems.
"Has anyone tried to drive in or out of Marston Green between the hours of 5.30-8.30pm. Most nights now it's chaos."
The Holly Lane application is the latest of its kind to cause controversy in the village, which has been at the centre of the row about back garden developments.
Aware that the problem was reaching epidemic levels in large parts of the country, the Government previously promised more powers for councils to stop the practice.
Although when Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles visited the borough in 2011, he was confronted with claims that many applications were still being approved - in spite of the changes to planning rules.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

North Solihull residents recognised with civic awards

DEDICATION: Marie Hodgetts receives her award from
the NEC's Gary Masters at the Civic Suite
UNSUNG heroes and community champions have been recognised at Solihull's  Civic Honours Awards.
Kris Chase-Byrne, the founder of North Solihull Singers, received the Creative Arts Award.
He arranges music, composes songs, as well as conducting the community choir, who meet weekly at Chelmsley Wood's Three Trees Community Centre.
Also recognised for her tireless efforts was Marie Hodgetts, who won the Community Involvement category.
Marie has volunteered around North Solihull for years, working with organisations including the Friends of Kingfisher Country Park, Chelmsley Wood Residents' Association and IMAGE - a group of local community leaders.
She also helped organised the first-ever North Solihull Cultural Festival, which took place earlier this year.
Kris and Marie were presented with the honour by the Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Kate Wild, at last week's awards ceremony.
Paying tribute to the winners, Coun Wild said: "The dedication and enthusiasm that the winners of these awards put into their community is an inspiration to us all."
Among those from other parts of the borough to receive an award were teenage cyclist Dannielle Khan, who is hoping to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics, and Abigail Lake, a volunteer for Solihull Life Opportunities (SoLO).

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Police front office facilities to close in Chelmsley Wood

CHANGES: Front office facilities are being reduced
across the West Midlands

WEST Midlands Police are closing their front office facilities in Chelmsley Wood as part of the latest round of cost-cutting measures.
The force confirmed that the Bluebell Centre, which is open weekdays and on Saturday mornings, was one of several that will be shutting to the public.
In an announcement today, it was confirmed that only ten front offices would remain open across the region and only one – in Birmingham city centre – would be staffed 24 hours a day.
Elsewhere in the borough, Shirley Station will also be closing its doors to the public, while Homer Road, which currently operates around the clock, will see its hours dramatically reduced.
Some residents have already registered their concern about the decision to remove front office services altogether, only two years after they were moved out of Chelmsley Wood Police Station into the nearby shopping centre.
At the time, the decision to share premises with Solihull Council’s Walk-In centre was hailed as a new way of working for the police.
Reacting to today’s announcement, Councillor Chris Williams (Green, Chelmsley Wood) tweeted: “Very bad news. Only two years after promise [that the] desk would be future of police.”
David Jamieson, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, defended the move, arguing that these days the public preferred to contact officers via phone or the internet.
“The current service doesn’t meet people’s preferences and is becoming increasingly expensive as fewer and fewer people use it,” he said.
“We need to deploy staff to call centres where possible to free up resources that keep police officers where people want them: on the street, preventing crime and catching criminals.”
The changes will be phased in around the region next year.

  • What do you think? Is this a pragmatic or reckless decision? Leave a comment below or email us your views.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday events in North Solihull

EVENTS will be taking place around North Solihull to mark Remembrance Sunday.
This year's services will be particularly poignant, coming 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.
Events taking place locally include:
Castle Bromwich Remembrance Parade and Service: A band will assemble at Old Croft Lane and march to the village green. A service, conducted by Rev'd Gavin Douglas, will take place from 10.40am, including the traditional two minutes' silence at the stroke of eleven o'clock. For more information call the parish council office on 0121 747 6503.
Chelmsley Wood Royal British Legion: Members will be commemorating the fallen from 9.15am. All welcome to attend the branch headquarters in Clopton Crescent.
Marston Green Garden of Memory: Villagers are invited to the memorial event, which takes place in the garden on Bickenhill Road. A service at nearby St Leonard's Church will follow.

Chelmsley Wood residents urged to have their say about controversial TV series

HAVE YOUR SAY: Labour supporters, concerned by BBC
series People Like Us, visit Mansfield House, Chelmsley Wood

LABOUR Party activists have urged Chelmsley Wood residents to raise their concerns about a controversial new documentary, which purports to show the real life stories of people living on the estate.
Tom McNeil, who is the party's prospective parliamentary candidate for the Meriden constituency, is concerned that People Like Us gives a false impression of the local area.
Now he's urging local people to make their feelings about the programme known.
"The people in the TV show come across as nice people," said Mr McNeil. "However, almost everyone I spoke to in Chelmsley had seen the programme and thought it bore no resemblance to their community.
"They were very upset about the false impression it gives to people who do not know the area.
"The people I met were working hard to support themselves and their families, or in retirement after a lifetime of work and want viewers to know that the vast majority of people in Chelmsley are just like that."
His concerns have been echoed by Emma Chidler, the vice chair of Solihull and Meriden Labour Party.
In a joint statement, the activists said: "Everyone has helped pay for this series through their television licence fee and it's only right that their views are taken into account."

Replica WWI trench developed at CTC Kingshurst

A LIFE-sized First World War trench has been dug in the grounds of the CTC Kingshurst Academy.
The impressive defence is 6ft deep and 130ft long - around the same length as four double decker buses.
The replica trench was constructed under the expert eye of former Army officer Carl Hoyles, who now works as facilities manager at the Cooks Lane school.
Complete with a covered command bunker, a first aid station and firing placements, the project will be used to teach pupils about the conditions that soldiers endured during the Great War. It is set to open in the New Year.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Winter Warmth Recipe Book on sale in Castle Bromwich

HEARTY MEALS: The Winter Warmth cookbook contains
recipes for stews, goulash and a clotted cream rice pudding
A WINTER Warmth Recipe Book has gone on sale at Age UK Solihull's Castle Bromwich shop.
The book contains recipes for soups, stews, casseroles, curries and puddings - nutritious meals that will be ideal in the cold months to come.
Teresa Mosedale, the charity's winter warmth co-ordinator, said: "It's important to eat well, especially in winter.
"Make sure you eat food that gives you plenty of nutrients and vitamins and eating at least one hot meal will enable you to keep warm."
The book is available at the shop in Hurst Lane North (suggested donation of £2.50).

  • For more advice on keeping warm over the winter, pensioners can call the Winter Warmth Helpline on 0121 740 8080. Lines are open Monday to Friday, from 9am-5pm.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Still work to do in tackling inequality in Solihull

COUNCILLORS have been updated on a drive to reduce the gulf in living standards between North Solihull and the rest of the borough.
Solihull Council is closely monitoring how Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood and Kingshurst & Fordbridge compare with the other 14 wards, which traditionally have higher life expectancy and lower levels of crime and unemployment.
A report presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Board this evening reveals that attempts to tackle inequality have been broadly successful.
Incidents of anti social behaviour, hate crime and the number of young people out of work are now closer to the levels in Solihull as a whole.
The report's author, Melanie Lockley, said: "Overall levels of unemployment have continued to reduce, with most improvement for 18-24  year old unemployment, which has seen the gap between the regeneration wards and the borough average reduce significantly and the overall rate is now only marginally worse than national rates."
Major headway has also been made in persuading residents that they can influence local decisions; previously there had been a profound sense of disillusionment over the handling of regeneration schemes.
However, statistics show there are still areas where the gap between the borough's more "deprived" communities and neighbouring areas is in fact widening.
Notably, despite a number of high-profile healthy eating campaigns, obesity among primary school children is found in increasingly disproportionate levels in North Solihull.
The local authority hopes that initiatives to promote cycling and tighter controls on takeaways will tackle the problem.
There is also a growing disparity in the exam results of sixth formers, who continue to under perform compared to those in the south of the borough, and the number of people waiting to be housed.
You can read the full report here.

Santa's sleigh routes saved by Kingshurst cab firm

TOW-HO-HO: Santa's transport problems have been solved
A LOCAL taxi service has stepped in to save a stranded Santa Claus.
Last month, Marston Green and District Lions revealed that the company who usually provides a vehicle to tow their Christmas sleigh was unable to help this year.
Fearing that the annual tour of Chelmsley Wood and Marston Green may have to be abandoned, members made an appeal for alternate transport.
The group were inundated with offers of help from individuals, businesses and charities – including Midlands Search & Rescue.
In the end, the Lions accepted an offer from Kingshurst-based taxi firm TC Cars.
The company has offered to provide an eight-seater minibus to tow the sleigh, as well as covering the insurance and fuel costs.
This has meant an event, which started 35 years ago, will go ahead as usual.
Heather Lee, president of Marston Green and District Lions, said: “We were amazed to receive such a fantastic response to our appeal and would like to thank everybody who responded or passed on a message.
“Christmas has been saved and Santa will, once again, be visiting children of all ages in Chelmsley Wood and Marston Green.”
This year’s sleigh routes take place between December 8-16. If you would like to volunteer to help, call Simon Moss on 0121 681 4269.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Spectacular images of Berwicks Lane fireworks

PHOTOGRAPHER Paul Beale captured these fabulous photos of fireworks at the display in Chelmsley Wood yesterday evening. 
If you were unable to make it along, don't forget that Birmingham's popular Pype Hayes fireworks spectacular takes place on November 5. It's a bit of a journey for those in North Solihull who rely on public transport, but a shuttle bus runs from the Fort Shopping Park. More details here.

Comment: People Like Us

TALL TALES: Footage of foreboding looking flats proliferated in the first
episode of BBC3's People Like Us.
DID you know that the country's best businessmen and women got where they are today by repeatedly walking over London's Millennium Bridge. They wear sharp suits and an expression which suggests either grim resolve or a serious case of constipation. They like similes about predatory animals...
That's certainly the impression you might get if you took BBC's The Apprentice to heart. Fortunately few people accept the puffed up candidates, with their shaky grasp of how percentages work, as a true reflection of Britain's white collar workforce.
So should we really be all that worried about People Like Us, the new "documentary" that debuted on BBC3 last week? Surely the viewers will realise that the series is hardly representative of life on council estates?
Unfortunately, as shows like Benefit Street have demonstrated, some sections of the media are rather too eager to seize on the idea that crime and unemployment are endemic in inner-city areas. So when a production company arrive looking for the locals most likely to stoke controversy, it's an absolute gift. Here suddenly are a dozen or so individuals whose behaviour, or in some cases misbehaviour, is perfect propaganda for those with an obvious agenda. "Looking for a reason to carve up the welfare state," they snarl. "Look no further..."
What was most notable about People Like Us, particularly for those who were local, is that the makers clearly struggled to find enough suitable subjects on an estate with a population of over 12,000 people. So while the advert may have declared "Welcome to Chelmsley Wood", in actual fact large parts of the opening episode took in the adjacent areas of Tile Cross, Shard End, Kingshurst and Castle Bromwich.
The opening montage would have been fantastic for anyone who owns the Michelin Spotter's Guide to deprivation. Graffiti - check. Foreboding blocks of flat - check. Yoofs roaming the streets - check.
There was admittedly something along the lines of a disclaimer buried in the voice-over. Mention of a multi-million pound regeneration project and the fact that crime was in actual fact falling in the area. There was even some footage of some pots of plants being carried onto the estate. But after that the focus was mostly on controversy and woe. And let's face it, that's the stuff that will be remembered by Daily Mail columnists and disgusted Twitter users.
And there in lies the problem. People Like Us is only going to reinforce stereotypes and negative perceptions of an area where in actual fact most people obey the law, help each other out and go to work.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Chelmsley Wood fireworks display takes place this evening.

REMEMBER, REMEMBER: You don't have to wait until Wednesday to
enjoy some fireworks in Chelmsley Wood.

CHELMSLEY Wood Town Council’s annual fireworks display will take place this evening (November 1).
The free event will be held in Berwicks Lane; gates open at 6pm, with the display getting underway at 7pm.
Under 12s must be accompanied by an adult and organisers have reminded residents that alcohol and sparklers are not allowed on the site.