Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Review of the Year: Part 2

Other Side of Solihull continues its look back on the past 12 months...

Marston Green residents were shocked by the murder of Anne Dunkley, with warm tributes paid to the retired schoolteacher. The pensioner, who was a much-loved member of the local community, had been attacked in her Elmdon Road home. Her nephew, Gareth Emery, was subsequently charged with murder.
There was concern after it was revealed that the number of people using the Kingfisher Food Bank, in Smith’s Wood, had more than doubled.
Frustrations also boiled over in Castle Bromwich, where the council had come in for criticism over a much-hyped road improvement project. Some drivers claimed that the £1.3million scheme was causing chaos during busy periods.
From slow moving traffic to fast horses, it was a rather better month for racing-mad Dora Franklin. The Chelmsley Wood woman had the chance to celebrate her 100th birthday at Royal Ascot, where she rubbed shoulders with some of her favourite jockeys.

There was a huge turn-out in Marston Green for a memorial service held in honour of Anne Dunkley. Her family later thanked the community for the flurry of heartfelt tributes.
A Chelmsley Wood man was given a serious ticking-off by a Judge after he dropped his trousers during a trip to a Coleshill pub. The outrageous antics in the Red Lion cost the man hundreds of pounds in fines, costs and compensation to the bar manager.
Also in trouble were the reckless drivers who were treating Bickenhill Parkway like their own private race track. Footage of their late-night meetings emerged on YouTube and police vowed to take action to stop the street racers.
Elsewhere, users of North Solihull Sport Centre were furious with the decision to sack long-serving lifeguard Ray Lill. Locals mounted an unsuccessful campaign to have the pensioner – who was dismissed for allegedly using his phone at the poolside - reinstated.

It was a damp squib of a summer, but the sun was shining on Chelmsley Wood’s Angela Moore.
She had started writing following a series of health problems and realised her dream of getting a novel published.
Also flying high, quite literally in this case, was teenage daredevil Declan Hughes. To celebrate his 16th birthday, the brave schoolboy completed a skydive in aid of Solihull Life Opportunities (SoLO).
Elsewhere there was shock over the announcement that the Smith’s Wood councillor Mike Sheridan was quitting the Green Party and horror after a clergyman was subjected to a brutal robbery outside the Church of Latter Day Saints, Chelmsley Wood.
Other Side of Solihull also revealed that speed cameras were returning to the borough, with plans to install two new digital devices in Castle Bromwich.

There was a proper stink after a Chelmsley Wood woman failed to clear up after her dog. The fouling
faux-pas saw the owner stung with costs and fines totalling more than £300.
In less pungent news, Castle Bromwich held a Heritage Festival for the second year running,
welcoming a cavalcade of characters from history.
On the day that Labour elected its new leader, it was perhaps strange that the town crier bore a striking resemblance to Jeremy Corbyn!
Changes were also being rung in Kingshurst, to the general dismay of local residents. It was the plans to develop part of Babbs Mill Park which were once again causing controversy and locals vowed they would not give up their fight against the housing development.
Finally came the news that the group of nuns who had inspired BBC series Call the Midwife were looking to find a new home in Marston Green.

We’ve haddock nuff! That was the message from Castle Brom residents who were fed-up with the amount of takeaways opening in the neighbourhood.
Plans to open yet another hot food outlet in Hurst Lane had seen some locals raise a petition, but when the chips were down the council agreed to approve the plans.
Food fights were something of a theme this month, after a man got himself banned from Morrisons in a row over a pack of doughnuts. Grandfather Michael Blackwell said he was dismayed by the supermarket’s decision.
While that particular resident may have been denied a sweet treat, many younger people were actually turning them down by choice.
In an OSOS exclusive, we revealed that Solihull schoolchildren were far healthier today than they were a decade ago.
Also this month, a Marston Green man was unveiled as a candidate on BBC’s The Apprentice and a new cinema opened its doors at the NEC’s Resorts World.

Drivers were less than pleased by the announcement that roadworks on one of the main roads into North Solihull would drag on into 2016.
One quick-witted motorist asked Birmingham City Council if they intended to finished the Chester Road improvements before the next Ice Age.
Over the border in Solihull, attention was also turning to a cold snap, with highways chiefs announcing their preparations for winter.
In Chelmsley Wood meanwhile, there was concern about continuing crime concentrated around the town centre. The number of offences revived fears about local police cuts.
In happier news, a local man decided to get a tattoo tribute to the hospital staff who had provided his mum with vital cancer treatment, and Patricia Hayes, a familiar face at Chelmsley Baptist Church, received a Civic Honour.

Leader of Solihull Council, and Marston Green man, Bob Sleigh was being tipped as a possible candidate to become the region’s answer to Boris Johnson.
The councillor is considered a contender for Mayor of the West Midlands, after plans to create a new combined authority were finally agreed.
There was mixed news for public transport passengers, with confirmation that bus fares were going up yet again, but also an announcement that the Midland Metro could be on its way to areas including Chelmsley Wood.
North Solihull Soup - a new initiative to help fund community enterprises - continued to go from strength-to-strength, and there was fresh debate in the council chamber about the best way to tackle inequalities between the borough’s richest and poorest districts.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Review of the Year: Part 1

As the year draws to a close, Other Side of Solihull takes a look back at 2015...

IT was a great start to the year for a stalwart of the Castle Bromwich community.
Phil White, involved with the local Lions club and a number of other groups, was awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List.
There was also a reward for Chelmsley Wood man James Hefford – even if he’d had to wait over 70 years to get it.
The 91-year-old, a veteran of the Arctic Convoys campaign, was informed he would receive a Russian bravery medal for the part he played in the war.
Elsewhere two men were jailed after police discovered £72,000 worth of cannabis in a two bedroom flat in Smith’s Wood.
But there was a big boost in local efforts to nurture rather more wholesome business ventures, with the official launch of the multimillion pound Enterprise Centre at Chelmund’s Cross.

Marston Green residents were pleased to receive confirmation of a police restructure, following long-running concerns that the village wasn’t receiving enough attention from officers.
From boots on the ground to homes up high – Chelmsley Wood’s tower blocks emerged as the unlikely stars of a national photographic exhibition.
Over in Castle Bromwich there was once again talk about drivers being slapped with fines for parking on grass verges and pavements, with frustrations boiling over about the behaviour of selfish motorists.
Similar anger was simmering at Solihull Council, where members dismissed calls to introduce the
Living Wage for staff. Green Party councillors – well represented in the north of the borough – were quick to condemn the decision.

The local authority came in for further criticism in March over its handling of plans for a so-called “halfway hostel” in Ipswich Walk, Chelmsley Wood.
Over 500 residents had signed a petition against the scheme, accusing the council of keeping them in the dark about the nature of the proposals.
As one side of the estate saw red, the other had gone green. The success of the Bluebell Community Garden saw volunteer Craig Duffy receiving national recognition.
Students at the Grace Academy received a visit from classical singer – and keen rugby player – Laura Wright. The young performer dropped in as part of an ongoing initiative to get more women involved in the sport.
From a thorny issue to a prickly problem - what to do about a dwindling hedgehog population. Around North Solihull, residents were encouraged to throw their support behind a new project to help the creatures.

There was something of a rumpus in Marston Green after a group of travellers pitched up at Millennium Wood. It would be one of several encampments to appear during the course of the year. If villagers were glad to see the back of the caravans, there was a rather more reluctant farewell to Mary Parfitt, who retired from the local infant school after 20 happy years.
Chelmsley Wood’s Amelia Jane-Harris gave a candid account of her ongoing battle with Crohn’s disease. The debilitating condition had seen the young woman shed 18 stone in the space of just 20 months.
With the nights growing lighter, police once again pledged to take a tough line with those driving off-road bikes around local parks and open spaces.
The ongoing problem of boy racers had previously been identified as a top priority for officers.

Election fever gripped North Solihull as the month began, with voters casting their ballot papers in both national and local elections.
Conservative candidate Caroline Spelman was returned as MP for Meriden with a thumping majority – increasing her share of the vote from 2010.
On the council, Labour lost out to UKIP in Kingshurst & Fordbridge – the defeat of Alan Nash meaning the party was left with one solitary representative.
As some councillors were shown the door, others showed their hand, with news that the local authority was poised to introduce fortnightly bin collections – the latest in a series of cost-cutting measures.
Elsewhere, the Kingshurst & Fordbridge Medical Practice was once again mired in controversy, with allegations that more than 100 complaints had been received about the quality of services.
Also this month, plans to build a new engineering academy in Chelmsley Wood were given the go-ahead.
The proposals had sharply divided the community, amid concerns about the impact that the new campus would have on local infrastructure.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Urgent Care Centre in Chelmsley Wood this Christmas

AN URGENT care centre will be providing medical advice over the festive period.
The service will be available at the Chelmsley Wood Primary Care Centre, Crabtree Drive on December 25-28 and January 1-3.
The initiative, which follows the success of a similar scheme at Easter, is designed to ease pressure on hospital services.
Dr Sue Harrower, from Solihull's Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "The pop-up urgent care centre will give our patients greater choice to access healthcare advice over Christmas and the New Year.
"I would also like to remind people that A&E is for serious injuries and illnesses."
The centre is open to patients from 9am-6pm.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Concerns raised over inequality in Solihull

COUNCILLORS have clashed over whether enough is being done to tackle inequality in Solihull.
The Green Party has highlighted a recent Government report which revealed that eight areas in North Solihull (each covering between 1,000 and 1,500 homes) were ranked among the top five per cent of neighbourhoods in the country when it came to deprivation.
Four of these were in Chelmsley Wood, two in Kingshurst & Fordbridge, one in Smith’s Wood and one in Bickenhill (the ward which encompasses Marston Green.)
Councillor Ian Courts, deputy leader of the council, said that the statistics should be treated with some caution, as they did not take account of many of the improvements that had been made locally.
“It’s extremely important not to read too much into the data,” he told this month’s Full Council meeting.
However, Councillor Stephen Holt (Green, Smith’s Wood) remained concerned that despite Solihull’s overall prosperity, there was still “a massive difference” between the standard of living in
different parts of the borough.
Coun Holt urged the council’s Conservative administration to commit to a concerted effort to close the gap.
“It does seem, however you look at the data, Solihull is becoming increasingly polarised between the richest and the poorest areas.
“So can the cabinet member outline what the council is going to do differently over the next five years to try to make sure the next report paints a better picture?”
Coun Courts hit back, arguing that while the survey was published this year, much of the data was collected several years ago, when unemployment was far higher. He also defended the record of the council in addressing inequality.
“The gap in attainment [for GCSE students] between North Solihull’s schools and the rest of Solihull has gone down from 61 per cent in 2004/05 to 22 per cent in 2012/13.
“Now that is a statistic I’m proud of, that is a statistic I intend to push hard. That’s what’s important, not some – dare I say it – rather meaningless national statistics.”

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Community in shock after Chelmsley Wood deaths

POLICE today launched an investigation after a mother and daughter were discovered dead at their Chelmsley Wood home.
The women, named locally as  Pamela and Audrey Dunn, were pronounced dead after paramedics were called to the address in Raglan Way.
Neighbours dialled 999 at around 9am after one of the women was spotted lying on the floor of the dwelling.
Mrs Dunn, aged 80, and her daughter, 48, are understood to have lived in the road for over 30 years.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "Their deaths are being treated as unexplained.
"Post mortems will take place in due course to establish a cause of death. Police are not seeking anyone else in relation to this investigation at this stage."

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Council confirms commitment to bring the metro to North Solihull

ON TRACK: The Midland Metro is being extended
TRAMS look set to travel through North Solihull as plans advance to expand the Midland Metro network.
A new line, bringing trams into Birmingham city centre, was opened this month and discussions are already under way to extend this down to Birmingham Airport and the new HS2 Interchange Station.
This will mean carriages travelling through the borough, although with two possible routes being considered, it has been uncertain which areas would benefit.
One option would take the trams down the A45, a more direct route but of little use to local commuters.
Councillor Chris Williams (Green, Chelmsley Wood) this month called on Solihull Council to push for the alternative route through East Birmingham and North Solihull.
“It’s a bit longer and it’s going to be more expensive and when you’re talking about half a billion pounds I can just see a bit of pressure from Wolverhampton and Dudley saying… can you just have a straight line please?”
Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, insisted that the borough council was making the case for the second option.
“One of the things I have insisted when I have been involved in these discussions is it’s not right to take the Metro down the A45 as that doesn’t serve people.”
He recalled a previous attempt to bring the Metro through the north of the borough in the 1980s and in particular a heated meeting at Arden Hall, Castle Bromwich, in which some residents spoke against plans to bring “50 tonne carriages” down the Bradford Road.
Over 30 years on, Coun Richards said the council would fight hard to ensure it got an agreement which would make the biggest difference to the local community.
“We are going to get what we want for the benefit of our people,” he said

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Other Side of Solihull - New edition out now

THE latest edition of Other Side of Solihull's monthly digital newspaper is now available.
You can read it for free here and don't forget to contact the team with your stories for the next edition, which will be out in the new year.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

The Mayor of Solihull's Christmas message

OVER the last six months, my Consort and I have been astonished by the warmth and generosity of the lovely people who live and work in Solihull.  It has been so very noticeable that giving, helping out and loving one’s neighbour are each very prevalent in Solihull. Organisations, too numerous to mention, and individual volunteers make a daily difference to the lives of others.
As Mayor of Solihull, I chose a theme for my year: “Let your Light Shine”. Which, quite simply, means do your best and help out whenever and wherever you see a need.  It can be a small thing like helping a neighbour or a more involved service helping in the community.
Every little thing we can do to help can make a difference.  All of us can help each other in some way, be it something big or quite small.  I have been very pleased to see that this is already happening in so many ways both in the North and the South of Solihull.
Christmas is a time for getting together with family and friends but there are those among us who are less fortunate.  I would ask that we share a thought for those who are alone, sick, elderly or disabled.
The Consort joins me in thanking you all for the work you do to make this borough such a good place to live and we wish you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.

Councillor Glenis Slater
Mayor of Solihull

Friday, 11 December 2015

Marston Green man makes Apprentice's "final five"

MARSTON Green man Gary Poulton has made it to the semi-finals of BBC's The Apprentice.
Over the last couple of months, Lord Alan Sugar has whittled down the 18 candidates who started the process and Mr Poulton has survived to the final five.
The 34-year-old was one of the oldest of this year's bunch of hopefuls, but his experience may have helped put him within sniffing distance of the coveted quarter of a million pound investment.
Mr Poulton impressed when he was appointed project manager in the seventh week of the competition and won a task which required the teams to open a discount store in Manchester.
Since then it's been a difficult few weeks; the father-of-one has found himself on the losing side on three consecutive occasions and has had his share of narrow escapes in the board room.
Lord Sugar himself has expressed reservations that the Aston University graduate may be too "corporate" to be his business partner.
Deliberating who should be given their marching orders in Wednesday night's instalment, the former Amstrad boss said: "I've been around for a long time, I've been in business for nearly 50 years, and of course I've come across a lot of Garys... I worry you lack entrepreneurial spirit."
In the end, Mr Poulton escaped by the skin of his teeth, earning a spot in the show's notorious "interview week."
All of the remaining candidates will now have their business proposition prodded, poked and possibly torn to shreds by four of Lord Sugar's closest confidantes. Only two will go on to claim a place in the grand final.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Bus ticket prices to rise again

BAD news for bus passengers!
National Express West Midlands, which runs some of the busiest services through North Solihull, has confirmed another increase in ticket prices in 2016.
From January 1, a single adult ticket will rise 10p to £2.30, while the cost of a Daysaver will jump to £4.40 (up 20p).
The cost of weekly and monthly travelcards will also be going up from next month.
Many travellers were quick to criticise today's news on social media, but National Express defended the latest hikes, arguing that the cost of an off-peak Daysaver would actually be reduced.
"We will also be investing tens of millions next year in new services," said managing director Peter Coates.
Some of the operator's busiest services through North Solihull include the Nos 71, 94 and 966.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Christmas Event Diary: North Solihull

Other Side of Solihull has put together this handy guide to Christmas events over the coming weeks:

December 11: Christmas by Candlelight, St Mary and St Margaret's Church
Classic carols and seasonal stories starting from 7.30pm.
Tickets are £5 each (including a mince pie and mulled wine.) Call 0121 747 1270.
December 12: Table Top Sale, Chelmsley Conservative Club
There will be all sorts of stalls to browse at this festive fayre, which runs from 12noon-3pm.
Tables are £5 each.
December 12-13: Christmas Remembrance Services, Woodlands Cemetery
Services in memory of loved ones led by Father Peter Conley, starting at 1pm both days.
Light refreshments will be available opposite the chapel.
December 15: Christmas Concert, Three Trees Centre
The North Solihull Singers will be performing in aid of the charity Entraide.
The concert starts at 7.30pm, with tickets £3 on the door.
December 15: Carols on the Green, Chelmsley Wood
Free event from 6.30-7.00pm. Don't forget your lantern!
December 17: Christmas Fayre, Chapelhouse Boys Club
Stalls, tombola, refreshments and more. Open from 2-6pm.
December 19: See Santa, Chelmsley Wood Town Centre
Meet Father Christmas at the town's shopping centre, between 11am-4pm.
The event is free and there will also be an opportunity to ride the Santa Express.
December 19: Ghost Stories for Christmas, Chelmsley Wood Library
Spooky stories will be told from 3.00-4.15pm. More details on 0121 788 4380.
December 22: Marston Green Carol Service
A traditional service will be taking place in the Garden of Memory, starting at 7pm.
December 24: Midnight Mass, Castle Bromwich
Start the Christmas celebrations with this traditional service at St Mary and St Margaret's Church (11.30pm).

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Speed camera plan confirmed for Castle Bromwich

SOLIHULL Council has confirmed that a new generation of speed camera will be coming to Castle Bromwich in the new year.
The digital device is going to be installed near the junction of Bradford Road and Chester Road and is one of nine units being introduced across the Birmingham and Solihull area.
Other Side of Solihull revealed earlier this year that councils had come to an agreement about bringing back fixed cameras at some of the most dangerous locations across the region.
At the time there were suggestions that a device could also be erected on the northbound carriage of the Collector Road if funding was available.
This site was not mentioned in the press release issued this week, suggesting the council will be assessing the success of the pilot scheme before committing to any further cameras.
Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, said: "This new digital technology will play a very important role in keeping the region’s roads safe."
The scheme has received the backing of West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who was previously a borough councillor for Kingshurst & Fordbridge.
Mr Jamieson is an outspoken supporter of speed cameras, arguing that they play an important part in reducing the number of road accidents.
"Speed is one of the biggest cause of deaths on the road and one of the biggest issues that local people raise with me on a daily basis," he said.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Robber jailed after admitting Chelmsley Wood carjacking

A CHELMSLEY Wood clergyman, who was run over during a "brutal" carjacking, has spoken of his ordeal.
Bishop David Charmbury had been knocked to the ground and was dragged along the road during the robbery outside the Church of Latter Day Saints.
He suffered a head injury, a punctured lung, a fractured pelvis and knee cap and several broken ribs during the incident, which happened on August 16 this year.
This week Harley Davidson Heyes (pictured), who had previously pleaded guilty to robbery, was sentenced to six years and ten months in prison.
Court heard that Mr Charmbury had been opening up the church ahead of a Sunday morning service, when the robbery took place.
Heyes, 36, had sped off in the Mazda sports car and dumped it a little over a mile away, before calling a taxi to take him to his Bluebell Drive home.
Police later arrested him at the address and items including an iPad and iPhone, which the defendant had stolen from the vehicle, were found in communal bins nearby.
Mr Charmbury, from Castle Bromwich, had been been found lying in the road by a passer-by. Such was the extent of his injuries that doctors took the decision to put him in an induced coma.
He spent the next four weeks in hospital and continues to recover at home.
In a statement following sentencing, he said: "As you will appreciate, this has been a difficult and painful time for my family and myself and we are relieved that the judicial process has reached a conclusion.
"This will allow me to focus on completing my physical recovery such that we can all move on with our normal lives.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank West Midlands Police and all medical staff that have helped us through this difficult time plus all of those that have forwarded their messages of support both publicly and privately."
PC Stephen Tomlinson said: "It was brutally reckless leaving Mr Charmbury with serious injuries.
"With no thought for his actions or the injuries, Heyes parked up the vehicle in a secluded area where he rifled through it and stole items.
"He continued to give no comment and showed no remorse when interviewed and refused to answer questions, despite claiming he was remorseful today."

Friday, 4 December 2015

Marston Green and Chelmsley Wood sleigh routes confirmed

THE timetables have been confirmed for Marston Green & District Lions' Santa sleigh routes.
The team have been touring local streets for almost 40 years and the 2015 timetable begins on Monday.
A spokesman said that nightly collections would start at around 6.30pm and finish no later than 9.30pm. There will be a slightly earlier start time for the Saturday and Sunday collections.
During the tour, the Lions will be raising funds for a range of good causes.

Monday, December 7:
Witney Drive, Charlbury Avenue, Banbury Croft, Lambourne Grove, Hillys Croft, Leyburn Road, Buckden Close, Oxford Grove, Chichester Grove, Wavers Marston

Tuesday, December 8:
Perch Avenue, Grantley Drive, Pendrell Close, Conway Road, Stapleton Drive , Fencote Avenue. Elmore Close, Hadfield Way, Anstey Croft

Wednesday, December 9:
Clopton Crescent, Newby Grove, Tyne Close, Runcorn Close, Tay Croft, Rowan Way, Box Road, Whitebeam Road

Thursday, December 10:
Bluebell Drive, Yorkminster Drive, Lyecroft Avenue, Foxland Close, Waterson Croft, Ryeclose Croft, Wheaton Close, Hawksworth Road, Drake Croft, Kitegreen Close, Heathgreen Close, Partridge Close

Friday, December 11:
Pike Drive, Bream Close, Graylings Walk, Chilham Drive, Ludlow Close, Wardour Drive, Penrith Grove, Drummond Way, Keepers Gate, Carisbrooke Way

Saturday, December 12 (3pm start):
Elmdon Lane, Canterbury Drive, The Greenway, Digby Drive, Elmdon Road, Somerton Drive , Ashfield Lane, Moat House Lane, Wolverton Road, Rotherby Grove, Farndon Avenue, Hidcote Grove, St Leonards Close, Land Lane, Hall Drive, Aylesford Drive, Bickenhill Road, Mowe Croft, Brook Croft, Lyndon Croft

Sunday, December 13 (3pm start):
Coleshill Road, Musson Close, Station Road, Chelmsley Lane, Alcott Drive, The Orchard, Holly Lane, Moseley Drive, Martin Rise, Marston Croft, Farm Avenue, Wayside

Tuesday, December 15:
Shirland Avenue, Ludworth Avenue, Enville Close, Costock Close, Maple Leaf Drive, Byford Way
Harby Close, Radlow Crescent.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Man charged with North Solihull shop raids

A MAN has been charged in connection with two alleged robberies in North Solihull.
Andrew Paul Henry, of no fixed address, was arrested earlier this week and subsequently charged with two counts of robbery, possession of a controlled Class A drug and two counts of possession of a knife or pointed article.
The unemployed 37-year-old appeared at Birmingham Magistrates Court yesterday (December 2).
The incidents took place at Lloyds Pharmacy, Castle Bromwich, last Wednesday and Life Style Express, Chelmsley Wood, on Monday of this week.

Spelman supports Syrian air strikes

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman yesterday voted with the Government in support of extending British air strikes to Syria.
Mrs Spelman, whose constituency encompasses North Solihull, spoke in favour of a bombing offensive against so-called Islamic State militants.
Addressing MPs during the ten-hour debate in the House of Commons, the Conservative backbencher said that religion had been "hijacked for political ends" and it was important to tackle extremism. 
"It is all important how we give our international aid, during and post-conflict, and how we ensure that the voice of the displaced is heard in the post-conflict planning," she said.
"As we know, it is the most vulnerable, and often the women, who have no voice at all in war. We have a duty to ensure that they are heard.
"The public will need continuous assurance and transparency about why action is being taken and what outcomes are being achieved, so I welcome the commitment to quarterly updates for the House."
There were passionate arguments on both sides, although in the end the majority of West Midlands MPs voted in favour of air strikes. The motion was carried by a majority of 179 and the bombing raids are now underway. 
Eleven of the region's MPs, all of them Labour members, opposed the Government's motion.
They included Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley) and Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill), whose constituencies are adjacent to Meriden. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Man arrested following police appeal

A MAN has been arrested in connection with two robberies in North Solihull.
The 37-year-old man was detained only hours after police issued CCTV images of two incidents which happened in the space of five days.
The first robbery occurred at Lloyds Pharmacy on the Chester Road, Castle Bromwich, on Wednesday (November 25). Yesterday afternoon a second incident was reported at Life Style Express, in Tulip Walk, Chelmsley Wood.
It is alleged that staff at both stores were threatened with a knife and that cash was stolen from the premises.
The suspect, of no fixed abode, is being questioned on suspicion of robbery.
Det Sgt Andy O'Keeffe said detectives had received a number of calls following yesterday's appeal and thanked the public for coming forward with the information.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Terrific response to Christmas Food Appeal

GENEROUS GESTURE: This beautifully
wrapped hamper was handed in to Marston
Green Library's drop-off point.
LOCAL people are being asked to support North Solihull's Christmas Food Appeal.
The collection is being co-ordinated by Solihull Council's neighbourhood services team, with special hampers being put together for elderly residents.
There has already been extraordinary support for the appeal, which is understood to have reached tens of thousands of people on social media.
Kerrie Grandison, who is overseeing the initiative, said the scale of the response in the past week had made her proud of the community.
If you can spare a few items of food or would like to donate a complete hamper then there are several
drop-off points around the local area. These include:
Barretts Butchers, Station Road, Marston Green (Mon to Sat, 9am-5pm)
Onward Club, Helmswood Drive, Chelmsley Wood (Mon to Sat, 10am-8pm)
Fordbridge Centre, Nineacres Drive (Mon to Sat, 10am-4pm)
DIAL, 67 Kingshurst Parade (Mon to Fri, 10am-4pm).

  • The hampers will be made up ready to deliver to local pensioners on December 14.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Incidents of illegal camps on the rise in Solihull

THERE has been an increase in the number of incidents of travellers setting up illegal camps in Solihull.
In the space of 12 months, Solihull Police received 103 calls in relation to 13 incidents of caravans moving onto parks and open spaces.
In the north of the borough, there were incidents at Babbs Mill Park and Millennium Wood, Marston Green over the course of the summer.
A spokesman for the Safer Solihull Partnership said: “It is not just council land that is used, with reports of travellers on private car parks, private land and farmland.
“This type of anti-social behaviour is a huge drain on resources with days and sometimes weeks and months spent managing the problem.”
In July, the authorities finalised a new action plan which aims to speed up the removal of unauthorised encampments.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Chelmsley's Christmas lights switch-on

CHELMSLEY Wood's Christmas lights will be switched on tomorrow (Saturday).
Father Christmas will be dropping in and families are invited to join in with carols around the grand piano.
"Search for Santa" will be taking place in the town centre from 12noon-3.30pm. The light switch-on will be at 3.45pm.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Casting an eye over Chelmsley Wood's history

Other Side of Solihull takes a look through a new book, which aims to tell the story of Chelmsley Wood through the memories of its residents.

ONE problem with official histories is that they never tell the whole story…
If for instance you type Chelmsley Wood into Google, you will find some rather bland descriptions about a “relatively new” council estate, built as an overspill for Birmingham in the 1960s.
Population density, crime rate and the opening times for Asda are all a couple of clicks away. But what Wikipedia, the Birmingham Mail and Solihull Council’s potted guide won’t mention is the ‘Bogey on the Stick’.
Credit then to this new book for featuring the famous sculpture – perhaps the closest thing that Chelmsley had to a mascot before its removal a few years ago – on its front cover.
A bit of background to begin with. The book has been produced as part of a project co-ordinated by the Three Trees Centre and bankrolled by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The aim over the past couple of years has been to collect and record the memories of local people, including some of the area’s original residents.
It’s remarkable to think that many of the twenty-somethings who made their home on the estate in the 1960s are now drawing a pension and their recollections of the early years are among the most interesting passages of the book.
Sheila Lloyd, who still lives in her original self-build home in Dunster Road, said: “It seems silly now, but this house cost us £4,000 all those years ago. But it was an awful lot of money because we only earned £12 a week.”
Another long-standing resident Ronnie Cashmore has fond memories of a Royal visit.
“They opened up for Her Majesty to come and have a look at this new estate,” he said, in reference to the Queen’s official visit in 1971.
“There was mud everywhere the eye could see because they were still building. When Her Majesty came over they spent quite a lot of money, I believe, actually spraying the mud green, so it looked as if there were grassy areas.”
The book goes some way towards addressing the negative press that “the Wood” has attracted over the years. The community spirit apparent in many of the photos is a world away from the multitude of unkind jibes you will find on social media.
“My overall impression of moving into Chelmsley Wood – absolutely wonderful,” said Stan Hayling. “It was a three bedroom house with a garden. It was all brand new, it was like winning the Lottery.”
But being a book produced by the local community there is also a candour here which you wouldn’t get if the authors had been, for argument’s sake, the council or Solihull Community Housing.
Look out for references to the farcical handling of efforts to rename the old Craig Croft shopping parade and some of the other controversies that have arisen as a result of the North Solihull Regeneration.
There is also a rather rueful look at the mysterious disappearance of almost all of Chelmsley’s pubs (a gallery of photos provides details of the ultimate fate of The Prince Hal, The Trusty Servant and The Southern Cross).
  • From Then ‘Til Now: The Story of Chelmsley Wood is available from the Three Trees Centre for £3.50. You can find out more about the project at

Council goes to court following drugs discovery in Chelmsley Wood

COUNCIL bosses went to court last week to secure a closure order at a Chelmsley Wood home.
Police had searched the Alder Drive address on November 13 and the tenant, Tyrone Borland, was found to be in possession of a Class A drug.
Related paraphernalia found at the property suggested he was dealing from the house.
Two years ago, a dozen cannabis plants were discovered at Borland's home and he was warned at the time that any further incidents would lead to Solihull Community Housing taking legal action.
The discovery earlier this month prompted the authority to proceed to court and the closure order, which will last three months, was granted by Birmingham Magistrates.
The housing department has confirmed it will now apply to take possession of the property.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

New health centre to open in Chelmsley Wood next week

A STATE-of-the-art doctor’s surgery and community hub will be opening its doors in Chelmsley Wood at the end of this month.
The new-look Croft Medical Centre – part of the Chelmund’s Cross Village Centre – is set to welcome its first patients on November 30.
The two-storey facility, which will also bring a dentist’s practice and pharmacy under one roof, has
been described as a major investment in the local area by Meriden MP Caroline Spelman.
During the construction phase, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was invited to visit the site and briefed about how the new centre would operate.
Practice manager Veronica Parkes said: “The team have been involved in the design and development of the new building from day one. We really hope patients will enjoy the new building.”

Monday, 23 November 2015

Man seriously hurt following late-night attack in Castle Brom

A MAN remains in a critical condition after being attacked and left unconscious in a Castle Bromwich car park over the weekend.
The 41-year-old was discovered lying behind Arden Hall, in Water Orton Road, late on Saturday (November 21). The victim had sustained serious head injuries in the attack.
Paramedics were called to the scene at around 11.30pm and the man was taken to hospital for treatment.
Officers are trawling CCTV in an attempt to identify the assailant and are keen to speak to anyone who saw what happened.
Det Insp Caroline Corfield said: "It is understood a large number of people were at a private event at the cricket club and there will be witnesses to what took place.
"We would like to speak to anyone who attended the event and in particular anyone who is a witness to events leading to the victim’s injuries, or who has any other information which would assist the investigation."
Call detectives on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Police appeal following attempted robbery in Marston Green

POLICE have issued CCTV images of an attempted armed robbery in Marston Green.
On September 30, a masked man had barged into the One Stop store, in Station Road, clutching a house brick.
He had ordered the cashier to hand over cash from the till, but instead the quick-thinking assistant had pushed the panic alarm and the would-be robber fled the scene empty handed.
It's believed he escaped as a passenger in a dark-coloured Ford Ka.
Police said their suspect was a white man, dressed in dark clothing. He was wearing a grey hood and had a scarf wrapped around his face. The incident happened around 10pm.
Eyewitnesses are urged to call Sergeant Christopher Burt on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Oaks and Shires event at Babbs Mill

WORKING HOOF AND NAIL: Tan Tan has been helping
manage the woodland in North Solihull this week.
Photo/Landscape Solihull

STORM-force winds earlier this week were responsible for a fair bit of "woodland management."
But conservationists can't just rely on autumn gusts to keep overhanging branches in check and heavy horses still play an important part in clearing timber.
Weighing up to a tonne, the sturdy beasts of burden can move wood equivalent in weight to a double-decker bus in the space of a single day.
They're still called upon today because of the problems of using modern machinery on boggy ground or in locations where trees grow especially densely.
Today local people can visit Babbs Mill/Yorks Wood and find out more about the part that the animals play in managing woodland.
There will also be traditional crafts such as willow weaving, children's activities and hot and cold refreshments.
The event runs until 3pm this afternoon (Saturday). Public access via the Babbs Mill car park, off Fordbridge Road.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

North Solihull's restaurant ratings revealed

OVER a dozen food outlets in North Solihull were told they needed to make major improvements during their last hygiene inspection.
A total of 16 premises locally received the dubious honour of a “one star rating” from food safety inspectors.
A couple of chip shops, a curry house and several convenience stores were among the businesses who received the ranking.
One takeaway in Chelmsley Wood performed even worse and is among just four outlets – from the hundreds inspected in Solihull – that currently has no stars at all. This means that urgent improvements need to be made to the hygiene standards.
It is worth noting that those businesses criticised for their cleanliness are far outnumbered by those who scored a perfect rating from inspectors.
Over 100 premises in the north of the borough were awarded with the coveted five star rating (15 in Castle Bromwich, 40 in Marston Green, 12 in Kingshurst, 16 in Smith’s Wood and 23 in Chelmsley Wood.)
This group included a number of the area’s most popular eateries – including Big Johns, in Cooks Lane, and the Kismet Indian Restaurant, on the Bradford Road.
The rating system is run by Solihull Council in conjunction with the Food Standards Agency and every business is judged by a strict set of food hygiene criteria.
The council said customers were increasingly paying attention to the number of stars that a company had received, and there was an onus on proprietors to work for a good rating.
Councillor Karen Grinsell, cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said: “Businesses should be rewarded for their efforts to maintain the best hygiene conditions in their restaurants.
“More and more people say they are checking the food hygiene rating of businesses before they go out to eat, which is great as it means people are rewarding businesses who strive to hit the requirements.”
Businesses are not required to display their rating, although the scores are readily available online at

Monday, 16 November 2015

"Unfair" studies cast North Solihull in a poor light

FAIR COMPARISON? - New analysis questions the tendency to compare
North Solihull with villages such as Knowle (pictured, above).

CONSTANTLY comparing North Solihull to suburbs several miles away gives a misleading impression of the area, it has been claimed.
Simeon Bright, a community organiser based in Chelmsley Wood, has warned that drawing direct parallels with semi-rural communities such as Knowle or Balsall Common has served to damage the area’s standing.
In a blog post last month, he argued that it made far more sense to use neighbouring districts of
Birmingham as a reference point when trying to assess issues such as unemployment.
Part of the problem is that because such as Chelmsley Wood and Kingshurst are part of Solihull
Council, it is far more common for studies to look at the areas in relation to the other wards in the borough – even though some of them are over 10 miles away.
In an attempt to readdress the balance, Mr Bright decided to see how one area of North Solihull, namely Fordbridge, compared to the nearby estates of Kitts Green and Garretts Green (which are in Birmingham).
This analysis produced a number of surprising results, including:
• The number of adults gaining formal qualifications is growing faster in Fordbridge than the neighbouring areas of Birmingham.
• Residents are generally healthier than those in Kitts Green and Garretts Green.
• Fordbridge beats the Birmingham average for the number of people in full-time work.
It is important to bear in mind that in many key areas, the neighbourhood is still trailing the national average, but the analysis suggests that in future local authorities should look across borders when assessing the challenges which face areas.
“It isn’t really fair to compare areas of Solihull that are demographically distinct and geographically distant,” said Mr Bright.
“A side-effect of this is that North Solihull is constantly regarded as the poorer cousin of the South, when actually, in context there are many positives compared with similar areas in neighbouring Birmingham.
“Constantly comparing North to South will do nothing to shake off the unfair reputation the area holds.”

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Girl rushed to hospital following Chelmsley Wood collision

A TEENAGE girl was seriously injured after being struck by a car in Chelmsley Wood yesterday afternoon (Saturday).
The collision happened on the A452 Chester Road at around 4.50pm.  A rapid response vehicle and an ambulance attended the scene.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: "Crews arrived to find a teenage girl that had suffered serious head injuries in the incident. Emergency treatment was carried out at the scene by medics."
The 14-year-old was transferred by ambulance to Birmingham Children's Hospital for emergency treatment. Police confirmed today that she remains in the critical care unit and officers have appealed for witnesses.
PC Stuart Pryor said: "I would like to hear from anyone who has not already spoken to a police officer to contact us so that we can establish how this young girl came about her injuries."
The driver of the silver Ford Fiesta has been spoken to and is co-operating fully with the investigation.
Eyewitnesses can contact the collision investigation unit on 101.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

New Christmas display unveiled in Marston Green

CHRISTMAS lights have been installed in Marston Green, following calls from residents for a more vibrant display in the village.
Bickenhill and Marston Green Parish Council said it had listened to local people's comments and that eight lamp posts along Station Road had been hung with lights.
These will complement the tree that is traditionally placed at the centre of the village and are seen as the first phase of a new project.
The parish council admitted that decorations were quite expensive and it would look to follow the example of other areas of Solihull, where local businesses have been encouraged to sponsor lights.
This will hopefully pave the way for a display which covers a wider area being unveiled in 2016.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Chelmsley Wood woman receives Civic Honour

LOCAL HEROES: This year's award winners with the Mayor of Solihull

A WOMAN who has served the local community for more than 30 years has received a Solihull Civic Honour.
Patricia Hayes was recognised for her tireless efforts at ChelmsleyWood Baptist Church, receiving the Community Involvement Award.
She has been involved in all aspects of the venue’s activities, from helping out with the local kids’ clubs to co-ordinating lunches and community events.
The Civic Honours are organised annually by Solihull Council and honour those who have distinguished themselves in local life.
A council spokesman said: “Pat is a shining example of a selfless volunteer, always with the community’s interests at heart.”
This year’s ceremony took place at Solihull Civic Suite on October 21. Other winners included Karen Carney, who plays for the England women’s football team, and teenage ballroom dancing champion Rebecca Scott.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Chelmsley Wood man's ink-credible gesture

Finlay White, from Chelmsley Wood
A CHELMSLEY Wood man has thought of a rather original way of saying "thank you" to the NHS staff who had cared for his mum while she was being treated for leukaemia.
Finlay White was so grateful to the team at Heartlands Hospital's Ward 19 that he had the unit's logo tattooed on his forearm.
The 28-year-old said: "When my mum was moved to Ward 19 after being in an induced coma, she couldn’t walk, could barely talk and struggled to even press a buzzer.
"The amazing staff on the ward helped build my mum back up. They even made me feel at home while I slept there."
The team cared for Mrs White for five months and following the intensive course of treatment, her son was keen to do something "a bit different".
He hopes the tattoo will raise awareness for the department, which specialises in treating all forms of blood cancer.
The unit has its own charity fund, which raises money for the benefit of patients, and Finlay has encouraged people to sponsor his own unique bit of body art.
More than £700 has already been pledged by supporters online. You can find Finlay's Justgiving page here.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Crime continues to be concentrated around Chelmsley town centre

THE area around Chelmsley Wood town centre has a crime rate almost twice that of anywhere else in Solihull, a new report has revealed.
Figures show that 1,699 offences were recorded in the area over a 12 month period – slightly down on the previous year, but still a significantly higher number than in any other of the borough’s priority areas.
A high proportion of incidents are centred at the town’s shopping centre, the numbers somewhat skewed by the sheer number of shoplifting offences at Asda and neighbouring stores.
However, even when these retail crimes are taken out of the equation, a significant number of reports of offences are still being logged on neighbouring estates.
The report offers a detailed overview of crime across the borough and was prepared by the Safer Solihull Partnership.
It acknowledges that there is still work to be done to address the disproportionate number of incidents taking place in a relatively small area.
It said: “Although the Chelmsley Town Partnership Plus area has seen reductions in total recorded crime, this remains a location where the partnership need to focus their attention in order to… continue to reduce the gap of inequality in volume of crime between this area and other key locations within the borough.”
The findings come at a time when police budgets are under increasing pressure.
Chelmsley Wood Police Station lost its front office facilities almost 12 months ago and former Kingshurst councillor David Jamieson, now the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner, has warned of a further strain on finances to come.
“The Government need to consider how much money police forces require to keep people safe rather than administer arbitrary cuts,” he said.
The statistics also reveal:
• Rates of criminal damage are higher in Chelmsley Wood than any other part of Solihull – with 14
attacks on buses reported in the Moorend Avenue area.
• 16 per cent of crimes in the Chelmsley Town Partnership Plus area are classed as domestic violence offences.
• 15 per cent of burglaries reported in Solihull are carried out within this zone.
Councillor Chris Williams (Green,Chelmsley Wood) said: “Chelmsley Wood has a busy shopping centre and so naturally has more potential for crime and much is committed by people from outside Chelmsley Wood.
“But that’s not the only area or crime. We do have real problems with off road motorbikes being used
antisocially that the police don’t seem to be able to get a grip on.
“With the severe Government cuts to the police we are losing yet more police officers, which is definitely going to mean a crime rate higher than it would otherwise be.”

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Solihull Council confirms gritting arrangements

COLD SNAP: The Chester Road, Castle Bromwich in the winter of 2010/11

THE Castle Bromwich councillor who heads-up Solihull Council’s transport and highways department has said he is confident that the authority is “fully prepared” for the winter.
Councillor Ted Richards confirmed today that 4,500 tonnes of road salt had been stockpiled in readiness for bad weather.
Gritting crews will be on stand-by 24/7 between now and March, with plans in place to keep nine main routes through the borough moving.
A particularly mild winter last year meant that crews were little tested, although the council will be mindful of the problems that more severe weather can cause.
In 2010-11, many parts of the country were caught completely off guard by heavy snowfall and plummeting temperatures – which led to a chronic salt shortage. The Met Office would later confirm that it had been the coldest December since records began.
Ever since then local authorities, including Solihull, have ensured they are ready for the worst.
Councillor Richards said: “We are confident we have enough [salt] to see us through the next few months.
“During recent winters our staff have done a superb job gritting our roads and keeping our salt supply plentiful – I have no doubts that they will yet again rise to the challenge this time around.”

Inside the Salt Barn:

The first thing that springs to mind when you stare up at the salt piles is that you definitely wouldn’t want this stuff sprinkled on your chips.
It’s coarse and brown, more like sick bucket sand than the fine white flakes that you’d have on your dinner.
But of course, the salt stored at Solihull’s depot (pictured right) isn’t intended for emergency seasoning, rather it’s the secret to keeping local roads clear in the event of ice and snow.
During my time in local newspapers I paid several visits to Moat Lane, where the borough council co-ordinates its response to wintry weather.
The salt is important, but just as vital is knowing when to use it. For this councils rely on up-to-the-minute forecasts to predict if they'll need to head out to treat the roads.
The problem is that gritting is one of those services where councillors can’t please everyone. 4,500 tonnes might be the equivalent in weight to 900 African elephants, but there are over 1,000km of road in Solihull - with the natural priority being main arterial routes.
This inevitably poses a problem in somewhere like North Solihull, with so many winding side streets.
The key for the council - who are perhaps aware they'll always come in for some criticism during a spell of wintry weather - is to make sure that once you're onto the main roads the conditions are as safe as possible,

Monday, 9 November 2015

Major roadworks hit by further delays.

ROADWORKS which have caused chaos on one of the main routes into North Solihull have been hit by further delays.
Birmingham City Council admitted last week that the £11million scheme to widen the Chester Road is to continue until Christmas, and that some elements might not be completed until 2016.
Drivers who have been contending with jams for over a year were left seething by the news that the project’s completion date has been pushed back for a third time.
When contractors started work on the site in June last year, the council had said the project would be finished by the following July. They then revised their estimate to October and, with that now behind us, it has been confirmed that the schedule has been put back yet again.
The latest admission that some of the work may drag on into the New Year will mean that the project has lasted over six months longer than originally suggested.
And it follows farcical scenes last Thursday, when a road was resurfaced overnight only for the tarmac not to have dried in time for the morning rush hour – resulting in hour-long tailbacks.
The No 71 bus, one of the main services through Chelmsley town centre, was among a number of routes affected by the congestion.
Many road-users have taken to social media to condemn the way the authorities have handled the situation.
Simon Hague said: “The Spitfire Island roadworks are an absolute joke, taking far too long and days go by with seemingly nothing happening.”
Another irate motorist tweeted the council direct, asking if the scheme would be completed “before the turn of the next ice age.”
A council spokesman pledged that the “bulk of the work” would be finished before the festive break, blaming the repeated delays on complications moving utilities.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

New edition of Other Side of Solihull out now

THE latest edition of Other Side of Solihull's digital newspaper is now available.
You can read the new issue here. And don't forget to email us with your ideas and stories for the final edition of 2015, which will be out in early December.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Details confirmed for Chelmsley Wood fireworks

REMEMBER, remember... that Chelmsley Wood Town Council's annual fireworks display is almost upon us.
The event will take place at the Berwicks Lane playing fields on Saturday (November 7).
Gates open at 6pm, with the display starting at 7pm.
And remember if you're planning to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night at home, you should always follow the fireworks code.
Martyn Scott, from West Midlands Ambulance Service, warned that dangerous behaviour can lead to life-changing injuries. Last year, paramedics were called to a number of incidents around the region.
"In most cases we know that they could have so easily been avoided by simply using common sense," said Mr Scott.
"It appears that people don’t realise they are holding an explosive device in their hands when they light a firework; it is always alarming when people are surprised that they get injured."

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Editor's FAQ (No 1) - Why don't you print any good news?

ONE thing I realised during my seven years working in local newspapers is that journalism remains something of a mystery to the public at large.
There are three or four questions that I can guarantee every weekly reporter in the country gets asked at least a couple of times a week. 
Personally I've always felt that the local press in particular should try and shed more of a light on its operations, because the better readers understand how their local title works, the more they feel it is their title.
With this in mind, I thought I'd start a semi-regular series of articles about the news-gathering process. Now admittedly the workings of a full-blooded newspaper and a local news blog are quite different, though many of the same principles apply. 
I'll start by answering one of the most common questions-cum-complaints of them all.

Why don't you print any good news?

Local journalists regularly get accused of having an unhealthy pre-occupation with bad news, filling papers with tales of robbery, road accidents and ill health. The argument goes that good news is pushed aside or ignored in favour of controversy.
This criticism was always particularly common in North Solihull, with many residents feeling that the local press tended to dwell on the difficulties facing the area to the exclusion of the good work being done.
So, is the criticism justified? In part perhaps. There are certainly local papers who lack either the resources or imagination to do much more than repackage police and ambulance service press releases. Only last week I saw one weekly which had dutifully packed three court stories and a road traffic accident on one page near the front. Also to blame are those regional dailies who run a few too many front pages about fatal crashes. Death - some news desks believe - trumps everything.
I was lucky to train under an editor who put genuine store in light and shade. He very much drilled into us reporters the importance of including a real mix of stories on every page. A row over back garden development would rub shoulders with a charity marathon run. The story of a charity being burgled could keep company with a Diamond Wedding anniversary.
The problem is of course that bad stories tend to invoke the strongest response and linger in the memory rather longer, which is why even the papers who try and strike a balance are often accused of wallowing in misery.
That said, just because news is bad doesn't mean it's not relevant. I have to confess that I've always been wary of so-called good news publications, which try to make a virtue out of only carrying positive stories. The problem is that they're no more an accurate record of the local area than the paper packed with police mug shots. This "all's well" standpoint can, at times, be dangerously misleading.
Take the various council-published magazines which proliferate across Britain. While they may contain plenty of useful information for residents, the fact is that they make everything from a multi-million pound cost cutting programme to a highly unpopular development sound entirely beyond reproach. Here you need the journalist to look beyond the press release to the figures hidden away in council agendas and scrutiny boards. This is not reporters pursuing bad news for the sake of it, rather an attempt to highlight consequences or concerns that local authorities are going to be less than keen to advertise.
Similarly there is a legitimate place for crime-reporting in any publication. Justice should be seen to be done at the courts, while public appeals can help to catch culprits and raise the awareness which helps others to avoid becoming victims.
It is perhaps in the end a question of why you are running a story as what it's actually about.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Celebrate Halloween in Chelmsley Wood

A SPECIAL event to celebrate Halloween will be taking place in Chelmsley Wood this afternoon.
Families are invited to meet at the Victory Garden, in Lumley Walk, and take part in a fancy dress parade down to the Bluebell Community Gardens.
Once there, residents can look forward to a tombola, face painting and traditional apple bobbing. As evening falls, a bonfire will be lit.
If you would like to take part, assemble at the Victory Garden for 3.30pm.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Residents invited to Speedwatch session in Chelmsley Wood

SOLIHULL Council has attempted to allay elderly residents' concerns about speeding in Chelmsley Wood.
Those living at Guillimard Court were worried about drivers travelling too fast on the road outside the housing complex.
They had originally petitioned the council to install a pedestrian crossing, but when the local authority carried out a traffic survey they concluded that there wasn't a sufficient need.
In an attempt to reassure residents - and explain the rationale behind the decision - highways officers invited locals to attend a recent Speedwatch session.
Special speed guns were used to monitor the vehicles travelling along Marlene Croft and, during the course of the morning, no car was found to be travelling faster than 24mph.
Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, said "Speeding can cost lives, which is why we take it so seriously.
"We also want our residents to feel safe when crossing roads and showing them that traffic calming measures are having an effect on drivers’ speeds will hopefully allay any concerns."
The council recently announced it would be introducing a new policy to determine the stretches of road where a crossing would be installed.
Under the criteria, two sections of Windward Way, in Smith's Wood, have been identified among the top priorities in the borough.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Half-Term events in and around North Solihull.

BRICK-BY-BRICK: A two-metre tall TARDIS will be built at the NEC
this week.

LOOKING for things to do now the schools have broken up, here are some of the events taking place locally...

Wild about the Gardens Week: Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens has organised a series of wildlife-themed events to keep the children amused.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) is hedgehog day, with workshops, craft activities and advice from the experts about how to attract these prickly animals to your own backyard.
There will also be a talk by the Help4Hedgehogs team at 2pm.

BRICK 2015: Lego fans will be attempting to build a life-size TARDIS using more than 100,000 of the toy bricks.
The tenacious team are painstakingly creating every detail of Doctor Who's famous phone box, with no glue, string or metal pieces to hold their work together.
The Guinness World Record attempt will be the highlight of the BRICK show - a celebration of Lego taking place at the NEC. The event is on at the venue from October 29-November 1.

Hallowe'en Event: There's something spooky going on down at the vegetable patch!
A special event, to celebrate All Hallow's Eve, will be taking place at the Bluebell Community Gardens, Chelmsley Wood on Saturday (October 31.)
Visitors can look forward to apple bobbing, arts and crafts and a costume parade - we'll be posting further details later in the week.

Catch a film: Residents in North Solihull will no longer have to make the trip to the town centre to see the latest blockbusters, with a new cinema now open at the NEC.
The 11-screen multiplex forms part of the Resorts World development, which was officially opened this month.
One of the first films being screened is Spectre - the latest instalment in the James Bond franchise.
The movie, the fourth to feature Daniel Craig as Agent 007, opened today (Monday) amid rave reviews from critics.

  • Know of another event taking place locally? Let Other Side of Solihull know.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Former Kingshurst councillor is made an Honorary Alderman

A FORMER councillor - who represented his local community for 15 years - was this month recognised for his efforts.
Alan Nash, who was a member for Kingshurst & Fordbridge until earlier this year, was made an Honorary Alderman of the Borough.
This is the honour typically bestowed on ex-councillors who had a particularly long or distinguished service.
The Chelmsley Wood taxi-driver was first elected in 2000 and was known in the council chamber for his plain-speaking; campaigning on issues such as the loss of land at Babbs Mill Park.
Mr Nash (pictured, right) also served as Mayor of Solihull - one of the few councillors from the north of the borough to wear the chains of office in recent years. He has the distinction of being the only Labour member to have held the role since the turn of the Millennium.
His wife Flo is still a serving councillor.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Half term bike rides in Chelmsley Wood

SADDLE up for a set of free bike rides taking place in North Solihull next week.
The family events, organised by the charity Sustrans, will both start in Chelmsley Wood and follow traffic-free routes.
Details are as follows:
  • Tuesday, October 27 (3.30pm) Meriden Park to Sheldon Country Park and back again.
  • Thursday, October 29 (2-4pm) Meriden Park to Babbs Mill/the Cole Valley and back again.
For more details call Alice Swift on 07825046069 or email

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Officers appeal for information following the death of Castle Brom cyclist

POLICE have appealed for witnesses following the tragic death of a Castle Bromwich cyclist earlier this month.
Anthony Kimberley, aged 55, was involved in a collision with a Ford Mondeo as he travelled down the Lichfield Road, in Water Orton.
The incident happened on October 8, near the junction with Marsh Lane.
Ambulance crews were called to the crash site at around 10pm and Mr Kimberley was taken to Heartlands Hospital, where he was pronounced dead by medics.
Anyone who witnessed the crash should call Warwickshire Police on 101.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Mexican mercy mission for Chelmsley Wood students

LIFE-CHANGING TRIP: Students from the Grace Academy outside the
newly-built homes in Tijuana, Mexico.

SPIRITED students from the Grace Academy have returned from a two week trip making a massive difference to people's lives in Mexico.
A team of 18 teenagers from the Chelmsley Wood school had travelled out to South America to help build homes for two families.
The Build Hope project saw pupils from five UK schools visit Tijuana - one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico, where poverty is a growing problem.
Before the students arrived, the families were living in the most basic conditions, without access to electricity, running water or a telephone.
The new homes, which had to be started from scratch using only hand tools, were built with concrete foundations and massively improved the locals' quality of life.
Dave Boden, assistant principal, said: "Build Hope is an incredible opportunity for young people to travel overseas and actively engage in making a positive difference."
Each student had to raise almost £1,500 to cover the cost of the trip.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Kingshurst rap artist makes it big at city venue

LOCAL LADY: The Kingshurst rapper features on the new mural.

A KINGSHURST rap artist is among the local faces to feature on a massive mural promoting the region's arts scene.
Melesha O'Garro, better known by her stage name, Lady Leshurr, stares down from the six-storey artwork which has been painted on the side of the Custard Factory.
The mural has been commissioned as part of a campaign to promote Birmingham's creative industries.
The poet Benjamin Zephaniah, musician Mike Skinner and Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones also feature
It was an ideal time to unveil the design; on Wednesday this week Lady Leshurr's latest hit was named Radio One's track of the day.
It's another milestone for the 26-year-old, who started to make mix tapes when she was still a teenager and has previously collaborated with electronic dance duo Orbital.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Marston Green man enters TV's biggest boardroom battle

A MARSTON Green man is hoping to show he has what it takes to launch a business venture alongside one of Britain's best-known entrepreneurs.
Gary Poulton is taking part in the latest series of BBC's The Apprentice, which got underway this week.
In Wednesday night's opening episode, 18 men and women wheeled their suitcases into Canary Wharf (or a studio doing a decent impression of said office block) for their first meeting with Lord Alan Sugar.
The grizzled businessman - known for his plain speaking - will be presiding over a series of challenges designed to test their business acumen (or lack of it.)
Gary, aged 34, will be hoping to persuade Lord Sugar - formerly Sir Alan, before his promotion to the House of Lords - that he is the brightest prospect.
If successful the father-of-one will win a £250,000 investment to help get his business proposition off the ground.
"My game plan is to be myself," he said. "I look like the nice, easy going laidback Brummie, but once I start doing my business people know I’m the real deal.
"I don’t like people trying to talk down to me. People see me as ‘Alroight there I’m Gary from Birmingham’ but little do they know I can fight with the best of them."
Gary, a graduate of Aston University, has previously worked as a project manager for Tesco and is now employed by hospitality firm Whitbread.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Marston Green man joins Star Wars celebration

MAY the four strings quartet be with you…
A Marston Green voice-over artist, who has previously lent his vocal talents to the Star Wars films, is teaming up with the CBSO for a concert with a difference.
Marc Silk will be appearing at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall this week for the musical celebration of the famous sci-fi series.
The rousing score of John Williams will be performed live, interspersed with stories from Marc about what it was like to work on one of the most popular franchises in cinema history.
For fans of the series, the one-off concert will be an ideal appetiser for the release of the seventh film – The Force Awakens – later in the year.
Friday Night Classics: Star Wars will be performed on Friday (October 16). Tickets are available from the box office on 0121 780 4949.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Arrests in Chelmsley Wood following fatal shooting.

SHOT DEAD: Connor Smith
THREE people were arrested in Chelmsley Wood earlier today, in connection with the murder of a teenager last week.
Nineteen-year-old Connor Smith was shot in the stomach in the Hawkesley area of Birmingham.
Following his death last Thursday evening, police launched a murder investigation and had already detained three men in Coventry.
In the early hours of this morning (Tuesday), they swooped on the North Solihull address.
A 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and two women, aged 22 and 26, were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.
Det Insp Warren Haines urged anyone with information to come forward.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Engineering academy organises new drop-in session

YOUNG people interested in studying at the WMG Academy for Young Engineers are invited to a "meet the principal" event tomorrow evening (Tuesday).
Building work is now under way on the Chelmsley Wood-based campus, which is expected to welcome its first students in September 2016.
Those keen to take a place there can have a chat with Stewart Tait, associate principal, at North Solihull Sports Centre. Tomorrow's drop-in session runs from 5-7pm.

Castle Bromwich Singers get ready for their concert

CASTLE Bromwich Singers will be raising the roof at Arden Hall this week.
The group will be performing their Circle of Life show from October 14-17. Net proceeds from the concerts will go to Heart Research UK.
Tickets available from Greg (07825 969298) or Stella (0121748 7635). For more details about the Singers, visit

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Big Hoot sculpture flies home to Castle Bromwich

OWL'S ABOUT THAT: The larger birds, above, were put on public display
in Birmingham this weekend.

A SCULPTURE which formed part of a massive public art project has been taken to its new permanent home at Castle Bromwich Junior School.
Pupils there had come up with the colourful design for one of more than 120 owlets which had been strategically placed at venues around Greater Birmingham.
Hands On was designed by
Castle Brom Junior School
Castle Bromwich was one of the select few schools in Solihull invited to take part.
The junior school’s contribution was Hands On! – one of several birds which took pride of place at Birmingham Airport.
The owlet formed part of The Big Hoot – the ambitious art trail which has captured the public’s imagination over the past few months.
The children’s owlets were placed alongside slightly larger statues, whose intricate designs were the brainchild of various professional artists.
This weekend, the bigger birds were all brought together at Birmingham’s Millennium Point so that members-of-the-public had one final chance to see the feathered fellows in all their glory.
On Thursday (October 15), the owls will be auctioned off for charity, with organisers hoping to raise around £500,000 for Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital.
You can find out more about how the project was put together at

Friday, 9 October 2015

Crowdfunding event to launch in Chelmsley Wood

A NEW project to help local people get their idea for a business or community project off the ground is being launched in Chelmsley Wood next week.
The first North Solihull Soup session will be taking place at the Three Trees Centre a week today (October 16.)
In one way the event owes a debt to BBC series Dragons' Den, in which budding entrepreneurs make a pitch to a panel of business gurus and hope they will be persuaded to invest. The difference with Soup is that the people who turn up are the investors!
Here's how it works. Everyone pays £3 on the door and will sit through a four minute pitch from four local people. After each presentation, there will be a couple minutes more to ask questions.
Soup will be served and everyone has the opportunity to chat about the ideas they have just heard.
Afterwards the group votes for their favourite proposal and the one which wins the greatest support will receive all the money collected at the door to put towards their project.
The idea started life in Detroit, America and has quickly caught on around the world.
It was recently decided to get the scheme up-and-running in Solihull, with Chelmsley Wood chosen as one of two venues (another Soup is expected to launch in Dickens Heath.)
The introductory event takes place from 6.00-7.30pm.