Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Farmyard fun in Chelmsley Wood

A MINIATURE farmyard will be open in Chelmsley Wood over the Easter Holidays.
The petting zoo - with animals including pigs, pygmy goats, lambs, chickens and rabbits - will be visiting the shopping centre on select days.
People can pop in tomorrow (April 1), Good Friday (April 3), April 7 and 10. The "farm" is open from 11am-3pm.

Volunteer recognised for role in Chelmsley Wood garden project

GREEN FINGERS: Volunteer Craig Duffy
A VOLUNTEER has received national recognition for his hard work on a much-loved community project.
Earlier this month, Craig Duffy finished third in the Volunteer of the Year category at London’s Edible Garden Show.
The 30-year-old has spent more than 70 hours helping to transform the Bluebell Community Garden, in Chelmsley Wood, into a thriving wildlife habitat and vegetable patch.
“I am very happy to receive this award; however it has been a team effort,” said Craig.
“Becoming a volunteer has made a big difference to my health as I go outdoors more.
“I enjoy meeting new people and getting out of the house and making a change to the environment. The Bluebell Garden is a relaxing place that helps you forget about your worries.”
Efforts to transform the barren scrap of land in Bluebell Drive into a flourishing garden area began in 2011 and the scheme has gone from strength-to-strength.
Councillor Ken Meeson, Solihull Council's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “This is an excellent achievement and thoroughly deserved.
“Craig and all the volunteers have committed a tremendous amount of time to transform the Bluebell Community Garden into a space that is now accessible to all and more friendly for wildlife.”

Monday, 30 March 2015

Sporty soprano visits Chelmsley Wood

WRIGHT ON: Laura trains with students at the Grace Academy
CLASSICAL singer Laura Wright recently swapped the hallowed turf of Twickenham for Chelmsley Wood’s sports pitches
The 24-year-old, known to millions as the England rugby team’s official anthem singer, took part in a training session with students at the Grace Academy.
As an ambassador for the All Schools Rugby campaign, Laura is currently touring the country, working to promote the sport at a local level.
As an avid player herself – she is a full-back for a women’s team in London – she is also hoping to inspire more girls to get involved.
“I loved playing all kinds of sport when I was at school, however rugby was not an option; a missed opportunity I feel.
"I have found the sport now in my 20s but, if rugby was introduced to women at a younger age, their potential could be realised sooner and for greater results.
“A sport with such complex rules and the discipline needed takes time to learn and I feel it has just as rightful a place as hockey, tennis and netball.”
The former Brit Award-nominee, who has also performed at Wembley and the Olympic Stadium, was joined at the training session by players from Moseley Rugby Club.
Grace Academy Principal Darren Gelder said it had been “fantastic” to welcome Laura to the school and felt that, on the day, it was the female players who had taken the bragging rights.
“I thought the girls gave the boys a whopping,” he said.
The training session was such a success that a follow-up fixture was arranged almost immediately – the sporty soprano invited the students to join her on stage at the Bramall Hall, Birmingham.
In front of a packed venue, the Grace Academy team joined Laura in a chorus of Jerusalem.
  • From this month's edition of Other Side of Solihull. Available to download and view online.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

North Solihull urged to get behind project to help hedgehogs

PRICKLY PROBLEM: Hedgehog numbers are falling nationwide.
Photo/Steven Cheshire
RESIDENTS in North Solihull are being urged to get behind a borough-wide project and do their bit to help out hedgehogs.
The animals, once a common sight in local gardens, have seen their numbers plummet in the past 20 years.
Now the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has launched an initiative to turn Solihull into the UK’s first Hedgehog Improvement Area (HIA).
The charity’s campaign will draw attention to the massive drop in the population and look at various ways to protect the species.
While a lot of national news coverage earlier this month focused on a special sanctuary being created in Elmdon Park, the project covers all of Solihull and people in areas including Castle Bromwich, Kingshurst and Chelmsley Wood are encouraged to get involved.
When Other Side of Solihull contacted the wildlife trust for more information on the campaign, we were told that residents who reported sightings or offered to get involved in surveys would be giving the initiative a massive boost.
A spokeswoman said: “One of the first tasks for the HIA is to improve our sightings data, because when we know roughly where hedgehogs are present (and absent), we can very specifically target conservation work.”
All sightings will be fed into a community map, giving conservationists a better idea of the population spread across Solihull.
Simon Thompson, the trust’s newly appointed hedgehog officer, said that even simple steps like making a five inch hole in your garden fence (roughly the size of a CD) would be a massive
Part of the problem at present is that solid barriers make it difficult for hedgehogs to seek shelter, forage for food and find a mate.
To find out more about the project or getting involved in the hedgehog survey visit www.helpforhedgehogs.co.uk

Backlash over "halfway hostel" in Chelmsley Wood

A BITTER row has erupted over plans to build a new supported housing development in Chelmsley Wood.
Over 500 residents have signed a petition against the Ipswich Walk scheme, accusing Solihull Community Housing (SCH) of keeping them in the dark over proposals.
Rumours about the project, which has been branded a “halfway hostel” by some locals, have been escalating for several weeks.
Frustrations grew after a meeting being organised between residents and SCH officials recently fell through.
Councillor Karl Macnaughton (Green, Chelmsley Wood) said residents had been worried that plans were being “railroaded” through, but welcomed news that a public consultation would be carried out before any planning application was submitted.
“Many residents have been worried about [the plans] feeling rushed, which has made them wonder why that might be, as if there are things to hide.
“It’s good to hear that Solihull Community Housing will now be holding a consultation event in May or June where there will be proper dialogue between residents and the Housing [SCH].
“Everybody will now have the opportunity to ask the questions they need to ask and I very much hope that we will end up with a development that everyone is happy with.”
The campaign against the scheme started a few weeks ago, with around half the people signing an online petition and the remainder of signatures collected on the doorstep.
Many residents have raised concerns about an increase in anti social behaviour and parking problems. Although SCH has categorically denied several claims made in a leaflet which was posted to local households by a resident.
In their own pamphlet about the development, the association said that the site would cater for up to 25 people in need of temporary accommodation.
“It is not a drug rehabilitation centre and will not house people leaving prison or persons who have an offending background linked to sexual offences.
“All residents will sign an agreement which will include not causing anti social behaviour. Immediate action will be taken if people living at the centre break their agreement.”
The controversy over the Ipswich Walk scheme follows similar rumours last summer about an application to build a “bail hostel” in Elmdon Road, Marston Green. On that occasion too, the authorities were forced to intervene to deny accommodation was being purpose-built for offenders.

  • From this month's edition of Other Side of Solihull. Available to download and view online 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

British Summer Time begins

Thief bites man's hand in Chelmsley Wood

SUSPECT: Police have released CCTV of the hooded man
who they want to speak to in connection with the incident
POLICE are hunting a thief who sunk his teeth into a man’s hand, moments after asking for 20p.
The shocking incident happened late on the evening of March 16, outside Linacre House, in Chelmsley Wood.
The 21-year-old victim had been walking past the tower block at around 11.30pm, when he was approached by a hooded man who asked for the loose change.
The thief then BIT the young man on the hand, before running off with his wallet.
Police have now released a CCTV image of their main suspect, who is described as a large set man, around 6ft 4inches tall. He is in his early to mid 20s and on the night in question was wearing a grey hooding top and tracksuit bottoms.
Det Sgt Chris Burt, who is leading the investigation, said: “If anyone recognises him, or believes they’ve seen the man, or who may have been in the area on the night and saw him, then I’d ask them to call me immediately.”
Dial 101 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Other Side of Solihull - New monthly newspaper launched

It is almost exactly a year since I set up this blog to provide news, views and information on community events in North Solihull.
In the 12 months since my first post, I’ve been mulling over how to build on this project, and today I’m pleased to unveil the first edition of a new monthly newspaper dedicated to the patch.
You will notice that at this stage no trees were harmed in the making of the publication and to begin with at least, the title will be distributed via social media, the website Issuu and an email subscribers list.
I had thought long and hard about whether a purely digital newspaper would massively improve on the blog posts. After all, there remain many people who don’t have access to the internet and would greatly benefit from a proper paper and staples product. Was there really a need for columns and headlines if they were still stuck on a screen?

But having considered the matter at length, I think if nothing else this marks a clear statement of intent. Where the project goes from here, how long it lasts and whether there’s a possibility to produce a hard copy down the line will depend very much on the interest from within the community.
There is, I believe, a need to speak up for an area which for too long has been marginalised and made fun of – often by people who have never actually even visited. As someone who covered the patch as a newspaper reporter for the best part of six years, I am well aware that it is difficult to get the message out sometimes and I hope this paper, in conjunction with the continuing blog, will go some way towards remedying that.
In addition, we live in an age where a lot of people are writing off the importance of a local press. Publishing giants have made savage cuts; closing offices, reducing staff and axing titles altogether – always to the cost of quality journalism.
I’d like to think that this project shows the potential for new models of spreading the word and holding the powerful to account.
I’d welcome your thoughts, suggestions and -  above all - stories….

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Ex-Chelmsley Wood teacher jailed for 1980s abuse

A FORMER teacher at Kingshurst School is jailed for indecently assaulting pupils more than 30 years ago, the BBC reports

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Smith's Wood man handed football banning order

HEATED ATMOSPHERE: Police and stewards try to marshal fans at the
Villa Park match.
A SMITH'S Wood man has been banned from attending football matches for three years, following disorder at a FA Cup derby game between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.
David Moore, of Morris Croft, admitted failing to comply with a previous football banning order, imposed in April 2013.
The 26-year-old was one of 17 fans arrested after ugly scenes at the quarter final clash earlier this month.
While West Midlands Police said there was no evidence that Moore had been involved in the disorder himself, his presence at Villa Park breached the terms of the existing ban.
Birmingham Magistrates also handed the defendant a 12 week curfew and a community service order at a hearing on Monday (March 9).

Scourge of litter tackled in North Solihull

EYESORE: A report this weekend highlighted the growing
problem of littering in England.
RESIDENTS will be encouraged to take part in litter picking initiatives around North Solihull later this month.
The borough has thrown its weight behind Community Clear Up Day, a nationwide ‘spring clean’ which was announced  by the Government earlier this year.
On Saturday, March 21, communities around the country will be taking to the streets to tackle the litter and fly-tipping that blight public spaces.
Locally, the efforts will be concentrated on Babbs Mill Park and residents are urged to come and pitch in to improve the look of the popular beauty spot.
There will be similar events in Chelmsley Wood town centre, along Beechcroft Road, Castle Bromwich and at Kingshurst Parade over the course of the following week.
The event follows a report yesterday (Saturday), which suggested that littering had become endemic across England.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has estimated that the problem costs taxpayers £850m a year, but the average on-the-spot fine for littering remains £80.
Phil Barton, from campaign group Keep Britain Tidy, said: “It is time for those in power to step up and take a lead. We know that people value and want to live in clean and tidy places. It is time for government to recognise this and take action.”
  • To find out how to get involved in Clear Up Day, visit www.solihull.gov.uk/lovesolihull

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Singing trio perform in Chelmsley Wood town centre

GLAMOPHONES: Birmingham trio Carrie-Ann McNally, Laura Fleming
and Kate Stallard met while working front of house at a local theatre
RETRO girl group The Glamophones are performing in Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre this afternoon.
The glamorous three-piece will be taking audiences back through the decades, performing some of the biggest hits of the 20th century. 
Performances continue until 3.30pm.