Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Academy plan approved but residents remain concerned

AMBITIOUS plans to build an engineering academy in Chelmsley Wood were finally given the green light last month.
The WMG Academy, offering courses for more than 600 teenagers,will be built on land adjacent to
Kingshurst Brook.
But the decision by Solihull Council to rubber stamp the project has sharply divided local opinion.
Business leaders believe that the academy will give young people the skills that are in desperate demand at companies including Jaguar Land Rover.
A spokesman for the academy said: “With an ethos of being ‘businesslike and business led’, the academy will provide students with relevant GCSE and A level qualifications, specific engineering qualifications and an impressive range of partner companies will ensure that students leave prepared for the world of work.”
Kate Tague, who will be appointed as executive principal, said she was “absolutely thrilled” the scheme had been given the go-ahead.
For residents however, there were serious misgivings about the choice of location for the new, three-storey building.
The patch of grassland, which had previously been earmarked for local housing, is a notorious floodplain.
Fordbridge Parish Council said that a number of properties in nearby Conway Road already suffered from subsidence and objected to the development “in the strongest possible terms”, fearing it would make the problem worse.
Other concerns were centred around the loss of open space and greater congestion on local roads.
One petition, signed by more than 30 people – called for an alternative site, such as the old Chelmsley Wood Library, to be considered.
Resident Marie Hodgetts said: “Not sure how much more development the area can take without everywhere grinding to a halt.”
Despite these fears, the planning committee accepted the argument that the academy would boost the employment prospects of local young people.
They concluded that despite the objections, the scheme would not have an unreasonable impact on the community.
The facility, which will be modelled on an existing campus in Coventry, is expected to welcome its first students in September next year.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Former CTC student debuts musical on the London stage

FAIRY TALE: The musical runs until early next month.
photo credit/Poppy Carter
A FORMER student at a North Solihull secondary school has brought a musical to the London stage.
Daniel Hall, whose passion for drama began at the CTC Kingshurst, co-wrote and created The Clockmaker’s Daughter, which started a six-week run at the Landor Theatre last month.
The show, which draws inspiration from the classic fairy stories of Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm, took a little over a year to turn into a fully-cast performance.
For 28-year-old Daniel it’s the culmination of a journey which started with appearances in school productions of The Sound of Music and Return to the Forbidden Planet.
After leaving the CTC 10 years ago, he trained at the Birmingham School of Acting, before moving down to London.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter was a joint project between Daniel and his friend Michael Webborn; the pair wrote the show in a Solihull shed in the space of just a few weeks.
They eventually struck a deal to debut the musical at the Landor, a venue which has played host to a number of productions which have gone on to enjoy considerable success.
Daniel said he was inspired to write something original because he was worried about the proliferation of jukebox musicals and adaptations of existing work.
“We wanted to do something new,” he admitted. “It’s very much in the spirit of the old fairytales and I think there’s something distinctly British about it.
“The advance sales have been great and we hope we have a good run at the Landor to see where we can take it from here.”
The Clockmaker’s Daughter runs at the Landor Theatre, Clapham until July 4. To book tickets call 020 7737 7276 or visit

Monday, 22 June 2015

Smith's Wood teacher receives top award

A POPULAR primary school teacher has won a top national award.
Sean Boyd, who takes the reception class at Smith's Wood Community Primary, was nominated for a Silver Pearson Teaching Award earlier this year.
And the school was delighted earlier this month, when Sean was named as a winner in the 'Outstanding New Teacher' category.
Mr Boyd had trained as a teacher at Birmingham City University, before joining Smith's Wood in 2012.
Meriden MP Caroline Spelman has been among those to congratulate the teacher on his success.
The awards were launched over 15 years ago to recognise excellence in education.
All the winners will be invited to a celebratory tea at the House of Commons next month and will now be considered for a Gold Award. Those put forward for this honour will be recognised at an awards ceremony to be televised by the BBC in the autumn.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Concerns about Castle Bromwich road improvement project

NEW LAYOUT: The two-phase project got underway last October and was
completed a couple of months ago.
RESIDENTS have criticised a £1.3million improvement scheme, claiming that it is “causing chaos” in the centre of Castle Bromwich.
Work was recently completed on the Hurst Lane Place Project, which has seen a raft of changes, including a new crossing and a couple of raised mini roundabouts.
Solihull Council has said the scheme will make the shopping area safer for pedestrians and stop speeding vehicles on the Chester Road.
But the work, which was started in October last year, has drawn a lot of criticism from motorists, who claim that the changes to the road layout have only increased queues around the Morrisons supermarket.
After the local authority invited people’s comments, many residents took to Facebook to register their concerns.
Gary Smith said: “Shocking planning from people who obviously never use this stretch of road. I’ve changed my route to work now because of this.”
Graham Gorton had similar reservations, describing the changes as “idiocy”.
“The narrowing of a major road like this is causing chaos at peak times. Agree that pedestrian safety was a concern but there are better solutions than this. What exactly is the use of a 30 foot wide pavement?”
Another resident, Cherryl Jones, said the scheme needed to be reviewed.
“Congestion combined with poor lines of sight for drivers approaching the roundabouts from any direction make this section of road a minefield.
“Accidents will happen and it won’t look so ‘pretty’ then.”
A separate part of the scheme, which saw the creation of more parking spaces, has been rather better received – following many years of complaints that there weren’t enough bays available for shoppers.
Solihull Council has insisted the changes had been introduced following consultation with residents and said that previously some pedestrians were having to cross three lanes of traffic unaided.
Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, said: “As a councillor and resident of Castle Bromwich I am really pleased with what the Hurst Lane Project has achieved.
“The area has become safer for pedestrians and motorists alike and it has been great to see local people being able to get safely to and from the shops without danger.”
To have your say on the changes, complete the online survey at
  • From the latest edition of Other Side of Solihull, you can read the complete issue here.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Number of people using foodbank doubles.

THE number of residents who have had to turn to a foodbank in North Solihull has more than doubled in the past 12 months.
The Kingfisher Foodbank, in Smith’s Wood, has reported that almost 1,600 people made use of the facility during its second year of operation.
This is over twice the number who received rations during the previous 12 months, and suggests many families are struggling to get by, even as the UK economy continues to recover.
Rev Jo Johnson, chairman of Kingfisher’s management group, said: “We are delighted to be able to help our community in this way.
“It is a sad state of affairs when there are so many people in crisis who continue to need our assistance.”
The foodbank is registered with the Trussell Trust, a national charity, and provides tinned food and other produce to families across the local area – a network of 59 voluntary and statutory agencies
support the project.
Almost half those who received the emergency supplies were children.
The local picture is reflected nationwide; across the UK more than a million people received at least three days’ food from Trussell Trust facilities in the space of 12 months.
Adrian Curtis, the charity’s foodbanks director, said: “It’s difficult to be sure of the full extent of the problem as Trussell Trust figures don’t include people who are helped by other food charities or those who feel too ashamed to seek help.
“It’s crucial that we listen to the experiences of people using foodbanks to truly understand the
nature of the problems they face; what people who have gone hungry have to say holds the key to finding the solution.”
For more information on Kingfisher visit

  • From the latest edition of Other Side of Solihull, click here for the complete issue.

Friday, 19 June 2015

100-year-old from Chelmsley Wood meets her horse racing heroes

CENTURY: Dora Franklin, from Chelmsley Wood, meets AP McCoy 

A GREAT grandmother from Chelmsley Wood has celebrated her 100th birthday with a bet or two at Royal Ascot.
Dora Franklin, who has been a fan of horse racing since she was 14-years-old, met top jockeys Frankie Dettori and Tony 'AP' McCoy during her day at the races.
“Not many people get the opportunity to meet one, never mind both of the most famous jockeys in recent history,” said Dora afterwards.
The sprightly centenarian admits to having a flutter most days, but never makes a wager of more than £2. In fact she credits the betting and her favourite tipple -  gin - for her long life!
Unfortunately Dora won't be able to put money on Tony at this year's competition  - the man tipped to be crowned BBC's Sports Personality of the Year finally retired a couple of months ago.
“Well at least you won’t have to waste any more money backing me now," joked the Irishman.
"It’s a shame as I’m much younger, but you look a lot better than me!”
Dora, who has four children, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, made the journey to Ascot by way of an early birthday present. The big day itself is on June 26 and she plans to celebrate with friends and family.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

June edition of our online newspaper is out now.

THE third edition of our monthly newspaper is now available.
You can read it through Issuu here or email to join our subscribers' list.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Charity challenge in memory of popular student

FUNDRAISER: Denise Danks raised over £600 for charity.
Her daughter Morgan went to school with Tahlia
A SUPERMARKET worker took a custard bath at the weekend to raise vital funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
Denise Danks, who works at the Chelmsley Wood Asda, took the plunge in memory of a young woman from Marston Green.
Twenty-year-old Tahlia Banks was born with the chronic genetic disorder and died in April, only a few months after having a double lung transplant.
Tributes have been paid to the courageous university student, who had aspirations of becoming a journalist and had written a blog about living with the condition.
In one poignant post the former Grace Academy pupil had talked about the challenges of studying for a degree while receiving treatment.
"When I first told people I was going to university, it was a mixed bag of opinions.
"Some people were so pleased for me and even proud, while the other half worried that I was too ill and I was going to make myself worse, but I was determined to give a try."
In recent years, Tahlia had interviewed gold-medal winning paralympian Hannah Cockroft as part of her studies, and even took part in a charity abseiling event.
Sadly, after undergoing surgery last December, her body rejected the lungs and she succumbed to an infection a couple of months ago.
Mum-of-three Mrs Danks, a friend of Tahlia's family, was determined to do something in her memory and help raise awareness for a condition which affects around 10,000 people in the UK.
On Saturday she climbed into the tub of custard and remained in the bath for more than nine hours.
Her efforts have helped raise around £610 for the CF Trust.
"Thank you from me to all the people that supported and donated," she said.
"I met some wonderful people and heard some touching stories during the day."

Cystic Fibrosis:
The disorders clogs the body's organs with a sticky mucus, primarily affecting the lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys and intestines. The condition is caused by a gene mutation and there is currently no cure, although in recent years more effective treatments have been developed and the life expectancy of sufferers has gradually improved.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Housing plans to be revealed to the public

RESIDENTS will this week get chance to find out about the latest plans for new housing schemes in North Solihull.
Consultation events will give local people the opportunity to ask questions about the proposals which are set to be brought forward over the next few months.
The North Solihull Partnership - the umbrella group driving the area's regeneration programme - has said they want the reaction of residents to the initial designs. This feedback will be incorporated into the schemes, before they are formally submitted to Solihull Council
A spokesman said: "Sharing our proposals with the local community is an important part of the planning process."
The Partnership know that they have work to do to win back the trust of some residents. The regeneration has already been hampered by delays, largely as a result of the recession, and there has also been disquiet about some of the previous choices over where to build new estates.
The first consultation takes place tomorrow (Wednesday) at Fordbridge Primary School, running from 3.30pm-8.00pm. The following day, the team will be at Coleshill Heath School during the same period of time.
For more information visit

Man charged with murder of Marston Green woman

A MAN has been charged with the murder of Marston Green woman Anne Dunkley.
The pensioner's nephew Gareth Emery, 24, appeared before Birmingham Magistrates Court this morning, charged with his aunt's death.
Emery, of Clinton Road, Shirley, also faces a separate charge of assaulting a 38-year-old man.
The accused spoke only to confirm his name and address and was remanded in custody.
Mrs Dunkley, a retired primary school teacher, had been found lying on the floor of her Elmdon Road home following a disturbance last Friday (June 5). She had sustained serious head injuries and died a short time later in hospital.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Marston Green Murder Inquiry: Remembrance services held for victim

POLICE were today continuing to question a man on suspicion of murder, following the death of a much-loved member of the Marston Green community.
Retired teacher Anne Dunkley (pictured above) died following a disturbance at her Elmdon Road home on Friday afternoon.
Officers had been called to the address and discovered the 67-year-old lying on the floor, having suffered serious injuries. She later died in hospital.
A 24-year-old was arrested nearby and is being interviewed as part of the police inquiry.
Today, two remembrance services were held at St Leonard's Church, where Mrs Dunkley was a well-known member of the congregation. A book of condolence has also been opened.
Reverend Penny Harrison paid tribute to the churchwarden, describing her as a woman with "great humour and seemingly boundless energy."

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Attempted abduction in Chelmsley Wood

POLICE are appealing for help following the attempted abduction of a teenager in Chelmsley Wood last week.
The 16-year-old girl was making her way home along Moorend Avenue, near the junction with Ely Close, just before 8pm on Saturday when a man spoke to her.
She ignored him and carried on walking, but he followed her and grabbed her coat, pulling her towards his car.
Fortunately the teenager was able to break free and run home, where she contacted police
PC Gareth Bowen, from Solihull Police, said: "Fortunately the teenager was unhurt but she was left shaken by the incident and frightened to go out alone.
"We’re asking for anyone who has seen a dark grey two door car with silver tape on the passenger side window and at the bottom of the door to contact us."
The man is described as black, in his late 20s or early 30s, with a slim build and a shiny bald/shaven head and full beard. He was wearing a black t-shirt and dark blue jeans.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or who has information should call PC Bowen on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.