Monday, 31 August 2015

Exclusive: Speed cameras set to return to North Solihull.

REVIVAL: The old "wet film" devices
were shut down over two years ago
A NEW road safety scheme could see speed cameras installed at two accident blackspots in North Solihull.
Later this week, Solihull Council will be discussing plans for a pilot project, which will see digital devices put in place at a handful of locations where there is a history of drivers breaking the limit.
The Bradford Road/Chester Road, in Castle Bromwich, is one of the sites which has been singled-out as a cause for concern.
The northbound carriageway of the A452 Collector Road could also have its own permanent camera, depending on how far the council can stretch its budget.
In total, the borough will invest £400,000 in the initiative, which will be run in collaboration with Birmingham City Council.
The scheme is being put together following the controversial decision, taken in 2013, to turn off more than 300 speed cameras across the region.
For more about the project, look out for next month's edition of Other Side of Solihull.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Chelmsley Wood teenager completes charity challenge

A YOUNG daredevil recently took part in a tandem skydive to raise money for the local charity which gave him so much support growing up.
Declan Hughes, from Chelmsley Wood, decided to celebrate his 16th birthday with the leap of faith.
And the stunt saw a flurry of donations online; more than £500 has already been raised for Solihull Life Opportunities (SoLO).
Declan had become a member of the charity, which supports people with learning
disabilities, after he was diagnosed with ADHD.
He said he was hugely grateful to SoLO and gained a lot of confidence from sessions he used to attend at the Meriden Park Adventure Playground.
“Slowly, with support I was able to play without being judged if I got a little over excited,” he explained.
“I made many friends and gradually developed my social interaction skills.
“I am now much older and realise that the support I received from this brilliant organisation, gave me the capabilities to go on and interact with others, thanks to the social skills I gained.
“The support that SoLO provide, encourages children with diagnosed problems to find their feet and get the key skills which they need to interact with those they meet in life.”
SoLO’s chief executive Janet Down said that there had recently been an unprecedented number of people volunteering to raise money for the Walnut Close-based charity.
In recent months Lorna Hill has done a bungee jump, while Daniel-Jacques de Jonge is walking the Pennine Way – a 268-mile trek across the hills of Northern England.
“I am in awe at their ability and tenacity,” said Janet, paying tribute to the charity’s supporters.
To sponsor Declan go to

Saturday, 29 August 2015

New lease of life for historic Chelmsley Wood building

HISTORIC SITE: Alcott House was derelict for several years.

ONE of the oldest buildings in North Solihull has been turned into an affordable housing block.
Meriden MP Caroline Spelman was invited to cut the ribbon at Alcott House, Chelmsley Wood yesterday.
Originally a farmhouse, the red brick building is over 200-years-old and one of the few properties left standing on the estate which pre-dates the major development of the 1960s.
The premises, which is Grade II-listed, had previously been used as offices, but businesses moved out in 2011 amid safety concerns.
For several years Alcott House was left derelict and while the idea of using the building as a local heritage centre was considered, the decision was eventually taken to turn it into residential accommodation.
Solihull Community Housing was granted planning permission last year to convert the dwelling into three apartments.
Because of its historical importance, the developers had to make sure that any changes were in keeping with the 18th century features.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Chelmsley Wood lifeguard loses fight to return to work

A LONG-standing lifeguard - who was controversially sacked from North Solihull Sports Centre - has lost a bid to get his old job back.
As reported a few weeks ago, Ray Lill was dismissed following allegations that he had broken health and safety rules.
The 64-year-old had admitted ringing his granddaughter before the start of his shift, but strenuously denied the claims he had made a call at the poolside.
The sudden departure of Mr Lill - who has worked at the centre for over 30 years - prompted impassioned pleas for him to be reinstated and almost 4000 people signed a petition calling for bosses to rethink their decision.
At the end of July, many of his supporters took part in a protest outside the building, with some even threatening to boycott the centre.
Despite the strength of public feeling, this week Parkwood Leisure, who run the Chelmsley Wood venue, confirmed that there were insufficient grounds to reverse their original decision.
The Solihull branch of trade union Unison, who have been representing Mr Lill, said that they would consult with lawyers about the option of pursuing a claim for unfair dismissal.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Man charged in connection with Chelmsley Wood attack

A MAN has appeared in court charged in connection with an attack on a bishop outside a Chelmsley Wood church.
Harley Heyes, 36, of Bluebell Drive, is accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, taking a vehicle by force and having no insurance.
The suspect was arrested follow an attack on Mormon clergyman David Charmbury on Sunday, August 16.
Mr Charmbury, from Castle Bromwich, was found with serious head injuries outside the Church of Latter Day Saints, in Clopton Crescent. His car had been stolen from the scene but was recovered nearby a short time later.
The bishop remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Wartime campaign inspires Chelmsley Wood project

GREEN TEAM: Some of those who helped create the garden attend the
official opening of the Lumley Grove site.

A COMMUNITY garden with a Second World War-theme has been officially opened in Chelmsley Wood.
The piece of land, which will be used to grow fruit and vegetables, has been modelled on the modest allotments which played such an important part in Britain's victory 70 years ago.
The area in Lumley Grove had previously been wasteland, but has been transformed by residents working in partnership with Gro-Organic, a local social enterprise.
On Monday of last week, those who had helped make the project a reality attended a special event at the Victory Garden site.
Several residents got into the spirit of the occasion by dressing in the style of the 1940s.
Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Glenis Slater was among the guests on the day.
"Projects like this are great for the local community as they bring people closer together," she said.
"I hope residents will make the most of the garden by continuing to grow some fantastic produce."

Dig for Victory: Seventy years since the end of the conflict, the campaign remains one of the best-remembered of the Second World War.
The Government realised early on that food shortages could cripple the war effort and with so many supplies imported from the USA and Canada there was a very real danger that naval blockades could starve Britain into submission.
In an attempt to see off the threat, ministers encouraged the public to create allotments in their back gardens, parks and public spaces.
The campaign captured the national imagination and the iconic propaganda poster of a boot and spade is still easily recognisable today.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Smith's Wood councillor leaves the Green Party

A SMITH'S Wood councillor - who was the first Green Party candidate elected in Solihull - has defected to the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The sudden departure of Mike Sheridan, whose shock victory in 2008 paved the way for the Greens' rapid growth locally, was not formally announced, but became apparent last week when he rebranded his webpage with his new party's logo.
Coun Sheridan, who had originally captured his seat from Labour, has said there was no one reason for his decision to leave the Greens.
Although he admitted he shared the SDP's position of wanting to leave the European Union (the Greens, by contrast, want major reforms but are firmly in favour of remaining in the EU).
His defection will not massively alter the make-up of the borough council; with eight councillors remaining, the Greens remain the second largest group.
Nonetheless, the loss of their long-standing member is likely to come as a blow to activists who, having welcomed a number of disaffected Lib Dems to their ranks, are far more used to bringing in people than seeing them leave.
Coun Tim Hodgson (Green, Shirley West) said last week that the defection was "not entirely unexpected".
"There had been indications that he might leave and you could see at times that he was not always participating," he told the Solihull News.
Coun Sheridan, aged 50, has confirmed he will seek a third term on a SDP ticket when the local elections take place next May. For the Greens the search will now begin to find a new candidate.

SDP: The Social Democratic Party was set up in 1981 by a group of senior Labour politicians. The so-called "Gang of Four" had become uncomfortable with Labour's increasingly left-wing stance and saw an opportunity to start a new centrist party. They formed a pact with the Liberal Party and at the 1983 election polled 25 per cent of the vote - although the first-past-the-post system meant that the alliance only won 23 seats. Five years later the parties formally merged and became the Liberal Democrats. A small number of SDP activists opposed the union and have continued under the old name. Today the party has a handful of councillors scattered around the UK and a campaign HQ in Birmingham.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Bishop in coma following robbery outside Chelmsley Wood church

CRIME SCENE: The bishop had arrived ahead of the weekly service at the
Church of Latter Day Saints.

A CLERGYMAN has been left in a coma following a robbery outside his Chelmsley Wood church yesterday (Sunday) morning.
Police are trying to piece together what happened to the 45-year-old victim, who was found lying in the road outside the Church of Latter Day Saints, having suffered a serious head injury.
The man, who today was being treated in hospital, has been named locally as David Charmbury, from Castle Bromwich.
It is understood the Mormon bishop arrived at the premises, in Clopton Crescent, at around 9am.
Shortly after arriving, his car was stolen. It is thought that the victim had then been dragged down the street, clinging to his vehicle.
He was found by a passer-by, who had heard a "loud bang" just beforehand.
The vehicle - a silver Mazda CX5 Sport - was found abandoned a short time later in Starling Grove, Smith's Wood. It has now been taken for forensic analysis.
Detectives are trying to establish the number of people involved in the robbery and whether the bishop had been deliberately targeted.
Det Sgt Sam Price, from Chelmsley Wood Police Station, said that the team had been carrying out door-to-door enquiries and would also be checking CCTV in the hope that the suspect or suspects have been caught on film.
If you have any information about the crime, call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Be beside the seaside in Kingshurst...

SUMMER FUN: Donkey rides will be one of the highlights.

A COLOURFUL cast of characters will congregate in Kingshurst today (Saturday) for a Summer Carnival.
Visitors can enjoy music, circus skills, craft workshops and a fancy dress competition along Kingshurst Parade.
There will also be events to conjure up the spirit of an English summer, with a sandy play area installed next to the shops and donkey rides around the precinct.
Coun Flo Nash (Lab, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) said: "After the success of last year's tropical sea fun day, it's great to see residents, traders and community groups come together again to celebrate summer in Kingshurst.
"It promises to be a fantastic day for all the family."
The carnival is open from 11am-3pm and entry is free, although there may be a small charge for some activities.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Marston Green's Annual Flower Show this weekend

STRAW-FIRE HIT: The contest is now in its 86th year.

MARSTON Green's Annual Flower Show and Scarecrow Competition will be taking place this Saturday (August 15).
Organised by the village's gardening club, the contest - one of the longest running events in Solihull - will once again be held at the Parish Hall, Elmdon Road.
The show starts at 2pm and schedules are available at the library, post office, One Stop (next to the railway station) and Handful of Flowers florists.
To enquire about a stall, call 0121 684 1299.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Drama-loving teenager receives medal for her efforts

WORTHY WINNER: Morgan Danks with the High Sheriff of the West
Midlands, Jonnie Turpie MBE, and the Mayor of Solihull, Coun Glenis Slater

A CHELMSLEY Wood teenager has received a prestigious award, recognising her work in the local community.
Morgan Danks, aged 18, was last month presented with a Medal of Excellence at a garden party, organised by the High Sheriff of the West Midlands.
She has recently completed her studies at the Grace Academy and was one of seven young people from around the region chosen to receive an award.
The medals are presented annually and this year the focus was on those who have made a significant contribution to arts and culture.
Mayor of Solihull, Councillor Glenis Slater, had no hesitation in nominating Morgan; the Year 13 student is passionate about performing arts and has given a good deal of her time encouraging younger pupils.
Coun Slater said the teenager was a "talented performer" and supporter of local charities (she has raised hundreds of pounds for various good causes).
"Morgan is a dedicated and conscientious student who works selflessly and tirelessly in order to achieve her own goals and help others realise their potential."
The medals were presented at a ceremony which took place at the Library of Birmingham's garden terrace.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Solihull sees 1600 cases of fly tipping

THERE has been a sharp increase in cases of fly tipping across Solihull.
In the 12 months to April this year, the borough council received over 1,600 reports of waste being dumped at roadsides, in alleyways and other public places.
This was 400 more cases than were reported in the previous year and the issue has been made the number one priority of the council’s environmental crime team.
Officials will look at new ways to track down offenders and those hauled before the courts face significant fines or even prison sentences. There will also be a number of initiatives to discourage
the problem and related offences, such as dog-fouling, littering and graffiti.
Councillor Karen Grinsell, cabinet member for stronger communities and partnerships, promised that action would be taken to tackle the behaviour of an “irresponsible” minority.
“Every item of litter cleared, every fly poster removed, every fly tip collected and all the graffiti that is cleaned, is as a result of a crime,” she said.
“Simply clearing up after the minority is both costly and unsustainable, and I know you will agree when I say there are more worthy services that your taxes could pay for.”
Over the year-long period, the council also received 632 complaints about littering, 578 reports of dogfouling and 518 about fly posting.
While this latest report did not provide a break-down of where the offences were reported, previous surveys have found that the problems are a particular cause for concern in North Solihull.
One study found that in the 17 wards that make up the borough, concern about various forms of anti social behaviour was higher in Chelmsley Wood than anywhere else.
While environmental crime on the whole remains lower in Solihull than surrounding areas, there has been a national trend for the number of offences increasing.
A spokesman for Keep Britain Tidy said: “Cuts to local authority budgets may have had an impact on the ability of councils to support households and help them ‘do the right thing’ but this is no excuse for people to simply dump their unwanted furniture and fridges on the streets.”

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Fresh challenges for high-speed rail project

DOUBTS have been cast over the future of the HS2 rail project, after three of the MPs in the running to become the next Labour leader expressed concerns about the project.
The multi-billion pound London to Birmingham line would have a significant impact on part of Chelmsley Wood, with the route set to run right past Yorkminster Drive.
Concerns have also been raised about the increase in traffic and general disruption during the construction process.
Now signs of a shift in Labour ranks offer the first real hope to opponents that the plans may yet be derailed; up until now the leaders of the two main parties have both been in favour of the scheme.
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured), the veteran left-winger who has become the surprise frontrunner, appeared to come out against the scheme after warning that HS2 could "turn our great regional cities into dormitories for London businesses."
Fellow leadership hopeful Andy Burnham has suggested that improving east to west rail links should be more of a priority, while a third candidate, Yvette Cooper, is understood to have concerns about the escalating costs.
Only the fourth contender Liz Kendall, who polls suggest is trailing her rivals, has given the scheme unequivocal support.
Since detailed plans were unveiled in 2011, Solihull Council has been battling to minimise the impact of HS2 on local communities, although opponents of the scheme claim that efforts to win concessions have been largely fruitless.
Last month, local supporters sought to regroup, with business leaders and senior politicians publishing a report on how the West Midlands can capitalise on the development.
They claim the project would create more than 100,000 jobs, with ten per cent of these going to people who are currently unemployed.
Councillor Bob Sleigh, leader of Solihull Council, said: "Our intention is to use HS2 to build an economic, social and environmental legacy for Solihull and we are now working with key stakeholders to ensure that Solihull is prepared to reap the benefits of high speed rail."

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Babbs Mill Park retains its Green Flag Award

UNDER THREAT: Babbs Mill Park has retained its Green Flag status but
part of the site is earmarked for housing

RESIDENTS furiously fighting plans to stop the development of part of Babbs Mills Park have been handed further ammunition after the public space received a coveted award.
The news that the park has retained Green Flag status is likely to galvanise those who oppose proposals to build housing on part of the land. They argue that the loss of wildlife habitat is impossible to justify and have urged Solihull Council to drop the scheme.
The Green Flag Awards are run by Keep Britain Tidy and recognise sites around the country which are well-maintained, welcoming and encourage community involvement.
On the awards' website, Babbs Mill is described as "a very important space which allows people to interact with wildlife and the environment."
There are two pieces of land to have received the accolade in North Solihull, with Chelmsley Wood's Meriden Park being the other.
The borough as a whole has always performed well and now has 12 Green Flags in total, with the other ten awarded to parks and nature reserves south of the Coventry Road.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Chelmsley Wood author publishes first novel

A CHELMSLEY Wood woman who has just published her first novel has encouraged other aspiring writers not to give up.
Avid reader Angela Moore’s interest in creative writing flourished after she started studying for a degree with the Open University.
Originally her studies were a useful distraction from her health problems; Angela suffers with the debilitating hypermobility syndrome (which affects the joints) and her condition deteriorated after an operation on her knee.
After completing a diploma and publishing a number of short poems, she decided to tackle a full-length fiction book.
The novel – The Dark Secrets of Jealousy – is described as a psychological thriller about two sisters from a wealthy background.
The older of the two, Natasha, is packed off to boarding school and blaming her younger sibling, begins to plot revenge.
“Since I read The Secret Garden as a child, I endeavoured to be a writer,” said Angela, aged 31.
“Having health issues has just assisted me to follow my passion.”
And she’s hoping her experience will inspire others to put pen to paper.
“The advice I give is to keep writing, and inspiration will come from the least expected of places.”
You can order the debut novel now from
Angela also runs a creative writing group every Friday at The Three Trees Centre, in Chelmsley Wood. People are welcome to attend sessions, which run from 10am-12noon.

  • The latest issue of Other Side of Solihull's digital newspaper is out now.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Trio jailed for motorway cable thefts

THREE men from North Solihull who risked their lives stealing motorway cables have been sent to prison.
Jamie Thompson, Michael Jensen and Michael Thorpe operated as an organised gang, recklessly removed over 2km of cable, linked to electronic signs on the M5, M6 and M42.
The desperate thefts - which could also have endangered drivers - took place over a period of a few months and left Highways England with a repair bill of more than £400,000.
Following the offences last year, police launched an investigation and uncovered forensic evidence which linked the trio to the thefts.
At Birmingham Crown Court earlier this week, the men, who had pleaded guilty to joint enterprise theft and joint enterprise criminal damage, were given custodial sentences.
Jensen, 28, of Meriden Drive, Kingshurst, and Thompson, also 28, of Barle Grove, Smith's Wood, were each sentenced to three-and-a-half years.
Thorpe, 27, of Tulip Walk, Chelmsley Wood, was handed a three year prison sentence.
Chief Insp Jed White, from the Central Motorway Police Group, said: “Our officers work tirelessly to take criminals off the road network and protect drivers using some of the busiest and safest stretches of motorway in the country.
“I am satisfied that three criminals are now behind bars. Not only did the thieves risk their own lives through electrocution when stealing the cables, they have endangered innocent motorists who rely on the important safety information the signs display.”