Saturday, 31 December 2016

Marston Green councillor awarded an OBE

A MARSTON Green man - who is currently serving as the Leader of Solihull Council - has been named in the New Year's Honours.
Councillor Bob Sleigh, who was first elected to represent the Bickenhill ward in 2000, will receive an OBE for services to local government.
Prior to taking the top job, the 67-year-old had held a number of positions within the borough's Conservative group and had served as deputy to the previous Leader, Ken Meeson.
When Coun Meeson announced he would be standing down in 2014, it was confirmed that Coun Sleigh would be taking on the role.
Last year he was also named as the chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, which has been set up to lay the ground for greater collaboration between the region's different councils.
Coun Sleigh is now the fourth councillor currently serving on the local authority to have been recognised by the Honours system. Ted Richards OBE, who represents Castle Bromwich, is the other member from North Solihull.
Among the other Silhillians named in today's List are the entertainer Malcolm Stent, England women's international Karen Carney and Stephen Maddock - the chief executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).

Friday, 30 December 2016

Bus fares to rise for local passengers


TICKET prices are set to rise on many of the area's busiest bus routes from next week.
National Express this week confirmed that the cost of an adult single ticket would be increased to £2.40 (up 10p from the current price.)
The operator, which runs services including the 71, 94 and 966, also announced that day tickets would increase from £4.40 to £4.60.
There will also be a hike for certain children's fares and for every type of adult travel card.
Overall, 19 out of the 32 of the charges advertised will be rising from January 2. Twelve will be frozen at their current level and just one, the off-peak short hop, will be reduced.
The Campaign for Better Transport has said the latest increases are "disappointing", since cheaper fares encourage more people to use the bus network.
A Transport for West Midlands spokesman said that the organisation wanted to see the lowest prices possible, but it also understood the pressures facing bus companies.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Review of the Year: Part 1

Other Side of Solihull looks back over the major news stories from the local area over the course of the past 12 months...

January: There was a sad start to 2016, with the news that a teenager from Chelmsley Wood had died during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Birmingham.
An inquest later found that 18-year-old Dylan Booth had died after taking an ecstasy tablet during a party in Digbeth.
There were also concerns about the news that a far-right group had announced it would be staging a demonstration near Marston Green.
From stirring up trouble, to cooking up a storm - local chef Glynn Purnell returned to his old school, Bishop Wilson, to support a healthy eating campaign.
Police were left puzzled after a speed limit sign was moved around a mile down the road, possibly by a rather desperate driver who was trying to escape a speeding ticket.
As the month neared its end, there were a number of high-profile visitors, including Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, here to find out more about the North Solihull Regeneration, and Team GB gymnast Mimi Cesar - who was asked to open the School Games in Chelmsley.

February: Former Iraq war veteran Richard Storer, who grew up in Kingshurst, revealed that he was being forced to sleep in his car following wrangles over housing.
Also coming up against obstacles were members of the local travelling community, whose invasion of land in Marston Green had led to a number of new barriers being installed.
Elsewhere in the village, residents were asked to have their say over plans to tighten up parking restrictions near the railway station, where commuters were continuing to clog up nearby roads.
And a short distance away, a separate consultation was launched about what should be done with the old bowling green in Meriden Park. It has since been transformed into a brand-new community space.
Debate also raged about levels of local policing, with Kingshurst & Fordbridge councillor Flo Nash making an impassioned plea for more officers on the beat.
She told Full Council that despite suggestions that crime was falling, many residents missed the reassurance of seeing PCs on patrol in local neighbourhoods.

March: As the month began, there was heartbreak for residents who had fought a long-running battle to stop the development of Babbs Mill Local Nature Reserve.
Despite their campaign against proposals, Solihull Council’s planning committee voted in favour of a new housing development, which would mean the loss of part of the wildlife habitat.
In fact politicians were proving less than popular locally, with a Conservative MP also attracting criticism after he referred to Chelmsley Wood as a “brutalist horror” in a House of Commons debate.
From low blows to a knock out performance. Former professional boxer Simon Ford smashed a World Record to raise more than £500 for Sports Relief.
Friends and family of Christopher Clarke paid their respects after the motorcyclist died in a high-speed collision on the Collector Road.
There was also a fresh flurry of tributes for Marston Green teacher Anne Dunkley, who had been stabbed to death the previous summer. Her nephew, Gareth Emery, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
And firefighters announced plans to relocate an engine to Chelmsley’s Asda supermarket, amid concerns that it was taking too long to respond to incidents in the north of the borough.

April: A group of local residents spoke of their anger and frustration over proposals to pull down bungalows in Lambeth Close, a decision which they claimed would destroy a “close-knit community.”
Solihull Council also came in for criticism for cuts in local services, with Chelmsley Wood councillor James Burn saying it was time for the local authority to be honest about the impact.
After many months of complaints about the problems caused by off-road bikes, police swooped in Smith’s Wood to seize a number of the vehicles.
Only a few weeks before, officers had faced criticism for not doing enough to respond to residents’ concerns. Castle Bromwich councillor Ted Richard vowed to take action to address another long-standing problem - the gridlock on local roads during the school run.
A Marston Green couple had a lucky escape after a cannabis factory in the property next door led to a blaze which threatened to engulf their home as well.

May: North Solihull headed to the polls for the local elections, with Labour mounting a successful defence of their last-remaining council seat in Solihull.
In Smith’s Wood Mike Sheridan, the man who had been the Greens’ first councillor locally, only to leave the party last year, was roundly defeated by his former colleagues.
Over in Castle Bromwich, quite a crowd turned out to see an original Spitfire complete a fly-past.
If the sight of the famous fighter plane set hearts racing, things were moving rather more slowly on local roads, with renewed criticism about the standard of the area’s public transport.
There was also concern about the fact that North Solihull continued to lag behind the rest of the borough when it came to getting young people into university.
Solihull’s education chief, Joe Tildesley, admitted more work needed to be done to encourage school leavers to go on to study for degrees.
In Chelmsley Wood, local residents rallied round to help after yet another arson attack at the Meriden Park Adventure Playground caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

June: Plans to reintroduce speed cameras in Castle Bromwich continued to gather momentum, only a couple of years after the plug was pulled on the devices.
If the return of the road safety measures divided opinion, there was a unanimous welcome for the news that Chelmsley Wood clergyman Neil Roberts had been awarded an BEM.
The Grace Academy was in full song after a group of stars from London’s West End arrived to perform alongside school pupils.
A report raised concerns about alcohol consumption in the borough, with suggestions that more than 40,000 people were drinking more than they should.
Ironically enough, the month concluded with an event which was almost certain to leave many people reaching for a glass in celebration - or despair.
After a bruising campaign, which divided opinions both locally and nationwide, the UK voted to leave the European Union.
Across the borough, more than half backed Brexit, with Meriden MP Caroline Spelman - who had campaigned for Remain - issuing a call for the country to come together.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Castle Bromwich man dies after Boxing Day crash

POLICE have appealed for witnesses after a Castle Bromwich man died following a road crash yesterday (Monday).
The motorcyclist, who has been named locally as 39-year-old Wajid Fazil, was killed after apparently colliding with a barrier on Fort Parkway, near to the Fort Dunlop building.
Following the incident, at around 12noon, the road had been closed in both directions to allow an air ambulance to land at the scene.
The biker was airlifted to hospital, but despite the best efforts of medical staff, he died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash.
Officers have said that family liaison officers are supporting the man's loved ones following the tragedy.
PC Karl Davies, from West Midlands Police's collision investigation unit, urged anyone who saw what happened to contact police on 101.

350 new homes for North Solihull

LATEST PROPOSALS: 100 homes would form part of the Kingshurst
Parade redevelopment

PLANS have been announced to build 350 additional homes across the north of the borough.
Solihull Council has outlined proposals to develop four sites over the course of the next 12 years, as part of ongoing efforts to tackle the local housing shortage.
In the three “Regeneration” wards, homes have been allocated as follows: Chester Road/Moorend Avenue (100), Kingshurst Village Centre (100), Jensen House/Auckland Drive (100) and Arran Way (50).
Across the borough as a whole, the new version of the council’s Draft Local Plan sets out plans to build 6,150 additional dwellings.
In some respects, North Solihull has a relatively small quota – just over one in 20 of the properties have been assigned to this part of the borough.
Interestingly, no further development sites have been identified in Castle Bromwich or Marston Green (which is likely to be a particular relief to the latter, given the pressure that recent expansion has placed on local services.)
While it is villages such as Dickens Heath and Knowle which have been allocated a greater number of homes in the latest set of figures, concerns are likely to be raised about the decision to review the Local Plan only three years after the original document was finalised.
Solihull Council has identified three main reasons for why it has had to once again reopen the debate about housing.
First and foremost, a legal challenge has found fault with the original plan and the local authority has been forced to reconsider its arrangements.
Then there is the fact that Birmingham City Council is struggling to meet its own housing targets, with the suggestion that areas such as Solihull will have to help their larger neighbour meet the shortfall.
Finally, the high-speed rail plans and in particular the interchange station being built near the NEC will require alterations to the plan previously agreed in 2013.
A council spokesman said: “We are continuing to work closely with...communities to ensure they are aware of the revision of the Local Plan and we will continue to support this bottom-up community approach to planning.”
The revised proposals, available to view here, will be out for consultation until January 30.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Solihull receives £700k to help prevent homelessness


SOLIHULL Council has secured a £700,000 grant to help young people at risk of homelessness.
The local authority is one of 28 around the country to receive extra funding to tackle a problem which is on the rise around the country.
Research earlier this year suggested that the number of people sleeping rough has doubled in five years and the Government has come under criticism for cutting money to support services.
In Solihull, a recent review suggested that homelessness was increasing at a faster rate in the borough than the average for both the region and the country as a whole.
After pressure mounted on ministers to get a handle on the situation, the Prime Minister Theresa May announced that councils around the country would receive additional money to fund projects to support those at risk of losing their home.
Mrs May said: "I’m pleased to congratulate Birmingham and Solihull on being selected as one of our trailblazing areas.
"I welcome how they are working towards a single system to address the complexities of homelessness, their new teams to support vulnerable people and how they will provide early advice to those at risk of losing their home."

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Organisers "gobsmacked" by success of North Solihull's Christmas appeal

FANTASTIC RESPONSE: A few of the
hampers donated by local people
THESE are just some of more than 200 food parcels which were put together for this year’s North Solihull Christmas hamper appeal.
The hampers, which included a selection of food, have been delivered to elderly and vulnerable members of the community.
They were prepared by schools (including pupils at Coleshill Heath and Fordbridge), businesses and community organisations, following an appeal which was widely shared on social media.
Police officers and local fire crews were among those who helped to make the special deliveries.
The North Solihull Neighbourhood Team had co-ordinated a similar project last year, but this time the response was even greater.
“We are so overwhelmed at the generosity and kindness of everyone that helped us achieve this,” said the group.
It is hoped that some of the recipients will keep in touch with the person/people who prepared their hamper in the year to come.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Campaign to protect Smith's Wood playing field gathers pace

HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition calling for the council to abandon plans to build on Bosworth Wood playing field.
Under current plans the land has been earmarked for up to 100 homes, but some residents have argued that the scheme “isn’t in the interests” of the local community.
Other Side of Solihull recently reported on the concerns raised by former Smith’s Wood councillor Graham Craig, who believes it would be shortsighted to develop a site which may one day need to be returned to educational use.
His fear is that Solihull Council has underestimated the likely rise in demand for school places, with more young families expected to move onto the estate in future.
From the residents’ point of view, trying to crowd more houses onto the land would put further strain on local services and lead to the loss of a valued open space.
The field, off Auckland Drive, is one of the largest sites of its kind in the area and is regularly used by local sports teams and to host events including a monthly car boot sale.
The petition was started online by Aimee Mallinson, a community development worker for the area. Summarising the concerns, her petition said: “This area is already densely populated with 1,500 properties and since the closure of Bosworth Wood Primary School, local children are having to go out of the area as Smith’s Wood Primary Academy is full. Bringing in another 100 families to the area is only going to increase this issue.”
Within days of the campaign being launched, hundreds of people had put their name to it.
Joanne Poyner wrote: “We desperately need to stop building on every bit of grass. There’s too little green space as it is.”
Another backer, Victoria Kesterton, said: “It’s important to keep green playing fields for all because they’re the only place our children and families will have to get fresh air into [their] lungs.” Councillor Ian Courts, the Deputy Leader of Solihull Council, has promised a full consultation before any plans to release the playing field for development are agreed.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Fresh appeal 20 years after boys vanish in Chelmsley Wood

STILL MISSING: Patrick Warren and David Spencer were last seen at a
Chelmsley Wood petrol station 20 years ago this month.

A MAN whose older brother disappeared during the Christmas holidays 20 years ago has made an impassioned plea for information so that his sibling can be "laid to rest."
David Spencer, then 13, and his friend Patrick Warren, 11, were last seen late on Boxing Day 1996 and despite extensive police investigations, attempts to find out what happened to the two schoolboys have been unsuccessful.
Today David's younger brother, Lee O'Toole , has spoken about how events have affected the family and made a public appeal for anyone who can help solve the case to come forward.
He was just nine-years-old at the time of the disappearance and revealed that he spent evening after evening walking around local streets trying to find the pair.
Now 29, Lee said he still suffers nightmares about the events of the mid-1990s and will not be able to rest until he finds out what happened.
"I’ve come to terms with the fact David is dead, but I wake every night wondering what happened to him and how he died," he said.
"This time of year is very hard, December 14 was David’s birthday, he would have been 33, and then Christmas just brings back memories of him vanishing.
"After all these years I just want to know where David is. If something terrible has happened, if I know about it at least I can grieve. I’m in limbo at the moment not knowing what happened.
"I would like to give him a proper funeral and have a special place that I can visit."
On December 26 1996, the two boys had told David’s family that they were staying at Patrick’s brother’s house.
APPEAL: Lee O'Toole
The last sighting of them was at the Shell petrol station, in Chelmsley Wood, at just after midnight, where they were given a packet of biscuits by an assistant working at the forecourt.
The boys were reported missing in the early hours of the next day and a full-scale search was launched.
Later, Patrick’s Christmas present, a red Apollo bicycle, was discovered at the back of the petrol station. It had been hidden in an area used for storing commercial bins.
In the years since there have been numerous public appeals for information and the case was featured on BBC's Crimewatch a decade ago.
DCI Caroline Marsh, the senior investigating officer, said that detectives continued to pursue old lines of inquiry, as well as seeking new information.
As the 20th anniversary approaches, she said that the force had no intention of closing the case while the boys' whereabouts remained unknown.
"Anyone, with any piece of information, however small they might consider it to be, should contact the police," she said. "That piece of information could ultimately lead to us finding out what has happened to Patrick and David and bring some peace to their families."

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Council pressed on future plans for Babbs Mill

Councillor Ian Courts
A COUNCILLOR has demanded assurances that there will be no further development of Babbs Mill Park.
Councillor Debbie Evans (UKIP, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) raised the question at this month’s meeting of Full Council.
It comes amid concern from residents that the decision earlier this year to allow housing to be built on part of the Local Nature Reserve will set a dangerous precedent.
Councillor Ian Courts, cabinet member for managed growth, said: “No changes to the green belt are proposed in or around Babbs Mill Park and Nature Reserve.
“I can say it is not the council’s policy to allow residential development on the remainder of the park or nature reserve.”
When asked how long this commitment would be respected, Coun Courts said that it would be for the duration of the Local Development Plan – which continues until the early 2030s.

Monday, 19 December 2016

School chef from Marston Green scoops top award

TWO COURSE TREAT: Jose Davies
Kochakkadan with his winning meal
THERE’S no sign of lumpy custard or limp lettuce leaves at one local school...
And it helps that the man designing the menu at Marston Green Infant Academy has just won the title of West Midlands School Chef of the Year.
Jose Davies Kochakkadan had to call on all his culinary skills to triumph against two other school cooks in a fiercely-contested final.
With just £1.30 to spend on their two-course menu, the three finalists had 90 minutes to rustle up a main course and dessert which were both tasty and nutritious.
Jose impressed the panel of chefs and catering professionals with an Indian-inspired main, which he followed with mango frangipane.
He now goes on to face nine other kitchen wizards in the national final, which will take place at Stratford-Upon-Avon College on March 2 next year.
Should he triumph he will take the title as the UK’s undisputed School Chef of the Year.
Jose said: “Looking forward for the national final, I will definitely put my heart and soul into competing against the other finalists to achieve one of my goals.”
Councillor Ken Meeson, Solihull Council’s cabinet member for children, education and skills, said: “Solihull’s Catering Service has a strong track record of providing high quality meals for children in Solihull and further afield, so we are very proud to have one of our team members shortlisted for this prestigious industry award.”
Organised by the Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA), the annual contest aims to prove that school meals now are a far cry from those that the parents of today’s pupils may remember.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Parking ban to take effect outside Marston Green school

TOUGH new parking restrictions are to be introduced at Marston Green Infant Academy in response to concerns about congestion during the school run.
The “traffic exclusion zone”, which will come into force next September, aims to address problems caused by parents picking up and dropping off pupils.
As part of proposals, which will also include a 20mph speed limit, vehicles are expected to be banned between 8am-9am and 2.30pm- 3.30pm every weekday.
Only those with special permits, such as local residents and the disabled, will be exempt.
Solihull Council has admitted that previous campaigns to deter mums and dads from clogging up surrounding streets had often fallen on deaf ears.
They have now drawn up plans for the new pilot scheme, which will be trialled at Marston Green and two other schools (Oak Cottage Primary, near Olton, and Haslucks Green School, in Shirley). Depending on the success of the scheme at these three sites, similar restrictions could be put in place at other schools around the borough.
The plans were approved by Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, who has spoken in the past about the deluge of complaints the council receives about driveways being blocked and cars churning up grass verges.
Paul Tovey, the council’s head of highway services, said: “We started this process off following a successful trial in Edinburgh [in response to] a similar type of problem.
“School gate parking has been on the agenda for a number of years now and we have been trying to make inroads into changing people’s behaviour.
“It’s worth pointing out that this tool is only suitable in certain locations, you can’t put it outside every school.”
A total of 11 schools registered an interest in taking part in the pilot and interestingly six of them were in North Solihull (Marston Green Infants, Castle Bromwich Juniors, Yorkswood Primary, Smith’s Wood Primary, Fordbridge Primary and Smith’s Wood Sports College).
Marston Green was chosen as one of the most suitable sites because of the local road layout and the fact that 60 per cent of children lived within a mile.
Councillor Stephen Holt (Green, Smith’s Wood) said he was “very pleased” that the scheme had been brought forward but asked what would be done to consult local residents.
“I think this is rather different from what most people are used to,” he said.
• What do you think? Leave us a comment on Facebook or email theothersideofsolihull@gmail.com

Saturday, 17 December 2016

New edition of Other Side of Solihull is out now.


THE latest edition of Other Side of Solihull's digital newspaper is now available on Issuu.
Don't forget to send us your stories for the next issue.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Mayor of Solihull's Christmas message

Christmas already, it can’t possibly be - I’m only just getting over the last one!  Ring any bells?  I think it’s fair to say we’ve all thought that at one time or another.  I’ve noticed as I get older, time like sand slips through your fingers so easily, one moment it’s there and then it’s gone.
When you think about it, time is a strange concept, we have loads of it, it’s free but there’s never enough.  Not that modern living helps, the internet, emails, Twitter and Facebook all compete for our attention.  So now I have less time rather than more!
As Christmas is a season of reflection and a time to reevaluate what’s really important I think this year I'm not going to text or email those that mean so much to me. I am going to, at the very least, give them a call or better still, go and see them. Because that’s the real value of Christmas, making the time to share with others.
It’s been seven months since Jenny and I became Mayor and Mayoress of Solihull and it’s been a roller coaster of a journey from the very first day.  I’ve always believed we live in an extraordinary place and becoming Mayor has simply confirmed that as a fact.
People make places extraordinary and it’s people that make great communities.  Solihull is blessed; we have some really great communities spread across the borough.  I am truly honoured to be your Mayor - thank you Silhillians.  We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Councillor Mike Robinson
Mayor of Solihull 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Knitted Christmas tree unveiled in Marston Green.

TOWERING ACHIEVEMENT:
The St Leonard's knitted tree
TWELVE months of work have gone into the hand-knitted Christmas tree which has taken pride of place at St Leonard's Church, in Marston Green.
The 23ft tree itself and the hundreds of decorations adorning its branches are all made from wool.
The Knit, Stitch and Natter group - which meet at the village library - and members of the local community had helped create the formidable "fir".
A total of 248 hand-knitted decorations were collected from the library a few weeks ago.
A church spokesman said: "So much time, effort and wool have been put in and it's a sight to see.
"We are opening the church next Saturday for anyone to drop by and admire the decorations! A big thank you to everyone involved."
A photo of the tree (right) was posted earlier this week and has attracted a lot of positive comments on social media.
Gemma Sale wrote on Facebook: "I will definitely be coming next week to see what my Gramps has been busy helping with!"
The project follows the success of a "knitted nativity" two years ago, for which child-sized woollen characters were created by members of the congregation and installed in a traditional stable scene.
The tree will be on show on Saturday (December 17) between 1.00-4.00pm.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Bus services diverted

SOME of the main bus routes through North Solihull are being diverted this week due to resurfacing works out towards Spitfire Island.
The No 71 and the No 966, which run through the north of the borough, will be affected early in the morning and during the evening while the work on Newport Road is completed.
Buses will be diverted around the back of Castle Bromwich after 7pm and some morning services will also be affected, as the overnight roadworks will not finish until 6am.
The resurfacing work is due to be completed on Friday (December 16).

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Chelmsley Wood councillor criticises plan for new grammars.

GRAMMAR PLAN: Theresa May
A CHELMSLEY Wood councillor has said that government plans to increase the number of grammar schools could lead to a greater divide in standards of education locally.
Coun James Burn (Green) said this week that he had concerns about Theresa May's much-publicised policy to allow the first new grammars to open for 50 years.
Urging Solihull Council to oppose the proposals, Coun Burn said there was clear evidence that the changes would be bad news for an already "polarised" borough.
Addressing Full Council on Tuesday, he said: "Grammar schools have, yes, worked for one or two people and we all know anecdotes of people who will say 'well I went to a grammar school, it worked fine for me'.
"But we have to rely as councillors on evidence not just anecdotes. On balance, a grammar school benefits children from advantaged backgrounds far more than it benefits children from disadvantaged backgrounds."
Coun Alison Rolf (Con, Bickenhill) said her son had gone to a grammar school outside the borough after passing his eleven plus and was "thriving".
She said: "I'm sorry but I can't support the motion because as a parent I want to have a choice. I want to make the best choice for my child."
Coun Burn's motion was ultimately defeated when put to the vote.

Grammar dilemma:
Grammars select children on the basis of academic ability and were once a key part of Britain's education system. In the mid 1960s, reforms by the then Labour government started a process which saw many grammars either convert to comprehensives or become independent schools. Today there are fewer than 200 state grammars remaining nationwide. Solihull, in common with many councils around the country, has none remaining.
During the summer, it emerged that the new Prime Minister was drawing up plans which would allow the creation of new grammar schools for the first time in decades. Supporters argue the policy will increase social mobility, while critics suggest it will actually lead to greater inequality.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Bright idea to raise money for popular playground

A "NEON disco" will be taking place at Meriden Park Adventure Playground tomorrow evening (Saturday).
The sponsored event, which will see a group set out with glow sticks for a teatime tour of the surrounding area, has been organised to help raise funds for the popular facility.
People can pick up a sponsorship form from the playground or use their own. There will be free hot chocolate and marshmallows by the campfire for those who complete the route.
The event starts at 5pm and may be a good follow-on to the Christmas Market taking place in the afternoon.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Sessions in Smith's Wood for young jobseekers

COURSES which aims to help local young people into work will be running at the start of next week.
The employability sessions, open to 18-25-year-olds who are currently looking for work, will be held at Elmwood Place, Smith's Wood on Monday and Tuesday (December 12 and 13).
Sessions run from 9.45am-3pm. There will be refreshments and a £20 gift voucher for those who attend.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Santa's sleigh in Marston Green and Chelmsley

A VISIT FROM ST NICHOLAS: The sleigh
routes raise money for various good causes
ROUTES are now available for the Marston Green & District Lions sleigh routes.
Father Christmas will be touring the streets of Marston Green and Chelmsley Wood between December 12-20. The full programme is set out below.

Monday, December 12 (6.30–9pm)
Charlbury Avenue, Lambourne Grove, Hillys Croft, Leyburn Road, Buckden Close, Oxford Grove, Chichester Grove, Wavers Marston, Clarksland Grove

Tuesday, December 13 (6.30-9pm)
Perch Avenue, Grantley Drive, Pendrell Close, Conway Road, Stapleton Drive, Fencote Avenue, Elmore Close, Hadfield Way, Anstey Croft

Wednesday, December 14 (6.30–9pm)
Clopton Crescent, Newby Grove, Tyne Close, Runcorn Close, Tay Croft, Rowan Way, Box Road, Whitebeam Road

Thursday, December 15 (6.30–9pm)
Bluebell Drive, Yorkminster Drive, Lyecroft Avenue, Foxland Close, Waterson Croft, Ryeclose Croft, Hawksworth Road, Drake Croft, Hawksworth Road, Kitegreen Close, Heathgreen Close, Partridge Close

Friday, December 16 (6.30–9pm)
Pike Drive, Bream Close, Graylings Walk, Chilham Drive, Ludlow Close, Wardour Drive, Penrith Grove, Drummond Way, Keepers Gate

Saturday, December 17 (3.00–6.30pm)
Elmdon Lane, Canterbury Drive, Greenway, Newlands Lane, Digby Drive, Elmdon Road, Somerton Drive, Ashfield Lane, Moat House Lane, Wolverton Road, Rotherby Grove, Farndon Avenue, Hidcote Grove, St Leonard’s Close, Land Lane, Hall Drive, Aylesford Drive

Sunday, December 18 (3.00–6,30pm)
Bickenhill Lane, Coleshill Road, Station Road, Chelmsley Lane, Alcott Lane, The Orchard, Holly Lane, Moseley Drive, Martin Rise, Marston Croft, Elm Farm Avenue, Wayside, Bickenhill Road, The Oaklands, Mowe Croft, Brook Croft, Bickenhill Road, Lyndon Croft

Tuesday, December 20 (6.30–9pm)
Shirland Avenue, Ludworth Avenue, Holbrook Grove, Enville Close, Costock Close, Maple Leaf Drive, Byford Way, Harby Close, Radlow Crescent

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Police appeal following cash box robbery in Green Lane

A SECURITY man was injured while doing his rounds in Castle Bromwich on Friday (December 2).
The robbery happened as the G4S driver was leaving the Tesco Express store, in Green Lane, at around 4.45pm.
The offender ran up behind the driver and snatched the cash box from his hand as he approached the vehicle. The driver's shoulder was injured in the incident.
Solihull Police are investigating the incident and today appealed for any information. Call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Christmas Market coming to Meriden Park


A CHRISTMAS Market is to be held at the new community space in Chelmsley Wood's Meriden Park.
The event will be taking place on the site of the former bowling green next Saturday (December 10).
There will be a variety of stalls, festive food, carol singing and a visit from Father Christmas and his elves. The market will be open from 10.30am-3.30pm.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Christmas lights to be turned on in Marston Green


AN ENHANCED display of Christmas lights will be switched-on in Marston Green tomorrow (Thursday).
Bickenhill and Marston Green Parish Council has confirmed that eight more lamp posts have been decorated in the village centre, thanks to sponsorship from around 20 local businesses.
The first phase of a project to create a more impressive display got underway last year, with street lights adorned in the vicinity of the memorial garden.
At the time, councillors said that a sponsorship scheme would probably be the most effective way of finding the funds for additional illuminations.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Police warning as winter takes hold

FAST-acting thieves stole a car in Castle Bromwich this morning, prompting a fresh appeal from police for drivers not to leave the engine running in cold weather.
Overnight temperatures dropped to around -6, with many motorists waking up to find their vehicles had been frozen over.
But the incident in Hodnell Close - in which opportunists drove off with a Mazda - is a stark reminder about the dangers of leaving the keys in the ignition while trying to clear the ice from the windscreen.
The crime was one of three similar incidents that Solihull Police confirmed on social media, with cars also reported stolen in Knowle and Dorridge. In total the thefts amounted to more than £100,000.
A spokesman said: "We are warning car owners it only takes a few seconds for their vehicle to be taken from a driveway or outside their homes.
"Opportunist car thieves watch the weather forecast and we are advising car owners not to nip back inside their home when a car is defrosting. Motorists should stay with their vehicle and use a de-icer spray or scraper to speed up the process."
The cold snap is set to continue over the next few days, with sub-zero temperatures expected again tonight.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Xmas card workshops to start in Smith's Wood


A SERIES of Christmas card workshops will be taking place in Smith's Wood over the next couple of weeks.
The sessions will be held at Auckland Hall on Wednesday (November 30) and December 7 and 14. The events run from 10.30-11.30am and if you have any craft items please bring them along on the day.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Plans to revamp Kingshurst Parade take shape

LONG-awaiting plans to redevelop Kingshurst Parade are due to be debated by Solihull Council next week.
The redevelopment of the ageing shopping precinct was always due to form part of the Regeneration, but the lack of progress has frustrated residents.
Now a report, which sheds some light on the reasons for the delays, has been prepared for the council's cabinet.
Council officers said that the main stumbling block had been coming up with a plan which was commercially viable, admitting that two previous proposals from last year had been abandoned.
Now a fresh scheme has been brought to the table, which would include new shops and medical facilities, a 100 homes and the possible creation of a new "community hub."
The report says that the project could "reinvigorate" an area which the local authority admits has become "run down" and often attracts anti social behaviour.
Discussions are set to continue over the coming months, with a public consultation to take place next year. The council's hope is that a masterplan for the Kingshurst village centre will be in place by the summer.
That said, concerns remain about securing the necessary funding for the development, which is ultimately expected to cost in the region of £15million.
The report comes just a few weeks after a petition was raised calling on the local authority to provide an update.
The document, which was presented by UKIP councillor Debbie Evans (Kingshurst & Fordbridge), said: "We feel we have waited long enough for an explanation to come forward and we as residents feel forgotten by this council."

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Ladies "indulgence evening" in Marston Green

A SPECIAL “pampering” event will be taking place at Marston Green Junior School tomorrow evening (Friday).
The ladies’ evening will include manicures, eyebrow threading and a range of stalls and refreshments.
The event will be taking place from 7-9pm. All welcome.

Delivery driver jailed for sexual assault

A PARCEL man from Castle Bromwich has been jailed for four years after being convicted of sexually assaulting a disabled woman during a delivery.
Wasim Bhar, 24, of Sweetmoor Close, had been sent to deliver a package to the Chelmsley Wood address on January 7.
After handing over the parcel, Bhar had groped his victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The 52-year-old had told the court she had been scared for her life.
Police had later linked the defendant to the scene through DNA evidence, despite his initial protests that the woman was "delusional."
On Monday (November 21), Bhar was convicted of the crime and has been handed a custodial sentence. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
Det Con Katy Roberts said: "I want to reassure the public that these types of sexual crimes are thankfully very rare.
"The fact that Bhar had gained the victim’s trust and used his role as a delivery driver to gain access to her house was very concerning and the crime was treated as very serious. The attack was clearly premeditated and was extremely callous.
"The courage that the victim showed in coming forward was considerable."
A spokesman for the delivery firm Hermes said that Bhar had concealed previous criminal convictions before applying for a job.
"This is an extremely serious incident and whilst we are satisfied that all necessary legal checks are in place, we are undertaking a full review of our service provider application process," they added.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Council plans £400 fine for fly tippers

SICK AND TYRED OF IT: In recent months fly tipping has been reported
behind the Marston Green Tavern and in Lanchester Way, Smith's Wood

SOLIHULL Council is set to impose the highest fines available under new powers designed to deter fly tipping.
Changes to the law, which came into force earlier this year, mean that local authorities can now hand out fixed penalty notices to those who have dumped rubbish.
Under previous rules, the only options open to councils were to give culprits a formal caution or start proceedings to take the individual to court.
Now however, they will be able to issue the fines of between £150 and £400, in a similar fashion to the penalties already handed out for littering and dog fouling.
On Wednesday this week, the cabinet member for stronger communities and partnerships will approve the level of fine which will be issued in the borough and it has been indicated that the heaviest sum available will be imposed on those caught.
Nigel Abbotts, a Solihull Council officer who prepared a report on the options available, said: "Fly tipping is a serious environmental crime, impacting on our local and wider communities and environment.
"Therefore, it is believed that the highest level fine of £400 is an appropriate and sufficient penalty to make it clear that an offence has been committed and also to act as a deterrent against further offending."
The penalty notice will be reduced to £300 for those who pay within ten working days.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Return of Christmas hamper appeal for elderly residents

SPIRIT OF GIVING: There was an extraordinary response to last year's
appeal, which was widely shared on social media sites.

A CHRISTMAS hamper appeal will once again be running in North Solihull following the tremendous success of the initiative last year.
Thanks to the generosity of local people, a total of 315 hampers were delivered to elderly people in 2015.
Organisers from Solihull Council's Neighbourhood Services team are hoping that there will be a similar response this year and will be working closely with local primary schools, including Coleshill Heath.
Residents can also contribute by taking a hamper to the collection point which has been set up at the Onward Club, in Helmswood Drive. There is also a similar drop-off at Olton Library, for those who live south of the A45.
People are asked to decorate a small box, fill it with food and include a Christmas card. The best items to include are those with a decent shelf-life, such as soups, tinned vegetables and chocolate.
If you would like to donate a hamper, you have until December 10.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Santa set on his way with help from local cab company

SANTA'S LITTLE HELPERS: Simon Moss and fellow Lions
receive the donation from John Kington of TC Cars
SANTA has struck a deal with a local taxi firm to complete his rounds in North Solihull.
Marston Green & District Lions announced this week that their partnership with TC Cars will be renewed for the third year running, with the private hire company once again lending a cab for the traditional sleigh routes.
As well as loaning the Lions the vehicle, the firm has made a £500 donation for the good causes that the annual tour of local roads supports.
Simon Moss, president of the branch, said: "The generosity of local people and businesses never ceases to amaze me. The vehicle alone is essential for our Christmas activities and will help us raise around £3,000.
"The donation from TC Cars is the icing, and the marzipan, on the cake and we cannot thank them enough."
The sleigh will be travelling the streets of Marston Green and Chelmsley Wood from December 12-20. Full details of the timetable will be posted next month.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Festive fair in Marston Green


A CHRISTMAS Craft & Gift Fair will be taking place in Marston Green tomorrow (Saturday.)
The event, at St Leonard's Church, will have a variety of stalls for visitors in hunt of a gift or two.
There will also be festive songs, a raffle and Santa's grotto between 10am-2pm.
Admission is £1 for adults, children get in free.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Police appeal as part of Kingshurst murder inquiry

WANTED: Jammal Chase
POLICE have appealed for help in tracing a key suspect, who is wanted in connection with a fatal stabbing in Kingshurst last month.
Giovanni Lewis, 28, had suffered a knife wound to the chest in the vicinity of Hadfield Way on October 18.
Today police appealed for information about the whereabouts of 19-year-old Jammal Chase, who they want to speak to in connection with the incident.
Jammal is originally from Birmingham but currently has no fixed address.
Members of the public are urged not to approach the teenager but to dial 999 immediately if they see him.
Det Insp Paul Joyce, from Force CID, said: "I also want to appeal to Jammal directly. Do the right thing and come forward to tell your side of the story."
Police can be contacted on 101 or alternatively call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Young people co-ordinate Chelmsley Wood photography project


A PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition which puts local residents in the frame will be taking place at Bosworth Community Centre this Saturday (November 19).
The Humans of Chelmsley Wood event has been co-ordinated by young people and draws inspiration from a similar project which previous won acclaim in New York.
The exhibition will be open from 12noon-2.30pm. Food and drink will be served on the day.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Plans for Smith's Wood Medical Centre to go on show

NEW PREMISES: The creation of purpose-built medical centres has been
a key part of the North Solihull Regeneration.

PLANS for a new medical centre in Smith's Wood will be available to view at a consultation event tomorrow (Thursday).
The drop-in session will give residents the opportunity to discuss proposals to build a new premises which will house both Green Lane Surgery and the existing Arran Medical Centre.
The consultation will be held at Smith's Wood Primary Academy, in Burtons Way, between 2-6pm.
Feedback from the session will be used to shape the plans submitted to Solihull Council.
Information will also be made available to view online, with locals having until November 24 to comment.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

MP for Chelmsley Wood? Examining plans to change your local constituency

MAPPED OUT: The proposed boundaries
of Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North
IF a new set of plans is pushed through, there could be an MP for Chelmsley Wood sitting in Parliament in a few years’ time.
Or, to be more precise, an MP for Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North – the full name of the new constituency which was first revealed last month.
The change is part of a nationwide shake-up of electoral boundaries, set to take effect in time for the next General Election (currently scheduled for 2020.)
Locally it could potentially mean a new MP from a new party representing a very different area. Other Side of Solihull looks at some of the main issues surrounding the change.

1. New boundaries: Meriden - the seat that North Solihull is currently part of - is the largest (geographically speaking) in the West Midlands.
Its size makes it incredibly diverse, from the council estates of the north to the great acres of farmland and small villages to the south.
The new seat is a lot more compact and will be dominated by urban areas. As the new name suggests, North Solihull would be very much the centre of the constituency, rather than on the margins.
The north of the borough would be grouped with Elmdon and Lyndon, two suburbs on the other side of the Coventry Road, and the Sheldon district of Birmingham.
A few remaining rural communities, including Barston and Hampton-in-Arden (right), would also be part of the seat.

2. New name: Some residents have made the point that Chelmsley Wood is in fact part of North Solihull, so a new name including both could be confusing.
With locals having a chance to give their opinion on the proposals, there’s a chance that the name may change before the plans are finalised.

3. New parties: Meriden has been held by the Conservatives since the 1970s and, with a good number of prosperous neighbourhoods, it is considered one of the party’s “safe seats”.
Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North would be a far harder seat for the Tories to win, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that Labour would ease to power.
If anything the area would be a real political chameleon - as it stands, the eight wards which would make up the constituency have councillors from five different parties.
The Lib Dems, who have lately stopped fielding candidates in the north of the borough, nonetheless command significant support in areas including Sheldon and Elmdon. UKIP - who are growing support in traditional working class areas - and the Greens, the dominant force in North Solihull, complete the colourful political map.

4. New MP?: Caroline Spelman has been the MP for Meriden since 1997 and has increased her majority over the course of almost 20 years. The new boundaries, however, would leave her with something of a dilemma.
Five of the nine wards from her current seat will be part of Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North, but the majority of areas where she enjoys the greatest backing are set to be moved elsewhere - where she is likely to face a tougher fight to be named the Tory candidate.
Mrs Spelman has raised a number of concerns about the new look boundaries, including the fact that constituencies can now include areas from more than one council area.
She said: "The splitting of constituencies across local authority boundaries; such as Hampton-in-Arden in the new Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North constituency, and Balsall Common in Meriden and Coventry West, are ill-conceived and will cause significant problems of administration by flying in the face of historic local ties."
She also believes that the new arrangements will undermine work to unite Solihull borough, going so far as to set up a petition against the proposals.

5. New voters: The Government’s main argument for the boundary changes is that it will mean that almost every constituency has a similar number of voters.
Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North (77,400) would have a slightly smaller electorate than Meriden (around 83,400). Interestingly, the most densely populated part of the new seat would be Sheldon, where more than 15,000 people are eligible to vote.

6. New neighbours: There would also be various changes to the nearby constituencies. Solihull would be rebranded Shirley and Solihull South and would retain many of the same neighbourhoods, although it would also encompass some of the leafier parts of Meriden as well as Tanworth-in-Arden, in Warwickshire. Other areas of Meriden, including Knowle and Balsall Common, would be bound up with the western parts of Coventry.

You can have your say on the proposals at the Boundary Commission website.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Supermoon over North Solihull


CLOUDS parted earlier this evening to give amateur astronomers in North Solihull the chance to see the most impressive "supermoon" for 70 years.
The Earth's satellite has made its closest approach since 1948 and will appear seven per cent larger and 15 per cent brighter than usual - although the difference will be difficult to detect with the naked eye.
The moon - which was a mere 221,524 miles (356,509km) from Earth earlier today - won't be this close again for another 18 years.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Lost tooth links man to Castle Bromwich burglary

A BURGLAR who bit a man's hand during a break-in has been jailed, after one of his teeth broke off and was used by police to link him to the crime
Lee Francis, 39, had been rummaging around the house, in Manor Park Road, Castle Bromwich, when the owner returned.
The 66-year-old had bravely tackled the burglar, who had bitten the pensioner so hard that he had fractured the man's finger.
The two men ended up grappling on the kitchen floor, with the homeowner's mother striking the defendant with a walking stick. The 93-year-old was also assaulted in the struggle.
Eventually Francis (pictured, right) broke free and fled with property worth around £2,000.
On July 18 this year, almost two months after the burglary, the victims were baffled when they found a tooth in their washing machine.
The incisor - which had been dislodged in the scuffle and is thought to have fallen into an upended washing basket - was handed to detectives who carried out tests and found a DNA match with Francis.
He was arrested and later charged with burglary, assault and drugs production, after a small cannabis factory was uncovered in the loft of his home in Timberley Lane, Shard End.
Appearing at Birmingham Crown Court earlier this month, the defendant admitted the offences and was jailed for six years and four months.
DCI Anthony Tagg, from Solihull Police, said that the tooth had been the key piece of evidence which had enabled officers to put the burglar behind bars.
"It [had] stayed undetected for several weeks until the residents heard it rattling around in the washing machine. Initially it was unclear if it was a human or animal tooth…but when it was ground down and analysed by forensics it identified Francis as the former owner.
"This was a really nasty incident: the man described hearing a crunch when Francis bit his finger and suffered a fracture and tendon damage."

American football team launched in Chelmsley Wood

AIMING FOR GREATNESS: The Arrows were previously a Redditch-based
team which disbanded in 2009. Ex-players have decided to revive the name.

HOPES are high that a sport may gain a new audience locally with the launch of a team based in Chelmsley Wood.
The Arrows - an American football team - is inviting over 18s to take part in taster sessions in the weeks ahead.
The sport is thought to have been introduced to this country by US soldiers stationed here decades ago and there is a national governing body for the British contingent.
While a number of new teams have been set up in the past few years, the game has yet to gain the popularity among spectators enjoyed by home-grown team sports such as football and rugby.
Ian Hill, the Arrows' head coach, hopes that the emergence of a new side will enthuse people locally.
Training sessions will be taking place at North Solihull Sports Centre today (November 13), November 27 and December 11. Registration from 10.45am.
Pre-season training will begin in the new year.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

North Solihull to remember the fallen


LOCAL people will be paying their respects to those who gave their lives in various conflicts at tomorrow's Remembrance Sunday services.
In Castle Bromwich, members of the community will parade from Old Croft Lane to the Village Green's memorial, where the traditional service will be held.
Ex-servicemen, parish councillors and members of the Royal British Legion will be among those taking part in the procession.
Crowds will also fall silent in Marston Green, where commemorations will start with a short service at St Leonard's Church (at 10am.) The parade will then travel to the Memory Garden for the silence at the stroke of 11.
Wreaths will also be laid in a ceremony in Chelmsley Wood.
Mayor of Solihull, Coun Mike Robinson, said: "The Battle of the Somme drew to a close on November 18 1916; this was one of the bloodiest battles fought during the First World War. 
"British casualties alone amounted to over 240,000 including the 127 local men who died; a devastating loss to families in Solihull and throughout Britain.  
"It seems fitting that this year we should commemorate the ending of this terrible slaughter."

Friday, 11 November 2016

Smith's Wood man charged with child sex offences

A NURSERY worker from North Solihull has appeared in court charged with a number of child sex offences.
Jamie Chapman, 28, of Tamar Drive, Smith's Wood, was arrested earlier this week and remanded in custody by Birmingham Magistrates today (Friday).
He has been accused of four counts of causing/inciting a boy aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity, two counts of causing/inciting the sexual exploitation of a child aged 13 to 17, and the rape of a boy aged 13 to 15.
He also faces charges relating to taking, making and distributing indecent photos/pseudo photos of a child.
Following a search of a property earlier this week, police have seized a number of pieces of computer equipment.
Officers are also liaising with the nursery where Chapman is employed, as well as previous places of work. Detectives stressed that at this stage of their inquiry there is no evidence to suggest any inappropriate contact between the worker and children at the nursery.
The case was adjourned to Birmingham Crown Court on December 9.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Local projects receive share of £15k community fund

TOP OF THE CROPS: Pizza and Potatoes was
one of 11 projects to receive funding
ELEVEN projects in North Solihull will share a £15,000 community fund.
The new owners of Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre had invited applications for grants from local community groups and received almost 40 bids.
The winners, announced last month, are: Let's Decorate Chelmsley Wood, Moor Involved, BeSeen BeHeard BeCreative, The Wellbeing Community Choir, The Charitable Guitar Workshop, SOH Young Rangers, Three Trees Community Centre, Pizza and Potatoes, Recovery Garden Restoration, Children's Clothing Scheme, and Northern Star Community Arts.
The judging panel had a very difficult task whittling down the shortlist, having heard pitches from the people behind each venture.
Neil Griffin, the centre manager, said: "We hope that in the coming months many of these groups will take the opportunity to put on modest displays and presentations at the Chelmsley Wood Centre so all our shoppers can share the positive way they are helping shape our society."
If you would like more information about the beneficiaries click here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

CCTV appeal after safe stolen in Castle Bromwich


POLICE are appealing for information after burglars stole a safe containing thousands of pounds from a house in Castle Bromwich.
The culprits climbed onto a flat roof and smashed an upstairs window during the break-in in Lyndon Close last Wednesday (November 2).
The safe was ripped out of a wardrobe and carried out of the property at some point between 5pm and 7.40pm.
CCTV cameras at a neighbouring address captured two men, thought to be the suspects, walking down the road. Some 45 minutes later they passed again wheeling a suitcase.
Solihull Police are pursuing several lines of enquiry but have now released CCTV footage and are appealing for the public’s help to trace those caught on film.
Officers are also keen to speak to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area at the time.
Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Ian Akehurst.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Marston Green scheme could open the flood gates to green belt development

RESIDENTS in Marston Green have warned that the decision to grant planning permission for an expansion of Birmingham Business Park sets “a dangerous precedent” for building on green belt land.
Last month, Solihull Council granted outline approval to erect up to three new buildings on a field adjacent to Blackfirs Lane – a little over 100 metres away from some residents’ homes.
Clive Hill, a member of Bickenhill and Marston Green Parish Council, argued the scheme rode roughshod over the terms agreed when the business park was first built in the 1980s.
Locals were also concerned about increased noise and disturbance.
Coun Alison Rolf (Con, Bickenhill) said: “This is high quality green belt land which forms a buffer between the business area and the residential area.
“[Solihull Council] has already allowed expansion which has eroded that buffer and this application seeks to erode it even more. Simple question – why does the green area have to be reduced to allow for the size of the buildings? Why can’t the building size be changed instead?”
The developers argued that the expansion would deliver significant economic benefits and could create up to 2,000 jobs locally.

Woman carjacked at Castle Bromwich supermarket

A WOMAN was robbed in a supermarket car park in Castle Bromwich yesterday (Monday) evening.
The 63-year-old was sat in her Vauxhall Astra outside the Morrisons store when a man opened the door, climbed into the passenger seat and urged her to give him a lift down the road.
She refused but he continued to demand that she drive away, claiming that there were people after him who would stab him.
Eventually he ordered the victim out of the vehicle, snatching the keys and driving away from the scene.
The woman, who was badly shaken but otherwise unhurt, had run to the nearby petrol station to raise the alarm. The incident happened at around 6.25pm.
The suspect is described as a white man, aged 30-35. He was wearing dark clothing and a pale-coloured beanie hat.
The vehicle, which is deep sky blue and had a distinctive nodding dog on the dashboard (pictured), is still missing.
If you have any information please call Solihull Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Only one in ten of the borough's takeaways are in North Solihull

ARE the takeaways taking over North Solihull? Not if a recent study is to be believed.
A new report, published by Public Health England (PHE), has revealed that while there are 114 fast food outlets across the borough, only a dozen of these are located in the three “regeneration” wards (Chelmsley Wood, Smith’s Wood and Kingshurst & Fordbridge).
Castle Bromwich has a higher concentration of takeaways, with nine scattered across the suburb – although this is still rather fewer than the number doing business in certain wards south of the A45.
The study would seem to suggest that the national trend of food outlets targeting more deprived areas for custom does not hold true in Solihull.
In fact, the figures show that you are far more likely to find Chinese restaurants and Indian eateries in areas such as Shirley.
Although experts may argue that the number of businesses is less important than how often locals are eating at these premises and research has consistently shown that encouraging healthy eating is a challenge in North Solihull.
In all three regeneration wards, fewer than one in five adults eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Dr Lola Abudu, director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE West Midlands, said: “Having fish and chips or a curry is part of Britain’s culture, however over a fifth of adults and children eat takeaway meals at home more than once a week, which is contributing to the nation’s obesity epidemic.
“Some local authorities are already trying to limit new takeaways, particularly around schools and we understand a number of councils in the West Midlands region are looking to do this, in order to discourage children from swapping their healthy school dinners for fast food.”
Such an approach has been discussed by a number of Solihull councillors and last summer there was a petition raised against plans to open a new fish and chip shop in Hurst Lane.
The ultimately unsuccessful campaign was, ironically enough, spearheaded by an existing chippie which argued that a glut of similar shops opening their doors would be bad for business

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Chelmsley Wood residents frustrated by "long-running saga"


A RESIDENT has made an impassioned case for Solihull Council to scrap plans to pull down a set of bungalows in Chelmsley Wood, which he claimed would “destroy” a close-knit community.
Peter Wilson has questioned the logic of bulldozing the single-storey homes in Lambeth Close, given that they are still structurally sound.
The homes in question have been at the centre of a long-running dispute, ever since it became apparent a few years ago that the council was considering demolishing the buildings as part of its Local Development Plan.
Up to 14 dwellings and the nearby Centurion pub would be affected by the proposals.
Mr Wilson, who has lived in the area since it was built in 1970, said that the residents had endured “a very long period of uncertainty.”
“They are now a little bit upset and annoyed that this saga is dragging on and on, year after year,” he told last month’s Full Council meeting.
“A forced move for the bungalow residents, many of whom are elderly and infirm, and have been in their houses for a very long time, would be traumatic.”
Councillor Ian Courts, the Deputy Leader of the Council, said the development was being considered as part of the wider Regeneration programme.
He insisted that “extensive consultation” to discuss residents’ personal needs and wishes would take place before any final decision is taken.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Marston Green mum supports a charity close to her heart

RUNNING PARTNERS: Katerina Pegg, with her
daughter Daisy and mum Susan.
A MARSTON Green mum – whose little girl has been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder – recently ran a half-marathon in aid of the charity which has given her so much support.
Katerina Pegg, aged 29, was devastated to be told that her baby daughter Daisy had alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency – a condition which affects sufferers’ liver and lungs.
Daisy had been diagnosed when she was just a few weeks old after the family noticed that she was suffering from jaundice and was failing to gain weight.
A series of tests confirmed that the youngster had the condition – which is thought to affect just one in every 1,500 people.
Katerina, who works as a nurse, was put in touch with the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF), who were able to offer much-needed advice.
“Alpha-1 is rare... I had never heard of it, so we were so grateful to CLDF who were there with vital information which explained everything clearly to us and emotional support for us when we needed it most,” she said.
“Daisy responded to treatment and is currently doing well but her condition is a lifelong one and we want to ensure that CLDF will be there for her as she grows up.”
Katerina and her mum Susan decided to pull on their running shoes and tackle the Great Birmingham Run last month, hoping to raise £200.
Alison Taylor, the CLDF’s chief executive, said the organisation relied entirely on donations and the charity was “very grateful” that two generations of the same family had decided to take up the challenge.
The fundraising page can be found here.

Council readies for winter as colder weather sets in

WINTER WEATHER: Conditions in 2009/10 caught many councils off guard
and led to a renewed emphasis on planning for frequent snowfall.

SOLIHULL’S highways team is confident that it has made all the necessary preparations to keep the roads moving in the event of a bad winter.
Last year, the borough council had little to contend with; the weather throughout the traditional “gritting months” was milder and wetter than usual.
While this led to flooding in some areas – and a slight increase in the number of potholes – there was little by way of ice and snow.
Councillor Ted Richards, the cabinet member for transport and highways, said there was no reason for complacency – 4,500 tonnes of gritting salt has been stockpiled in readiness for this winter.
“We’re well geared up,” he said. “Let’s hope we don’t get a severe weather but if we do, it looks like we can cope with it.”
Councillor Stephen Holt (Green, Smith’s Wood) had questioned if the comparatively mild conditions in 2015/16 – when only 25 gritting runs took place – had saved the council any money.
He was informed, however, that gritting is “a fixed cost” service and the only saving would have been on the salt used.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Chelmsley Wood fireworks display supports charities


ORGANISERS are making the final preparations for Chelmsley Wood’s biggest fireworks display.
This year the event will take place on Bonfire Night itself (Saturday, November 5) at the playing fields behind the Town Council offices (near the junction of Helmswood Drive and Berwicks Lane.)
There will be a burger bar and children's rides and organisers will be raising money for Marie Curie and Birmingham Children's Hospital.
Gates open at 6pm, with the display scheduled to start at 7pm.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Grace Academy student wins Solihull Education Award

TOP OF THE CLASS: Chloe Sutton, far right, joins other pupils and teachers
at the Education Awards, hosted by the Mayor of Solihull, Mike Robinson

A STAR pupil at the Grace Academy has been recognised at the annual Education Awards, which are organised to honour hard-working students around the borough.
Chloe Sutton was among six students singled out for praise, receiving the award for “Outstanding English Student.”
The teenager was presented with her prize in a ceremony at Solihull’s Civic Suite last month.
Chloe, who received four A*s in her GCSEs, has recently started her A Levels and has hopes of becoming a university professor.
English teacher Rachel Winn said: “I have never before taught a student with such natural flair for my subject and it is truly a pleasure to sit back and read her work.”
The award winners were picked following a rigorous judging process.
Councillor Ken Meeson, cabinet member for children, education and skills, said: “The judging panel were hugely impressed with the number of outstanding nominations and the winners can take great pride in being chosen from such a strong field.”

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Council vote paves the way for unpopular Babbs Mill development


AN appeal last month for Solihull Council to reconsider proposals to allow housing to be built on part of Babbs Mill Local Nature Reserve fell on deaf ears.
Eighty-eight objections were submitted to the local authority, urging councillors to rethink the plans – which have proven deeply controversial.
The council’s planning committee had already granted planning permission to build 52 houses on the green space but had yet to give the go ahead to strip a section of land of the nature reserve status – which needed to take place before building work could begin.
Despite the local opposition, the step was taken at a cabinet meeting on October 6, removing the final obstacle to the development.
Sarah Evans, who chairs the campaign group Action for Babbs Mill, said that activists were “gutted” to lose the latest battle.
“We [will] hold the developer to account making sure that they adhere to every promise and planning condition,” she said.
“Our group will now be moving forward to ensure that the remainder of the park is maintained to the high standard that it deserves.”
A report presented to councillors said that residents’ main objections included the loss of an important wildlife habitat, overcrowding and the general quality of the council’s consultation process.
It had previously been pointed out that advertising the intention to remove the nature reserve status in local newspapers was a futile gesture, since neither of Solihull’s weekly titles are delivered in the north of the borough.
Councillors ultimately agreed to press ahead with the “dedeclaration”, having concluded that the need for more housing outweighed the issues raised by locals.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Halloween bike rally causes chaos on North Solihull streets

SEIZED: Police have confiscated ten bikes, some of which were brought to
a stop using "stinger" devices.

UP to 100 bikers attacked a police van in Chelmsley Wood last night, after a mass rally descended into violence.
The motorcyclists had surrounded the vehicle in Yorkminster Drive, kicking at wing mirrors and attempting to smash the windows.
The gang, many of them masked, had only sped away after back-up had arrived at the scene.
Residents on the estate reported dozens of riders gathering on local streets around 9pm, with one eyewitness describing how the crowds brought nearby Moorend Avenue to "a standstill." Another likened the scenes to "like something from a Mad Max film."
There were also reports of the bikers racing through Marston Green, Castle Bromwich and other neighbouring areas.
One resident, reacting on Facebook, said: "What a stupid night to be out riding like idiots when there's little kids 'trick or treating' in the dark with dark clothing on. Just mindless."
The incidents were part of an event which had been advertised on social media as a "Halloween Ride Out" and involved hundreds of motorcyclists tearing along busy roads and through residential areas.
Police said the group had caused chaos around Birmingham and Solihull, jumping red lights, weaving in and out of traffic and performing dangerous stunts. There were even reports of bikers throwing fireworks at other motorists.
Five men and two male youths have been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, causing a public nuisance and motoring offences.
Chief Insp Jack Hadley, from West Midlands Police, described the behaviour as "loutish and criminal".
"Bikers were riding without lights, at speed, dangerously, pulling wheelies in the street, mounting pavements and damaging vehicles," he said.
"This kind of ‘event’ is outrageous and totally unacceptable and I sympathise with any members of the public that were inconvenienced by the bikers."
The rally was the latest in a series of incidents involving off-road bikes and motorcycles and comes only a matter of weeks after Solihull Council obtained an injunction which imposed a borough-wide ban on street  racing.
Some locals have accused the authorities of not doing more to intervene, but Chief Insp Hadley said that such incidents pose considerable challenges for officers on the ground.
"It is very difficult to plan for outbursts like this... we saw small groups of bikers speeding off in all directions. It is very hard for officers to try and contain that activity."