Monday, 29 February 2016

Man arrested in Chelmsley following public appeal

A YOUNG man has been arrested in connection with a series of alleged sex offences in Chelmsley Wood.
Police confirmed that the 28-year-old had been detained in the Dunster Road area early this morning and was continuing to be questioned by officers.
The force said that the arrest came as a direct result of information received from a public appeal earlier this month.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Decision on Babbs Mill housing plan due next week

WILDLIFE CORRIDOR: Otters are among the species that
have been recorded in the Cole Valley.

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new housing development at Babbs Mill have been recommended for approval.
Solihull Council's planning committee is expected to decide on Wednesday (March 2) whether to grant planning permission for the 52-house scheme, which has been at the centre of a long-running dispute.
More than 1,800 residents have signed a petition against the proposals and the parish councils at both Kingshurst and Fordbridge have urged the committee to throw out the application.
Undoubtedly the most unpopular element of the scheme is that it will lead to the loss of almost a quarter of Babbs Mill Local Nature Reserve, a well-known wildlife habitat.
Other fears raised by local people include an increase in traffic along Cooks Lane and the fact that none of the dwellings which form part of the development qualify as affordable housing.
Action for Babbs Mill, the campaign group which has protested against the plans, has made a passionate case for councillors to dismiss the project.
In a report released this week, the council argues that the loss of part of the nature reserve could be offset by making improvements to the remainder of the site.
The developers would be required to contribute around £116,000 towards the package, which would include new seating, tree planting and the creation of meadow areas.
The officer who has compiled the document concludes that the improvements would "mitigate for the loss" of land.
The decision-making session - which is open to the public - will be held at Solihull Civic Suite, starting at 6pm.
A separate application to build 24 homes on Windward Way Industrial Estate, Smith's Wood, is expected to be heard the same evening.

  • Other Side of Solihull will be live-tweeting during the meeting @North_Solihull and will publish the outcome on Wednesday.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Cafe for dementia carers coming to North Solihull

FORTNIGHTLY sessions to provide support for those who care for someone with dementia will be taking place in Chelmsley Wood from next month.
Cafe Tempo will be held at the Three Trees Centre every other week, starting on Monday, March 14 (1-4pm).
At present, there are thought to be almost 3,000 people with Alzheimer's and associated conditions living in Solihull and many of these will be looked after by a loved one.
The sessions offer the chance for carers to unwind for a few hours and meet people in a similar situation to them.
There will also be meetings at Kingshurst Art Space on the second and fourth Thursday of the month, with a start date to be confirmed.
Mayor of Solihull, Coun Glenis Slater, has welcomed the initiative, having this week attended the launch of another session in Hobs Moat.
"It can be an immensely difficult job to provide care for a loved one who is living with dementia," she said.
"Carers often find themselves alone coping with a difficult situation and opportunities like this can make a real difference. It gives much-needed advice and support to carers and helps them to manage their own lives as well."
For more information about the Cafe Tempo meetings call Christine Logan on 07720880109 or email

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Former footballing pro inspires Chelmsley Wood students

Students Decharne Shaw and Rosie Allen with PE
teacher Carl Davies and Christian Roberts
A FORMER professional footballer has given some sporting tips to students at the Grace Academy.
Christian Roberts, who made his debut for Cardiff City at just 17-years-old, dropped in at the Chelmsley Wood school to put a group of Year 9 students through their paces.
During the session - which was run in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust - the retired winger explained that hard work and a determination to succeed were useful qualities both on and off the pitch.
Christian, who also played for clubs including Bristol City and Swindon Town, said: "Young people have to make a decision to focus.
"If you look at my history as a person, I’ve achieved my dream but I have battled injuries and illness on and off the pitch and also lost my parents.  I’ve learned that the mental toughness and discipline you learn on the pitch can be applied to life.
"You need a tough mental attitude and the ability to work in a team.  It’s not all about your personal achievement but about the support behind you from a whole team of people.  This is important to realise whether you are at work, in your family or at school, you are still part of a team."
Rosie Allen, one of the students who took part in the training session, said: "It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I thought he was a great coach. I would love to do this again sometime."

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Looking to the future of Solihull's libraries

MEMBERS of the public will be asked about the future shape of library services in Solihull this spring.
In recent years, the borough council has grappled with the question of how best to equip its libraries for the digital age.
Emphasis has been placed on transforming the three “flagship” centres – of which Chelmsley Wood is one – into multi-purpose community hubs.
Arguably a greater challenge has been presented by the smaller branch libraries, where visitor numbers have dwindled and opening hours reduced as part of successive cost-cutting initiatives.
In response the council has sought to devise new operating models and a report published last month confirmed that a wide-reaching consultation is scheduled to take place in the spring.
During this process, library users will be asked what they think the priorities should be.
Depending on their responses, options to have libraries open for longer in the evenings and on Sundays may be considered.
The council has also hailed the success of a partnership which allowed Marston Green Library to open for longer and it is likely the authority will look to forge more deals with community groups and charities.
Other attempts to reach new deals have been less successful however, a project that would have seen Castle Bromwich Library join forces with Age UK fell through due to funding problems.
Another option to prevent hours being cut still further is to take on a greater number of unpaid volunteers and this is something that the council is currently examining.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Marston Green Infants has the best school chef in the region

COOKING UP A STORM: Jose Davies Kochakkadan is in the finals of
School Chef of the Year 2016.

COLD cabbage and lumpy custard are definitely not on the menu at Marston Green Infants Academy!
Jose Davies Kochakkadan, who is responsible for feeding more than 300 hungry pupils every lunchtime, is in the running for School Chef of the Year 2016.
His dishes have already been declared the tastiest in the West Midlands and next month he will battle it out with nine other school chefs in the hope of winning the national title.
The finalists will have just an hour and a half to produce a main course and dessert which is not only healthy but also likely to appeal to your average 11-year-old.
In fact a boy and girl of that age have been picked to sit on the judging panel which will have to choose which two-course meal is the best.
It's fair to say that Jose and his fellow competitors won't be afraid to bring some exotic flavours into the kitchen.
Even though they have just £1.60 to spend on ingredients for every portion, the food is set to draw inspiration from far-flung regions including Asia and the Americas.
Chicken with plantain mash and steamed greens and spiced pineapple cake were some of the dishes served up during the previous heats
The final, organised by the Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA), will take place at Stratford-upon-Avon College on March 10.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Barriers installed in Marston Green to deter travellers

HEIGHT restriction barriers have recently been installed at three separate locations in Marston Green, as part of ongoing efforts to stop travellers accessing local sites.
The barriers - which would make it harder for caravans to get onto land - have been put in place at the entrances to Millennium Wood and the Burial Ground, both in Bickenhill Lane, and on the driveway to the village Recreation Ground.
Marston Green and Bickenhill Parish Council decided to install the devices following an incident last summer during which a group of travellers pitched up at Millennium Wood nature reserve.
A parish council spokesman said: "The cost to repair damage to gates and fences when the travellers left was expensive.
"We hope the measures taken will prevent further problems in the future."

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Local MP supports campaign to keep Britain in the EU

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman will be campaigning in favour of the UK remaining a member of the European Union.
The former Environment Secretary has welcomed the deal agreed late last night which aims to reshape Britain's relationship with the 28-nation bloc.
The MP was last month confirmed as one of the patrons of Conservatives for Reform in Europe - a group of Tories who believe that it is in the national interest to remain.
An in/out referendum has now been scheduled to take place on June 23.
Tweeting after the Prime Minister had confirmed the details of the new agreement, Mrs Spelman said: "I welcome the PM's deal for improved membership of a reformed Europe & would encourage support for staying in the EU."
North Solihull will be an interesting battleground in the run-up to the referendum, not least because it is represented by councillors with wildly different views about the EU.
In Kingshurst & Fordbridge, UKIP has won two council seats in as many years. However, in neighbouring Smith's Wood and Chelmsley Wood, the Green Party - who are fiercely pro-European - command considerable support.

Friday, 19 February 2016

People can have their say on new facilities in Meriden Park

RESIDENTS are being asked for their ideas for redeveloping the disused bowling green in Meriden Park.
Solihull Council has confirmed that a small pot of money is available to transform the patch of land and is keen to hear what facilities local people would like to see.
A wild flower garden, a bird feeding station and a meditation area are among the suggestions that have already been received and it's understood - given the size of the space available - that more than one idea could be carried forward.
A consultation event will be taking place at the Three Trees Centre, Chelmsley Wood on February 25 (from 5.30-7.00pm).
You can also email your ideas to

Thursday, 18 February 2016

North Solihull councillor calls for more police on the beat.

A LOCAL councillor has made a passionate plea for more police to be put back on the beat in North Solihull.
Councillor Flo Nash (Lab, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) said that repeated claims that crime is falling did not change the fact that people were concerned about a reduced police presence on the streets.
She put the concerns of local residents to the Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, at this month’s Full Council meeting.
The debate proved timely as research by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) - published today -  found that frontline officers are spending as little as half their time pounding the streets.
“Over the last three days I have heard of terrible crimes that have been committed in the north of the borough. People want reassuring,” said Coun Nash.
“We just think we are being let down a bit when we hear that crime is going down.
“What do you mean by crime rate, are you including the local – what you might call petty – crimes, or is it crime generally?”
She cited the case of an elderly lady who was attacked at a bus stop in broad daylight and a young man who was robbed of his mobile phone while coming home from work.
Mr Jamieson, who had acknowledged earlier in the meeting that the force was facing significant financial pressures, argued that putting police on the beat wasn’t always the most effective use of resources. He said that it made more sense to target specific problems as they arose.
“If we deployed all of our officers on the streets doing beat walking I can tell you this – we’d hardly solve a crime…The police officers walking around the streets of Kingshurst or Chelmsley or Shirley don’t come across crimes. That’s not the way it works.
“We’re having to work with much tighter budgets, the number of officers we’ve got is far slimmer than it was before and we have to make the best use of resources.”
Mr Jamieson, who has previously served as a councillor in the same ward as Coun Nash, also answered members’ questions on gun crime, drug addiction and the ongoing problem of off-road bikes.
Coun Chris Williams (Green, Chelmsley Wood) told the Commissioner that addressing the fear of crime should be one of the main priorities.
“Seventy per cent of people in Chelmsley Wood are afraid to leave their homes after dark – just 10 per cent in Dorridge,” he said.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Solihull Council considers "no parking zones" outside schools.

A CASTLE Bromwich councillor has asked for an investigation into the possibility of creating “no parking zones” in parts of Solihull.
Councillor Ted Richards, the cabinet member for transport and highways, has instructed his officers to examine the options available to tackle inconsiderate parking.
Among the possibilities would be introducing a scheme which has recently been pioneered in Edinburgh, banning drivers from parking in the vicinity of certain schools during peak times of the day.
Coun Richards has been an outspoken critic of parents who block pavements and destroy grass verges when dropping off and collecting their children.
Although officers have said they would have to give careful consideration to whether banning parking in certain areas would simply move the disruption and safety issues elsewhere.
They have also acknowledged that the tough tactics would not be suitable in every part of the borough.
Solihull Council is currently carrying out a wide-reaching review into the problems created by “inconsiderate parking.”
For two years running, a survey by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has identified
the problem as one of the three issues that most annoyed local people.
As part of discussions, councillors heard from Smith’s Wood Sports College, one of several schools which is experiencing problems.
Fed-up residents have frequently got in touch about the congestion in Windward Way on weekday afternoons.
Elsewhere, Councillor Stephen Holt (Green, Smith’s Wood) highlighted the case of Riley Drive – a small cul-de-sac in his ward which had been beset by problems.
In one incident a resident on a mobility scooter had been injured while trying to get past a vehicle parked on the pavement. An ambulance was called but was unable to access the road because of the sheer number of parked cars.
Coun Holt has suggested the road could be the focus for a pilot scheme, in which officers liaise with residents to identify possible solutions.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Police appeal after sex pest targets elderly women in Chelmsley Wood

POLICE are attempting to trace a man in connection with a string of sex offences in the Chelmsley Wood area.
The indecent acts were committed around the estate over the course of several weeks and were mostly directed at elderly women. Following investigations, police suspect that the same individual is responsible.
The first incident mentioned by officers occurred on December 13, when a man knocked on the door of an 80-year-old woman's home and made sexual gestures at her through a window. He returned to the pensioner's address on a number of occasions and behaved in the same manner, most recently on January 20.
There were also two reports of a man exposing himself to women in an alleyway between Dunster Road and Ludlow Close. The incidents, involving ladies aged 70 and 52, were reported on December 8 and January 13.
On December 16, there was a separate report of a man exposing himself to a 65-year-old woman, who had been waiting at the bus stop on Dunster Road.
The suspect is described as a heavily-built white man, in his 20s, and around 5ft 6in to 5ft 7in tall. He is usually wearing a dark green parka-style coat.
If you have any information about the series of incidents please contact PC Amy Lloyd at Chelmsley Wood Police Station on 101 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Turning 90 this year? You might be joining the Mayor for tea!

NORTH Solihull residents who become nonagenarians this year are being invited to an afternoon tea party in honour of Her Majesty's own birthday.
The Queen will be celebrating her 90th year on April 21 and the Mayor of Solihull will be holding the event for those locals who were also born in 1926.
If you live in the borough and are the right age, you should get in touch with the Mayor's office and ask to be entered into the draw to win an invite to the special gathering.
Mayor of Solihull, Coun Glenis Slater, said: "The Queen’s 90th birthday is a great opportunity for us to celebrate both her reign and the classic British values. I am thoroughly looking forward to welcoming the residents of the borough who have also reached the milestone."
To apply for an invite please email or call 0121 704 6023. Those who win a ticket for two to the tea will be notified closer to the time.

Chelmsley Wood school celebrates league table success

A CHELMSLEY Wood school was recently rated as the best state-run primary in the whole of Solihull in a recent league table.
St Anne’s Catholic Primary School was ranked top in the borough in the Birmingham Mail’s Real Schools Guide, published last month.
The annual rankings aim to offer a more rounded assessment of schools than the traditional league tables – which are derived purely from Year 6 SATS results.
By contrast, the Real Schools Guide also takes teaching standards, pupil progress and attendance rates into consideration when determining where a school should be placed.
Other North Solihull schools to feature in Solihull’s “Top 10” were Marston Green Juniors (sixth) and Smith’s Wood Primary Academy (ninth).
St Anne’s rating was actually sufficient to put it in eighth place in the entire West Midlands region.
In a recent newsletter, the school said: “This is a great achievement for our school community.
“We are fortunate at St Anne’s to have excellent staff who do their very best for every child every day.”
The news comes following comments by Councillor Ian Courts last year. He cited rising educational standards in the north of the borough as a sign of success in the ongoing battle to reduce inequality in Solihull.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Council proposes parking restrictions near Marston Green Station

PARKING restrictions are set to be introduced to Marston Green to tackle the problem of commuter parking around the village railway station.
There have been reports of  vehicles clogging up roads nearby, either to pick-up or collect passengers or to avoid all-day parking charges.
In an effort to address the situation, Solihull Council is proposing to introduce traffic regulation orders at five locations.
It is proposed that the strictest conditions will apply on sections of Chelmsley Lane, Alcott Lane, Moorend Avenue, Elmdon Road and Land Lane. Other streets would have a ban in place during peak times.
Responding on social media, some residents were concerned about the proposals, worried that they would only move the problem elsewhere or, worse still, see locals' own vehicles hit with tickets.
Residents have until February 19 to give the council their comments. If you have any questions in the meantime, call the highways services team on 0121 704 8004.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Solihull Magistrates Court's closure confirmed

SOLIHULL Magistrates Court is to close for good, it was announced earlier this week.
The fate of the court house was all but sealed in 2013, when it was revealed that all criminal cases would be transferred to Birmingham.
On Thursday it was confirmed that the Homer Road building would be shut down, alongside ten other courts in the Midlands region.
Many borough councillors are worried that the cost-cutting initiative flies in the face of the ancient principle of justice being administered locally. There is also the concern that the removal of the borough court house is part of a general trend of local services being centralised.
However, Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said that many premises were outdated and simply too expensive to maintain - it's understood that Solihull alone cost £250,000 a year to run.
"Court closures are difficult decisions; local communities have strong allegiances to their local courts and I understand their concerns," he said.
"Maintaining our underused and dilapidated court buildings costs the taxpayer £500 million a year but some courts sit for less than half the time available. This is simply unsustainable."

Friday, 12 February 2016

CTC students help mark Holocaust Memorial Day

PUPILS from the CTC Kingshurst Academy have taken part in a special event to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day.
The moving commemoration service was held at the Civic Suite, with Year 10 students Rachel Ajayi and Kiah-Parris Keenan invited to read poems, which had been specially written for the occasion.
The CTC has a long tradition of marking Holocaust Memorial Day, which is held every January – having organised visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau and incorporated the Holocaust into the history curriculum.
A school spokesman said: “We need to ask ourselves what we should be doing today to build a safer, stronger society so that the building blocks of genocide, such as race hate, are removed.”
Dr Martin Stern, a Holocaust survivor, paid tribute to the “wonderful” verses and the work the school had undertaken to promote the event in previous years.
The retired hospital doctor gave a moving account of how he was dragged from school at the age of five. He and his sister were subsequently incarcerated at a prison camp in the Netherlands.
“The first thing I can remember being told is ‘see that barbed wire, don’t go anywhere near it – you will be shot dead.’
“Each week there was a train of cattle trucks and goods trucks... I saw these trains being loaded with fellow prisoners being crammed in like sardines.”
He was later taken to a ghetto in Eastern Europe, which he described as a place of “filth and fear” and was one of just a handful of children who were spared the journey to the concentration camps.
Mayor of Solihull, Coun Glenis Slater, said: “It is an old adage that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
“It is now our responsibility to spread this message – the message that we must not stand by. Together, united in remembrance by the tragic events of the Holocaust, we must make the world listen.”

Thursday, 11 February 2016

New edition of Other Side of Solihull now available

THE latest edition of Other Side of Solihull's digital newspaper is now available.
You can read it online here or email to be added to the subscribers' list.
Don't forget to contact us with your stories or ideas for the next edition.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Far-right group demonstrate at business park near Marston Green

POLICE have confirmed that a protest staged by a far-right movement near Marston Green passed without any major incident.
Approximately 200 people - around half the number expected - took part in yesterday's rally.
Demonstrators from the anti-Islamic Pegida UK group marched from Birmingham International Station to nearby Birmingham Business Park, assembling in Starley Way.
Several protesters were seen carrying placards which said "Trump is right" - a likely reference to controversial comments made by US presidential candidate Donald Trump about banning Muslims from entering America.
In the run-up to the event, politicians locally and nationally had accused organisers of trying to sow division.
Labour MP Liam Byrne said: "We simply won't stand for people coming into Birmingham trying to divide our communities and spread fear and hatred. Brummies are proud of our diversity and we don't want it threatened by racists."
Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League (EDL), hit back at critics when he stood up to address the crowd.
"Let them know what’s happened: we met up, we were civilised, we walked in complete silence, we held speeches, we exercised our freedom of speech, we showed solidarity across Europe and then we went home – that’s all that happened."
West Midlands Police had drafted in a number of officers amid fears that the protest could turn violent.
They were tasked with keeping the Pegida protesters separate from Unite Against Fascism, who had arranged their own demonstration nearby.
Following the event, the force confirmed there had been no serious disturbances or injuries. Only one man, a 39-year-old participating in the counter demonstration, was arrested for a suspected public order offence.
Chief Supt Alex Murray, from Solihull Police, said: "We’ve been planning the operation for months; the collective efforts of our officers, Solihull Council, partner agencies, protest organisers and community groups helped ensure the event passed off without any serious disorder.
"Disruption was kept to a minimum – Bickenhill Lane was closed temporarily to allow for protesters to walk from Birmingham International to the demo point but hopefully it didn’t hugely inconvenience motorists or local businesses."
The region's Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, paid tribute to the police operation but said that the presence required at such events put a significant drain on resources.
"I sincerely hope this is the last protest of its sort that we see here for a good long while," he said.
"The West Midlands is a place where people live side by side happily…it is sad when people from outside the region try to undermine that."

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Fresh concerns raised about off-road bikes in North Solihull.

CALLS for the authorities to do more about the scourge of off-road bikes in North Solihull intensified this week.
The problems being reported in a number of local communities were raised by Councillor Chris Williams (Green, Chelmsley Wood) at Tuesday's Full Council meeting.
He told the region's Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, that many residents felt despondent because they had been making efforts to alert police, but saw little action being taken.
"One thing that is raising the fear of crime very much is off-road bikes," said Coun Williams (pictured, right).
"Especially when there are 12 going past your property late at night, with masks, balaclavas and no lights.
"West Midlands Police disbanded your off-road unit but you're now asking residents to report the information...Residents are doing that and they're giving up because they're saying they're passing on that intelligence and they're getting no reply, no information, no feedback."
Mr Jamieson acknowledged that off-road bikes were a "common problem" across the region, but insisted that officers would act on tip-offs from the public. He cited the example of one operation in an area where bikes were descending every Friday evening.
"[The police] got a team of about five cars and officers, closed in on them, took the bikes, crushed them and got rid of them. The problem has been gone for about nine months and hasn't reappeared.
"That's what I call intelligent policing; using new technology, empowering people to actually get something done about it by reporting it on the internet."
Tuesday night's exchange comes after residents launched a petition calling for councils to make it harder for the bikes to access local parkland.
Coun Debbie Evans (UKIP, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) has supported the efforts, which are being led by the campaign-group Action for Babbs Mill.
"The time for talking has come to an end and action now needs to be taken," she said.

  • Read more about the Police and Crime Commissioner's comments on local policing in the next edition of the Other Side of Solihull newspaper - out at the beginning of next week.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Chelmsley Wood charity signs up to London run

A CHELMSLEY Wood-based charity which supports people with learning disabilities has signed up to take part in a running event in London this autumn
Members of Solihull Life Opportunities (SoLO) are among the first to secure places at the inaugural Parallel London, which is expected to attract over 10,000 participants.
The event will see runners cover distances ranging from 100metres to 10km and is open to people regardless of their age or ability.
Janet Down, SoLO's chief executive (pictured, right), said: "Since taking some members to the London Marathon to support our runner, we have been looking for opportunities for our members to get involved in something on a similar scale.
"Parallel offers just this and we are really excited to be in at the beginning."
A spokesman for the event said: "[It] is not just about racing against the clock, but about celebrating the spirit of togetherness and everyone crossing the finishing line."
The challenge takes place on Sunday, September 4, just days before the opening of the Paralympic Games in Rio.
If you have a disability and would like to get involved, email Janet at

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Teenager charged following machete attack

A TEENAGER from Chelmsley Wood has appeared in  court charged in connection with a machete attack last month.
Carl Gamble, 19, of Lowerstack Croft, was arrested yesterday (Monday) and subsequently charged with wounding and possession of a weapon in public.
The incident happened on Tile Cross Road last Monday morning (January 25). A 50-year-old man suffered serious injuries in the attack and and spent two days in hospital. He has since been discharged and police said he was currently recuperating with his family.
A 29-year-old, previously arrested on suspicion of assault, remains on police bail and inquiries are ongoing.
Officers continue to appeal for witnesses to the attack and anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Colourful display above North Solihull

IF you were lucky enough to look skyward at tea-time you may have spotted rainbow-coloured clouds in the skies above North Solihull.
The nacreous cloud formation, sometimes known as mother-of-pearl clouds, were visible at around five o'clock this evening (Monday).
The clouds are a rare sight in the UK, more often appearing during winter in countries to the far north, such as Alaska, Norway and Iceland.
  • If you took a picture, email it to and we'll post it on our Facebook page.