Saturday, 30 April 2016

Dawn chorus event in Castle Bromwich

CASTLE Bromwich Hall Gardens is inviting people to take part in International Dawn Chorus Day.
Early risers will be able to visit the site at first light for a tour of the gardens, with experts from the RSPB  on hand to identify the call of the different species of birds.
The event takes place tomorrow (Sunday) from 5-8am. Visitors will receive a warm drink and toast and jam. Admission is £5 for adults and £2 for under 16s.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Drug den causes house fire in Marston Green

BURNED OUT: The property in Land Lane
Picture/West Midlands Fire Service
AN ELDERLY couple in Marston Green had to flee their home in the middle of the night after a cannabis factory concealed in next door's loft burst into flames.
The blaze broke out in the roof space of the Land Lane property in the early hours of Sunday (April 24.)
It's understood that the husband and wife living in the adjoining house were woken by the smell of burning and fled into the street.
Three crews from Sheldon Fire Station were called to the scene at just after 1am and fought hard to prevent the fire, which all but destroyed the roof, spreading to the neighbours' house. They successfully managed to put out the fire before first light.
West Midlands Police's cannabis disposal team confirmed that the blaze had been sparked by equipment inside the drug den.
The charred remnants of the hydroponic system, which had been used to grow the Class B drug, were recovered from the scene, but everything else had been destroyed by the flames.
Cannabis factories are a notorious fire risk, with electricity meters tampered with, hot lamps rigged to cultivate the plants and a watering system installed dangerously close to the electrics.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

New scheme to help North Solihull residents facing fuel poverty

A NEW scheme to provide vital support to people struggling to heat their homes is being extended to the Kingfisher Foodbank.
It was announced this week that pre-payment meter vouchers for gas or electricity would be made available to those who use the Smith's Wood facility.
The scheme has been trialled in four areas around the UK, including Durham and the Wirral, with over 7,000 vouchers issued over the course of the past 12 months.
The Trussell Trust charity, which is running the Fuel Bank initiative in conjunction with energy giant npower, said it had made a massive difference to people who would otherwise face a stark choice between "heating or eating."
David McAuley, the trust's chief executive, said: "In winter, foodbank clients come to us having to choose between going hungry or heating their homes, and in summer, we find some people come to us saying they can’t afford to heat the food parcels we give them.
"It’s heart-breaking when people in desperate situations try to give back food like pasta and soup simply because they can’t afford to cook it.
"Combining the distribution of food parcels with npower Fuel Bank vouchers will ensure that many thousands of people at foodbanks get the help they need to feed themselves and stay warm."
The Fuel Banks should be up-and-running within the next few weeks.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Salute to Shakespeare at Chelmsley Wood Library

MEMBERS of Chelmsley Wood Library's reading group were talking all about Britain's best-known writer yesterday (Saturday).
On the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, the group gathered to discuss books and plays which have been inspired by the Bard's vast body of work.
The event was one of many which took place around the UK to mark the milestone, with a number of top actors, including Benedict Cumberbatch and Judi Dench, appearing in a live variety show in Stratford Upon-Avon last night.
  • The reading group meet one Saturday each month to discuss a particular writer or genre. To find out more call 0121 788 4380.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Chelmsley Wood man pays tribute to the duo who saved his life

LUCKY TO BE ALIVE: Andrew Johnson, from Chelmsley Wood, with PCs
Alan Hawthorne (left) and Christopher Whitehead.

A CHELMSLEY Wood man who crashed his car after suffering a heart attack at the wheel has met the two police officers who saved his life.
Andrew Johnson had gone into cardiac arrest while driving through the Binley area of Coventry, losing control of his vehicle and ploughing into a tree.
Fortunately the two constables who arrived on the scene were able to perform CPR on the gravely ill 52-year-old.
Following the incident, on November 30 last year, Mr Johnson was admitted to A&E. He has recently returned to his job as an operational supervisor following a recuperation period.
He has now met with PCs Alan Hawthorne and Christopher Whitehead to thank them for their actions last autumn.
"A consultant recently told me just how lucky I am to be alive, as there is only a five per cent chance of living through the type of heart attack I had if you are not in hospital," he said.
"I was just so fortunate these officers were on duty to get me out of the vehicle and give me CPR until the ambulance arrived.
"I have now started back at work full-time and although I will never be back to the person I was, I am still able to live a good quality of life."

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Rider was lucky to escape serious injury say ambulance crews

A MOTORCYCLIST was lucky to escape serious injury after coming off his bike a short distance from where another rider died last month.
The 22-year-old collided with a roundabout at the junction of the A452 Collector Road and Moorend Avenue yesterday evening (Tuesday).
He skidded some 100 yards away from his bike and ended up on the grass verge, narrowly missing a tree.
Paramedics were called to the scene at around 8.40pm.
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Crews arrived to find the rider a considerable distance from his bike.
“[He] was initially reported as being unconscious but he had come round when crews arrived, though he was not fully conscious and appeared quite confused.
“Amazingly, he had no obvious injuries but due to his confusion, crews suspected some sort of head injury.  As a precaution he was immobilised before being taken on blue lights to Heartlands Hospital.
“The fact that he appears to have escaped serious injury is all the more fortunate given both wheels on his bike were buckled with the alloys broken.”
The incident comes a month on from the death of Christopher Clarke, who was killed in a collision on the dual carriageway on March 20.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

North Solihull residents invited to enter annual gardening contest

ENTRIES are now open for this year's Solihull Neighbourhoods in Bloom competition.
The annual gardening contest is open to all sections of the community, including local residents, schools, businesses and neighbourhood groups.
Locals can enter themselves or nominate neighbours in a wide range of categories, from front gardens to hanging baskets.
The event is run by Solihull Council in partnership with Solihull Community Housing and the parish councils of Chelmsley Wood and Fordbridge.
The deadline for entries is June 10, with more details on how to enter available here.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Castle Bromwich Singers prepare for St George's Day concert

A SPECIAL concert will be taking place next Saturday (April 23) to celebrate St George's Day.
Castle Bromwich Singers will be performing at St Wilfrid's Roman Catholic Church, with the church choir and pupils from nearby St Wilfrid's School joining them on the evening.
Doors open at 7pm. Tickets are £3 for adults with accompanied children free and are available on 0121 783 2792.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Police seize off-road bikes in Smith's Wood

THREE quad bikes were seized in Smith's Wood today as part of a police crackdown on off-road offences.
Officers carried out a series of raids on properties in response to complaints about bikes being ridden in a reckless or anti social manner.
Police confirmed that they had received dozens of reports of scramblers, motorbikes and other vehicles "blighting" communities, with a particular spike in incidents beginning in mid-March.
Matters came to a head on Monday following reports of bikes performing stunts and weaving in and out of traffic as part of a funeral procession in New Road, Solihull.
More locally there have been long-running problems involving riders racing around Babbs Mill, Meriden Park and other open spaces, with concerns expressed that the police weren't doing enough to address the situation.
At a Full Council meeting earlier this year, the Police and Crime Commissioner was confronted with claims that the force was failing to act on reports made by concerned residents.
In a statement today Supt Sue Parker, from Solihull Police, dismissed suggestions that officers were turning a blind eye to the problem.
"First and foremost I want to reassure the people of Solihull that we continue to take this matter extremely seriously and have been working hard to identify those responsible for this unacceptable behaviour for some time."
Police have confirmed that a man and a woman were arrested on suspicion of public order offences during today's operation, while a second man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.
The bikes seized could yet be crushed under powers available to police in circumstances where the vehicles are being driven illegally.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Local elections: Candidates confirmed for North Solihull

SOME intriguing battles are set to unfold over the next few weeks as the clock counts down to the local council elections.
This week, Solihull Council published full details of the candidates who will be standing in the 17 wards that make up the borough.
In Kingshurst & Fordbridge, Labour is fighting to defending its last remaining seat in Solihull - an authority it ran a little over 15 years ago.
Flo Nash, the party's sole remaining member, will be looking to see off a challenge from UKIP's Sarah Evans. Victory for the eurosceptic party would give them control of all three seats in the ward.
There is also quite a contest expected in Smith's Wood, where the Green Party will be challenging the man who became their first ever councillor in the West Midlands and paved the way for a string of victories in North Solihull.
Mike Sheridan decided to defect to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) last year, a departure that surprised many.
The Greens have entrusted Jean Hamilton, a former Liberal Democrat, to recapture the seat.
Chelmsley Wood - where the Greens have won convincing majorities in recent years - and the Conservative stronghold of Castle Bromwich are less likely to see an upset.
This year's council elections take place on Thursday, May 5. Locals have until next Monday (April 18) to register to vote.

Candidates in North Solihull:

Bickenhill ward (includes Marston Green)
Mike Longfield (Lab)
Gary Macnaughton (Green)
Jim Ryan (Con)

Castle Bromwich ward
Cheryl Buxton-Sait (Green)
Ian English (Lab)
Ted Richards (Con)

Chelmsley Wood ward
Sally Bell (Con)
Emma Chidler (Lab)
Chris Williams (Green)
Rosie Worsley (UKIP)

Kingshurst & Fordbridge ward
Max Barker (Con)
David Davies (Green)
Sarah Evans (UKIP)
Flo Nash (Lab)

Smith's Wood ward
David Cole (Lab)
Jean Hamilton (Green)
Graham Juniper (Con)
Mike Sheridan (SDP)
Gary Smith (UKIP)

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Warning over Castle Bromwich "cat killer"

CASTLE Bromwich cat owners have been warned to stay on their guard after a family pet was apparently killed and dumped in a trolley several miles away.
Oscar had vanished from Kingsleigh Drive on Easter Monday and the following day, his owner received a call from The Lodge Veterinary Centre, in Coleshill.
The surgery reported that the 15-month-old moggie had been found dead in a shopping cart outside the village's leisure centre.
The fact that Oscar was discovered six miles away and there were no obvious signs of injury would appear to rule out natural causes.
Ward End Cat Rescue, a local charity, said: "It is possible he was intentionally killed by someone living local, and they took his body to Coleshill in the hope his owners would believe he simply went missing.
"Oscar was an innocent cat, and such a lovely boy who would not hurt anyone. Why kill a cat in such a manner?"
The ginger and white tom had been taken in as a stray kitten and hand-reared. His owner appealed for anyone who has information about their pet's death to come forward and this week warned other local residents to be vigilant.
The RSPCA have been notified.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Funeral held for biker killed in Castle Bromwich crash

TRIBUTES: The memorial erected on the A452 Collector Road following
last month's fatal crash. Mr Clarke's nickname was "Stig".

THE funeral of a motorcyclist who died in a recent crash on the Collector Road took place earlier today (Monday).
Christopher Clarke, aged 32, was killed in a collision on the dual carriageway on Sunday, March 20.
More than three weeks on from the fatal crash, which happened near the junction with Auckland Drive, loved ones gathered for a funeral service this afternoon.
New Road, in Solihull town centre, was closed for a period as a cavalcade of bikers paraded along the route.
Ahead of the event police confirmed that some disruption of local roads was expected due to the number of vehicles in attendance, warning that any traffic offences would be "thoroughly investigated."
The event sparked debate on social media, with some residents raising concerns about road safety issues.
Others leaped to the defence of the procession and claimed the criticism was disrespectful to Mr Clarke's friends.

Man in a critical condition after Chelmsley Wood stabbing

A MAN has been left fighting for his life this afternoon after being stabbed in a Chelmsley Wood street earlier today.
Solihull Police have confirmed the 28-year-old, who has not yet been named, remains in a critical condition, following the attack in Lime Grove.
Officers were called to the cul-de-sac at just after 11am, following reports that a man had been stabbed in the back multiple times.
Detectives believe that a group of between three and five people may have been involved in the incident and have urged witnesses to come forward.
Det Insp Jim Colclough, from Force CID, said: "This happened in the middle of a street in broad daylight and we think there would have been a number of people in the area at the time.
"If you saw anything and have not yet come forward, please call us as soon as possible. Your information could be vital in bringing the offenders to justice."
Anyone with information can call detectives on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Parking ban outside schools to be trialled next year

PARKING HEADACHE: Could Castle Bromwich Infants
be among the schools chosen to take part in the pilot?
SOLIHULL Council recently announced it will press ahead with a pilot scheme to introduce tough new parking restrictions outside local schools.
The local authority’s proposals to bring in so-called “car exclusion zones” were first revealed earlier this year.
Now it has been confirmed that Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, has given the £34,000 plans the green light.
Speaking recently, Coun Richards – who represents Castle Bromwich – said it was time to encourage more mums and dads to walk their children to school.
The restrictions will prevent parents from parking outside the school gates to drop off or collect
their children, with traffic wardens issuing fines to those who ignore the ban.
The council will trial the scheme at three sites starting from next year, with plans to roll out the system to more schools if it proves successful.
Tina Wiggin, Solihull Council’s head of highway services, said that residents regularly complained about roads being choked up during the school run and hopes that the strategy will succeed where others have failed.
“School gate parking is an ongoing problem across the borough,” she said.
“Numerous complaints are received by disgruntled residents living in the proximity of schools due to inconsiderate parking and sometimes obstruction of driveways.”

How it will work:

  • The plan is modelled on a scheme recently introduced in Edinburgh.
  • Cars will be banned from the vicinity of schools during peak times (typically 8am-9am and 2.30-3.30pm on Mondays to Fridays.)
  • Permits will be available to local residents, disabled people and emergency services.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Solihull gets cash to fill 3000 potholes.

SOLIHULL Council has received a government grant to repair around 3,000 potholes on the borough's roads.
Money is doled out to local authorities based on the size of their road network, with Solihull handed£159,000 to repair the damage to its highways.
Although it has been a relatively mild winter, a number of complaints about the state of the roads locally have been logged on the website Fix My Street.
In recent weeks gaping potholes have been reported on routes including Chester Road, Castle Bromwich and Holly Lane, Marston Green, where one motorist complained of suffering a burst tyre.
Around £50million is being made available nationwide, although the Local Government Association has warned the funding is nowhere near enough and argues around £12billion needs to be put aside to carry out adequate repairs.
Devon County Council received the largest sum (around £2million), while Slough is to get the smallest settlement (£43,000).

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Local dog owners reminded of new microchip laws

NORTH Solihull residents are being reminded that from now on they could face fines of up to £500 if their dog isn't microchipped.
New laws, which came into force yesterday, require all owners to have their canines chipped by the time they are eight weeks old.
The regulations are designed to make it easier for the authorities to find out who lost or stray animal belong to, with a chip the size of a grain of rice fitted just beneath the skin.
Councils or dog shelters are able to scan the device's unique 15 digit code to trace the owner.
It is currently estimated that around one in eight of all the UK's dogs (a million mutts in total) haven't been chipped.
Certain charities, including the Dogs Trust, and some local authorities will have a chip fitted for free.

Case study:
In 2011, the national press reported on a case from Chelmsley Wood in which an animal was returned to its owner five years after going missing.
The Staffordshire bull terrier, named T-Bone, had disappeared from outside Pat Oates' home and after a fruitless search the family had given up home of finding the animal.
However, the dog was eventually discovered on board a No 37 bus and when the driver took the animal to 608 Vets in Solihull, they were able to check the microchip.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Concerns remain over cuts in local services

CUTS in council budgets will inevitably have an effect on the quality of services, a group of borough councillors has warned.
The local Green Party, which has five councillors in the north of the borough, has called for more honesty about the implications of “savings”.
The plea came ahead of Solihull Council’s annual Budget meeting, during which members set out tax and spending plans for the next three years.
While council tax bills will rise by 0.99 per cent, many departments will nonetheless see a sharp fall in the amount of money available.
Spending is to be slashed by £36million between now and 2019, with the anti-social behaviour budget to be reduced by over a third and substantial reductions also planned for mental health care, youth services and charity support.
Coun Karl Macnaughton (Green, Chelmsley Wood) acknowledged the significant financial strain, but believed the local authority needed to be upfront with the public.
“With the level of year-on-year cuts we have been seeing it has now gone beyond the point where further reductions can be made without harming services… We need to make it clear how bad this situation is.
“Saying we’re re-envisioning, restructuring, saving, improving – let’s have a bit of honesty here.”
Councillor Bob Sleigh (pictured), leader of the council’s ruling Conservative group, said that the borough had once again suffered a dramatic drop in the money received from central Government and had “spelled out very clearly” the decisions it was taking.
“All the areas where we intend to make savings have been thoroughly discussed and I might add that all of these budgets have gone through the scrutiny process,” he said.
“I think we’re being totally honest, as we always are.”
In his opening statement, Coun Sleigh said Solihull’s forward planning was recognised as among the best in the country and that the increase in council tax was less than many neighbouring authorities.
The Budget was passed by a majority at the Full Council meeting last month.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Inquest returns verdict following death of Smith's Wood mum

A CORONER has described the death of two local women, who drowned while on a girls' holiday in Spain, as "an awful tragedy."
Tracey Aston, from Smith's Wood, had been enjoying herself with friends on a beach in Catalonia when she fell over in the water.
Birmingham Coroner's Court heard that the 32-year-old had been unable to judge how rough the sea was in that part of the bay.
Another of the party, Lisa Coggins, 35, of Shard End, had attempted to save her, but also got into difficulties.
Lifeguards were called to the shore and desperate efforts made to rescue the pair.
Following the events, which happened on October 1 last year, Coroner Louise Hunt today recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Speaking after the inquest, Tracey's mum Tina Tysall said that the tragedy could have been prevented if warning flags had been put in place at the popular resort.
"Two young lives would not have been lost had there been basic safety procedures in place," she said.
"What started as a playful run on the beach, taking photos, creating memories of their time together ended in a terrible, devastating tragedy.
"This heart-breaking tragedy has resulted in two very young boys losing their mum, their world."

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Spring Fair in Chelmsley Wood

A SPRING fair will be held at the Bluebell Community Garden tomorrow (Monday.)
Families will have chance to make a bird feeder, take part in a belated Easter egg hunt and join pond-dipping sessions.
The event runs at the Chelmsley Wood site from 2.30-4.30pm.

Plans for a new speed camera on the Collector Road scrapped

PLANS to reintroduce a speed camera on the Collector Road look set to be abandoned by Solihull Council.
The dual carriageway had previously been identified as one of several accident blackspots in the borough where the local authority was looking to install new digital devices.
Last September, the council agreed that cameras would be erected on the Chester Road/Bradford Road, in Castle Bromwich, and on the stretch of Lode Lane approaching Solihull town centre.
At the time, highways officers confirmed they were also considering the option of introducing a camera on the northbound carriageway of the Collector Road.
However, a new report - which will be considered by the cabinet member for transport and highways next week - confirms that this part of the scheme has been removed from the pilot process, because of the high costs associated with installing and maintaining the camera on such a busy route.
At a meeting on Thursday, the cabinet member is expected to instead give the go-ahead for a camera on the Stratford Road, in Hockley Heath.
The device on the Bradford Road/Chester Road will still be installed as planned, with the scheme set to get underway in June this year.

DEFUNCT: The old cameras on the Collector Road were
turned off in 2013.

March 2013: West Midlands Police switches off the last remaining "fixed" speed cameras in the West Midlands as part of a cost-cutting drive. At the time, Solihull's ruling Conservative group argues the technology has had its day.
August 2014: David Jamieson, a former Kingshurst & Fordbridge councillor, is elected the new Police and Crime Commissioner and makes no secret of the fact that he wants to bring cameras back.
September 2014: The force reports a fall in speeding fines, despite predictions that an emphasis on mobile speed traps would catch more motorists.
December 2015: Solihull Council finalises the details of a new deal with Birmingham City Council, which will see new digital cameras installed at nine sites across the region.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

A fifth of Solihull workers to see hourly wage rise

ONE in five Solihull workers will see their pay increase following the introduction of the National Living Wage yesterday.
Under new rules, announced by the Chancellor last year, those aged 25 and over must be paid a minimum of £7.20 an hour (50p more than the previous minimum wage.)
Research by the Resolution Foundation think tank found that across the borough, 20 per cent of employees stand to gain. Interestingly, this is exactly the same percentage as those who will benefit over the border in Birmingham.
While the figure cover the borough as a whole, the proportion of North Solihull residents set to see their pay rise is likely to be considerably higher.
Previous studies have shown that the average pay packet is less in the three "regeneration wards" and Solihull Council statistics reveal that a third of those employed in Chelmsley Wood work in retail - one of the sectors where the Living Wage will have the biggest impact.
While the Government has said that the change will be a big boost for lower earners, political opponents argue that the increase will not make up for previous reduction in support for working families.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Chelmsley residents urge council to keep bungalows

RESIDENTS living in a Chelmsley Wood cul-de-sac have said that plans to pull down the existing bungalows would “destroy” a close-knit community.
The proposals to redevelop Lambeth Close are included in the Solihull Local Plan and have caused a great deal of concern among local people, many of whom are elderly and have lived in the road for decades.
At this month’s Full Council meeting, one of the residents, Alex Bell, said that at present the older residents, several of whom are in poor health, had a network of support from neighbours.
Likening the road to Coronation Street, he recalled community events stretching back to a street party held for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977.
“The pensioners thought that their time left would be spent living in their homes. They are happy living in a safe and functional community.
“You know the stress of moving house. Imagine how they feel – not knowing when they’re going or where they’re going.
“Don’t destroy the lives of these people for the sake of land.”
Plans to pull down 14 bungalows, near the site of the Centurion pub, first emerged in 2012 as part of Solihull Council’s development plans.
At the time, some of the pensioners said they would be prepared to barricade themselves in their homes if threatened with eviction.
Four years on, the sense of uncertainty lingers and residents continue to petition councillors to think again.
Councillor Ian Courts, deputy leader of Solihull Council, said he had received several letters from residents concerned about the redevelopment, but insisted that locals would not be asked to move in the immediate future.
“Any such development would only take place following extensive discussion with residents, other property owners and ward councillors and these would have to be carried out up to two years before any possible development.
“As and when the time comes they will be spoken personally about any rehousing options.”