Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Huge fire hits business near Castle Bromwich

LATE NIGHT BLAZE: The flames tore through vehicles at the dealership
Credit/West Midlands Fire Service

AROUND 40 vehicles were engulfed in flames following a major blaze at a car dealership near Castle Bromwich.
Fire crews were called to British Car Auctions, a stone's throw from the M6 motorway, in the early hours of this morning.
Engines from Sheldon Fire Station were alerted at around 2am and fought for several hours to bring the inferno under control and prevent the fire spreading to nearby properties.
The emergency services confirmed that no-one was injured in the incident. An investigation into the cause of the fire is now underway.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

MP urges people to come together following EU vote

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman has made a call for the country to come together following last week's divisive referendum on EU membership.
Mrs Spelman, whose constituency includes North Solihull, had been among those campaigning for Britain to remain a member of the 28-nation bloc.
Last Friday, her hopes the electorate would back a new deal with Europe were crushed after it was confirmed that a slender majority had voted in favour of leaving.
The result has been followed by political upheaval, uncertainty in the financial markets and a number of angry exchanges between supporters of the Leave and Remain camps.
In a statement today, Mrs Spelman admitted that emotions were running high and called for people on both sides of the debate to show consideration for others.
"Now the referendum has been decided, we need to reflect on this decision and forge a clear way forward before we begin talks with other European leaders, establish a clear timetable for our departure from the European Union and work to stabilise our financial markets in the immediate wake of this result," she said.
"Whatever our views during the referendum campaign we must also come together with common purpose and, out of this result, build a generous and forward looking country, which can flourish as a strong global contributor – a builder of bridges, not barriers."

Monday, 27 June 2016

Kingshurst school plays host to First World War service

A LIFE-size replica of a First World War trench has been chosen as the setting for a special service to commemorate 100 years since the start of the Battle of the Somme.
Civic leaders will gather in the 130ft bunker, which was dug in the grounds of the CTC Kingshurst Academy two years ago, to remember the local men who lost their lives during the bloodletting a century ago.
In total, 24 soldiers who had lived or studied in Solihull died on the opening day of the offensive, which took place on July 1, 1916.
More than 100 others from around the borough were killed in the months that followed, with military chiefs finally bringing the effort to an end in the November of that year.
There will be poetry readings by CTC students and a minute's silence at the event.
The Mayor of Solihull, Coun Mike Robinson, is among the dignitaries attending on the day.
"The Battle of the Somme was one of the most devastating battles in British history," he said.
"This commemoration event will be a fitting tribute to those who fell from across the country but particularly from Solihull."
While the service is invite-only, the following day (Saturday) there will be a public exhibition, with information about local people who served in the battlefields of France and genuine artefacts on display.
Children will also have an opportunity to take part in rope-climbing, learn how to apply a medical dressing and find out about the periscopes which were used by those fighting on the Western Front.

  • You can read more about the event in the July edition of our digital newspaper.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sell out for Chelmsley Wood stage show

SONGS FROM THE SHOWS: West End star Rachael Louise Miller (centre)
and the Magic of the Musicals choir

A SELL-out show at the Grace Academy - which attracted the backing of a number of West End stars - has been hailed as a big success.
There was standing room only at the Chelmsley Wood school, where the professionals were joined on stage by a 200-strong community choir.
The Magic of the Musicals concert saw the group belt out numbers from some of the best-known stage shows from the history of theatre.
Year 10 student Bethany Ball, among the pupils who took part in the performance, said: "It’s been a lot of hard work and commitment and it’s turned into an amazing show."
Grace Academy's Principal Darren Gelder said: "This has been a sell-out evening of entertainment, music, and a fantastic opportunity for the young people at the Academy to work with primary school children and professionals.
"It has been incredibly well supported by the community with standing room only and it is an expression of our continuing commitment to the Academy’s arts programme."

Friday, 24 June 2016

Solihull backs leaving the EU

A MAJORITY of Solihull voters backed leaving the European Union (EU) in yesterday's referendum.
Out of the 121,950 people who cast their ballot papers, 56 per cent (68,484) voted in favour of Britain quitting the 28-nation bloc. Over three quarters of eligible voters made the trip to the polling station. 
While results for Solihull's individual wards have not been made public, it's understood that even within the borough there were varying degrees of support.
Councillor Chris Williams (Green, Chelmsley Wood) tweeted that in some of the 17 wards the contest was close, while admitting that in others it was a case of "spot the Remain vote."
The results, which were declared in the early hours of this morning, reflected a wider vein of Eurosceptic feeling throughout the Midlands.
Across the region, the overwhelming majority of council areas backed Brexit, with Warwick and the Cotswolds the only areas where a majority supported remaining part of the EU.
It is thought that the groundswell of support for leaving in traditional working class communities may have swung the crucial vote in favour of the UK departing the institution it joined 43 years ago. 
Politicians from the two sides of the debate reacted to the news with either shock or delight.
Meriden MP Caroline Spelman, who was among the Tory backbenchers who supported remaining in the EU, said she was concerned about what impact the outcome would have on the region's economy.
"I accept the democratic result of the referendum and will do all I can to help my constituency and my country navigate this historic change," she said.
Councillor Debbie Evans (UKIP, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) paid tribute to the work of local activists and said that the result would allow Britain to become "a true democracy."

Monday, 20 June 2016

Report raises concern about Solihull's drinking culture

MORE than 40,000 people in Solihull regularly drink a dangerous amount of alcohol, a Solihull Council study suggests.
Across the borough as a whole, there are estimated to be in excess of 27,000 binge drinkers and more than 6,000 who show signs of alcohol dependency.
Data compiled by the local authority shows that heavy drinking places a hefty burden on the local economy and can fuel crime – around four in 10 of all violent offences in Solihull are alcohol-related.
The report, which was presented to councillors last month, said: “The vast majority of people who drink alcohol in Solihull do so responsibly, however a significant number of the borough’s population drink more than they realise.
“Stronger alcohol and generous home measures are contributing to damage to people’s health, often without them realising. Every year we are seeing more and more people admitted to hospital with alcohol-related conditions.”
The authorities take a number of different approaches in an attempt to tackle the problem, including public awareness campaigns, encouraging responsible drinking, and treatment programmes for those in particular difficulties.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Marston Green residents concerned by business park plan

PLANS to expand Birmingham Business Park have been widely criticised in Marston Green, with one resident claiming that constant development risked turning the village into “an industrial estate.”
A planning application has been submitted which, if approved, would see the creation of four new buildings, with associated car parks and service yards.
There are particular concerns that the scheme would have a serious impact on those residents living in nearby Coleshill Heath Road and Blackfirs Lane.
Bickenhill & Marston Green Parish Council have said that “utmost care” must be taken to ensure that locals don’t suffer as a result of the development.
The concerns they have raised include the imposing design of the new buildings and the increase in noise and activity on the site, which at the moment is predominantly made up of office buildings.
They have urged Solihull Council to impose strict conditions on operating hours, amid fears that deliveries and other work would take place throughout the night.
Mark Rutter, who lives in Blackfirs Lane, said that development of the land would impact on a “semirural” part of the community.
“The traffic on the park at peak hours is already an issue, with long traffic queues,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Despite the application showing low noise, I don’t accept this in reality and noise will be an issue.”
Joseph Carbery described the proposals as “outrageous” and complained about plans to build on another area of green space – already a source of controversy in a community which has lost large tracts of land in recent years.
U+I Group, who own the land, held a public exhibition earlier this month and invited local people to attend. In a letter sent to residents, they pointed out that the site had already been earmarked for employment-led development by Solihull Council.
Marcello Burbante, development manager, said: “The team are keen to listen to local people and hear their views.”

Police cars rammed following attempted ATM raid in Chelmsley Wood

A PAIR of teenagers attempted to hide from police in the undergrowth following a failed attempt to steal from a Chelmsley Wood cash machine.
The officers had been called to Bosworth Drive in the early hours of Saturday (June 18).
When officers arrived a stolen Audi A6, with four people inside, sped away from the scene - ramming two police cars in the attempt to make a get-away. Two officers were treated for bruising and whiplash suffered in the collision.
The car was later found abandoned and two boys, aged 15 and 16, were arrested nearby on suspicion of burglary. They have since been bailed.
Police have said they are now trying to trace the two other people who were in the vehicle at the time of the attempted raid.
Anyone with information should call West Midlands Police on 101.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

EU Decide: North Solihull readies for referendum

WITH only days remaining until the crucial vote, local politicians are making their last ditch arguments for and against Britain’s EU membership.
As polls suggest that the result of the referendum is hanging in the balance, those on both sides of the debate know that the votes up for grabs in communities like North Solihull will prove vital.
In recent weeks, Meriden MP Caroline Spelman has been out campaigning for the UK to remain part of the 28-nation bloc.
She joined the Chancellor, George Osborne, for an event in Birmingham and represented the ‘Remain’ campaign at a Bank Holiday hustings.
“The EU wasn’t just created for economics – it was created for peace,” the former Environment Secretary told the crowd, before emphasising the importance of engaging with everyone from first-time voters to pensioners.
Councillor Chris Williams (Green, Chelmsley Wood) has also made the case for remaining, arguing that Brexit would be “a disaster”.
Supporters of the EU are likely to point out the amount of money from Europe that has been invested in local developments, including the Chelmund’s Cross Village Centre and the North Solihull Cycle Network.
By contrast Coun Debbie Evans (UKIP, Kinghurst & Fordbridge) argues that Britain sends millions to Brussels each day and has lost control of its borders.
“We only voted to be in a trading arm in the first place,” she said. “We need to leave for the good of our country and its future.”
Coun Evans, who became her party’s first councillor in Solihull two years ago, may be buoyed by previous polls which suggest Solihull is generally more Eurosceptic than the region as a whole.
When Other Side of Solihull asked local people for their views earlier this month it was clear that opinions were deeply divided.
Derek Thomley said that the EU was dominated by “faceless bureaucrats” and that it was time for Britain to take back control.
Another resident keen to quit is Ian Davies, who objects to the “millions of pounds” that the UK sends to the continent each week.
On the other side of the argument, Dean Haycock argued that membership was good for the environment and civil rights.
These views were echoed by Joseph Carbery, who said: “We need to tackle crime, terrorism, and climate change inter-governmentally not as an isolated nation on the fringes.”

  • The EU referendum takes place on Thursday, June 23. Polling stations around the borough will be open from 7am-10pm.

Friday, 17 June 2016

West End stars come to Chelmsley Wood

A HOST of stars from London’s West End will be taking part in a musical spectacular in Chelmsley Wood.
Solihull’s own Karl Loxley, who shot to fame on BBC’s The Voice, will be among those joining a 200-strong choir for a performance at the Grace Academy.
Rachael Louise Miller, who has appeared in Les Miserables, and David Covey, who has previously wowed audiences in The Phantom of the Opera, are also set to appear on the school stage.
Joining them will be students from the academy itself, local primary schools and budding singers from around the local area.
The Magic of the Musicals show was first conceived three years ago by Adam Hepkin, who is responsible for developing the arts programme at the Grace Academy and its sister schools in Coventry and Walsall.
He said: “The major difference between The Magic of the Musicals and other ‘songs from the shows’ concerts is the inclusion of a vast community choir, made up of enthusiastic local singers and students.
“It’s about inspiring young people to get involved in the performing arts and enjoy the theatre experience as a whole.
“The show has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and I am delighted that Karl will be joining us this year along with the other incredible performers. This show has something for everyone.”
Adam said that the performance would feature well-known numbers by some of the biggest names in musical theatre, including Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Stephen Sondheim and Rodgers & Hammerstein.
The performance will take place at the Grace Academy on June 19.
Tickets are £5-10 and available on 0121 239 4600 or online at

Thursday, 16 June 2016

New edition of our digital newspaper out now

THE June edition of our digital newspaper - an EU referendum special - is out now.
The title is available to view on Issuu and remember that we're already looking for stories for our next publication.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Speed camera to be switched on in Castle Brom

A NEW speed camera will be switched on in Castle Bromwich in a matter of weeks, Solihull Council has confirmed.
The device, which will be installed on the Bradford Road/Chester Road, will be fully operational as of July 18.
It is one of eight cameras being installed across Birmingham and Solihull as part of a new road safety initiative.
In 2013, the authorities had switched off every camera in the West Midlands citing a lack of funding. The decision to launch a new scheme three years on seems at least a partial admission that the move towards mobile speed traps has not been as successful as had been hoped.
Coun Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, said: "This new digital technology will play a very important role in keeping the region’s roads safe.
"The cameras, and associated signs, are very noticeably; the only people being caught are those who choose to ignore them."
A separate proposal to reintroduce a camera on the Collector Road was eventually dropped.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Chelmsley Wood clergyman named in Birthday Honours

A WELL-known member of the local community has been awarded the British Empire Medal.
Rev'd Neil Roberts, from Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church, was among those named in today's Queen's Birthday Honour's List.
He receives the honour in recognition of his "services to Chelmsley Wood and North Solihull."
The clergyman grew up in Weston-super-Mare and moved to the north of the borough over 20 years ago to work at the church.
In recent years, the Rev'd Roberts has helped drive the refurbishment of the church's Three Trees Community Centre and has also been heavily involved in the debate about the North Solihull Regeneration.
In 2013 he was one of the leading voices in the ultimately successful campaign to rechristen Craig Croft as Chelmund's Cross.
Other Silhillians to feature in the list include Andrew Cole, the current manager at Touchwood shopping centre, and Mary Trow - the club secretary of Solihull Olympic Gymnastic Club.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Kingshurst Primary left reeling after boiler floods school

A MAJOR boiler leak has meant that many children at one local school will not be allowed back into the classroom until the start of next week.
Kingshurst Primary experienced major flooding during the half-term break, causing damage to the kitchens and central area.
Those pupils based in the single-storey part of the school were allowed back today (Wednesday), but staff have ruled it will be unsafe for Years 2-6 to return until the start of next week.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the school said it was "devastated" by the flooding.
"We are all very aware of the inconvenience that this has caused our families and are continuing to work closely with the insurer's recovery team and the school's catering service to plan a full reopen as soon as possible."
It was later confirmed that the older pupils were due to go back on Monday (June 13).
Kingshurst Primary only opened its doors in 2008, with the £7million building the first of the new schools to be completed as part of the North Solihull Regeneration. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Police warning following ban on legal highs

SOLIHULL Police have reminded local people about a recent change in the law which banned the sale and supply of so-called "legal highs".
Under the Psychoactive Substances Act, which came into force last month, anyone convicted of having intent to supply the products could face a prison sentence of up to seven years.
The Government imposed the ban in response to concerns about the growing number of chemicals being manufactured to produce similar effects to drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.
Ministers argue that the tougher legislation will remove any doubt about the safety of substances and ensure they are removed from the shelves of convenience stores and petrol stations.
Chief Insp Simon Inglis, from West Midlands Police, said: "The term 'legal highs' may have given the impression they are safe but there are serious health risks and young and vulnerable people are playing Russian Roulette with their lives."
Some campaigners are less convinced and fear that driving the trade underground will only help backstreet drug-dealers and increase the number of deaths.
Authorities have admitted that the extent to which legal highs were being used in Solihull has been difficult to determine.
Two years ago, a campaign took place in Chelmsley Wood and surrounding areas to improve awareness among young people. The youth engagement group Urban Heard held a series of events to highlight the issue.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Comedy show comes to Castle Bromwich

CASTLE Bromwich Theatre Group will bring a comedy caper to Arden Hall next week.
For their spring show, the acting troupe have chosen It's on, it's off - a family farce by the Sheffield playwright Ray Lawrence.
Director June Stephens said: "The group have been entertaining the people of Castle Bromwich and surrounding area for nearly 50 years.
"We appreciate your support and need you to continue supporting us so we can carry on offering you all enjoyable evenings of plays and pantomimes in the future."
The show runs from June 9-11, with performances at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 (£7 concessions) and are available from Roy Jackson on 0121 776 7821 or 07505 521309.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Castle Bromwich bell ringers join nationwide celebration

A CASTLE Bromwich church has taken part in BBC Music Day - a nationwide celebration of all forms of music.
St Mary and St Margaret's was one of dozens of church towers across the UK which rang their bells simultaneously at 7pm yesterday evening.
The Music Day sees communities come together around the country to celebrate pop hits, brass bands and pretty much everything in between.
Bob Chilcott, an ambassador for the event, said: "Music really does bring people together and sometimes, actually, it brings us together without realising it and bells are an example of that.
"We have a very, very strong tradition of bell ringing in this country. It's nice to think that they've been doing that for maybe 500 years."
This year's programme also featured a concert celebrating the sounds of the football terraces, a vegetable orchestra in Bristol and impromptu gospel performances at Birmingham's New Street Station.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Marking the Queen's 90th birthday

A SPECIAL celebration will be taking place in Chelmsley Wood to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday.
There will be live music, dancing and a street party-feeling at Crabtree Hall on June 11.
The event takes place at the venue from 12noon-3pm.
And for those who want to travel a bit further afield, a celebratory concert will be taking place in Elmdon Park the following day (2.00-4.15pm).