Thursday, 21 September 2017

Deal done for Croft Medical Centre

A PROPERTY investment trust has acquired Chelmsley Associates, the company which owns the Croft Medical Centre.
News that the purpose-built primary care facility had a new owner, Primary Health Properties (PHP), was confirmed this week.
The deal means that PHP now has a portfolio of some 304 assets, worth in excess of £1.3billion.
Managing director Harry Hyman said: "Croft Medical Centre is a positive addition to the portfolio and meets all of our investment criteria, with the added advantage of being located within a new wider community led development, which also includes a school, dentist and pharmacy."

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Chelmsley Wood woman denies murder


MUCH MISSED: Philip Rolph was described by his family as a man
"who loved his life and his work".

A WOMAN has pleaded not guilty to the murder of a man who died following an apparent disturbance in Chelmsley Wood earlier this year.
Appearing at Birmingham Crown Court last week, Georgina Henshaw, 35, of Alder Drive, denied killing Philip Rolph
Mr Rolph, a 65-year-old grandfather, had suffered fatal stab wounds and was found by paramedics in the early hours of July 7. He was in his vehicle, which had been parked up on the estate, and died shortly after being taken to hospital.
Ms Henshaw was remanded in custody and a trial is expected to begin on January 2.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Knife campaign kicks off in North Solihull

CAMPAIGN: Officers carried out routine checks at Solihull College today.

POLICE officers have been at Solihull College's Woodlands Campus today, as part of a region-wide initiative to crack down on knife crime.
Officers from the Smith's Wood neighbourhood team were at the college this morning, carrying out routine weapons checks.
The force will also be working to educate students about the dangers of carrying a knife and the tragic consequences which can ensue.
Later in the day, PC Terri Discenza visited Resorts World, at the NEC, where she reminded retailers about the legislation relating to selling blades to underage customers.
Superintendent Keith Fraser said: "This is a chance for us to really highlight the dangers involved with carrying a knife, even if it’s just for protection.
"A lot of this activity is part of our daily business, however it always helps to have a really focused, concerted effort to target one issue.   We also want to provide reassurance to our communities who we know have some real concerns around knife crime, following a number of high profile crimes earlier this year.
"To be clear, there is no excuse to carry a knife. Knife crime can be utterly devastating and if you are found illegally in possession of a knife you will be arrested and brought to justice."
The week-long campaign will also see the promotion of so-called surrender bins, which will be set up around the West Midlands for people to dispose of weapons.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Chelmsley Wood project takes message to No 10


THE founder of a Chelmsley Wood-based social enterprise was this week invited to Downing Street to speak about the importance of children and young people learning skills outside the classroom.
Sarah Gill, who set up Gro-Organic, visited the Prime Minister's residence and had chance to discuss some of the work that the project was doing locally.
She pressed the point that there were not many ventures designed to encourage active citizenship among youngsters.
Speaking after the visit, Sarah said: "I'm proud of our young people on Chelmsley Wood and what they do in the community.
"Whether my views were taken on board or not today, at least I got to share examples of some amazing kids."
The visit came a couple of months after Gro-Organic was named as a runner-up at the West Midlands Outstanding Citizens’ Awards.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who hosts the annual event, said: "Gro-Organic is doing brilliant work in Chelmsley Wood to clear up public spaces that have been neglected or vandalised.
"And they’re training young people who are at risk of falling into crime, to give them both skills and aspiration for their future."
The initiative started life helping residents at risk of eviction because of overgrown gardens and over the past few years has expanded to run a range of horticultural projects in and around the estate, with an army of volunteers helping to deliver many of the schemes.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Clean-up promised after travellers leave sports centre

TRAVELLERS who had set up camp outside North Solihull Sports Centre have moved on, Solihull Council has confirmed.
Caravans had pitched up at the Chelmsley Wood facility earlier in the week, prompting the local authority to take enforcement action.
The council said it would undertake a "thorough clean-up" at the site and repair gates and barriers in an effort to prevent the group from returning.
The arrival of travellers at the leisure centre follows an encampment in Castle Bromwich last week and several previous incursions over the summer.
Solihull MP Julian Knight, who represents the constituency neighbouring Meriden, has argued that current laws need to be reviewed to speed up the process for removing travellers.
He has written to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to ask that the Government looks at the issue and has launched an online petition urging for the introduction of tougher legislation.
"Too many of our parks and green spaces have been hijacked by travellers this summer, causing a great deal of disruption and distress to residents," he said.
"Although the power to tackle illegal camps directly rests with the council and the police, as MP I want to do what I can to help protect our community."
In response to the most recent incidents, the Solihull Police Partnership said that dealing with illegal camps was "not simple or straightforward".
"All encampments are managed based on their individual circumstance," said a spokesman.
"Our joint response is always quick - however, what we do, how it's done and the time it takes to move encampments depends on a range of factors.
"They include: what the law enables us to do, safeguarding issues, any threat posed, type of land, number of travellers, tactics available etc."

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

School's application approved despite "eyesore" concerns

PLANS to change access to St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School have been approved, in spite of concerns by some councillors about the loss of green space.
The school had sought permission to create a new pedestrian entrance, accessed from Schofield Road, and a change to the boundaries.
Councillor Jim Ryan (Con, Bickenhill) said the access could be provided without taking the “pleasant” wedge of open space away.
“You have got a green area both sides and you’ve got trees. Now the proposal is to move the palisade fence right to the footpath boundary and that green area will be lost as an amenity to local residents.
“And we know in Kingshurst and other areas it’s heavily congested, heavily built up... and every little green, open space is treasured.”
Coun John Windmill (Lib Dem, Olton) said: “I have very great sympathy with Coun Ryan. I see no reason whatsoever for destroying what is a very nicely maintained area of green open space.
“An iron fence, two metres high, all along there is an eyesore quite frankly.”
While Solihull Council’s planning committee voted to approve the plan by a majority, the application was subject to conditions and Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs).

Drama troupe looking for new members

CASTLE Bromwich Theatre Group will be holding a new members night next week.
The event will be taking place at Arden Hall on September 19 (starting at 7.30pm).
The group said it would be ideal for those looking for a new hobby or hoping to rekindle an old passion.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Lollipop service could be cut by cash-strapped council

CROSSING patrols in Solihull could be the subject of major cuts, as the borough council looks to shave £100,000 a year from its budget.
As the local authority continues to search for savings in response to "significant reductions" in funding, it has ordered a wide-reaching review of its crossing patrol service - which could ultimately mean fewer wardens outside local schools.
Since 2010, patrols have been axed at 16 sites in the borough, but a new proposal could see 22 others scrapped before 2019/20 (around half of those in operation in Solihull).
Eight of the sites facing an uncertain future have a Zebra, Pelican or other form of crossing in-situ. A variety of options would be considered for the 14 others including installing some form of permanent crossing or looking at alternative sources of funding, which could include schools paying for the wardens themselves.
A report, due to be considered by councillors on Thursday evening, acknowledges that removing wardens altogether would be one of the options on the table. In these circumstances, the sites which lost the service would be those deemed to be "low priority".
Paul Tovey, the council's head of highways services, wrote: "Our streets are getting busier, car ownership is increasing, schools are increasing in size and set against a background of local and national economic growth, these pressures are set to increase in the future.
"There is lots of evidence demonstrating a clear demand for the Safe Routes to School services...however, the issue to consider now is do we have the right interventions in place."
The document suggests that crossing patrol budgets have been cut back by councils nationwide. A Freedom of Information request made by a national newspaper last month suggested that the number of wardens across the country had fallen by almost 1,000 in five years.
Neighbouring councils including Birmingham and Dudley are among those to have implemented cuts.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Solihull is "the most polarised" council area in the UK

A SOLIHULL Council report recently admitted that inequality in the borough is worse than anywhere in the country.
Paperwork submitted to the council’s governance committee over the summer recognised there was a massive gulf in living standards, despite the affluence in many villages and suburbs to the south.
Assessing the challenge, the report said: “National deprivation statistics suggest Solihull is the most polarised authority in the country, with 16 per cent of the borough’s neighbourhoods classed among the most deprived in the country and 39 per cent among the least deprived.
“The impacts of this are felt across a broad range of outcomes including educational attainment, employment, crime and health.”
The deepening inequalities in Britain were thrown into the spotlight by recent events in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where families are being squeezed into run-down tower blocks in an area where there are also some of the country’s most expensive properties.
Worryingly, the latest report suggests the divisions in Solihull are even more pronounced, although probably less noticeable because the authority covers a larger geographic area.
Councillor Mark Wilson (Green, Smith’s Wood) suggested one of the main difficulties was the reduced opportunities for people living in the north of the borough.
In particular he highlighted the widely-known disparity in the number of 18-year-olds who went to university in different parts of Solihull.
“Smith’s Wood Primary [Academy] was the highest achieving school in 2016 – in the whole of the borough. These kids have the ability to do whatever they want.
“At 16, GCSE results in the borough are not much different between affluent and less affluent areas. So what goes wrong in the fact there is a 70 per cent disparity between 18-year-olds from Smith’s Wood and Dorridge going to University? The system is not working for those who are less well-off.”
There are concerns this gap may grow following the decision to close the sixth form at Smith’s Wood Sports College, although conversely another local school, the Grace Academy, last month reported that all of the A Level students who had applied for a degree course had got a place.
Councillor Joe Tildesley, the cabinet member responsible for education, has previously said the council has to work harder to deal with the issue.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Walking group to launch in Castle Bromwich


A NEW walking group will be starting up in North Solihull from this week.
Castle Bromwich Strollers will hold their first event on Thursday (September 14), with residents asked to meet outside Arden Hall at 7pm.
The route will take locals around the Parkfields estate and will last approximately an hour.
Clare Cadman, who decided to start the group after speaking to other residents online, said the regular walks were for "fitness, fun and fresh air."
All are welcome to join, but locals are advised to wear sensible footwear.

MP defends Solihull's housing quotas

RECENT FOCUS: Dame Caroline Spelman suggests the bulk of recent
development has been concentrated in rural wards such as Meriden

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman has denied that North Solihull is taking a disproportionate number of new homes.
Speaking last month, Dame Caroline said that when the most recent plans were drawn up to divide housing schemes between the borough’s 17 wards, it was taken into account that areas including Chelmsley Wood and Kingshurst were already densely populated.
She argued that instead it was the more rural areas such as Dickens Heath and Balsall Common which had borne the brunt of the recent development, with the latter seeing the construction of 1,200 dwellings.
Although she did concede that she believed Solihull Council had made a mistake in releasing part of Babbs Mill Local Nature Reserve for development.
“Personally my view is that it has been too costly to the community,” she said.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Review of Solihull's fire safety following Grenfell Tower tragedy

SOLIHULL Council has promised a “full review” into whether to retro-fit sprinklers in the borough’s 37 high rise tower blocks.
As reported during the summer, the local authority has faced calls to install the safety systems in the wake of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, West London.
Coun Robert Hulland, who has recently been appointed as the cabinet member responsible for housing, said he had been in discussions with Solihull Community Housing about the options available.
Coun Hulland said: “Our decision will also be informed by the outcome of the public inquiry and investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy and any fire safety recommendations which emerge.”
At present, the UK’s health and safety legislation demands that sprinklers are installed in all newly-built tower blocks but there is no obligation, by law, to fit them in existing buildings.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Plans for "Chelmsley Wood" seat in doubt

IN DOUBT: A map of the proposed constituency
PLANS to create a new Parliamentary constituency - dubbed Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North - look set to be abandoned.
In proposals outlined last year, it was suggested that the north of the borough, which currently forms part of Meriden, could be bound together with Elmdon, Sheldon and Lyndon as part of a nationwide review of boundaries.
But now that review - which would have seen the total number of MPs reduced from 650 to 600 - looks set to be dropped by the Prime Minister.
Today The Times reported that Theresa May has recognised that the shake-up - which was always likely to be controversial, given that certain members of all parties would be set to lose their seats - could not make it through the House of Commons.
The likelihood of the plans being approved was further reduced by the fact that the Conservatives, who were the architects of the changes, had lost their majority in June's General Election.
It is understood that the Boundary Commission will instead be sent back to the drawing board and asked to consider less radical reforms, which would seek to make constituencies of an equal size without cutting the overall number of MPs.
If a new set of proposals are indeed drawn up it would be the third since 2010. Originally changes were due to take effect before the 2015 General Election, but Mrs May's predecessor David Cameron was forced to abandon the plans after losing a Commons vote.
A different set of changes - including the controversial Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North proposal - was announced last year. Back then it was envisioned that the plans would be put in place by the end of the five-year Parliament, although this timetable was ditched after the snap election was called in April.

The old and the new:
Meriden (existing seat): Castle Bromwich, Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood, Kingshurst & Fordbridge, Bickenhill (inc Marston Green), Knowle, Meriden, Blythe, Dorridge & Hockley Heath.
Chelmsley Wood & Solihull  North (proposed seat): Castle Bromwich, Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood, Kingshurst & Fordbridge, Bickenhill (inc Marston Green), Sheldon, Elmdon and Lyndon.

Caravans pitch up in Castle Bromwich

RESIDENTS reported that traveller caravans moved onto land in Castle Bromwich earlier today (Wednesday).
A number of trailers arrived at the field off Castlehills Drive early this afternoon. There are no bollards installed at the site and the vehicles were able to drive up onto the grass.
Both Solihull Council and West Midlands Police have been notified of the group's arrival.
The encampment is the latest of several set up in the north of the borough in recent weeks; enforcement action was taken to remove caravans which pitched up at both the Parkfields estate and Babbs Mill Park during the summer.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Chernobyl visitors welcomed to North Solihull

RESPITE: The group of youngsters visited the CTC in Cooks Lane

TEENAGERS affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster paid a visit to Kingshurst last month.
The six boys and six girls are all in remission from varying types of cancer.
The illness is all too common in the regions of Belarus and the Ukraine still blighted by radiation from a reactor explosion more than 30 years ago.
The group were invited to the CTC, in Cooks Lane, which ran a number of activity sessions during the school holidays.
The visit formed part of a four-week holiday in the UK, overseen by the Solihull branch of the Chernobyl Children’s Project UK.
Kath Ruane, the charity’s co-ordinator, said: “All of the children and their host families very much enjoyed themselves and we were so impressed by the welcome we received from the staff.”
The group also visited Shustoke Sailing Club, the Severn Valley Railway and Stratford- Upon-Avon during the course of their stay.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Cannabis factories smashed in Smith's Wood

POLICE have swooped to shut down two drugs factories in Smith's Wood in as many days.
A warrant was executed at a home in Alvis Walk on Saturday (September 2) and a "large quantity" of the Class B drug was seized at the address.
Yesterday (Sunday) officers from the local neighbourhood team conducted another raid in Redwing Walk, on the other side of the estate. Once again a crop of cannabis plants was removed from the property.
At both premises, light and heating systems had been rigged up to nurture the drugs. The substance will now be incinerated.
The Solihull Police Partnership team urged anyone with information about drugs being cultivated in their neighbourhood to call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. Alternatively ring Solihull Community Housing on 0121 717 1500.

Residents say North Solihull's young people need more support

FRUSTRATION: Water sports ended at Babbs Mill Lake over a decade ago
and there are concerns current activities are poorly advertised or difficult to
access.

RESIDENTS have once again raised concerns that there is not enough effort being made to provide activities for young people.
At a meeting in Kingshurst last month, anger often boiled over about a perceived lack of youth services in the north of the borough.
Residents cited the loss of facilities over the years, including the water sports centre at Babbs Mill Lake and several youth centres.
While representatives from Solihull Council argued that new services continue to be introduced, frustrated locals maintained that these were either poorly advertised or difficult to access given often limited public transport links.
David Cole, from Kingshurst Parish Council, said: “What’s happened with the bus services is absolutely criminal.
“If the [young people] want to go into Chelmsley Wood to go swimming or into Solihull to go skating they just don’t have the option. We want to see some action.”
Another resident stressed how important services could be for local young people, noting that one of the rising stars of the British music scene – Lady Leshurr – had discovered her passion for music at MCing sessions in Kingshurst.
Councillor Tony Dicicco, cabinet member for stronger communities and partnerships, said that he was sympathetic to the challenges facing the community, revealing he had grown up on a Walsall estate “which made Kingshurst look like Beverly Hills”.
“This local authority does do a lot of stuff for young people,” he argued. “But we do want to engage more people in that age group.”
Gillian Crabbe, the council’s community safety manager, highlighted activities increasingly taking place at Smith’s Wood Sports College and the CTC Kingshurst Academy.
While Meriden MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, said she believed the council was trying to engage with young people, she acknowledged the obstacles for some families.
“I am aware that services in Chelmsley Wood would not be accessible to those people in Kingshurst who may not even have the money for the bus fare,” she said.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Your questions answered: Marston Green parking restrictions

FROM tomorrow, the new School Streets initiative will take effect in the vicinity of Marston Green Infant Academy.
Residents have inevitably raised a number of questions about how the scheme will work in practice. On the eve of the changes, Other Side of Solihull considers some of the most common queries.

What are the restrictions?
The majority of vehicles will be banned from driving down named streets during certain periods of the day (those times which coincide with the school run). The aim is to stop congestion caused by parents picking up and dropping off pupils, a problem which Solihull Council has been grappling with for years and has previously failed to stamp out. The hope is that the new system will encourage more families to walk or cycle to school, although for those who have to drive part of the way, spaces will still be available at the nearby Marston Green Tavern.

When will they apply?
The restrictions will be in force Monday to Friday, between 8.20-9.00am and 2.45-3.45pm. Somewhat controversially, the restrictions will not be limited to term time, which Solihull Council has attributed to the fact that holiday dates vary from year to year.

What roads will be affected?
A map produced by the local authority - see above - shows that the restrictions will apply to Elm Farm Avenue.

What is the penalty for ignoring the restrictions?
Those who flout the rules face fines of £50. They will be enforced by police, although there may be questions as to whether the force - already stretched following recent cuts - has sufficient manpower to ensure that the scheme is adhered to.

Will there be exemptions?
Yes, for Blue Badge holders and the emergency services. Permits have also been made available to residents to prevent them being hit with penalties (Solihull Council is very mindful of the issue, following a notorious episode ten years ago, in which parking restrictions implemented in the Hillfield area ended up with large numbers of local people being ticketed). Each household has been allocated two permits, which must be on display in the restricted area.

How long will the trial last?
The pilot begins on September 4 and will run for 18 months. Residents will be invited to give feedback, with adjustments likely to be made after the first six months if any problems or possible improvements are identified. Comments can be emailed between now and March 5 next year.

What will happen in 18 months' time?
Solihull Council will use the data from Marston Green Infant Academy and two other pilots - in Shirley and Olton - to determine whether the scheme should continue or be rolled out more widely. If successful, it is possible that other schools facing challenges will have similar systems introduced. Solihull Council has acknowledged, however, that the road layout in the borough will mean that the scheme won't be suitable for every location.

Huge response to Chelmsley Wood art shows

ARTISTS' SHOWCASE: Jessica Lucas was among the local residents
whose work was included in the exhibition.

A SERIES of art shows staged in Chelmsley Wood over the summer have been hailed a big success.
The exhibitions, coordinated by the B37 Project, have been held at the old Halifax bank in the town’s shopping centre.
Following an appeal for local artists to get in touch, more than 30 individuals had their work displayed during July and August.
Debbie Gara, from the Project, said: “We have been amazed by the level of creativity and standard submitted, and have met some great people, which has resulted in a number of spin-off, collaborative projects based in North Solihull.”
Among those to take part in the series of three events were Chelmsley Wood photographer Ben Clifton and Castle Bromwich man Ian Carr, who juggles artwork with his day job as a PCSO.
Another featured artist was Jessica Lucas, a recent Grace Academy graduate whose collection of portraits tackled the negative impact that beauty editorials can have on women today.
Following the success of the exhibitions, the B37 Project hopes to hold similar shows again next year.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Marston Green business park plan to return to planning chiefs


PLANS to expand Birmingham Business Park are set to go back to Solihull Council's planning committee next Wednesday.
Last month, a decision on the scheme was postponed, with one member claiming that aspects of the current proposals were “totally unacceptable”.
Councillor Jim Ryan (Con, Bickenhill) argued the application should be deferred given the “scant” information available to the planning committee.
He drew comparisons between the development and a previous application to build the Land Rover Distribution Centre, near Digby Drive.
In that case he said that noise caused by vehicles reversing and moving pallets about, often late at night, had led to battle after battle with the car giant.
He told members that, by comparison, the Birmingham Business Park development would in fact have an even greater impact on those living in nearby Blackfirs Lane, which is why it was so vital to have the full details to hand.
“The applicant has a duty, in my view, to work with officers and the local authority and local residents to get the best outcome that can be had regarding the layout. It’s in their interests to do that moving forward.
“Residents may have to face agony for years as a result of this 24/7 operation of traffic, of movement...”
The applicants have argued that the plans submitted for two new units would be a big boost to the local economy and create hundreds of new jobs.
But Coun Robert Grinsell (Con, Olton) said the “overriding” consideration had to be those residents living closest to the land, while Coun Stephen Holt (Green, Smith’s Wood) said that the way the site was accessed could create difficulties.
Earlier in the meeting, ward councillor Alison Rolf (Con) said the community had grave concerns about the plans put forward.
Addressing the committee, she said: “Please either defer this application, reject it or provide residents with some conditions they can live with because as far as they’re concerned this site is a disaster.”
Richard Cobb, speaking on behalf of Bickenhill and Marston Green Parish Council, said that while it was accepted the site would be developed, strict conditions should be imposed to protect local residents.
“These are plainly going to be two very large buildings with limited opportunity to reduce their scale,” he said.
Following the discussions, the committee voted unanimously to defer the application prompting spontaneous applause from the audience.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Kingshurst Parade concept is finally unveiled



THIS is the first glimpse of what the drastically redeveloped Kingshurst Parade could look like.
The draft masterplan for North Solihull's latest "village centre" was formally unveiled earlier this afternoon.
Solihull Council has urged the public to have their say on the multi-million pound proposals, which will see the existing precinct demolished and replaced with a new development, set to include houses, shops and community facilities.
There is a lot riding on the scheme, which was originally due to be built several years ago but has been hit by various delays, much to the frustration of local residents.
At the most recent Full Council meeting, Leader of Solihull Council, Coun Bob Sleigh, said that the local authority had decided to replace the Parade altogether because this had more support than the option for a more limited refurbishment.
He said: “I think [this] fulfils the commitment that has been made...by this authority to do what we can in North Solihull, as we have already done in Chelmund’s Cross and in North Arran Way, to update the facilities for people in the borough
“It is something that I think this administration and previous Conservative administrations should be proud of delivering.”
However, Solihull Green Party continue to push the Tory-run authority on the issue of support for
existing tenants.
Coun Sleigh said he had been advised that some of the dwellings on the development site would be social housing, although a precise number has not been provided at this stage. It is expected that further pressure will be placed on the administration to provide further details when the next meeting is held in October.
The draft plans also include space for a dentist/medical centre, a OneStop shop and around a dozen other retail units - including an unnamed "anchor" store.
Locals will be able to discuss the plans at a couple of drop-in sessions, to be held at Kingshurst Library on September 7 (2-6pm) and September 15 (2-5pm).
Further information about the consultation is also available on the council website.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Kingshurst crimes spark concerns about policing

TRIBUTES: Flowers in Haselour Road, near where Callum Lees suffered
fatal wounds - one of several serious incidents this month.

RESIDENTS who have lived in Kingshurst for decades have told a public meeting that crime on the estate has never been as bad as it is now.
Scores of people had packed into St Barnabas Church to voice concerns about the police response; claiming that foot patrols were non-existent and that officers had failed to act when offences were reported.
This month’s meeting had been organised by Meriden’s MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, amid rising anxiety within the community.
While the murder of 20-year-old Callum Lees had been widely publicised, various other incidents were highlighted during the course of the 90 minute event.
These included a young man being threatened with a meat cleaver outside KFC, flagrant drug dealing and incidents of pensioners being deliberately knocked over by bikes.
Coun Debbie Evans (UKIP, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) said that residents had lost faith in the police.
“There was an incident on the Parade involving knives. They phoned 999 and it was engaged.
“When they finally got through it took [officers] half an hour to get there, by which time the kids had gone.
“I have lived on Kingshurst for most of my adult life and I have never known anything like this.”
One resident claimed to be “scared out of their wits” while another spoke of her frustration that concerns did not appear to be acted upon.
“I have lived here for 52 years...I like this community and I have always been quite proud to say I come from this area, until now.”
As tensions boiled over, a panel which included Dame Caroline, Solihull Chief Insp Colin Barnes and representatives from Solihull Council sought to reassure the audience.
Chief Insp Barnes insisted the force would act on reports from the public, although he admitted that cuts had affected police responses.
Echoing comments made at a meeting in Castle Bromwich back in January, he acknowledged there had been a particular shortage of call handlers.
“We have been aware of the issues with the 101 [non-emergency] number for a few months and that we couldn’t always get to the calls.
“We have known this on the front line for a while and it took a while for that to filter up the chain of command.
“There has been a recruitment drive and I hope that is starting to pay dividends.”
Official figures suggest crime rates in Kingshurst have been erratic over the past five years, with a fall in offending some years and a rise in others.

  • Next week we will report on the questions about youth services raised at the same meeting.

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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Police make arrest in Callum Lees murder investigation

POLICE have this afternoon arrested a man wanted in connection with the murder of Callum Lees, who suffered fatal injuries in Kingshurst earlier this month.
James Atherley, 21, was detained at an address in Newcastle-upon-Tyne a few hours ago, following a widely-shared public appeal.
A man and a woman, who have not been named, have also been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.
Twenty-year-old Callum was stabbed in Hopwas Grove on August 6. A member of the public found him collapsed in nearby Haselour Road and he was confirmed dead the same day.
Atherley remains in custody in Newcastle and will be transported to the West Midlands for questioning by detectives.

Castle Bromwich responds to flight path fears

PLANE SPEAKING: Meriden MP Caroline Spelman addresses local
residents during the recent meeting in Castle Bromwich.

FEARS about changes to flight paths have prompted residents in Castle Bromwich to set up a campaign group.
Efforts to mobilise opposition to some of the more controversial adjustments follow a meeting at St Mary and St Margaret's Church earlier this month, in which several dozen locals gathered to discuss the proposed alterations to air traffic.
The proposals, which are currently out for consultation, will see changes to northbound flights from Birmingham Airport and are set to have an impact on North Solihull.
While some residents are fairly unfazed by the plans, others have concerns about noise from aircraft and increased pollution.
Questions have also been raised as to the wording of the 50-page consultation document, with some criticism that it includes several leading questions and fails to address other queries.
Meriden's MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, who was among those to attend the recent meeting, said: "I was pleased be able to offer residents a guarantee that I will work closely with them and Birmingham Airport to campaign for appropriate noise mitigation and to ensure that local voices are heard.
"Having been in regular contact with the airport for some weeks with regards to this issue, I am pleased that following the meeting we have already secured some changes to the format of the consultation. These will serve to better ensure that views can be properly expressed."
David Winstanley, Birmingham Airport's chief operating officer, said: "The airport is very, very conscious that this is a sensitive issue”.
"We are providing the [consultation] website and information so that residents can dig down and find the answers to the questions they wish."
The consultation runs until October 9. You can have your say here.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Lions' pop-up shop set to be a roaring success


MARSTON Green & District Lions will be running a "pop-up" charity shop in Chelmsley Wood this weekend.
Books, DVDs, toys and bric-a-brac will be among the items for sale in the old Halifax unit, in Maple Walk.
The shop will be open Friday and Saturday (September 1 and 2) from 10am-4pm.
Proceeds from sales will go towards the Lions' good causes and there will also be a chance to chat to members about the work that the branch is doing within the local community.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Man who hit 115mph in late-night chase is jailed

WRECKAGE: The badly-damaged BMW M3 outside the BP petrol station
Picture/West Midlands Police

A DRIVER who crashed at Bacons End after reaching speeds of up to 115mph has been jailed.
Kamar Farooq had careered across a roundabout at the junction of Chester Road and Birmingham Road before colliding with another vehicle at the nearby petrol station.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that the 30-year-old - who was banned from driving at the time of the incident - had aroused the suspicions of police as he drove down Birmingham's Washwood Heath Road.
When officers signalled for him to pull over, he had sped off down the road. In the hair-raising chase which followed, Farooq had reached speeds almost four times the legal limit and at times drove on the wrong side of the road in his attempt to escape.
The pursuit through the streets, in the early hours of September 23 last year, came to a juddering halt following the collision outside the BP filling station.
At this point Farooq had jumped into the back of the BMW alongside two other men and tried to claim he had been a passenger.
Fortunately police were able to secure CCTV which showed the driver of the £85,000 sports car was wearing the same clothes as Farooq at the time of his arrest.
The defendant, of Aston Lane, Aston, had continued to deny being behind the wheel, but was convicted of dangerous driving and driving while disqualified and jailed last Friday (August 25). He received a two and a half year prison sentence and a further ten year driving ban.
PC Robert Lattimer, from Chelmsley Wood's road policing unit, said: "This was reckless driving by someone who should not have been behind the wheel.
"This was a high performance vehicle and the outcome could have been much worse. He now faces a long time behind bars rather than behind the wheel of a car."

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Chelmsley Wood woman's new radio series

A WRITER who grew up on Chelmsley Wood is to present a new radio series on the history of social housing.
Lynsey Hanley's documentary comes on the back of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and examines how these types of property have evolved over the decades.
The first of the five-part series airs on Radio 4 tomorrow (Monday) at 1.45pm. Episodes will also be available to listen to after broadcast via the BBC website.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

School parking restrictions to take effect in Marston Green

A NEW scheme to restrict parking around Marston Green Infant Academy will come into force next month.
The measures, first revealed by this site last year, will be introduced amid concerns about congestion on nearby roads during the school run.
The restrictions will mean that most vehicles, including those driven by parents or carers, will not be able to drive into certain streets to drop off or pick up pupils.
Exemptions will be made for emergency vehicles and residents are to be issued with special permits to avoid them being issued with tickets.
The pilot "School Streets" scheme - which will also be introduced at Oak Cottage Primary and Haslucks Green Junior School, in Shirley - will help gauge whether the restrictions could be introduced at other schools around the borough.
Solihull Council - which has grappled with the issue for some years - had previously admitted that past initiatives had failed to stop the traffic problems.
Councillor Ted Richards, cabinet member for transport and highways, said: "We know that most people do drive responsibly, but it can often be chaotic outside schools at drop-off and pick-up times.
"The aim of School Streets is to create a safer and more pleasant environment for everyone around schools. An added bonus will be the healthier and more active lifestyle it will prompt, with more pupils walking, cycling and scooting to school.
"The scheme has already been adopted in Edinburgh with early positive feedback, so we hope it will bring similar benefits to Solihull."
The measures come into force from Monday, September 4 and will run for an initial period of 18 months.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Pair robbed outside Marston Green shop

POLICE are investigating following a carjacking in the middle of Marston Green last week.
A female driver had got out of her car to use the cashpoint at the One Stop shop, in Station Road, when she was confronted by three men last Thursday evening (August 17).
The gang assaulted her and took the keys to the vehicle, before dragging a male passenger out of the seat. They then drove off in the car, understood to be a grey Seat Ibiza.
The victims were taken to hospital to be checked over following the robbery.
Police confirmed today that three teenagers had been arrested and questioned in relation to the incident. The two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old, who were detained in the Alum Rock area, have been bailed pending further enquiries.
Earlier this month, PCSO Ian Carr had warned about a spate of vehicle thefts in the Chelmsley Wood and Marston Green area and advised residents to be vigilant.
If you have any information about the incident, which happened at around 8.50pm, call Solihull Police on 101 [quoting crime number 20SH/175504V/17​].

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Health body ranked as "inadequate" amid financial concerns


THE body in charge of overseeing Solihull's GP surgeries has been given four weeks to turn its performance around, amid concerns about a gaping hole in its finances.
Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been ranked "inadequate" overall, following an assessment of its performance in 2016/17 by officials at NHS England.
While some specific services performed well - cancer care was rated "outstanding" and mental health "good" - its overall ranking was rather poorer. The CCG has suggested that its "challenging financial position" was the reason for this.
In a statement last week, the organisation said it had been working on a plan to shore up its finances since the start of 2017. There has already been talk of Solihull CCG merging with Birmingham, with a view that pooling resources and expertise would make for a more efficient organisation.
Now however, NHS England has directly intervened and given the CCG four weeks [dating from August 17] to produce an effective plan to ensure it operates within its budget in this financial year.
Instructions have also been given to appoint a permanent chief finance officer, who will play a key role in ensuring that the books are balanced.
Solihull CCG said: "[We] will continue to work hard to deliver against our £18million savings target; we do not believe that this will adversely impact upon the current services being provided to patients.
"We are committed to putting in place a strong and detailed integration plan, working closely with our local authority and health partners in Solihull and Birmingham."
CCGs were introduced in 2013 as part of a controversial reorganisation of the NHS. The GP-led bodies were given substantial control over the budgets for providing services, which the Government said would improve quality of care and give more freedom to practitioners on the front-line.
But two years later, the King's Fund think tank was highly critical of the changes, arguing they had distracted from patient care and led to declining performance.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Leisure centre contract opened to bids

SOLIHULL Council has put the contract for North Solihull Sports Centre out to tender.
The Chelmsley Wood-based facility has been run by Parkwood Leisure Ltd for many years, as part of a deal between Rivendell Leisure Ltd and the local authority.
This contract has now been terminated, but Parkwood will continue to operate the centre as part of an interim arrangement.
The re-tendering process will see the council consider who should run the service going forward. The council has previously indicated that the current provider is likely to be among those in the running.
It is expected the operator will be selected by the end of March 2018, with the new management contract taking effect from next June.
A Solihull Council spokesman said: "In the meantime current services will continue as normal and leisure centre users will not be affected."

Timeline:
2007: Major refurbishment of North Solihull Sports Centre runs in tandem with the redevelopment of Tudor Grange Leisure Centre.
Jan 2009: Free swimming sessions launched for under 16s and over 60s as part of a get fit drive ahead of the London Olympics.
July 2012: Local mums, led by firefighter Leanne Byrne, protest against a proposed reduction in creche opening hours.
July 2015: Campaign to reinstate long-standing lifeguard Ray Lill, who is sacked after more than 30 years following allegations he used his phone at the poolside.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Jamaican vibes in Meriden Park


A CARIBBEAN-themed event will be taking place in Chelmsley Wood this Bank Holiday Sunday.
The colourful programme of events will be held on The Green, in Meriden Park, from 12noon until 6pm.
There will be live reggae music (performances at 1pm and 3pm), a jerk chicken stand and a rum and cocktail bar. Children can enjoy pony rides, face painting and bouncy slides.
Admission on the gate (£8 for adults and £1 for children).

Monday, 21 August 2017

Playgroup delighted by charity grant

BEARING GIFTS: Children in
Need mascot Pudsey
KINGSHURST Caterpillars Playgroup has been awarded almost £50,000 by Children in Need.
The three-year grant, announced earlier this month, will enable the group to offer supported play sessions to two to four-year-olds.
Set up in 2005, the organisation recently moved to a new home, with the ribbon cut at the School Close base back in March.
Melinda Connelly, BBC Children in Need's Regional Head of the Central Region said: "We are delighted to be announcing additional funding in Solihull.
"All of our funding goes on to positively impact the lives of disadvantaged children and young people, and recently awarded projects really will go on to change young lives in the area."
Funding has also been set aside for Solihull Action Through Advocacy, which will receive £61,826, and the borough's refugee support charity Entraide, which has been awarded £77,631.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Heartless thieves steal charity money

DONATIONS to charities were stolen during a late-night break-in at a Marston Green hairdressers.
The glass frontage of Studio 64 ...Hair Nails and Beauty, in Station Road,  was shattered in the early hours of this morning (Sunday).
It's understood that charity money for Marie Curie and Help Harry Help Others was stolen from the premises.
The thieves fled the building after the salon's alarm went off, with a resident who lives in the flat above also dialling 999.
If you have any information about the theft, please call Solihull Police on 101.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Restoration of Castle Brom bells is complete

DING DONG DONE IT: St Mary and St Margaret's Church has a new ring
of eight bells following the completion of a major restoration.

THE bells at a Castle Bromwich church will ring out tomorrow morning following the completion of a major restoration project.
Work hanging the eight bells was finally finished yesterday (Friday), after a month's work in the belfry of St Mary and St Margaret's.
£100,000 was raised for the project by the church bellringing team, with Loughborough-based foundry Taylor's tasked with recasting the six existing bells and forging two others. 
Last month they started work on the installation and now, at last, the new ring of eight bells is in place.
In the past few days residents will have heard the chimes for the first time since February, when the old installation was dismantled. 
In the end, the work was completed to exactly the schedule set out in the spring - and at a rather quicker rate than the four year restoration intended for Big Ben!
In recognition of their efforts, the bellhanging team was presented with bottles of Stay Upright - an ale which has been specially brewed by Birmingham's Two Towers Brewery to celebrate the end of the restoration.
The dedication service will be taking place tomorrow (Sunday) at 10am.

Friday, 18 August 2017

A Level success at local schools

FLYING HIGH: RAF hopeful Zak Maling and
fellow student Jorden Evans.
STUDENTS at a number of North Solihull schools have achieved their best ever A Level results despite the introduction of tougher exams.
Both the Grace Academy, in Chelmsley Wood, and Park Hall Academy, Castle Bromwich, reported record achievements yesterday (Thursday).
This is in line with a national trend, with the number of A* and A grades rising overall, although performance in some 13 subjects did dip as a result of stricter marking.
At the Grace Academy, an increased number of students achieve three or more A Levels and every student who applied to university secured a place on a course.
Among the sixth formers singled out for praise was Jorden Evans, who achieved three As and a B, and will go on to study Physics at the University of Nottingham.
Zak Maling picked up an A and three Bs and now intends to pursue a career as an officer in the RAF.
Kelly Williams, head of Post-16, said: "The results demonstrate that with the right level of support and guidance, our students really can flourish and achieve some great results.
"We wish them well on their future journey, whether that is university, an apprenticeship, or the start of their careers."
Hailing his own school's record results, Park Hall's headteacher Damian Burgess said: "The students, staff, parents, carers and governors should be very proud of all the skill, hard work and effort that have made these improvements possible."
Park Hall's performance continues a significant turnaround, with the school having emerged from the special measures imposed by Ofsted back in 2014.
Teenagers at John Henry Newman Catholic College and Smith's Wood Sports College also received their grades, although the latter will only hand out results for one more summer following the recent decision to close the sixth form to new students.
At the CTC Kingshurst Academy it was a rather quieter day. While staff were on hand to help with clearing, the school does not have the usual results day rush [it instead offers the IB qualification, the grades for which are released in July].

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Reward offered as police continue hunt for murder suspect

FURTHER to our reports last week, a reward of up to £5,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a key suspect in an ongoing murder investigation.
Officers are keen to know the whereabouts of 21-year-old James Atherley, who was first named as a person of interest last week.
The appeal comes after Callum Lees, 20, suffered a fatal stab wound in Hopwas Grove, Kingshurst on August 6. The independent charity Crimestoppers has put up the reward.
Pauline Hadley, Crimestoppers' West Midlands Regional Manager, said: "Someone who saw this stabbing take place is likely to know James Atherley personally, and we understand passing on his details to us is a tough decision to make.
"But we’re here to help, to take your information without asking any of your personal details, and without you having to speak to the police or going to court."
Det Insp Jim Munro, who is leading the investigation into Callum's death, said: "Our enquiries lead us to believe that James Atherley is no longer in the West Midlands and may have links to Weston-Super-Mare."
In a fresh statement, Callum's family said: "Every morning we wake up and we realise our son has gone.
"The only thing that keeps us going is knowing that we have to be there for our children and family, so we’ve got to get through this but our lives will never be the same again.
"To the person that has taken Callum from us, please do the right thing and give yourself up. We need some sense of closure. Please allow us to bury our boy."
If you can help please call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Kingshurst sees second stabbing in a fortnight

POLICE are investigating after a man was knifed in the leg in Kingshurst in the early hours of Monday morning.
The 27-year-old was rushed to hospital after being attacked in Kingshurst Way at around 4.30am. He remains in a stable condition.
Officers were later seen scouring gardens in the streets in an apparent search for the weapon.
A 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assault and has been bailed pending further enquiries.
The incident comes barely a week after the death of Callum Lees, 20, who suffered a fatal stab wound following a dispute in nearby Hopwas Grove.
Amid growing concerns about crime on the estate, a public meeting has been organised by Meriden MP Caroline Spelman and will be taking place on Thursday evening.
Anyone with information about this latest incident should call officers on 101.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Bickenhill Road closure following burst water pipe

A SECTION of Bickenhill Road has been closed while the water authority carries out emergency works to repair a leak.
Severn Trent said that the problem was causing flooding of the carriageway and that the road would be shut off between the junction with Coleshill Road and just south of the junction with Lyndon Croft.
Work is expected to be completed by 6pm on Wednesday (August 16), although access will be maintained for the emergency services.
Severn Trent had warned yesterday that the burst main may cause loss of pressure or supply to those living in the Marston Green area and apologised for any inconvenience caused.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Blooms, veg and wine at village show


A FINE display is expected at Marston Green's Annual Flower Show.
The event will be taking place today (Saturday) at the Parish Hall and grounds.
Schedules for the show, which includes categories for vegetables, wine and handicrafts, are available in the village. The event opens at 2pm.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Flight paths meeting organised in Castle Brom


RESIDENTS are invited to attend a public meeting to discuss proposed changes to flight paths at Birmingham Airport.
The plans, unveiled a couple of months ago, would mean a change in the direction that aircraft take off from the northbound runway.
This could impact on residents living in Marston Green, Chelmsley Wood, Kingshurst, Fordbridge and Castle Bromwich.
The meeting will be held at St Mary and St Margaret's Community Hall next Thursday (August 17). It is expected to run from 6.30-8.30pm.
While no representatives from the airport will be present, locals still have the opportunity to make their feelings known through the formal consultation.
This will run until October 9, with details on how to take part available here.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Police name suspect in Kingshurst murder case


POLICE have named a man they wish to speak to as part of a murder investigation launched following an incident in Kingshurst last weekend.
Callum Lees, 20, had suffered a fatal wound to the neck following an apparent dispute at a house party in Hopwas Grove.
Detectives today identified James Atherley, 21, as a suspect and have appealed for information about his whereabouts. They have also released photos of Atherley, formerly of Wells Road, Elmdon, as part of efforts to trace him.
Det Insp Jim Munro warned that anyone who hindered the investigation by sheltering the suspect ran the risk of being prosecuted themselves.
He said: "This is a tragic case in which a young man has lost his life in awful circumstances: Callum has been attacked in a flat, managed to stagger outside for help but has collapsed and died.
"Our enquiries have identified James Atherley as someone we’d like to question about Callum’s murder. If anyone knows where he is, or has seen him in the last few days, I’d urge them to call us immediately."
Police would also like to hear from anyone else who attended the party on Saturday night into Sunday morning as they could be an important witness.
Three men aged 21, 20 and 18, previously arrested in connection with the incident, have been bailed pending further enquiries.
Anyone with information as to Atherley’s whereabouts or who can otherwise help the investigation should call officers on 101.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Public meeting in Kingshurst to discuss crime

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman is organising a public meeting to give local residents a chance to discuss concerns about crime in the local area.
The event is due to take place at St Barnabas Church Hall, Kingshurst, next Thursday (August 17), from 5.30pm.
Ward councillors for Smith's Wood and Kingshurst & Fordbridge have also been invited to attend and requests have been made for representatives from Solihull Police and the borough council.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Man dies in incident at Marston Green station


A MAN has died following a collision with a train at Marston Green Railway Station this afternoon.
The incident involved the 16:50 Birmingham New Street to London Euston service.
Ambulance crews and British Transport Police were called at just before 5pm, with paramedics confirming that the man had died at the scene. The death is not believed to be suspicious.
Rail services operated by Virgin Trains, Arriva Trains Wales, CrossCountry and London Midland have been cancelled or delayed.
Operators confirmed that replacement bus services were taking passengers to destinations including Birmingham International, Leamington Spa and Coventry.

Arrests made in fast-moving murder investigation

TWO more people have been arrested following the fatal stabbing in Kingshurst on Sunday morning.
Police launched an investigation into the death of 20-year-old Callum Lees, after a disturbance in Hopwas Grove.
Two men, aged 18 and 20, were detained in East Birmingham yesterday on suspicion of murder.
A 21-year-old who had previously been questioned on suspicion of assisting an offender has now been bailed pending further enquiries.
Det Insp Jim Munro, from Force CID, said: "We’ve made quick progress in this investigation...This is a significant development but we are still appealing to anyone with information who has not yet spoken to us to call my team."
Officers can be contacted on 101 or alternatively people can ring Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Young man "left to die" following Kingshurst stabbing

A YOUNG man who suffered a fatal stab wound following a row in a Kingshurst flat has today been named as Callum Lees.
The 20-year-old is understood to have been injured during a disturbance at the property in Hopwas Grove yesterday morning (Sunday).
A member of the public found him collapsed in nearby Haselour Road at around 10am and he was airlifted to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. A post-mortem is understood to have taken place today.
In a statement issued through West Midlands Police, Callum's family described him as "a beautiful, caring, kind soul."
"Everyone who knew him only had good words to say. Our world has been shattered and will never be the same again."
Detectives have confirmed that a 21-year-old man, from the Solihull area, has been arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender. Enquiries are ongoing, with forensics teams having removed a number of items from the street, which is near Yorkswood Primary School.
Det Insp Jim Munro believes there were several other people at the flat at the time of the disturbance – and has urged them to come forward.
He added: "We suspect the victim knew his attacker and efforts are well underway to find the person responsible.
"Our enquiries suggest that a group of people were drinking in the flat at the time…they need to call me immediately so we can understand exactly what happened and eliminate them from our enquiries.
"A young man has lost his life in awful circumstances and been left to die in the street."
Anyone with information can call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

20-year-old dies following stabbing in Kingshurst street

A YOUNG man has died following a stabbing in Kingshurst earlier today (Sunday).
The 20-year-old suffered injuries to his head and neck in Haselour Road and was discovered by a member of the public at just before 10am.
The victim, who has not yet been named by police, is understood to have been airlifted to hospital and was originally described as being in a critical condition. This afternoon it was confirmed he had died from his injuries.
Locals have reported that the street, which runs between Kingshurst Way and Bannerlea Road, a stone's throw from Yorkswood Primary School, has been sealed off following the incident.
Forensic teams have also been seen removing items from the scene.
The stabbing comes less than a month after a separate incident in Chelmsley Wood, in which a 65-year-old lost his life.
There have been concerns that violent crime has been on the rise across the region, with 113,017 offences recorded in the 12 months to March [16 per cent up on the previous year]. The situation has inevitably led to renewed questions about cuts in policing budgets and a reduction in the number of officers.
Local resident Leigh Knight said: "I think everyone on the estate needs to pull together and get a petition going to demand more police on duty to get our area back to how it was, when it safe to walk the streets and we didn't sit in fear when our kids were out!"
Speaking last month, DCI Ian Parnell said: "Similar to other areas around the country we have seen a rise in knife crime over the last few months and we are taking this very seriously."
If you have any information about today's incident, call Solihull Police on 101.

Funding new activities in Smith's Wood

GRANTS are being offered to those residents who would like to run a community group in Smith's Wood.
The Cars Area Big Local will make funding available for groups to be based at either Auckland Hall or on Bosworth Wood Playing Fields. Submissions must be made by August 18.
For an application form or more advice about the process, please call Aimee on 07825 417141 or email carsareabiglocal@gmail.com

Friday, 4 August 2017

Force pays tribute to local bobby

A CHELMSLEY Wood-based police officer who recovered from terrible leg injuries to return to her old patch has been named as one of West Midlands Police's "Stars of Summer".
Over the course of August, the force is posting details on social media about some of its unsung heroes and PC Terri Discenza was one of the first to be recognised.
It is five years since the officer was knocked over by an off-road biker while responding to reports of anti social behaviour.
The leg injuries she received in the incident were so severe that doctors advised against returning to front-line duties.
But after months of rehabilitation, she came back to active service and is today a member of the Chelmsley Wood neighbourhood team.
As part of her role she also acts as a secondary school liaison officer, working with pupils to tackle issues such as online grooming, sexual exploitation and knife crime.
Last summer PC Discenza and her colleague PCSO Michelle Collins were presented with a special award by Smith's Wood Sports College.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Solihull councillor censured over Grenfell Fire tweet

A FORMER Mayor of Solihull, whose comments on Twitter following the Grenfell Tower fire caused a storm of controversy, "did not treat people with respect".
Councillor Ken Hawkins (Con, Blythe) was last week found to have breached Solihull Council's Code of Conduct as a result of comments posted on social media back in June.
At the heart of the row was a photo that Coun Hawkins had retweeted showing residents in West London protesting in the wake of the tower block blaze, in which scores of people died.
He had added the caption "Lets get ourselves a hangin!", a comment which led to a considerable backlash and calls for his resignation.
Many of those who responded believed the remark likened the demonstrators to "a mob".
Lea Ralston replied: "The community are not baying for a 'hangin' as you so ineptly tweeted @cllrken but for someone, anyone, to admit responsibility."
Coun Hawkins, who had been out discussing fire safety at high-rise blocks in North Solihull shortly before the controversy erupted, was stripped of his role as the cabinet member responsible for housing and issued a formal apology.
"In no way whatsoever was the short message directed at the unfortunate victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and I am distraught that some people have interpreted it in this way," he said at the time.
Last Wednesday a Code of Conduct panel considered the case and ruled that the former policeman "had failed to behave in accordance with the council's policies, procedures and protocols...did not act appropriately in regard to leadership and example, and did not treat people with respect."
It was recommended that he does not return to a cabinet position during the current municipal year (which runs until next spring) and he will be required to attend social media training.
Coun Hawkins accepted the findings and the sanctions imposed by the panel.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Pop-up shop is just the job for local young people

YOUNG people looking for careers advice are invited to visit a new pop-up shop in Chelmlsey Wood town centre.
Staff from Solihull Council, Solihull College, the Prince’s Trust, Advanced Personnel Management and initiatives such as Fab Lab and Frame Academy will be on hand to offer advice to 15 to 29-year-olds.
The shop - which has set up at 11 Coppice Walk - will be open every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (12noon-4pm) between now and the end of September.
Councillor Ken Meeson, cabinet member for children, education and skills, said: “This is a great opportunity for any young person who is looking for help to set them on a path to their future career to get some face to face advice and practical support to find a job or an apprenticeship.”
The initiative is part of the Birmingham & Solihull Youth Promise Plus project and is part-funded by the European Social Fund.

Monday, 31 July 2017

North Solihull sides steel themselves for new season


A FOOTBALL side which plays its home games in Kingshurst is on the look out for new players.
Solihull Sporting Girls & Ladies FC, based at the CTC, in Cooks Lane, has eight different teams - making it the largest female side in the region.
Aside from playing its home games on the school grounds, the club also runs a personal development centre at the CTC. This takes place on Friday evenings (from 7-8pm).
You can find out more about the club on their website.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Police appeal after young woman is attacked

DETECTIVES are appealing for witnesses after a young woman was assaulted at Smith's Wood Playing Fields in the early hours of Saturday morning (July 29).
The victim, who is in her 20s, was approached by a man as she walked along Buckingham Road at just after midnight.
She was dragged onto the field, where the man assaulted her before fleeing into a nearby wooded area.
The suspect was black and had a distinctive gold tooth. He was wearing a black hoodie and dark-coloured jeans at the time of the attack.
Solihull Police are investigating the late night attack and urged anyone with information to call officers on 101 [quoting crime number 20SH/160239T/17].

Travellers back at Babbs Mill site

A GROUP of travellers has moving onto Babbs Mill, just days before work is due to start on a controversial new housing development.
The caravans pitched up on land opposite St Anthony's School earlier today (Sunday), with ward councillors reported to be liaising with the relevant authorities.
It is unclear if their arrival will impact on the preliminary building work at nearby Larks Meadow, which was scheduled to begin next week.
Sarah Evans, leader of local campaign group Action for Babbs Mill, said: "We are aware that the holidays have just started so we are urging everyone to be vigilant and to be safe.
"We would ask for your patience whilst Solihull Council deal with this."
The Babbs Mill site has been used by travellers on a number of occasions in recent years, with a convoy having previously set up camp last September.
This latest incident follows hard on the heels of caravans having occupied an area of land at the Parkfields estate, Castle Bromwich. Vehicles there finally departed on Friday (July 28), after the council secured a court order to move them on.

Charge follows incident at Castle Brom petrol station

A MAN has been charged in relation to an alleged machete attack which followed an altercation at a Castle Bromwich petrol station.
The incident happened at the Morrisons garage, in Chester Road, on June 25 and later the same day the victim was attacked with the blade in a country lane near Haseley, Warwickshire.
Police confirmed that a 33-year-old, from Sheldon, had been charged with wounding with intent, driving while disqualified and without due care and attention. He appeared at Birmingham Magistrates Court earlier this month.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Man delighted to be reunited with second rescuer

LIFESAVERS: Anne and Peter had been recognised
for their efforts back in the 1970s. Now Andy Steggles
has had a chance to thank them himself.
A MAN who was saved from drowning in a local river more than 40 years ago has at last made contact with the man who dragged him from the water.
Last week we reported on Andy Steggles' reunion with Anne Morgan, who had helped resuscitate him on the banks of Hatchford Brook.
Their meeting, the first since that fateful day in 1973, was shown on BBC Midlands Today and Breakfast News.
At the end of the item there was an appeal to try and trace Peter Owen, the Chelmsley Wood man who had pulled three-year-old Andy onto dry land.
And the report caught the eye of Peter himself, who as it turns out had moved down to Dorset several decades ago and had missed the initial appeal from Andy to trace his rescuers.
In a LinkedIn post, the father-of-four, who now lives in the United States, has confirmed that he had travelled down to the West Country to meet with Peter.
"My original goal of this quest was to simply say thank you to Anne and Peter," said the 47-year-old.
"After what seems like a lifetime of searching, I was finally able to do this, thanks to many selfless people who went out of their way to help me.
"Anne and Peter are just incredible people – in so many ways, both with a similar wacky sense of humour and an amazingly positive attitude. While my initial quest is now complete, I feel even more satisfied that I now have two new friends with a connection and bond like no other."
He said it had been a lifetime's ambition to find the people who had rushed to his aid - he had trawled the web for clues and at one stage even hired a private investigator, but had repeatedly drawn a blank until earlier this year.
"If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s the importance of identifying those who have had the most positive impact on my life and taking the time to let them know – to thank them. Showing just a little gratitude can often mean as much to the person giving it as to the person receiving it.
"Hopefully some of those who read this story might take a moment to reflect on who their 'life savers' are and perhaps going one step further to reach out and let them know."

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Family fun in Chelmsley Wood


CHELMSLEY Wood Summer Fete will be taking place this weekend.
The free family event is being held on The Green, in Meriden Park, and will feature stalls, a bouncy castle and live music.
Families can also look forward to face-painting, Indian-themed refreshments and much more.
The fete is this Saturday (July 29), from 12noon-4pm.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Community centre thanks locals after attempted break-in

A CHELMSLEY Wood community centre has thanked residents who raised the alarm after thieves tried to break into the premises last Friday (July 21).
The Three Trees, in Hedingham Grove, had been targeted by people who were apparently wearing "Scream"-style horror masks.
Although the would-be burglars failed to get into the building, which has only recently undergone a major refurbishment, it remains to be seen if they caused damage to the roof.
In a message put up outside the centre this week, the Three Trees paid tribute to local people who had dialled 999.
"Hopefully [the culprits] won't be back, there is nothing of value here anyway, everything is second-hand/donated.
"The cost is always the damage that gets done, which we will have to pay for ourselves as we're not supported by the council or government and raise our own funds."
If you have any information about the attempted break-in, please call Solihull Police on 101.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Playground - "We are definitely not closing"


MERIDEN Adventure Playground is still working hard to ensure that services continue after council funding comes to an end in the autumn.
The committee are co-ordinating efforts to apply for grants from various organisations and are busy training parent volunteers to help to man the facility over the summer holiday and thereafter.
Revenue from Solihull Council will stop at the end of September, by which point the team will need to have arrangements in place to continue alone.
In a statement on their Facebook page, the playground said that while they were not yet "out of the woods", the situation looked a lot more positive than earlier in the year.
"We are busy writing funding applications and raising money locally to ensure we can carry on.
"This all takes time and so whilst we can say we are definitely not closing, we will be living hand to mouth for quite a while. This may mean reducing opening times now and again, but we are hoping not – this all depends on which applications are successful."
Talks are also taking place with council officers to secure a lease of the playground at a peppercorn rent. It is understood the lease will take effect from April, with the local authority set to cover the utility bills between now and then.
If you can help, please contact the playground via their Facebook page.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Smith's Wood man charged following "cleaning fluid" attack

A SMITH'S Wood man has been charged with common assault following an incident outside a borough pub earlier this week.
A drinker had allegedly been doused with liquid in the vicinity of The Chalice, in Dickens Heath, last Tuesday evening (July 18).
The substance in question is believed to have been an ammonia-based cleaning fluid. Police reported that the alleged victim had rushed to wash his face with water from a nearby dog bowl and was not injured.
The force today confirmed that Max Kelly, 23, had been charged in relation to the incident and will appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court on August 16.

Awards for two of North Solihull's parks

BOTH Babbs Mill Local Nature Reserve and Meriden Park have retained their coveted Green Flag Awards.
The status, part of a nationwide campaign run by Keep Britain Tidy, is bestowed on green spaces which meet strict standards for cleanliness, community involvement and horticulture.
The two sites in North Solihull are among 15 in the wider borough which this year met the criteria to receive the Award.
Councillor Robert Hulland, cabinet member for the environment, housing and regeneration, said: "Our staff work incredibly hard to make Solihull’s parks and open spaces welcoming, safe and well-maintained for residents, and being recognised on an international level is a great achievement and one we are extremely proud of."
Elmdon Park and Tudor Grange Park were among the other 13 sites recognised.