Friday, 24 November 2017

Raffle prizes requested for school dinner with a difference

THE CTC Kingshurst Academy will be hosting its annual senior citizens' Christmas dinner next week.
The Cooks Lane school is holding a raffle as part of the evening and has asked anyone who has suitable prizes to send them to the school.
The annual dinner, set to take place on Friday, December 1, is now in its 14th year. Last year more than 170 local pensioners attended the meal.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Castle Brom school chef to take on the best in the region

A COOK from Castle Bromwich Infants School will be battling it out for the chance to compete for the coveted title of National School Chef of the Year.
Christopher Townshend is one of eight competitors from around the West Midlands who will be strapping on their aprons for the regional heats of the competition on December 5.
The winner of this will then have the opportunity to progress to the national finals.
School Chef of the Year takes place every 12 months, with the competitors given 90 minutes to rustle up a main course and a dessert which would win the approval of the most difficult to please 11-year-old.
To make the competition even harder, the ingredients must cost no more than £1.30 per head.
Solihull has a proud history in the competition. Back in 2014, Christopher was highly commended for the ‘superhero meatball’ (meatball encased in dough served with sweet potato gnocchi, salad and roasted red pepper relish) he served up to judges.
And last year, Jose Davies Kochakkadan - from Marston Green Infants Academy - made it all the way to the national finals.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Monday, 20 November 2017

Safe and Sound in Smith's Wood

SMITH'S Wood next "Safe and Sound" event will be taking place at Auckland Hall this week.
The meeting - offering residents the opportunity to discuss crime, the environment and safety on the estate - is to be held on Thursday (November 23).
All welcome between 7-9pm.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Horse work and hot food in Meriden Park

HOOF AND TAIL: Tan Tan the horse clears timber during a previous
Oaks and Shires event at Yorks Wood

TRADITIONAL woodland crafts and children's activities will be on offer in Chelmsley Wood next weekend.
The Oaks and Shires event will be taking place in Meriden Park on Saturday (November 25).
Visitors can also look forward to hot food and find out about the valuable role that horses play in maintaining the nation's woodland.
The event will run from 11am-3pm.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Chelmsley Wood chef supports Children in Need

A CHEF born and raised on Chelmsley Wood has auctioned off a cooking masterclass for Children in Need.
Radio WM listeners could bid for the chance to have Michelin-starred Glynn Purnell come to their home and cook a meal for two.
The auction took place yesterday evening, with the winning bid of £1,500 made by a Balsall Common man. All proceeds will go to the BBC's charity appeal.
Other lots up for grabs included the chance to meet classical singer Katherine Jenkins during her visit to Birmingham next month and a round of golf with former football manager Ron Atkinson.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Solihull Council takes action following fiery public meeting

SOLIHULL Council has said it has taken steps to smarten up Kingshurst Parade following concerns that the shopping precinct was becoming a magnet for crime and anti social behaviour.
Fears that people didn't feel safe on the Parade were among the issues raised during a packed public meeting during the summer.
There was an outpouring of anger about the handling of crime and cuts in local services during the event, which took place at St Barnabas Church on August 17.
Next week, Councillor Tony Dicicco, who was among the representatives from the police and Solihull Council who were invited to answer residents' questions, will be updated on the action that has been taken thus far.
Gillian Crabbe, the council's community safety and partnerships manager, said that lighting had now been upgraded on the Parade.
Efforts have also been made to clean up graffiti and remove fly-tipped waste both on the precinct itself and to the rear of the shops and flats.
In response to concerns that there wasn't enough for young people to do, the council and its partners have also commissioned a bespoke boxing programme for the Kingshurst area.
Ms Crabbe said: "All of issues raised at the meeting have been considered.
"Some have been resolved, whilst others require longer-term consideration. Work will continue to improve the environment and opportunities that exist for the community of Kinghurst."

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Charity's Chelmsley store turns 35

CHILDREN’S charity Barnardo’s has celebrated 35 years in Chelmsley Wood.
The branch in the town centre first opened its doors in the early 1980s - an era when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, Blackadder had just made its TV debut and wearing a seat belt had finally become compulsory.
Since then the shop, which is the charity's oldest in the West Midlands region, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to support vulnerable children and young people.
In the past 12 months alone, more than 7,700 bags of donations were received from supporters.
Yesterday (Tuesday) staff and volunteers from the charity cut a specially-made cake to celebrate the anniversary.
Barnardo’s manager Robyn Phillips said: "We have a fantastic team aged from 20-years-old up to 74-years-old, and the longest-serving supporter has been with us for an astonishing 30 years!
"We’ve received all sorts of items ranging from tins of dog food and a used toothbrush to Tiffany bracelets worth several hundred pounds.
"People offer whatever they can to help us and we wouldn’t be able to operate without their support."
The Barnardo’s store is open Monday-Saturday from 9am-5pm and on Sundays from 10am-4pm.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Community champions receive Civic Awards

UNSUNG heroes from North Solihull were among those recognised at the borough's Annual Civic Awards last month.
Andy Warmington, who set up the hugely successful Chelmsley Squash Academy and Stella Aston, who has been a member of Castle Bromwich Singers for the past 50 years, were among those honoured.
Andy, whose efforts since 2010 have encouraged more than 4,000 youngsters to get involved with the racket game, was recognised for his contribution to local sport.
Stella meanwhile, who won the Creative Arts category, has been a member of the Singers ever since they were first set up in 1967.
A judging panel of councillors, officers and representatives from community groups picked out the winners, who were invited to meet the Mayor of Solihull, Coun Stuart Davis, to be presented with their awards.
The Mayor said: "I am very lucky that I get to meet all these inspiring Solihull residents, the evening was truly one of the highlights of my Mayoral year. 
"I was delighted to be able to thank the winners for their dedication, hard work and enthusiasm into making Solihull a brilliant place to live."

  • Read our interview with Stella in this month's edition of Other Side of Solihull.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Alcohol Awareness Week in Chelmsley Wood

A SUPPORT team will be holding an event in Chelmsley Wood to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Week.
The "market place" will be visiting the Three Trees Centre on Friday, November 17.
It is one of several events being organised by the Solihull Integrated Addiction Service (SIAS).
A spokesperson for the group said: "We are using this opportunity to start a conversation with our local community, around problematic alcohol use to help break the cycle of silence and stigma that is all too often experienced by families."
Meriden's MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, has given her backing to the campaign.
"Whether on a night out, enjoying a meal or relaxing at home, it is important that alcohol is consumed responsibly," she said.
"For that reason, I am proud to lend my support to SIAS’s Alcohol Awareness Week campaign in order to highlight the risks associated with drinking too much alcohol and to raise awareness of the excellent support services they offer locally to help people beat alcohol and substance addiction."
While alcohol will be the main focus of the event, SIAS will also touch upon the help available to those struggling with drugs, gambling and other issues.
The session, which will include afternoon tea, is scheduled to run from 2-4pm.
Email the team to book your place.

Fact box:

  • An estimated 595,000 adults in England are alcohol dependent and in need of specialist treatment. 
  • Alcohol is linked to more than 60 medical conditions.
  • Alcohol is estimated to cost the NHS £3.5 billion annually.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Pudsey's pedallers pass through Marston Green

TEAM RICKSHAW 2017: The six young riders with One Show presenters
Matt Baker and Alex Jones

THE BBC's Rickshaw Challenge travelled through the streets of Marston Green yesterday (Saturday).
One Show host Matt Baker is joining a group of inspirational young people on a 500 mile cycle ride between London and Glasgow.
The team of riders take it in turns in the pedal rickshaw, which is scheduled to arrive in the Scottish city on Friday (November 17).
Yesterday was the third day of the nine-day challenge, taking the party from Banbury, in Oxfordshire, up to Cannock.
The local leg of the route saw the team travel along Bickenhill Road, Station Road and Holly Lane, with them then heading out of the village towards Tile Cross.
In the past six years, The Rickshaw Challenge has raised more than £16million for the Children in Need appeal.
This year's riders - all of whom have been supported by the charity's projects - include 18-year-old Liv, who previously lost her father to pancreatic cancer, Luke, 17, who has cerebral palsy, and Ben, 16, who helps care for his older sister - who has a rare neuro-degenerative disorder.
To find out more about the 2017 event, visit Team Rickshaw's website.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

We shall remember them: Remembrance Sunday events

RESIDENTS of North Solihull will gather to remember the fallen at a series of Remembrance Sunday events.
In Marston Green, a service at St Leonard's Church (from 10am) will be followed by a parade to the Garden of Memory.
There will be a short ceremony at the site, followed by the traditional two minutes' silence when the village clock strikes 11.
Residents will also be paying their respects in Castle Bromwich, with a procession wending its way to the village war memorial. Castle Bromwich Parish Council said the event would be a "fitting tribute" to those who had given their lives in conflicts past and present.
The nearby Hickory's Smokehouse confirmed they would be serving complimentary teas and coffees in the restaurant following the parade.
For details about the road closures scheduled for tomorrow, please visit the Solihull Council website.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Police appeal following collision in Hurst Lane North

POLICE are appealing for witnesses to a collision in Castle Bromwich yesterday (Thursday) morning.
It is alleged that a mini moto bike mounted the pavement in Hurst Lane North, struck a vehicle and was left lying in the road.
The rider, who was apparently injured in the collision, had fled - but was seen by a PCSO who had been called to the scene at around 11.30am.
Other officers arrived and a 17-year-old was arrested. It has since been revealed that the bike had been stolen from an address in Chelmsley Wood on Wednesday.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information is asked to call Solihull Police on 101, quoting log 880 of November 9.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Fayre choice in Castle Bromwich

IF you're hoping to pick up a Christmas present or two, a festive craft and gift fayre is taking place in Castle Bromwich this weekend.
The event will be held at St Mary and St Margaret's Church Hall on Saturday (November 11), with stalls selling a range of handcrafted items.
Refreshments and homemade cakes will also be on sale and there will be an opportunity to enter a raffle, with all proceeds going directly to the church.
The fayre is open from 10am-2pm. Admission is free.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Care home opening completes Chelmund's Cross development

RIBBON CUTTING: Coun Bob Sleigh, leader of Solihull
Council, Gordon Sanders, from Runwood Homes, Mayor of
Solihull, Stuart Davis, and cabinet member Karen Grinsell.
A BRAND-new residential and nursing home based in Chelmsley Wood officially opened its doors today (Wednesday).
The completion of Chelmund’s Court, a 73-bed facility for older people with dementia, marks the final phase of the multi-million pound Chelmund's Cross Village Centre.
Councillor Karen Grinsell, the cabinet member for adult social care and health, attended the event and said the home was "a wonderful addition" to Solihull.
"As the population of older people in the borough grows, so too does the demand for high quality care and support services," she said.
"The new home is in response to the consistent challenge this causes the council when trying to find affordable care within the borough.
"It will enable people suffering with dementia to remain part of the borough where they have lived and worked and most importantly, be close to their loved ones."
Gordon Sanders, chief executive of Runwood Homes, said: "Now that the new home is operational we will be working with our partner, Solihull Council, to ensure that local needs can be met.
"Some really effective community links have already been made with voluntary organisations and NHS bodies."

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Death Cafe comes to Chelmsley Wood

A CHELMSLEY Wood-based venue today played host to a 'Death Cafe'.
The Three Trees Centre described the session as "an open conversation, with no agenda or set questions."
It stressed that the two-hour event - during which tea and cake was served to visitors - wasn't intended to be macabre nor to be considered a counselling or support group.
Rather it was inspired by a movement started in London around six years ago, with the intention of encouraging discussion of issues relating to death and dying - which are often seen as taboo.
More than 5,000 events have since been organised around the world.
You can find out more about the Death Cafe project at their official website.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Ex-chief executive of dogs' home appears in court

A FORMER charity boss from Marston Green has admitted defrauding Birmingham Dogs' Home of hundreds of thousands of pounds, ITV reports.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Can you help North Solihull's hamper appeal?

THE team organising this year's Christmas hamper appeal are hoping for another show of support from the local community.
Last year more than 350 boxes were distributed to elderly and vulnerable residents in North Solihull.
This winter, Coleshill Heath School and Fordbridge Community Primary will be taking the lead in collecting food stuffs.
Individuals are also welcome to get involved by filling a small box, decorating it and including a card for the recipient
Collection points are up-and-running at the following locations:

  • The Onward Club, Helmswood Drive, Chelmsley Wood (Mon- Fri, 10am-3pm)
  • The Coventry Building Society, Maple Walk, Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre (10am-3pm)
  • Bickenhill and Marston Green Parish Council Office, Cricket Ground, Bickenhill Road, Marston Green (Mon-Thurs, 10am-3pm)
  • Bosworth Drive Community Centre, 291a Bosworth Drive (10am-3pm).

If you would like to get involved, hampers should be handed over by December 9, giving time for local organisations to deliver them before Christmas.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Police act after struggling to respond to calls

A SENIOR police officer has admitted that West Midlands Police had struggled to deal with the volume of calls being made to its non-emergency 101 number.
Frustrations about getting through to a call handler to report an incident had previously come up at public meetings held in Kingshurst and Castle Bromwich earlier this year.
In a report prepared by Solihull Council's Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Panel, which met last month, it was noted that the 101 service - which receives an average of two or three calls every minute - had been "tested to the limit" over the summer.
Superintendent Simon Inglis, from Solihull Police, acknowledged that the difficulties of coping with demand had meant some callers had been made to wait longer than the force "would have wished".
Members of the Scrutiny Panel noted residents' frustration about response times, which are seen as especially important given the previous decision to close many stations, including Chelmsley Wood, to the public.
Supt Inglis said that the force had, in recent months, recruited extra staff to cope with the workload and that service had improved as a result.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Chelmsley fireworks this Saturday

THE always popular Bonfire Night event will be taking place in Chelmsley Wood this weekend.
This year’s fireworks display will be held on the field at the junction of Berwicks Lane and Helmswood Drive on Saturday, November 4. Gates open at 6pm, with fireworks to start at 7pm.
Organisers have confirmed that there will be a burger van, children's rides and a number of stalls.
Admission is free but donations to the charities Dementia UK and Global Make Some Noise will be welcome.
For more information please contact

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Off-road bikes seized in raids in North Solihull

DAWN RAID: Police impounded more than a dozen vehicles
FOUR off-road bikes have been seized from an industrial unit in Chelmsley Wood as part of a police crackdown on boy racers.
Yesterday morning (Monday), officers swooped on addresses across Birmingham, Solihull and the wider West Midlands, seizing a total of 14 vehicles.
The operation got underway at 5am, when a warrant was issued at an undisclosed address in Castle Bromwich.
This was followed by a string of other raids, including the move on the premises in Chelmsley Wood.
It was the latest phase of Operation Wraithbane, which was set up specifically to tackle the illegal rallies which have caused chaos on local roads in recent years. Main routes, including the Collector Road, are among those where problems have been reported.
Insp Andy Bridgewater, who led the latest action, said: "We’ve seen off-road bikers clogging up roads, intimidating motorists, jumping red lights, pulling stunts in the street and putting pedestrians in danger.
"Some of the video footage we’ve captured has been truly shocking: bikers ramping up kerbs and speeding along pavements…sometimes just yards away from school children. It’s totally unacceptable and I sympathise with anyone that’s been inconvenienced by these groups.
"We’re taking firm action against offenders: 53 have been arrested and seven have now been charged with public nuisance offences. The rest are on bail and also face being taken to court."
The event came almost 12 months to the day since an infamous 'Ride Out' on Halloween night last year. A gang of around 200 riders descended on local roads, hurling fireworks at other vehicles and at one stage attacking a police van in Yorkminster Drive, Chelmsley Wood.
Police warned that anyone thinking of taking part in a similar event this evening would be met with a swift response from the force.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Petition launched in response to flight path fears

A PETITION has been set up by residents concerned about the impact that changes to Birmingham Airport flight paths might have on North Solihull.
Last week, members of the newly-formed campaign group, Castle Bromwich Airport Forum, met with Meriden MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, at Arden Hall.
Following the meeting, the petition was launched to allow local people to support calls for the airport to mitigate the effects of the alterations.
This petition will be available at Arden Hall's entrance hall until November 14. You can also sign the document online here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Sunday, 29 October 2017

No Trick or Treating card issued

POLICE have advised elderly and vulnerable residents to display their 'No Trick or Treating' card, if they have concerns about being pestered this Halloween.
The force has also advised local people with concerns not to feel pressurised to answer the door if they receive an unexpected call, and to make use of their door chain and spy-hole if necessary
With the clocks having gone back in the early hours of this morning and Bonfire Night just a week away, officers are preparing for the traditional spike in anti social behaviour that can occur at this time of year.
There have already been reports of a number of instances of fireworks being thrown, including a group of youths hurling the devices in Green Lane, Castle Bromwich.
In a separate incident, a resident revealed that a firework had been placed in her wheelie bin at her home in Chelmsley Wood. She reported a sound like "a bomb going off" and a photo posted on social media showed that the container had been ripped apart by the explosion.

  • You can download a full-size version of the Trick or Treat card from the West Midlands Police website.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Al-Anon organise open meeting in Chelmsley Wood

AN EVENT to help those who have friends or relatives battling a drink problem will be taking place in Chelmsley Wood next week.
The Al-Anon session, to be held at Bosworth Community Centre, gives people the opportunity to share their experiences.
The open meeting will be held on Monday (October 30), from 10.30am-12noon.
For further details about Al-Anon and the work they do nationwide please call 0207 403 0888 or visit their website.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Facility to tackle homelessness opens in Chelmsley Wood

A NEW development to provide short-term accommodation for people who are homeless recently opened in Chelmsley Wood.
Ipswich House, in Ipswich Walk, can house up to 21 residents and will offer support for those who find themselves in dire straits.
The £2.3million project, which was funded by Solihull Council and the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency, was not without its detractors.
When the plans were first unveiled in 2015, some living locally feared that the creation of a “halfway house” in a residential area might fuel anti social behaviour and parking problems. More than 500 people signed a petition against the scheme.
But others have argued that the development will be a lifeline at a time when homelessness is becoming an increasing problem.
A recent study by the charity Shelter suggested that some 250,000 Britons were classed as homeless.
Four years ago, the borough council came in for criticism after it emerged that many who found themselves in difficulties were being sent to sub-standard B&Bs.
Councillor Chris Williams (Green, Chelmsley Wood), who at the time led the calls for a different approach, said the local authority subsequently looked at the creation of alternative types of temporary accommodation.
He said Ipswich House went “above and beyond” in that it will provide support for those who the authorities aren’t legally obliged to help.
“It actually houses people who wouldn’t have been entitled to even a grotty B&B bed,” he told Other Side of Solihull.
Meriden’s MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, who was invited to cut the ribbon of the new centre, also hailed the improvement in services.
“There are many reasons why people find themselves homeless including; the breakdown of a relationship, financial difficulties, having to leave their homes because of domestic violence or crime and disasters like fires and flooding,” she said.
“Having recently supported measures in the House of Commons to help tackle homelessness, including the Homelessness Prevention Act, I was delighted to have the opportunity to open Ipswich House.”

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Road chiefs review data from Bradford Road cameras

A DRIVER was caught doing 75mph along one of Castle Bromwich’s busiest routes, following the introduction of speed cameras last summer.
The devices were installed on the Bradford Road last August and have been hailed as “a good news story” by Solihull Council.
Last month, the council’s transport and highways committee was provided with an update on how the technology had performed since it was installed a little over a year ago.
Official figures show that in the first eight months over 3,000 vehicles had activated the cameras installed on the Bradford Road. And a total of 976 cases were referred to the police’s central ticketing offices during this period.
Data released by the council suggests the worst offence was recorded back in January, when one motorist travelled past at more than twice the speed limit.
The local authority said that far more vehicles had been snapped breaking the speed limit than they had foreseen, although it will be a while before reliable data is made available to assess the impact on road safety.
Paul Tovey, the head of highway services, said: “The initial information we’ve had is really positive.
“There have been very few faults with the equipment, so it’s been quite effective in the first 12 months, which has been good to report.”
The Bradford Road camera was one of three digital devices installed in the borough amid concerns that speeding was still a major concern at a number of accident blackspots. Other cameras were put in place on Lode Lane and the Stratford Road through Hockley Heath.
Thus far, more than £50,000 in revenue has been raised from those who were caught on camera, with the money to be reinvested in the scheme.
The cash may later be spent on installing cameras at further sites, with Mr Tovey suggesting that other locations where the old fixed cameras were once in operation would be likely choices.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Solihull's Get Involved Day

RESIDENTS will have a chance to find out how to make a difference in their community by going along to a half-term event in Smith's Wood.
The Solihull Get Involved Day will be taking place at Elmwood Place tomorrow (Wednesday), with stalls on everything from healthy eating and mental health to crime prevention.
Representatives from the police, borough council, Solihull Community Housing and Solihull Active will be among those in attendance.
Activities will run at the Burtons Way venue from 11am-3.30pm.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Body believed to be that of missing Chelmsley man

POLICE investigating the disappearance of Chelmsley Wood man Gary Parfitt have confirmed they have found a body.
The discovery was made in a stretch of water at New Fosse Way, Selly Oak, yesterday afternoon (Sunday).
Although the body is yet to be formally identified, it is believed to be that of the missing 41-year-old. West Midlands Police have said that the death is not being treated as suspicious.
Mr Parfitt’s family have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers.
A file is now being prepared for the Birmingham and Solihull Coroner.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Solihull Council insists it is ready for a harsher winter

AS the dark nights set in and the borough’s leaves start to turn, Solihull Council is already planning for the winter.
A fleet of nine new vehicles will be used to keep the roads clear in the event of ice and snow, with 3,500 tonnes of gritting salt having been stockpiled at the council depot. Half a dozen “hand salters” will be used to treat the borough’s six main retail centres, which include Chelmsley Wood and Marston Green.
The local authority has acknowledged that last winter was far milder than usual – only 29 gritting runs were completed, all of them precautionary.
Highways officers are nonetheless confident that the council is prepared should we experience more severe conditions this year.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Wife's appeal a year on from Kingshurst murder

APPEAL: Dawn Lewis, whose husband Giovanni was killed last October.

THE wife of a man murdered in Kingshurst 12 months ago has appealed for the public's help in tracing a key suspect.
Giovanni Lewis, 28, died in Hadfield Way after being stabbed through the heart on October 18 last year.
Despite a number of public appeals and a £5,000 reward being offered by Crimestoppers, the police have yet to locate Jammal Chase, a 20-year-old who they want to speak to in relation to the incident.
Twelve months on from Mr Lewis' death, his wife Dawn described her late husband as "a gentle giant" and yesterday made an emotional appeal.
"I just want him to hand himself in, its been long enough now, he does not know what pain it is causing my family and I, we want to lay Giovanni to rest but there can be no rest until he is in custody. Please do the right thing, stop our suffering and hand yourself in." 
Det Insp Paul Joyce warned that anyone who was helping to shelter Chase risked prosecution themselves.
"Our enquiries lead us to believe that Chase remains in the West Midlands. Do you know where he is? Do you have any information? Do the right thing and give us a call.
"The family of Giovanni have had to live the last 12 months knowing that the person who murdered him still hasn’t been brought to justice for what they did. This is still very much a live investigation and we are determined to get answers to help bring closure to Giovanni ’s loved ones."
Anyone with information is urged to contact the West Midlands Police homicide team on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Memorial to woman "who pulled the community together"

TRIBUTE: A sketch of the porch window design
WORSHIPPERS at a Marston Green church are raising money for a special memorial window, to be installed in tribute to a much-loved member of the local community.
Anne Dunkley, who was a churchwarden at St Leonard’s for seven years, died in June 2015 after being attacked at her home.
Now efforts are underway to create a lasting memorial to the 67-year-old, with a design for the porch window posted online last month.
The glasswork, set to be fitted in a wall which will catch the sunlight, will incorporate a number of emblems which represent Anne’s involvement in various aspects of village life.
These include an open book and pen, acknowledging her teaching career, and symbols recognising her long-standing involvement in the Scouts and Guides.
Reverend Penny Harrison, from St Leonard’s, said that the Parochial Church Council (PCC) had put around 18 months’ work into getting the design right.
“Anne was one of those people who pulled the whole community together,” she told Other Side of Solihull.
“She had a wicked sense of humour and was somebody always determined to get things done.”
It is anticipated that the window will cost in the region of £2,500, although the timetable for its installation will depend on getting a Faculty - the permission needed from the CofE to make changes to a church building.

  • Residents can send a cheque made payable to St. Leonard’s PCC - with ‘Anne Dunkley Memorial Window’ on the reverse. Please send to St. Leonard’s Church, Elmdon Road, Marston Green, B37 7BT.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Castle Brom schoolgirl among theatre show's young cast

WHAT a star! A schoolgirl from Castle Bromwich is among 27 youngsters who have been picked to appear in a show coming to the Birmingham Rep this month.
Grace Green, aged 10, will be among the cast of Nativity! The Musical, which begins its run tomorrow (Friday).
The all-singing, all-dancing production is inspired by the Christmas comedy film, which starred Martin Freeman and Ashley Jensen.
Director Debbie Isitt said she was looking forward to starting rehearsals with the “sweet and funny young cast”.
Nativity! The Musical is on until November 12, with tickets available from the theatre's website.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Local families hit hard by desperate shortage of affordable homes

A CHELMSLEY Wood councillor has said that radical action is needed to address a desperate housing “crisis” in the borough.
James Burn, the leader of the Greens on Solihull Council, said that he typically took a couple of calls a week from concerned residents, who have often been brought to tears by the situation they face.
With thousands of families on the waiting list, Coun Burn (pictured below) said that only a massive social housing programme could solve the problems.
He highlighted the case of one local family who are currently in private rented accommodation, but with the levels of rent spiralling upwards they are at risk of losing the property.
“They have been registered with the council and waiting for a home since January 2014. One family member has a disability that is getting worse.
“I come across people who have been sofa surfing for three years, families living in incredibly cramped and damp conditions and more. They come to me as they just can’t believe that there are no homes available. But that’s the reality of it.”
At a recent public meeting at St Barnabas Church, Kingshurst, both Meriden’s MP, Dame Caroline Spelman, and representatives of Solihull Council acknowledged there was an urgent need to identify sites for new homes.
Coun Tony Dicicco, cabinet member for stronger communities and partnerships, said that the council was trying to balance protecting the green belt with ensuring there were more “affordable” properties.
“Solihull’s got to take more on,” he admitted.
But residents’ anger over the Babbs Mill development has arguably been made worse by the fact that the dwellings being built on land, which was formerly part of the Local Nature Reserve, are well out of the price range of local people.
Similarly, as the council begins to earmark development sites as part of its latest Local Plan, questions have already been raised about the affordability of the properties which will be incorporated into the new-look Kingshurst Parade.
On a national level, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, this month announced £2billion a year extra for a new generation of council housing.
She said: “Whether you’re trying to buy your own, renting privately and looking for more security, or have been waiting for years on a council list, help is on its way.”
Coun Burn said that he welcomed the announcement made at the Conservatives’ Autumn Conference, but argued the funding would be “a drop in the ocean”, with suggestions it would deliver only 5,000 extra homes a year

The new edition of our digital newspaper is out now

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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Constituency would barely change under new plans

LITTLE CHANGE: The Meriden constituency would survive pretty much
intact under the latest set of proposals.

YET another set of plans to redraw the boundaries of MPs' constituencies was published today, with officials now set to retain the seat of Meriden.
Previous proposals would have seen the creation of a new constituency - Chelmsley Wood and Solihull North, encompassing Chelmsley, Kingshurst, Castle Bromwich, Smith's Wood, Marston Green, Sheldon, Elmdon and Lyndon.
But following a consultation, the Boundary Commission has decided on rather more limited changes.
Under the proposal, the borough would be made up of two constituencies bearing the same names as at present (Solihull and Meriden).
The Boundary Commission report said: "[We] rejected suggestions to change the name of the Meriden constituency, such as suggested by the Liberal Democrat Party who wanted to include reference to Chelmsley Wood within the constituency name, because there had only been minimal change to the existing constituency."
The main change is that two of the wards would swap places as part of efforts to give the seats a more even number of voters; Elmdon would move into Meriden, while the more sparsely-populated Blythe would form part of Solihull.
Neither seat would incorporate communities from other councils areas, which was one of the most controversial aspects of the previous set of proposals.
The nationwide shake-up would see the total number of constituencies cut from 650 to 600, meaning that dozens of current MPs would face a scrabble to be selected.
If approved, the new boundaries would come into effect for the next General Election, currently scheduled for 2022. However, some have speculated that the Prime Minister will struggle to get the plans through the Commons now she no longer commands a majority.

Analysis: As far as Solihull is concerned, the plans published today are much less radical than those which were brought forward last year.
Both sitting MPs and a good many councillors had objected to the previous proposals, arguing that plans to match together areas from different council areas would have created confusion. Residents were particularly unhappy about plans to lump the likes of Knowle and Balsall Common in with a Coventry constituency.
That said, some had argued that North Solihull itself may have actually fared slightly better under the previous set of proposals, which would have seen the area at the centre of a generally more urban constituency.
Some of those who are dissatisfied with the make-up of the current seat (which survives pretty much intact under the new plan) argue that it covers too wide an area and ties the north of the borough to rural communities with which it has little in common.

Monday, 16 October 2017

A red sun over the borough

THE sun above North Solihull turned blood-red earlier today, as a result of unusual atmospheric conditions.
Meteorologists said that the winds from the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia had filled the air with dust from the Sahara and debris from forest fires raging in Europe, which had given the sky its unusual hue.
The particles in the air affected the wavelength of the light and made it appear red to the human eye.
Reverend Neil Roberts, from Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church, was among those who posted photos of the unearthly sight on social media.
"Even the city has a mystical landscape," he tweeted. "Something is awry today."
As the day wore on, high winds battered the region, bringing down trees and affecting a number of rail services. Although the Midlands escaped the worst of the weather, with the strongest gusts having been reported in Ireland and Scotland.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Warning following incident in Kingsleigh Drive

CASTLE Bromwich residents have been advised to be vigilant after a teenage girl was terrified by a man peering through a downstairs window earlier this week.
The 18-year-old had returned to her Kingsleigh Drive home on Thursday evening (October 12) and turned on the kitchen light, when she saw the stranger standing at the window.
He had apparently shouted hello and the teenager had fled upstairs to call her mother, who has since shared information on the incident on the community's Facebook page.
The incident, which happened around 6.40pm, was reported to West Midlands Police.
The force typically advises residents to be on their guard at this time of year, when incidents of burglary and other crime can often increase. Further information on home security is available here.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A fruitful Sunday at the Hall Gardens

A HARVEST event is taking place at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens tomorrow (Sunday).
Highlights will include a walk led by foraging expert, Dr Rob Tilling, cob oven cooking and the chance to make apple juice (bring your own windfall fruit to put in the press).
There will also be stalls, folk dancing and storytelling sessions from the Green Man
The event takes place from 12.30-4.30pm. Find out more at the gardens' official website.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Trick or treat yourself to a night out

TICKETS are now on sale for a Halloween-theme disco, taking place in Chelmsley Wood later this month.
The family event will be taking place at the Onward Club on Saturday, October 28, with prizes for the best costume.
Family tickets are £5.00 (two adults and up to 3 children), adults £2.50 and children £1.00. They're on sale now from the venue's reception/bar.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Jobs on offer at Chelmsley Wood care home

A RECRUITMENT event is to be held next week for the new care home at Chelmund’s Cross.
Runwood Homes is looking for registered nurses (RGN, RMN & RNLD) and care assistants to work at Chelmund's Court, which will officially open next month.
The 73-bed residential facility will specialise in looking after those with dementia.
The event, which will give potential applicants the opportunity to find out about the roles on offer, will take place at Chelmsley Wood Library next Thursday (October 19). It will take place between 12.30-3.30pm.
For further information, please call Solihull Council's employment and skills team on 0121 704 8076 or email

Man found guilty of assault outside pub

A MAN has been found guilty of squirting cleaning fluid at two men, during an altercation outside a pub.
Max Kelly, 23, formerly of Sark Drive, Smith's Wood, was alleged to have shouted "I've got acid" before spraying the pair with the contents of a squeezy bottle. He has been convicted of two counts of common assault, the BBC reports.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Soap actor to turn on Chelmsley's Xmas lights

EASTENDERS star Jake Wood will be the special guest invited to turn-on the Christmas lights in Chelmsley Wood town centre, it was announced today.
The actor, who plays Max Branning in the BBC's flagship soap, has also had guest roles in shows including Only Fools and Horses, One Foot in the Grave and Red Dwarf.
In 2014, he made it to the semi-finals of the Saturday night staple Strictly Come Dancing.
The switch-on event will take place on Saturday, November 25 from 12noon. The lights will be turned on at 4pm.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Singing troupe celebrate their 50th year

CASTLE Bromwich Singers are marking their 50th anniversary and will this week host a concert celebrating half a century of music.
Fifty Years of Song will be performed at Arden Hall from October 11-14. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30 start.
Tickets from Greg (07825 969298) or Stella (0121 748 7635) and on the door. Price £7 or £4 for under 16s.

Labour MP in visit to Chelmsley Wood

ONE of Jeremy Corbyn’s most ardent supporters has addressed activists during a visit to Chelmsley Wood.
Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North, was invited to speak at the Onward Club – having returned to Parliament in the June election.
As Shadow Fire Minister, Mr Williamson (pictured) has since taken the lead in criticising the Government’s response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
But the veteran left-winger has also attracted criticism after suggesting that debate was reopened on having women-only train carriages.
Entertainment at the event was provided by the First of May Band whose political anthems include ‘Ballad of the Tax Dodger’.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

17-year-old charged in relation to Marston Green robbery

A TEENAGER has been charged in connection with a carjacking in Marston Green during the summer.
The 17-year-old, from Stechford, is alleged to have been among a group who robbed a female driver of her Seat Ibiza, in an incident which unfolded outside the village's One Stop shop on August 17.
The accused, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also faces charges relating to five other offences in the Solihull and Birmingham area, after being arrested by officers on Thursday (October 5).
These include a robbery in Broome Lane, Dickens Heath, in which a woman was threatened with a baseball bat, and similar carjackings in Acocks Green and Shirley.
All of the alleged incidents took place in August or September.
DCI Sarah Burton, from West Midlands Police, said: "We’re looking at a series of robberies in which it appears lone woman drivers have been deliberately targeted; these were no doubt very shocking incidents for the victims involved."
Anyone with information about the incidents is urged to call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Travellers return to Castle Bromwich

A NUMBER of caravans have once again moved onto land in the middle of Castle Bromwich.
Residents reported the vehicles driving up onto grass near to the Hall Gardens earlier today (Friday).
Solihull Council, Castle Bromwich Parish Council and West Midlands Police have been informed and it is understood the process to have the group removed is now underway.
The encampment is one of several to spring up around North Solihull in recent weeks, with caravans having last visited Castle Bromwich as recently as last month.
A few weeks ago, enforcement action was also taken after caravans descended on North Solihull Sports Centre, in Chelmsley Wood.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Councillors hold surgery at Castle Brom Library

CASTLE Bromwich's ward councillors will be having their next surgery this Saturday (October 7).
The event is an opportunity for local people to meet members face-to-face and raise any problems or queries they may have.
The session will be taking place between 10am-12noon.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Airport agrees to extend flightpath consultation

BIRMINGHAM Airport has today (Tuesday) announced that a consultation on changes to flight paths will be extended for four weeks.
Residents now have until November 6 to have their say on the proposals, which will impact on North Solihull.
The airport said it had decided to extend the consultation, which would originally have ended next week, following comments from local residents.
The document which outlines the proposed changes is available online or alternatively you can pick up a hard copy from Castle Bromwich Library.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Commonwealth Games bid would bring competitors to the NEC

THE bid for Birmingham to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games plans for a number of the sports to take place a stone's throw from North Solihull.
The NEC complex would play host to boxing, badminton, judo, table-tennis and wrestling under organisers' plans.
Last week, the Government gave official backing to the multi-million pound bid, with the city now set to face off against Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia, and Victoria, Canada.
Birmingham's offer has been described as "low risk, high quality" given that 95 per cent of the venues which would welcome athletes have already been built.
Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: "It would showcase the best in Britain to the world and make the entire country proud. 
"Not only would it help grow the economy in the West Midlands and beyond, it would also leave a strong sports legacy, by upgrading facilities to benefit both elite athletes and the local economy."
The Commonwealth Games takes place every four years and sees 70 teams compete in 23 sporting disciplines.
If successful, Birmingham would follow in the footsteps of Manchester, which hosted the competition 15 years ago, and Glasgow, which welcomed competitors in 2014.

Badge created to celebrate troupe's anniversary

CASTLE Bromwich Scout Group has unveiled a special badge, designed to mark the troupe’s 85th birthday.
The eye-catching emblem was devised by one of the group’s Tuesday Beavers and revealed on social media last month.
Founded in 1932 when today’s suburb was still a small village, the branch expects to have more than 160 youngsters and leaders at its forthcoming group camp.
Amanda Cardall said the organisation wanted to take the opportunity to thank its many supporters.
“Scouting is very popular in Castle Bromwich and we are lucky to have such an amazing team of volunteers. Here’s to some more great years.”

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Lunchtime choir to start at Chelmsley Wood venue

CHELMSLEY Wood's Three Trees Centre is launching a lunchtime choir this month.
Sessions will take place on Wednesdays (12.30-1.00pm) and are aimed at people who struggle to fit activities in during the evening.
No auditions are required and it will cost just £1.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Help tend Remembrance Garden

A COMMUNITY group is looking for help to work on Chelmsley Wood's Remembrance Garden.
Gro-Organic, the social enterprise which specialises in transforming open spaces, is keen to speak to residents who can assist with their latest project.
If you're handy in the garden or good at landscaping and building work they would like to hear from you. For further information please call Sarah Gill on 07718 883417.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Survey to reveal local issues "crying out" for urgent action

HUNDREDS of people in and around Fordbridge have taken part in a large-scale survey, the results of which are due to be announced next month.
Over the summer, CAN (Community Action Network) interviewed over 400 residents about what they liked most about the neighbourhood and the improvements they would like to see.
CAN will use this research to kick-start a drive for community action in these key areas.
The poll's findings will be revealed at an event at Bosworth Community Centre on Sunday, October 15. The event will also celebrate existing community activities, with various local groups expected to attend.
Simeon Bright, CAN's chair, said: "[We] would like to say thank you to all those that took part in the research and especially our amazing volunteers.
"This event will be a chance for people to see what the key themes are that people are passionate about in this area.
"The results of the research make powerful reading and cry out for urgent action. The identification of these issues is just the beginning – we all now need to come together to see how we can take action to address them."
To book a free ticket for the community celebration click here.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Housing development proposed for Village Hall site.

PLANS have been submitted to build ten homes on the site of the Village Hall in Marston Green.
The application would see the demolition of the premises in Elmdon Road and the erection of two, three and four bedroom dwellings.
It has been lodged by Elegant Residential Construction and is likely to be considered by Solihull Council in the coming months.
The venue has been on the site since 1926, though the current brick-built premises dates from the 1970s.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

999 call after man is stabbed in Marston Green

A MAN was knifed in the rib in Marston Green earlier today (Tuesday).
Emergency services were called to Station Road at around 12.20pm following reports that the individual had been stabbed in broad daylight.
The victim, in his 50s, was taken to hospital by ambulance crews. His condition is understood to be stable.
In a statement, West Midlands Police said: "A man was...treated by paramedics for a small, non-serious stab wound.
"Enquiries are ongoing to trace the offender, but we understand the parties were known to each other."
Only last week the force launched a campaign to clamp down on knife crime, following a number of high-profile incidents in both North Solihull and the wider region.
Anyone with information about the latest offence should contact officers on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Ex-Kingshurst councillor faces calls to resign over anti-Muslim retweets

A FORMER Kingshurst & Fordbridge councillor has been suspended by his party after retweeting a string of inflammatory comments.
Jeff Potts has had the Conservative whip withdrawn after it emerged that he had shared the anti-Islamic tirades.
One of the posts he retweeted said: "Deport and repatriate all Muslims from the UK or watch terrorists kill innocent people for generations to come."
Screengrabs of his social media feed shown to Other Side of Solihull also revealed highly-charged retweets focused on sex abuse scandals and ISIS. Some of the content has since been deleted.
The vice-chair of the planning committee, who also sits on the borough's religious education committee, told the Birmingham Mail that his page made clear that he did not endorse retweets.
The leader of Solihull Council, Bob Sleigh, has confirmed that a full investigation will now take place, although some opposition members have suggested that Coun Potts should resign.
Coun James Burn (Green, Chelmsley Wood) said: "His position is untenable. When you start retweeting things about deporting all Muslims you are publicising views that are very close to crossing a legal line and encouraging hatred.
"I’m afraid to say I don’t think he has any other choice but to resign. By retweeting, you are spreading that view and information."
Coun Potts was previously a Labour councillor, before defecting to the Tories in 2004 - blaming in-fighting within his old party. Today he represents Knowle ward.
The controversy comes only a couple of months after another councillor, Ken Hawkins, was embroiled in a row over a tweet relating to the Grenfell Tower fire.
Coun Hawkins was later instructed to undergo social media training by a Code of Conduct panel

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Invisible spray to target off-road bikers

ILLUMINATING EVIDENCE: A forensics expert takes a swab of the spray

POLICE have unveiled a new weapon which will be deployed in the battle to bring off-road bikes to book.
The West Midlands force announced this week it was issuing dozens of its traffic officers with special canisters of DNA spray, which will be used to tag bikes and their riders.
The liquid is invisible to the naked eye, but is unmistakable when exposed to ultra-violet light, enabling officers to identify vehicles that have been causing trouble.
And given that each batch of chemicals has its own unique code, it is possible to link a bike to individual crimes.
Chief Supt Dave Sturman claimed that use of the spray would make it easier to find and prosecute offenders.
He said: "The DNA spray is an inert, water-based product – it’s not an irritant and won’t cause any side effects – but it leaves an indelible mark that cannot be scrubbed off.
"It officers are unable to apprehend offenders at the time they can utilise the spray – and if it later shows up on suspects, their clothes or bikes we can link them to a particular incident."
Off-road biking is a common form of anti-social behaviour in North Solihull, with racing reported on parkland and public roads.
Often officers have struggled to deal with perpetrators as a national policy prevents teams from giving chase, for fear the pursuit could result in a serious accident.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Mayor gives a royal welcome to Birthday Honours guests

A GROUP of dedicated local residents recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List were invited to meet the Mayor of Solihull this month.
The nine recipients were asked to attend afternoon tea at one of two events held at the Mayor's Parlour.
Among the guests were Janet Down, the chief executive of Chelmsley Wood-based charity Solihull Life Opportunities (SoLO), Darrilyn Downes, a former teacher at Forest Oak School, Smith's Wood, Amanda Mordey, the principal of the same school and Ellen Delaney, who was honoured for services to Fordbridge.
Speaking after the event, the Mayor, Coun Stuart Davis, said: "It was a pleasure to meet such inspirational people from across the borough who have given so much to their communities.
"After spending an afternoon in their company it is clear why they have received such high accolades."

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.