Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Rally causes fresh chaos on the Collector Road

POLICE have said they will be reviewing video footage to try and identify those who took part in the latest mass bike rally along the Collector Road.
As many as 100 riders swarmed down the one side of the dual carriageway on Sunday afternoon (February 26), with clips posted on social media showing the group performing wheelies and doughnuts in the road.
Police had attended the scene at around 3pm and it is understood that one female officer received minor injuries in the pandemonium.
The A452 has become a popular route for the bike gangs, much to the frustration of local residents - who regularly complain about the noise.
Last month, Insp Allan Green, from Solihull Police, told a meeting in Castle Bromwich that incidents involving bikers had increased around the country.
Part of the problem is that police policy prevents forces from pursuing the riders, although efforts have been made to seize vehicles.
In recent months there have been a number of co-ordinated raids, with Insp Green warning that those who flout the law can expect a knock on the door early in the morning
Following the latest "ride out", a 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and causing public nuisance. He has been bailed pending further enquiries.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Appeal for witnesses after fatal crash in Castle Bromwich

TRIBUTES have been paid to a local man who died days after being struck by a car in Castle Bromwich.
Alan Watkinson, who was fatally injured in the collision in Wyckham Road, was described as "a loving father and husband."
The 73-year-old was taken to hospital following the incident on Sunday, February 18, but tragically passed away six days later.
In a statement issued through West Midlands Police, Mr Watkinson's family said that he was a retired Jaguar Land Rover worker who will be "sadly missed" by his wife, two sons and grandchildren.
Police are now appealing for information about the crash, which happened at the junction with Windleaves Road.
The driver of the Vauxhall Zafira involved in the collision stopped at the scene and is co-operating fully with officers.
Det Sgt Paul Hughes said: "This is a tragic set of circumstances for all involved and Alan’s family are being supported by our dedicated family liaison team. I would ask at this stage that their privacy is respected.
"I would like to appeal to anyone who may have been in the area at the time and witnessed the actual collision to contact either myself or my team to help us piece together the circumstances."
If you have any information call the collision investigation team on 101.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Floristry course starts in Chelmsley next week

A FLORISTRY workshop will be starting up in Chelmsley Wood from tomorrow.
Sessons will be held at the Community Hub, Fordbridge Primary every Monday (between 1-3pm).
Attendees will be taught how to make buttonholes, sheaths, hand ties and other flower arrangements.
The ten-week course will cost £50. To book call Sue Watson on 07920 161 408 or email swatson@unitytrustsolihull.org.uk

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Trees toppled across the borough

Picture by West Midlands Fire Service
STRONG winds have left a trail of destruction in North Solihull, as Storm Doris blew through the borough.
Gusts of up to 60mph battered the region, uprooting trees and damaging roof tiles and fencing.
A Monkey Puzzle tree was dragged over in Hazelhurst Road, Castle Bromwich, landing on top of a parked car.
Another large specimen was blown down near Bluebell Drive, with one eyewitness noting that the tree would have crashed into houses if it had fallen in a different direction.
Incidents were also reported in Windward Way, near the Green Lane junction, and in nearby Lanchester Way.
The adverse weather also caused travel problems for many locals, with the No 72 bus service diverted in both directions after the Coleshill Road was blocked.
London Midland, which runs trains through Marston Green Station, warned that services were subject to delay and cancellation.
Storm Doris was the fourth "named" storm of this winter and had prompted an amber alert from the Met Office.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Further cuts expected as council prepares budget

COUNCILLORS are set to agree Solihull's spending plans for the year ahead at the annual budget meeting next Wednesday (March 1).
With a continuing squeeze on public spending, the council is expected to slash budgets across the board - part of a drive to save in the region of £8.3billion over the course of the next three years.
There will also be increases in council tax bills as the local authority grapples with rising costs, particularly in relation to adult social care.
A full report on the budget will be available on the site next week.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Council plans to remove "unauthorised" tributes from Woodlands Cemetery

SOLIHULL Council has voiced concerns about the number of "unauthorised" ornaments being left at local cemeteries and has said that any items which break regulations will be taken away as of next month.
The local authority said that a large number of objects were being left by way of tribute on lawns and hanging from trees at Woodlands Cemetery, near Chelmsley Wood, and two other burial sites elsewhere in the borough.
It has argued these items are against cemetery regulations, on the grounds that they could create problems for other visitors attempting to access graves and make it harder for staff to carry out routine maintenance.
From March, any pieces that fall foul of the rules will be removed and put in storage.
Councillor Tony Dicicco, cabinet member for stronger communities & partnerships, said: "We realise this is a very sensitive issue and try to balance the needs and wishes of all users of our cemeteries.
"If, unfortunately, items have been placed in an unauthorised manner, they will be removed and kept securely on site for a period of six weeks for people to collect.
"Signage has been installed at each cemetery to make people aware of what’s permitted, but if they are still unsure I would encourage them to contact our Bereavement Services team for further guidance."
The issue has led to a number of flashpoints in the past. Last autumn, a mum criticised the council for taking items she had left in memory of her son.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

End in sight for project at Castle Brom church

THE bells at a Castle Bromwich church are set to fall silent as a major restoration project gets underway later this month.
Having raised the £100,000 needed to refurbish the six current bells and install two new ones alongside them, the team at St Mary and St Margaret's Church are ready for the long-awaiting renovation to begin.
Work will start next weekend on loosening the current fixtures in the belfry, with a bell hanger from the famous Taylor's Bell Foundry scheduled to work on the ring from February 28 to March 10.
The Loughborough-based company - which has a history stretching back centuries - will be installing a new cast iron frame to replace the ageing timbers presently in place.
Because some parts of the current frame are very old, it makes it harder to ring the bells. 
Fear that the installation would eventually fail prompted the bell ringing team to launch their fundraising project several years ago. 
Despite the sum of money required being more than three times what they had originally estimated, they reached the £100,000 total last year and have achieved their aim of having the work done in time to celebrate the 300th anniversary of a set of bells being installed at the church by Sir John Bridgeman.
Bill Dargue, a member of the bellringing team, has said the installation will be completed in August. Once the work is finished a service will be held to welcome the new bells.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

"People want to be listened to" argues Chelmsley Wood writer

AN AUTHOR who grew up in Chelmsley Wood has written about shifting political allegiances on the estate.
Lynsey Hanley has penned a piece for The Guardian examining why many local voters have switched their vote from Labour to the Green Party in recent years.
You can read the full article here.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Police appeal after knifepoint robbery in Castle Brom

WANTED: CCTV stills of
the suspects
POLICE have appealed for help in finding three youths who robbed a teenager at knife point in Castle Bromwich last month.
The 16-year-old had got off the No 72 bus in Bradford Road and was threatened with a blade not far from the former Coach and Horses pub.
He was told to hand over his phone, wallet, coat and shopping bags and although he escaped unhurt, he was left badly shaken by the incident.
The robbery happened on January 6, at around 7.30 in the evening.
Solihull Police have now issued CCTV of three suspects, who they want to speak to in connection with the incident.
If you have any information please contact Det Con James Smith on 101 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Smith's Wood sixth form set to close

PLANS to close the sixth form at Smith's Wood Sports College will be discussed by councillors tomorrow evening.
The school launched a Post 16 service in 2009, envisioning it would cater for up to 200 students.
But less than a decade on, staff have admitted that a dwindling roll-call has left the college with little option but to close the sixth form.
Ann Pearson, Solihull Council's director of children's services and skills, said: "Pupil numbers in the sixth form peaked in September 2012 at 160 but have been in steady decline ever since.
"In September 2016 there were 67 on roll of which only 37 are Year 12. Such small numbers...are not viable."
It is intended that the college allows current students to complete their studies, but they will not be taking on any more from September.
A consultation exercise is due to take place in the coming weeks, ahead of the school converting to an academy on April 1.
A full report will be included in the next edition of Other Side of Solihull.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Investigation after pensioner dies in Chelmsley Wood fire

AN ELDERLY man has died following a shed fire in Chelmsley Wood this afternoon.
The 78-year-old, who has not been named by authorities, perished after the blaze broke out in the back garden of a property in Nineacres Drive.
Emergency services were called at around 3pm. They said the pensioner had been found in a critical condition but died at the scene.
Police officers have sealed off the site and an investigation has begun to determine how the fire broke out.
A second man suffered smoke inhalation, but apparently did not require hospital treatment.
West Midlands Fire Service said it had sent crews from Coventry, Sheldon and Hay Mills following the 999 call. A hose reel was used to extinguish the blaze.

Pupils praised after blaze at Castle Brom school

BURNT OUT: Damage caused by the
small electrical fire. Photo/WMFS
FIRE crews were called after a blaze broke out at Castle Bromwich Junior School earlier today (Monday).
The fire is believed to have been caused by a hand dryer in the Year 3 toilets and the alarm was raised mid-morning.
Sheldon Fire Station, which responded to the 999 call, said that hose reels were used to douse the flames.
In an email to parents, the school said: "The building was evacuated and all pupils were safely accounted for within a few minutes.
"The fire brigade congratulated the children on an excellent, quick evacuation and their behaviour was fantastic as they waited on the playground."
Following the incident, Year 3 pupils were moved to different classrooms while the air cleared.
The school said there was little damage done, but that children's coats may smell slightly "smoky".

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Warning to residents following flytipping incident

FLYTIPPING: These items were found dumped on the pavement yesterday
Photo - Solihull Community Housing

CHELMSLEY Wood residents have been warned about people turning up at the door offering to get rid of bulky waste.
There were reports last week of a rogue trader going house-to-house and offering to dispose of the unwanted items for cash.
The items were driven a short distance down the road and dumped. The waste has now been collected by the authorities.
A Solihull Community Housing spokesman said: "If you have any bulky waste please call us to book a collection.
"We are licensed to remove it and will take it away and dispose of it safely. Please do not be tempted to give your money to someone who could turn out to be a rogue trader."
If you have any information about this latest flytipping incident, please email info@solihullcommunityhousing.org.uk

Friday, 10 February 2017

Backlash builds against Smith's Wood housing plan

A SMITH'S Wood mum has said that the football club she set up could be put at risk if Solihull Council presses ahead with plans to build on their home turf.
Stacey Lanchester is the latest local resident to speak out against proposals to put homes on Bosworth Wood playing fields.
She started Cars FC because her own son was travelling to Knowle to play and she thought it would be beneficial to set up a local side.
"We are a popular local team attracting up to 20 young people per game," said Stacey. "We rely on the use of the pitch as it is the only one near to 'The Cars' estate.
"If the pitch was lost for housing, then the club would fold, as there are no other facilities nearby. We are looking to expand, not close down."
Councillor Mark Wilson (Green, Smith's Wood) has criticised the proposals to develop the site, which are included in the latest version of Solihull's Local Plan.
"It is a concern that when the council is saying it is committed to residents' health and well-being and strengthening communities on one hand, it is threatening sports and recreation, which is a key factor in these policies, on another.
"If there more people in these communities, then they will require more, not less facilities to support them and their needs."
Earlier this week, a petition signed by almost 700 residents - who oppose the Bosworth Wood proposal - was presented to Full Council by Coun Wilson.
As well as Cars FC, letters of objection have been submitted by other sports clubs, including Solihull Moors and Chelmsley Colts FC.
Coun Ken Hawkins, the cabinet member for environment, housing and regeneration, said: "It is important to recognise that at this stage the boundaries of the sites are not fixed and not all land within the allocations will be developed."

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Call for support during the cold snap

AS a cold snap takes hold, residents in North Solihull are being reminded that a special helpline is available for elderly, sickly and vulnerable residents.
With freezing winds arriving from Poland, overnight temperatures have dropped below zero and snow is forecast for later today and tomorrow.
Anybody with concerns is being reminded that the Winter Warmth service is now up-and-running, offering advice and support to those struggling during the cold months.

The team can provide:
• An emergency heater if your central heating breaks down
• An electric blanket if you can't afford to heat your bedroom
• Warm clothing if you are struggling to afford it        
• Emergency food supplies
• Debt advice
• Support with finding a tradesperson for emergency repairs.

Councillor Karen Grinsell, Solihull Council's cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: "I would urge anyone with concerns to phone our helpline.
"I would also ask other residents for their help in keeping an eye on their older and vulnerable friends or neighbours this winter."
The Winter Warmth helpline is 0121 704 8080. It is open Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm.

"Brexit won't turn the clock back" warns Meriden MP

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman fears that some Brexit voters may have unrealistic expectations about the impact that leaving the EU will have on immigration.
Speaking in the House of Commons last week, Dame Caroline (pictured above) said that while she had been "surprised" that a majority of the West Midlands had voted Leave she respected the outcome of last summer's vote.
Conceding that many of the conversations she had with local people during the campaign had been on the issue of immigration, the Conservative backbencher voiced concerns the eventual outcome might not be what some expect.
She also emphasised the importance of being honest with the public if Brexit was to be successful.
"I worry that our electors expect that taking back control will mean that very few migrants will arrive here," she told Parliament.
"However, our history as an empire means that there are family obligations to non-EU migrants and an absolute obligation, through the Geneva and The Hague conventions, to provide safe haven for the most vulnerable people, many from countries for which we drew the lines on a map."
The former Environment Secretary also pointed out that many employers relied on migrant labour - either because of a lack of skilled workers or an unwillingness among Britons to do certain low-paid jobs.
"I hope that all that is great about Britain is not sacrificed in pursuit of an unrealistic ambition to go back to some mythical time when we were in control of all we surveyed," she added.
Yesterday evening, Mrs Spelman voted in favour of triggering Article 50 and beginning the formal negotiations to leave the EU. The Bill passed by 494 votes to 122.
During the debate, the Tories were accused of positioning Britain as a "bargain basement tax haven" by Labour, although the Official Opposition was also in turmoil after a sizeable number of the party's MPs defied the leadership and voted against the Bill.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Solihull's dog bins cost tens of thousands

EMPTYING dog mess bins will cost Solihull Council just under £80,000 over the course of a 12-month period.
There are currently 1,396 bins installed around the borough and the local authority calculates that each of these has an average maintenance cost of £47.80 a year.
This adds up to a figure of £79,326 for the financial year 2016/17.
Solihull Council said it receives dozens of enquiries each year about whether it can install containers at new sites.
The local authority said that it has to be mindful of the costs involved and while a bin may sometimes be the best solution to dog fouling, there are other options to tackle the problem.
Dog fouling continues to be a concern locally, with complaints on social media only this month that negotiating one Castle Bromwich street was “like playing hopscotch”.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Fab Lab on its way to Chelmsley Wood

A NEW programme is due to start at Chelmsley Wood Library, with the aim of inspiring people who would be interested in pursuing a career in the creative industries.
Fab Lab, a project set to get underway later this month, is open to 15 to 29-year-olds who aren't in a job, education or training.
Those who sign up for the four week scheme will be able to make use of technology including a 3D printer, t-shirt printer and embroidery machine.
The hope is that the sessions will give them the nudge they need to start their own business or find a job in a related sector.
Councillor Tony Dicicco said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for young people across our borough to get free access to some cutting edge technology.
"With a bit of guidance we hope that we can help them to bring their creative ideas to life and perhaps give them the kick start they need to go on to employment or training."
Anyone interested in signing up for Fab Lab should call 0121 788 4454 or emailsolihullfablab@solihull.gov.uk

Monday, 6 February 2017

Police discover body three weeks on from motorway crash

POLICE today confirmed they had discovered a body, understood to be a Chelmsley Wood man who has been missing since a car crash on the M6 over three weeks ago.
Zahid Mirza's vehicle had collided with a barrier on the southbound carriageway of the motorway, near Coleshill, on January 15.
When emergency services arrived at the scene, the car was abandoned and a search of the surrounding area found no sign of Mr Mirza.
But given that the 40-year-old had not been seen since the incident, police made a fresh appeal for information and renewed a search of the vicinity over the weekend. A number of residents reported that helicopters had been circling the area.
In a statement this morning, the force confirmed that a man's body had been found on an inaccessible area of waste ground next to the motorway.
Det Supt Tom Chisholm said: "Specialist officers have been in the area over the past two days carrying out searches.
"Yesterday evening (Sunday) the search team discovered the body of a man...The body has not been formally identified but family liaison officers have notified Mr Mirza's family and are supporting them."
A post mortem will take place in due course and the matter has also been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Fresh concern over plans for Smith's Wood

BATTLEGROUND: The possible threat to Auckland Hall
has worried Smith's Wood residents
A SMITH’S Wood councillor has said it would be “a calamity” if the estate lost its last dedicated community centre.
Councillor Mark Wilson (Green) was referring to fears that Auckland Hall could be closed down as part of proposals set out in Solihull’s revised Local Plan.
The loss of the Sunbeam Close venue, which is used to host a local foodbank and a wide range of community activities, would be a major blow to local residents.
“If this goes, then there’s nothing, unless [Solihull Council] provide a new hall, or rebuild a potentially bigger and better one,” said Coun Wilson.
“Constant development without investment in public facilities is a step towards destroying community spirit and society.”
The latest version of the Local Plan has already caused controversy among Smith’s Wood residents after it emerged that the council was considering building on Bosworth Wood playing fields. Locals had previously fought a five year battle to get access to the site and are mortified by the possibility that the land could be disposed of.
What has been less well publicised is that Auckland Hall would also be put at risk as part of the potential housing development.
The question mark hanging over the facility is likely to fuel criticism that community assets are being sacrificed to find room for more homes in a ward which is already the most densely populated in the borough.
Christine Iddles, of Vauxhall Crescent, summarised many residents’ concerns when she addressed Full Council last year.
“It is hardly conducive to developing a community spirit if the young people have nowhere to go and nothing to do in their leisure time,” she told the meeting.
“We find it hard to understand why Auckland Hall is being viewed as a likely site for redevelopment.”
Coun Ian Courts, Deputy Leader of Solihull Council, said that residents would have the opportunity to set out their views in the current consultation.
The deadline for comments has now been extended until February 17. To find out more visit the Local Plan page on the council's website.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Appeal to trace Chelmsley Wood man

POLICE are appealing for help in finding a Chelmsley Wood man, who has not been seen since a car crash on the M6 last month.
Zahid Mirza had been behind the wheel of a vehicle which collided with a barrier on the southbound carriageway (between Junction 4a and 5) on January 15.
The car was abandoned and officers have confirmed that the 40-year-old has not been seen since.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "Now we are concerned that he may have come to harm and searches are being carried out at the scene to help us trace him."
Anyone who has seen Mr Mirza since the date of the collision is asked to call officers on 101.

Snowdrop Sunday in Castle Bromwich

A SNOWDROP walk will be taking place at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens tomorrow (Sunday).
Families will also be able to take part in craft activities, buy plants and meet the Green Man.
Hot drinks and homemade soup will be available from the shop.
The event runs from 11am-3pm.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Remembering WW1 hero from Castle Brom

LOCAL HERO: Richard Bridgeman
THE extraordinary story of one of the servicemen named on Castle Bromwich’s war memorial has been retold on the 100th anniversary of his death.
Richard Bridgeman, the son of the fourth Earl of Bradford, had lost his life in January 1917, while on active service in East Africa.
Details of his military history and the final days of his life were recently posted on the Solihull Life blog, which is providing regular reports on the borough men who gave their lives during the First World War.
There is a surprisingly detailed account of the 37-year-old’s final mission, with details provided by a captured German captain appearing in the local press some months after his death.
Commander Bridgeman and a second man, Flight Commander Edwin Moon, had been carrying out aerial reconnaissance over what is now Tanzania when their seaplane ran into difficulties. Magnetic failure forced them to land in enemy territory and realising the damage was beyond repair, the two men burned the craft and fled.
Aware that the Germans had seen them land, the pair hunted the jungle for a way to escape. The newspaper report picks up the story.
“After much weary wandering they discovered an empty house, and by removing the window frame and roughly fastening planks across, they constructed a raft.
“They were frequently up to the neck in water, and the only relief they could obtain from the millions of mosquitos was continually dipping their heads under the surface.
“The cocoanut [sic] milk they carried in bottles turned sour, and by the evening of the third day both officers were completely exhausted, and Commander Bridgeman was almost insensible.”
Travelling downriver on the makeshift raft, the soldiers were swept out into the open sea.
By this stage the craft was waterlogged and Flt Cdr Moon had the terrible task of trying to keep himself afloat and his comrade’s head above the water.
Tragically Commander Bridgeman died from exposure despite his friend’s best efforts. His body was eventually washed ashore and buried at Dar es Salaam War Cemetery.
You can read more about his story, and other accounts of local men who died during the First World War, here.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Chelmsley supermarket supports World Cancer Day

SPECIAL wrist bands are on sale at Chelmsley Wood's branch of Asda ahead of World Cancer Day.
The "unity bands" are available for a suggested donation of £2.
A total of ten charities - Cancer Research UK, Anthony Nolan, Breast Cancer Now, Breast Cancer Care, Marie Curie, Movember Foundation, Bowel Cancer UK, Children’s Cancer & Leukaemia Group, CLIC Sargent, and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity - are supporting the event on Saturday, February 4.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre set for revamp

ARTIST'S IMPRESSION: A concept of the new development.
Photo by Stanley Bragg Architects

PLANS to revamp Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre have been given the go ahead by planning chiefs.
The plans include the creation of a tree-lined boulevard along Greenwood Way, the centre’s main parade, and the installation of a permanent fabric canopy.
This will give shelter to shoppers during bad weather, with small stalls and public seating expected to be placed underneath.
The application was submitted to Solihull Council by the centre’s owners, Ellandi Ltd, who have three years to complete the work under the terms of the planning permission.