Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Election hustings in Chelmsley Wood this Friday

CANDIDATES standing in the General Election will have chance to put their case directly to voters at a special debate in Chelmsley Wood.
The hustings, taking place less than a week before polling day, will be one of the last opportunities for the five hopefuls to sway undecided voters.
In Meriden, the constituency which includes North Solihull, Conservative Caroline Spelman is the clear favourite – having turned a wafer-thin majority in 1997 into a close to 20,000 vote advantage two years ago.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the extent to which the Tories have put the emphasis on Brexit negotiations nationally, Mrs Spelman has thus far fought a campaign very much centred on local issues.
In a pitch to voters, she said: “With your support, I will continue to fight for fairer school funding, to protect the Meriden Gap - which remains under pressure for development, defend local NHS services and, work to make sure no one feels left behind or disadvantaged in our community.”
Her main challenger is likely to be Labour’s Tom McNeil, a lawyer and human rights activist who was also the party’s candidate in the 2015 General Election.
“The message I’ll be spreading in Meriden... is that we should invest today for a fairer tomorrow,” he tweeted earlier this month.
Mr McNeil will be hoping that local anger over the state of public services will rack up votes in areas where Labour support has been in steady decline.
The Green Party have also backed a candidate from the election two years ago, confirming that teacher Alison Gavin will stand again.
While the party holds every council seat in Chelmsley Wood and Smith’s Wood, it has fared less well in Parliamentary elections and lost its deposit last time. Mrs Gavin is confident, however, that their message can resonate on the doorstep.
She said: “Whether it’s speaking out against racism, advocating the living wage or defending our NHS, the Green Party has a proud history of bold thinking that our country now needs.”
UKIP’s candidate is Leslie Kaye, who is hoping to capitalise on concerns over HS2 and development of local parkland, although the national polling suggests that much of the party’s support base has flocked to the Tories.
“I will work hard to represent your views and interests in Westminster, not like other parties, to impose Westminster policy on Meriden,” he said.
The Lib Dems will be pinning their hopes on local businessman Antony Rogers who is described by local activists as having “great initiative and drive.”
Meriden has not traditionally been fertile ground for the party and at present they don’t have a single councillor in the constituency. That said, they may find themselves best placed to draw support from the sizeable minority of voters who supported ‘Remain’ in the EU referendum.
The hustings will take place at the Three Trees Centre on Friday, June 2 (6.30-8.00pm). Questions can be submitted in advance to alan@3trees.org.uk

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Latest edition of our online newspaper is out now


THE May edition of Other Side of Solihull's digital newspaper is available to read here.
If you have stories for our next issue or have any comments or suggestions please get in touch.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Appeal after Smith's Wood pensioner is targeted in his own home

POLICE are hunting three men who robbed an 89-year-old man in his own home over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The pensioner had been sound asleep when the robbers had smashed their way through his patio doors in the early hours of yesterday morning (Sunday).
His family said that the hooded trio had ransacked the downstairs of the property, before entering the man's bedroom, holding a pillow over his face and demanding money.
They fled the Smith's Wood address with his watch, a quantity of cash and jewellery which had belonged to the pensioner's late wife. The victim was uninjured but badly shaken by the ordeal, which happened at around 2am.
In an appeal on Facebook, the man's granddaughter described the culprits as "disgusting scumbags" and urged anyone with information about the break-in or who believes they may have been offered the stolen items to contact officers.
If you can help detectives with their inquiries please call 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Step out for National Walking Month


ROUND off National Walking Month by stepping out for a stroll in Chelmsley Wood.
A guided walk will be taking place on Tuesday (May 30). Meet at St Andrew's Church at 10.30am.
To find out more about walking events in the borough visit the Walk Solihull website. There are also route maps available for sites including Meriden Park and Babbs Mill Lake.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Lucky escape for Chelmsley lottery winners

TWO sisters from Chelmsley Wood have received their £300,000 in Lottery winnings, despite ripping the scratchcard in two during their celebrations, the BBC reports.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

St Anne's pupil wins poster contest

STEPPING UP: Lilymai O'Neill, aged 11, with members of the judging panel

A YOUNG girl from Chelmsley Wood has won a competition to design a safety poster for the Touchwood Shopping Centre.
Arty St Anne's pupil Lilymai O'Neill came up with a striking message for the centre's 'Steps to Safety' campaign - launched to ensure that visitors don't come to any harm while using the escalators.
The contest - open to youngsters around the borough - was judged by Andy Jeynes, community response manager for West Midlands Ambulance Service, Terry Flower, from the charity FastAid, and Touchwood representatives.
Eleven-year-old Lilymai's design was picked out from 200 entries. The poster will now go on display around the precinct and £500 will be donated to St Anne's Catholic Primary School.
The schoolgirl's classmates Grace Flaherty and Fiona Privin were both among the runners-up.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Smith's Wood man jailed for sex offences

A FORMER nursery worker from Smith's Wood has today been jailed for 16 years after admitting a series of serious sexual offences against children.
Jamie Chapman, 29, of Tamar Drive, had previously pleaded guilty to raping a teenage boy, 21 counts of inciting sexual activity with children and nine counts of taking, making and distributing indecent photos of youngsters.
West Midlands Police had launched an investigation in January last year, after discovering graphic content online. Their inquiries eventually led back to Chapman (pictured, right) and he was arrested on October 11.
At the time of his detention, the defendant was working at a private nursery school in Garretts Green. Detectives have confirmed however that none of his victims are linked to the business.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how he had befriended youngsters on social media by posing as teenage girls.
He would gain their trust by sending naked pictures of young women which he had found on Google and in return the boys would send explicit pictures of themselves.
He then threatened to share the compromising images on social media if they refused to meet him.
Following his arrest, computer equipment was seized from his address. On the hard drive were 63 individual folders each contained images of a different male.
It's understood there were a total of 18 victims over the course of a five year period.
DCI Dawn Miskella, who led the investigation, said: "The boys genuinely thought they were talking to a real girl on the internet; Chapman was a calculated and manipulative individual who preyed on the very people he should have been protecting as a teaching assistant.
"Many of them lost their confidence and are embarrassed and angry at their experiences.
"We welcome today’s sentence and hope that this may start to give the victims and families some kind of closure and sense of justice."

Monday, 22 May 2017

Smith's Wood event rescheduled

A NEW date has been set for the Smith's Wood Community Fun Day.
The event at Bosworth Wood's playing field had originally been due to take place over the weekend, but was called off due to recent bad weather.
The Cars Big Local - the group which organises the fun day - have confirmed it is now scheduled for August 19.

Blaze tears through Chelmsley tower block


FIREFIGHTERS were called to a serious incident at a Chelmsley Wood tower block this afternoon (Monday).
Smoke and flames could be seen rising from the roof of the high-rise building in Moorend Avenue.
West Midlands Fire Service has confirmed that a 25-strong team was dispatched to put out the blaze, which broke out at around 2pm. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
One local resident, who had been travelling in the direction of Chelmsley town centre, could see the column of smoke from half a mile away.
"You could see it rising above the trees and then as we drove closer I could see that it was pouring from the top of the building," said the 29-year-old. "It looked pretty serious."
The fire was extinguished after about an hour and those residents who had been evacuated from the building were allowed to return. One man - understood to be a contract worker - required medical attention after suffering minor burns and the effects of smoke inhalation. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Funfair arrives in Chelmsley Wood


ROBERT Wilkinson's Funfair returns to Chelmsley Wood this week.
The Big Top will be pitched up in Meriden Park from tomorrow (Thursday) until Sunday (May 21).
The funfair is open from 4-8pm tomorrow and Friday and from 12noon until 8pm over the weekend.
Admission is £1, with a £1 charge per ride (except the dodgems).

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Ex-CTC student to stand for Parliament


A WOMAN who grew up on Chelmsley Wood has once again been selected to stand as a Parliamentary candidate in the forthcoming General Election.
Elizabeth Adams will be contesting Stratford-upon-Avon for the Liberal Democrats, having previously fought the seat for the party in 2015.
Miss Adams, aged 30, is a former student of the CTC Kingshurst Academy and first campaigned for the party in the Castle Bromwich area.
Two years ago she wrote a short comment piece for this blog about her interest in politics and why she would like to see more people get actively involved.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Public meetings to discuss bus route controversy


PUBLIC meetings are being organised to discuss controversial changes to North Solihull's bus services.
The widespread changes to routes, which have prompted a massive backlash from passengers, will take effect from June 4.
Ahead of the plans being implemented, Councillor Debbie Evans (UKIP, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) has organised two events locally.
The first meeting will take place at St Barnabas Hall, in Overgreen Drive, Kingshurst, this Thursday (May 18). A second event will follow at St Anne's Catholic Club, Bosworth Drive, on May 23. Both will start at 7pm.
You can read more reaction to the changes in this month's edition of Other Side of Solihull.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Castle Brom GP urges caution following cyber-attack


CASTLE Bromwich GP Anand Chitnis has advised local surgeries to use the internet only for "critical" activity, following a high-profile cyber attack which hit NHS facilities nationwide.
The Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) yesterday confirmed that some of its practices were among those affected by the malicious computer program.
A total of 45 health organisations in England and Scotland were caught up in the incident, although the Government has confirmed that patient data is secure.
Tweeting this morning, Dr Chitnis, who is the chair of Solihull CCG, said that IT staff were working hard to resolve problems.
He also advised GP staff not to use remote access until further notice.
Following on from the incident, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that the health service needed to tighten up its security.
"Cyber-security is a huge industry and we can all do better to protect our businesses and our personal information," said Ms Rudd.
"I would expect NHS trusts to learn from this and to make sure that they do upgrade."

Friday, 12 May 2017

May Market in Marston Green


MARSTON Green’s popular May Market is to be held tomorrow (Saturday).
The event will be taking place at St Leonard’s Parish Hall and visitors can look forward to market stalls, a tombola and Maypole dancing - a tradition which can be traced back centuries.
There will also be a bouncy castle, face painting and refreshments between 10am-2pm.
Admission is £1 for adults and free for children.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Councillor blasts decision to withdraw playground funding


SOLIHULL Council has been accused of hypocrisy for axeing funding for a facility which hands out food to local kids while still paying for free meals for councillors before meetings.
Coun Mark Wilson (Green, Smith's Wood) has said that he has grave concerns about the decision to stop local authority support to Meriden Adventure Playground from September.
After a recent appeal to reverse the council decision failed, the facility is now on the hunt for alternative funding.
The committee admits that it will be a very difficult task in such a tight time-frame, but parents and volunteers have rallied round to help. The options available are due to be discussed further at the playground's annual general meeting next week.
Coun Wilson (pictured) described the facility as a vital hub within the community and said it would be "criminal" if it were forced to close.
"On the one hand the council is saying it is committed to making communities stronger and residents healthier, yet on the other it is shutting down important community facilities like this," he said.
"It's ironic that the council spends £60,000 giving councillors free meals before council meetings but can't find £20,000 needed this year to keep a playground open that provides hot meals to vulnerable children who otherwise go without."
His comments reopen an old argument about sit down meals available to members which erupted between the political parties in 2012.
At the time, the Green Party questioned whether the food could be justified at a time of spending cuts, while the ruling Conservative group said the convention made it easier for working people who had to travel straight from their day job to an evening meeting.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Find out all about fostering

A DROP-in session will be held in Chelmsley Wood tomorrow (Thursday) to provide information to those thinking about fostering.
The event will be taking place at the Three Trees Centre, Hedingham Grove, and will offer details about what the process involves as well as the chance to talk to those already fostering about their experiences.
The session will run from 6.30-8.30pm. No need to book.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Appeal to find treasured watch stolen in Castle Brom break-in

CAN you help a family find a watch of immense sentimental value, which was stolen during a burglary in Castle Bromwich during the Easter holidays.
The item in question was bought by a woman, who has sadly since passed away, as an 18th birthday present for her son.
Since the boy is still only 15, he had never even had chance to see his mother's gift - which had been specially engraved.
The woman's daughter said the family had been "devastated" by the theft and made a heartfelt appeal in the hope of finding the irreplaceable timepiece.
It is a solid gold men's Longines watch with a brown leather strap. The family are unsure of the exact wording of the message on the back - it was engraved almost a decade ago - but it is along the lines of: "Alexander, I love you. Mummy".
The burglary itself took place on either April 9 or 10. The first date is thought more likely as detectives have said there were a string of other break-ins that evening.
Enquiries with local pawnbrokers have thus far drawn a blank.
Anyone who has seen the watch or has any information can call Solihull Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

CTC serves up the Great British Tennis Weekend

ACE IDEA: Sessions at the Cooks Lane school are run in partnership with
the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). 

WITH Wimbledon-fever now just a couple of months away, the CTC Kingshurst Academy is hosting a Great British Tennis Weekend.
The free event will be taking place at the school's specially created tennis hub, which was officially opened last summer.
Organisers said that events will be suitable for all ages and abilities, whether you're an armchair Andy Murray fan who has never so much as swung a racket or a seasoned player keen to improve their backhand.
The facility will provide all the equipment; you just need to wear outdoor sports clothes and bring a drink. 
Sessions will be running on both Saturday and Sunday (May 13-14) between 10.00-11.30am and 2.00-3.30pm.
To book your place or for further details about coaching sessions at the hub visit www.ctctennis.co.uk

Monday, 8 May 2017

Chelmsley Wood school delighted by turnaround

REMARKABLE PROGRESS:  Students Sana Khan, Kyle Billingsley,
Abbie Heslington, Maisie Taylor, Madison Sherriff, and Kyle Baker.

THE principal of the Grace Academy has hailed the news that the school has received a "good" rating from Ofsted, only a few years on from being told it was performing well below par.
In September 2013, inspectors had noted "serious weaknesses" at the Chelmsley Wood site and identified a raft of improvements that would need to be made.
Key criticisms included poor retention of students in the sixth form and failing to make the most of additional funding which had been made available to help struggling Year 7 pupils.
The following year it was confirmed that Darren Gelder had been appointed as principal and he set to work on implementing a tough new action plan to turn performance around.
In the time since, the school has seen its results improve dramatically and a record 70 per cent of students achieved A*-C in English and maths last year. This compared with just 37 per cent in 2014.
Mr Gelder, who has previously worked with schools in Skegness, Grimsby and East Sussex, welcomed the latest Ofsted report.
"We have, as an academy, focused on getting it right in lessons and putting the students at the forefront of everything we do," he said.
"Every single member of the teaching and non-teaching staff have contributed to the outcome we have achieved. I would also like to thank parents and carers for their continued support and belief that we could make the Academy what it is today."
Several secondary schools in the north of the borough have struggled with inconsistent performance.
Most recently it was recommended that Smith's Wood Sports College be placed in special measures.
Inspectors attended earlier this year and in a report published in March noted that standards had “declined significantly” since the last visit.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Driving test halted after police seize instructor's vehicle

A LEARNER driver was pulled over by police in the middle of her test after it was alleged that her instructor's vehicle had neither insurance nor an MOT.
West Midlands Police revealed that they had stopped the car in Cooks Lane, Kingshurst yesterday morning  (Saturday) and it was subsequently seized by officers and driven away on the back of a lorry.
To add insult to injury, the learner - who has not been named - was on course to pass with flying colours. In fact, when the test came to an abrupt halt near the junction with Gressell Lane she had yet to receive even a minor fault.
Unfortunately for her, she had not completed the minimum driving time necessary to receive her licence.
The force's road policing unit confirmed that no offence had been committed by the pupil or the examiner and that it was the instructor, waiting back at the test centre, who would face questions.
Officers have said they hope that the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) may allow the driver to retake her test for free, given the extraordinary circumstances in which yesterday's attempt came to an end.
"A bit of good will...would be nice," a spokesman said.
At present it costs £62 to take a driving test, but the learner in question would have paid an extra £15 for a Saturday slot.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Castle Brom chippie marks half a century

CHIP, CHIP HOORAY: Cola's Fish Saloon, opposite the Morrisons store

ONE of the longest-running businesses in Castle Bromwich is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Cola's Fish Saloon, in Chester Road, has been serving hungry locals since 1967.
This week, many residents shared their memories about the chip shop, formerly known as the Hygienic, on the community Facebook page.
Ray Witten wrote: "We lived next door, over the Royal London Insurance Office, in 1970/1971 - it was our first married home.
"As we were then only 18-years-old we struggled for money at the time. The family in the Hygienic always looked after us and fed us when we had little to eat. Wonderful people."
Stacey Shaw said: "Worked here for years whilst doing my nurse training. Couldn't have worked with nicer people."

Yorkswood Primary to be redeveloped

PLANS to create a new teaching block at Yorkswood Primary School have been given the green light.
The new development will include classrooms, a hall, staff room, offices, stores, a sensory room and toilets.
The site is being redeveloped as part of the North Solihull Regeneration, a key element of which is the improvement of school facilities.
At one stage it had been suggested that work on the ageing Yorkswood building would be limited to refurbishment, but the local authority later accepted that more radical work was needed.
Councillor Jim Ryan (Con, Bickenhill) said it was an “outstanding” application.
“It is something I think we all appreciate and the community of Kingshurst I’m sure will appreciate.”
He did however suggest something should be done to address the “harsh” appearance of the boundary fencing.
The scheme was given unanimous approval by the planning committee.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Tories claim victory in West Midlands Mayor fight

STREET'S AHEAD: Conservative Andy Street (left) defeated Labour's
Sion Simon in the race to become West Midlands Mayor

CONSERVATIVE Andy Street has caused a major upset locally after winning the election to become the first ever West Midlands Mayor.
Mr Street, a former boss of John Lewis, won by a few thousand votes following a nail-biting run-off against Labour's Sion Simon.
While the Tory candidate had racked up the most "first preference" votes - due in no small part to a high turn-out in Solihull - he did not have the 50 per cent share required to win outright.
This meant that second preferences had to be taken into account and while Mr Simon was able to squeeze his opponent's slender majority, he still finished some 3,700 votes adrift.
The final result saw the Conservatives racking up 238,625 votes, with Labour polling 234,862.
Indeed, the contest was so close that the margin between the two candidates was equivalent to around a third of Castle Brom's population - remarkable given the size of area the victor will represent.
The outcome is a major blow to Labour; the party dominates the political landscape locally and is the largest party in six of the seven council areas that the Mayor will represent.
While Mr Simon had originally been seen as a clear favourite, his party's national polling made it increasingly apparent that the election was likely to be close.
Mr Street has suggested the result could give the Tories a new lease of life in the urban areas where they have traditionally struggled, although critics have argued that his surge in the polls will have been helped by the estimated £1million ploughed into his campaign.
Speaking shortly after his election, Mr Street said: "I want to be a Mayor who works for everyone across the West Midlands and binds all of our leaders together.
"That’s because ultimately that's what this job is all about - about building a team to champion the West Midlands, building an alliance with central government, with local people..."
Mr Simon suggested national issues such as Brexit and immigration had overshadowed local concerns when activists were out canvassing.
"It is very disappointing, obviously...Where we really lost was in the Conservative heartland of Solihull where the Conservatives, having spent millions of pounds, had a turnout a third higher than the regional average and that’s what tipped the balance."
Chelmsley Wood councillor James Burn, who had stood as the Green Party candidate, came fifth - taking just shy of 25,000 votes region-wide
Although his vote share was just below the five per cent that would have saved his deposit, he said that he had been proud of his campaign and the election had helped raise the party's profile.
Tweeting after the result was announced, Coun Burn said he was "off to find a nice strong cuppa and a chocolate brownie."

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Mayoral race: Who are the candidates?

VOTERS around the West Midlands are today voting for the region's first every Mayor
If you haven't cast your ballot paper, Other Side of Solihull has prepared this brief guide to the six individuals vying for your vote.
Polling stations will be open until 10pm.

James Burn (Green): 
Background: One of a slate of Green councillors elected in North Solihull, he has represented the Chelmsley Wood area since 2014 and now leads the party's contingency in the council chamber. A qualified social worker, he also runs his own small business.
Manifesto: He has frequently spoken about the need to tackle inequality within the region and said it is of vital importance that poorer areas aren't left behind. He is in favour of an investment bank to help finance firms, a greater emphasis on the environment and putting more measures in place to hold the Mayor to proper account. He has vowed to only take £28,000 in pay - the average for the region.

Peter Durnell (UKIP):
Background: Up until a few years ago, Mr Durnell's career had been entirely in computing - starting as a trainee in West Bromwich more than 30 years ago. He has previously stood for the Eurosceptic party in both local council and Parliamentary elections.
Manifesto: Has said that he would replace political correctness with "respect and common sense" and that he is a strong advocate of letting the people decide. An ardent opponent of HS2, he has also spoken in favour of making the education system more flexible and cutting red tape for businesses after Brexit.

Beverley Nielsen (Lib Dems):
Background: The only woman in the race, Beverley has an eclectic CV - having previously worked for US Vogue in New York and co-ordinated the satellites for the famous Live Aid concert. She has also worked for the CBI, a leading business body, and for the past decade has been a director of Birmingham City University.
Manifesto: She has seven key areas that she has said she will focus on and made efforts to tackle congestion and pollution a key pillar of her manifesto launch. She has talked about a cycle hire scheme - Beverley's Bikes - which draws inspiration from a similar initiative in London. She has also pledged free bus passes on the first Saturday of every month and the creation of a £1billion innovation fund.

Sion Simon (Labour):
Background: After graduating from Oxford, Mr Simon worked as a speechwriter, policy advisor and journalist. Formerly the MP for Erdington, he left Westminster in 2010 to campaign for a role similar to the one he is now standing for. He has continued to be involved in frontline politics as a Member for the European Parliament (MEP).
Manifesto: His policies include a freeze on public transport charges, nationalising the M6 toll road (it is currently run by a private company) and a second runway for Birmingham Airport. He has also pledged to push for more generous funding for the region, believing the current system is unfair, and wants to introduce a Living Wage for the region.

Graham Stevenson (Communist Party):
Background: Comes from a family of miners and engineers. A Communist since his school days, Mr Stevenson has been active in both the trade union movement and various political groups. He is now on the Communist Party's national executive committee.
Manifesto: Graham will push for local ownership of bus and rail operators, arguing that this will present the opportunity to reduce fares. He has also spoken about the importance of decent wages, tackling air pollution and providing more affordable housing.

Andy Street (Conservative):
Background: Starting as a trainee at the John Lewis Partnership, Mr Street worked his way up the company and was eventually appointed chief executive a decade ago. He stood down from the position to seek the nomination as the Conservative candidate. He has also chaired the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and in 2015 received a CBE for services to the economy.
Manifesto: Mr Street has said he wants to make economic growth in the West Midlands the fastest of any region in the UK by 2020. He also intends to build 25,000 new homes in the same time frame, take steps to tackle youth unemployment and improve transport links by bringing disused rail lines back into use.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Candidates confirmed to fight local seat


PARTIES are confirming their candidates for Meriden with just four weeks to go until Britain goes to the polls.
A lawyer and human rights activist has been re-selected as Labour's representative.
Tom McNeil (top left) had previously stood at the last General Election two years ago and it was confirmed yesterday that he would be on the ballot paper again next month.
In 2015, Mr McNeil came second in the constituency, with a vote share of around 20 per cent.
Meriden, which includes all of North Solihull, is a seat that Labour has held previously (most recently between 1974 and 79).
The current boundaries have tilted the balance in favour of the Tories, although the party did come within 500 votes of capturing the constituency during its landslide victory in 1997. 
In the 20 years since, Conservative incumbent Caroline Spelman has increased her majority, which now stands at almost 20,000.
Mr McNeil, who specialises in legal advice for charities, said that he was "extremely proud" to be selected to contest the seat for a second time.
Another candidate confirmed to be standing again is the Green Party's Alison Wilson (centre). The teacher, who has previously taught at Oaklands School, Smith's Wood, said she would be campaigning for decent jobs and affordable housing.
"Brexit is a challenge but also an opportunity," she said. "It's a chance to build a more home-grown economy based on small businesses based here, employing people here and keeping money flowing around our economy. Chasing overseas money and making big cuts hasn't helped anyone."
The Greens would hope to rack up a decent number of votes given their strong support in areas such as Chelmsley Wood, although they have traditionally polled less well in those parts of the borough where turn-out is much higher.
UKIP have selected local man Leslie Kaye (top right), who has lived in the constituency for over 20 years.
He said that he was a firm believer in local democracy and that improved transport links for North Solihull and protecting green spaces would be among his priorities.
"I am standing in this election to oppose our MP and councillors who are determined to disrupt our communities and concrete over our green spaces," he said.
"HS2 and the proposed 'Garden City' of high density housing will be a social and environmental disaster, bringing noise, dust and endless traffic delays during construction."
UKIP currently has two councillors in the Kingshurst & Fordbridge ward, but its national polling has fallen considerably in recent months - with many of its former supporters switching to the Conservatives.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Team GB hero opens Castle Brom business

SPECIAL GUEST: Olympian Lily Owsley with the EH Smith team.

AN OLYMPIC champion was invited to open a new business in Castle Bromwich last month.
Lily Owsley, a member of Team GB’s gold medal-winning hockey side, cut the ribbon at the new branch of EH Smith.
The builders merchants has opened a premises on the Chester Road, its latest outlet in the Birmingham and Solihull area.
Marketing director Mark Mallinder said it had been “great” to welcome the player to the official opening.
Lily, a University of Birmingham student, recovered from a collar bone injury in order to qualify for the Rio Games and was made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Historical event to return to Castle Bromwich

FORTIES FASHIONS: The weekend has become an annual favourite.

CASTLE Bromwich Hall Gardens will be whisking visitors back in time with the return of its 1940s weekend.
There will be live music, vintage vehicles, a hog roast and a whole parade of characters in period costume.
This year's event will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday (May 6-7), between 11am-4pm.
To find out more about the activities visit the gardens' website.

Street Associations hailed a major success

SETTING up a series of Street Associations has helped bring communities closer together, Solihull Council has argued.
Councillors recently considered a report which assessed the impact of nine associations which have been established in the borough.
The first two programmes started in Smith’s Wood in September 2014 and since then seven others have sprung up. All but two of these cover areas in North Solihull.
The associations tend to be set up in neighbourhoods where there are above-average levels of crime, anti social behaviour and isolation. The overriding aim is to help address these problems by organising community events bringing neighbours together.
A council report concluded that the schemes had achieved many of the objectives and there are now hopes that the project can be expanded to other locations, including Kingshurst.
Melanie Lockey, the council’s head of partnerships and communities, said: “Each Street Association is run by a core group of six-ten people.
“[They] meet once a month for an hour and organise events to bring people together...encourage friendships and find ways to help neighbours who might need a lift or help with a bit of DIY.”
Vauxhall Crescent, which was one of the first two street associations, has been held up as a particular success.
When locals were initially surveyed, one in nine said they felt lonely or isolated and a significant proportion admitted they knew very few of their neighbours by name.
Since a barbecue launched the initiative over two and a half years ago, residents have organised events including a Christmas fair and Easter egg hunt.
While the street associations have been set up with council backing, the original idea came from a Birmingham couple, Martin and Gina Graham, and more than 100 schemes have started around the country.