Monday, 31 July 2017

North Solihull sides steel themselves for new season

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

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Police appeal after young woman is attacked

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

Travellers back at Babbs Mill site

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

Charge follows incident at Castle Brom petrol station

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

Friday, 28 July 2017

Man delighted to be reunited with second rescuer

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

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Family fun in Chelmsley Wood

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

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Community centre thanks locals after attempted break-in

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

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Playground - "We are definitely not closing"

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

Sunday, 23 July 2017

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

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

Awards for two of North Solihull's parks

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

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Artists booked to play local festival

MORE than a dozen acts have now been confirmed for a local live music event.
Irish crooners Boyzlife, Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills and Lisa Maffia, formerly of the So Solid Crew, are among those who will be appearing at ShardFest.
The festival will be taking place at Norman Chamberlain Playing Fields on July 29-30.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Three-year project to enhance our green spaces

SOLIHULL Council has secured almost £2million to improve wildlife habitats across the borough, including several sites in North Solihull.
The local authority has been awarded more than £966,000 from the European Regional Development Fund, the majority of which will be match funded by the council alongside the Environment Agency.
The money will be pumped into preserving and improving 28 sites located within residential areas, including Alcott Wood, Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood, Yorks Wood, Meriden Lake, the Low Brook (at Kingshurst) and Cooks Lane.
Efforts to create reed beds, plant new trees and shrubs and convert grassland into meadows will be taking place over the course of the next three years.
Ian Courts, Deputy Leader of Solihull Council, said: "Many of the sites included in the programme are situated in the north of the borough and will therefore support the ongoing investment being made to homes, businesses and infrastructure in the area."
While some residents have welcomed the news, others have greeted the announcement with more scepticism - suggesting the improvements won't make amends for a number of controversial decisions to develop green spaces such as Babbs Mills.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Man meets the woman who saved his life 44 years ago

DEBT OF GRATITUDE: Andy Steggles meets Anne Morgan
Picture/Midlands Today

A MAN has had an emotional reunion with the woman who helped saved his life in North Solihull more than 40 years ago.
Andy Steggles was just three-years-old when he fell into Hatchford Brook and almost drowned.
It was only the intervention of two passers-by which saved his life on that fateful day in May 1973.
Earlier this year, Andy, now 47 and living in the United States, had made an appeal to trace the Good Samaritans.
To his delight he was put in touch with Anne Morgan [nee Barley], a Marston Green woman who had learned first-aid skills in the girl guides and had rushed to his aid.
Now he has travelled back to the UK and had the chance to meet up with Anne to express his heartfelt thanks. An item on Midlands Today this evening showed the pair meeting for the first time in decades.
"To say I owe you a debt of gratitude is the understatement of the century," said Andy, who had been resuscitated three times.
"To finally meet Anne and thank's a big deal."
Anne, who had received an award from the Royal Humane Society for her actions, said: "I'm so pleased that he's doing so well. Over the years I've thought about him and wondered how he's getting on and what sort of life he's leading."
Andy, his wife Kelly and two of their children also joined Anne on a visit to the stretch of water where his life had been saved.
The businessman is still hoping to make contact with Peter Owen, a Chelmsley Wood man who also played a pivotal part in his rescue all those years ago.
You can watch the full report on BBC iPlayer, although please note that it will only be available until 7pm tomorrow evening.

Bus company makes further changes to the X70

A BUS operator has made fresh changes to its X70 service, admitting that a recent overhaul of the timetable had caused difficulties.
National Express had made alterations to the route last month, as part of a wider shake-up of the network in North Solihull and East Birmingham.
But complaints from passengers forced a rethink and last Sunday, a number of adjustments were made.
These include changes to the weekday timetable, which should make it easier for pupils at Coleshill School.
Some buses will also be given more time to reach their destination, following concerns that traffic in the Castle Bromwich and Bromford area was causing hold-ups during the busiest times of the day.
In a statement, National Express said: "We’re sorry we didn’t get the new X70 timetable right the first time and these changes should fix the issues raised and observed."
You can find the full timetable for the route - running between Chelmsley Wood Interchange and Birmingham city centre - on the website.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Free tree scheme takes root in Solihull

AN INITIATIVE to nurture traditional trees has been launched in Solihull.
The Arden Free Tree Scheme promotes the planting of various native species and aims to reduce carbon in the atmosphere - at a time when concerns about air pollution in urban areas are growing.
The project - being run by Solihull Council, in partnership with Birmingham Airport - is open to any individual or group who wishes to create a hedgerow or small woodland on their land.
Specimens provided will include Silver Birch, Rowan, Holly, Hazel, Hawthorn, Dogwood and Blackthorn.
Landowners who wish to apply should send a location map, plan and a list of desired species to the local authority.
Applications must be submitted by the end of August, with those who are successful to receive the greenery in time for the planting season (which runs from November to March).
Further information about the scheme is available here

Monday, 17 July 2017

All ale church's restoration project

WORK on installing the new set of bells at St Mary and St Margaret’s Church, Castle Bromwich, started today (Monday).
The new frame has been constructed at Taylor’s Bell Foundry, Loughborough, and fitting is now underway.
The rehanging - which will mean that there is a ring of eight bells in the tower for the first time - is expected to take five weeks and will be completed by mid-August.
The bellringers have also confirmed they have commissioned Birmingham-based Two Towers Ale to brew a golden summer ale to celebrate the restoration.

Off-road bikers back out in North Solihull

POLICE have confirmed that they received several reports of illegal racing in North Solihull over the weekend.
PCSO Christopher Stowe, from the Smith's Wood neighbourhood team, said that off-road bikes had been sighted on the estate itself, as well as in Kingshurst and Castle Bromwich wards.
If you have any information about the riders involved in the latest offences please call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Commissioner warns there is "no quick fix" for knife crime

THE West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has described a recent spate of fatal stabbings - one of which took place in Chelmsley Wood - as "very concerning."
David Jamieson, who had previously served as a Labour councillor for Kingshurst & Fordbridge, acknowledged that there had been a spike in violent incidents across the region.
The death of 65-year-old Philip Rolph, who suffered knife wounds in Alder Drive earlier in the month, was one of five similar incidents to take place in the space of three weeks.
Four other men had died in separate attacks in the Birmingham area and Mr Jamieson (pictured, right) said that all efforts must be taken to put a stop to the recent trend.
In a statement earlier this week, he said: "The police will continue to do all they can to prevent violence and bring perpetrators to justice.
"Tough action, whilst necessary and correct won't stop the rise in violent crime on its own.
"There are no quick fixes and this is not an issue that we can simply arrest our way out of.
"It will only be through concerted efforts to give our young people opportunities and to educate them on the dangers of violence that we will create lasting change."

Friday, 14 July 2017

Dad has to deliver his daughter in a Collector Road lay-by

A DAD had to deliver his baby daughter by the side of the Collector Road after it became apparent that his pregnant partner wouldn't make it to the maternity unit in time.
Steve Sandford, from Chelmsley Wood, pulled into a lay-by alongside the dual carriageway after Joanne Winters' waters broke on the way to Good Hope Hospital.
The 45-year-old builder was talked through the birth by a 999 operator and paramedics arrived at the scene to find that Joanne, 39, was already cradling baby Chloe.
Speaking to the BBC, Steve said: "I pulled over and then the woman [on the phone] said you need to check if you can see the baby's head. I could see some hair so I started to panic and sweat.
"I said 'give it one big push Jo' and she pushed and the baby came out in my hands. I had tears in my eyes, I couldn't speak."
The couple's elder daughter, 16 month-year-old Charlotte, had also been in the car at the time of the incident, which happened on June 27.
Ambulance crews later took mother and child to hospital to recover from the early arrival.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Art project gives the public paws for thought

STUDENTS from a Smith's Wood school have designed one of the eye-catching bears which form part of a new art trail around Birmingham and Solihull.
The Big Sleuth invites families to travel the region to track down more than 200 ceramic statues (100 of the larger characters are straight from the imagination of local artists, with the smaller "cubs" having been crafted by schoolchildren).
Each one has its own unique design, with Forest Oak School having worked on one of five fur-midable figures installed at Birmingham Airport.
The pupils' particular creation has been dubbed the Mindfulness Bear (pictured, right).
It has a vivid patchwork coat and takes inspiration from a form of meditation which has become increasingly popular in recent years.
The public event, which will run until September 17, will be raising money for Birmingham Children's Hospital - the larger bears will be auctioned off in the autumn.
It follows the success of The Big Hoot, which took place two years ago and saw scores of owl statues appear around the region.
This time organisers chose to unleash an army of colourful bears, having argued that the animal is popular with all ages.
Louise McCathie, the director of fundraising at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re so excited that The Big Sleuth is finally here, we have been planning the bears' arrival since the owls left and we can’t bear-lieve it’s finally here!”
You can find out more about the trail at The Big Sleuth's official website. There is also a map available to download, which will allow people to track down the individual statues more easily, and a phone app through which people can complete a series of activities.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Pub organises event in soldier's memory

A CHARITY event organised as a tribute to a Castle Bromwich soldier, who gave his life in the line of duty, will be taking place this weekend.
The fundraiser will be held in memory of Joe Murphy, an 18-year-old serviceman who was killed while serving in Afghanistan eight years ago.
It is set to take place at The Farthings pub on July 15, starting from 2pm. There will be a barbecue, bouncy castle and raffle.
Saturday promises to be a busy day locally. Aside from the Joe Murphy event, Chelmund's Day will be taking place over in Chelmsley Wood, while Smith's Wood Parish Council will be holding their own family fun day at the Community Gym (11am-4pm).

Monday, 10 July 2017

Tennis celebration at the CTC

IF you've been glued to events at Wimbledon this week then why not pick up a racket yourself and head down to North Solihull?
The CTC Sports Hub, in Kingshurst, is hoping to tempt people to their Summertime Slam event, being held at the Cooks Lane courts this Sunday (July 16).
There will be a number of contests taking place on the day, with prizes for those who prove to be the local equivalent of Andy Murray or Johanna Konta.
Matches will be played between 12noon-2pm and in a tip of the hat to SW19's famous dress code, competitors are encouraged to wear as much white as possible.
Afterwards those in attendance will be invited to watch BBC coverage of the men's Wimbledon final at the pavilion.
British fans will of course hope that a certain Scotsman will be playing to defend his title, although even if the reigning champion falls short of the final weekend there will still be strawberries and cream and non-alcoholic Pimms to look forward to.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Police name grandfather killed in Chelmsley Wood

POLICE have confirmed that a woman has been charged with the murder of a 65-year-old in Chelmsley Wood.
The man, who had reportedly suffered stab wounds and was found in the Alder Drive area, was today named as Philip Rolph.
The father and grandfather, a chef who lived locally, had been discovered in a vehicle in the early hours of Friday morning (July 7). Despite the best efforts of paramedics, he died a short while later.
In a statement, Mr Rolph's family described him as "kind, loving and generous" and said that he "loved his life and his work."
Georgina Henshaw, 35, of Alder Drive, has been charged with murder and remanded in custody.
She will appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court tomorrow (Monday).

Planning officers anxious about business park plan

SOLIHULL’S planning committee has been advised to throw out plans to expand Birmingham Business Park.
Proposals had been put forward to create four industrial buildings, a service yard and around 180 car parking spaces.
Those residents living in nearby Blackfirs Lane and Coleshill Heath Road had already raised concerns about the noise and disturbance that would arise.
While not all of their arguments were accepted by council officials, there were sufficient concerns for them to recommend that councillors reject the application.
A report published last month suggested that there were particular questions about lack of public transport links to the site, as well as adding to traffic jams and queuing in an already congested area.
A formal decision on the plans had been expected back in February and again earlier in the month, but in both cases the item was dropped from the council agenda at relatively short notice.
It remains to be seen if the developers are likely to modify the plans to address the issues identified by officers.
The application is the latest of several which have fed into concerns about over-development in Marston Green and the impact that successive schemes are having on the village’s infrastructure.
A separate plan to build 68 homes off Chelmsley Lane has now been submitted to the planning department and is expected to go to committee later this year.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Murder probe launched following man's death in Chelmsley Wood

POLICE have confirmed that the death of a pensioner in Chelmsley Wood is the subject of a murder investigation.
A 65-year-old man had suffered stab wounds and been discovered in a car in Alder Drive in the early hours of Friday morning.
Emergency services were called to the scene at around 1am, but despite the best efforts of paramedics, the man died a short time later.
While his identity has not been released by officers, it is understood he lived locally.
A 35-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody.
Det Chief Insp Edwards Foster, from Force CID, said: "The victim was able to raise the alarm but sadly died a short while later.
"We are now appealing for anyone who was in the area in the early hours of this morning to contact us so that we can establish what has led to this incident."
Detectives cordoned off local roads following the death and residents have reported seeing forensics officers combing the scene.
If you have any information call the force on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Swords, stories and song at Chelmund's Day

ONE of the most popular events in the local calendar is fast approaching.
Chelmund’s Day – the annual celebration of a certain Anglo Saxon warrior – will be taking place on July 15.
Visitors to Bishop Wilson School can look forward to historical re-enactments and live music.
There will also be stalls, stories, craft activities and a range of refreshments to look forward to.
The free event will be taking place from 11am- 3pm. For more information visit the website.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

MP praises youth turnout during Chelmsley Wood visit

FACING THE AUDIENCE: The Any Questions? panel in North Solihull

POLITICIANS won’t dare to ignore young people in future, veteran MP Diane Abbott has told an audience in Chelmsley Wood.
The Shadow Home Secretary, appearing on Radio 4’s Any Questions?, hailed the surge in the number of 18 to 34-year-olds who voted in the General Election.
The long-running political panel show was broadcast from the WMG Academy for Young Engineers exactly 12 months on from the EU referendum.
Apart from Ms Abbott, the panel was made up of the Conservatives’ Andy Street, recently elected West Midlands’ Mayor, the musician and activist Jamie MacColl and Darren Grimes, deputy editor of the website BrexitCentral.
Given the venue, it was fitting that many of the questions related to issues which will have a direct impact on young people.
There was a scattering of teenagers and quite a sizeable number of people under 30 in the audience, although when chairman Jonathan Dimbleby took his seat he joked that he had just nudged up the average age of those gathered.
After discussing the rights and wrongs of tuition fees and what effect Britain’s departure from the EU might have on the nation’s young people, the panel considered why an age group which has tended to be disengaged from politics recently turned out to vote in force.
“Labour got 40 per cent of the vote and nobody expected us to do that and that was largely because of the increased numbers of young people that came out,” said Ms Abbott, who is one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest political allies.
“Obviously [I think this was] terrific, I’m glad they voted for Labour – although they might not necessarily do so in the future – but I will say this, the fact that young people came out in such numbers in 2017...means that politicians won’t be able to take them for granted again.”
Mr Street acknowledged that social media had played a big part in the shifting electoral landscape.
“Every industry has been changed by this, why should politics be any different,” said the former John Lewis boss. “Online is going to become the dominant means of communication.”
Mr MacColl, a member of the band Bombay Bicycle Club, suggested that last summer’s referendum result was a “defining” moment for young people and politics and he expected the turn-out to continue to rise.
“Young people are a legitimate constituency and every party is going to have to offer something in their policy platform now [which] is going to be very significant.”

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Castle Brom has chance to talk about flight path plans

A PUBLIC meeting will be held in Castle Bromwich to discuss proposed changes to flight paths at Birmingham Airport.
The roadshow is one of several taking place across the region to give residents the chance to comment on the plans.
The changes form part of a national programme to modernise airspace.
Locally this will mean aircraft taking off in different directions from those at present.
David Winstanley, the airport’s chief operating officer, said: “These consultations give an opportunity for dialogue, characterised by an open and honest approach...
“We really encourage local communities to attend.”
The Castle Bromwich event will be taking place at Arden Hall on Monday, July 17 (from 6-8pm).

Monday, 3 July 2017

Calls for sprinklers in North Solihull tower blocks

SAFETY CHECKS: Firefighters in Smith's
Wood last week.
A CHELMSLEY Wood councillor has said many local residents living in high-rise flats want to see sprinkler systems installed in the wake of the Grenfell fire tragedy.
Last month, Solihull Council’s cabinet was briefed on the steps that have been taken to safeguard local people following on from the incident in West London, in which scores of people died. In the aftermath of the fire in the early hours of June 14, West Midlands Fire Service carried out safety checks at the borough’s blocks of flats.
Within hours, messages were circulating on social media to reassure tenants that all systems were up-to-date.
Fiona Hughes, chief executive of Solihull Community Housing (SCH), insisted there was a “strong” culture of health and safety within the organisation and everything possible would be done to make sure a similar incident didn’t happen in Solihull.
Coun James Burn (Green, Chelmsley Wood) welcomed the authorities’ quick response, but said that many tenants remained anxious.
“Half of these flats are in my ward and obviously we have some very jittery residents who would like some things considered,” he told the meeting.
“One thing residents have asked a lot is when they’ll have sprinklers... it’s obviously the law for new sites, but there’s no law to retro-fit.”
Concerns have escalated following two separate fires at apartment blocks in North Solihull.
Back in January there was a “severe blaze” at Oxford Grove, Chelmsley Wood, while only last month a fire broke out on the roof of nearby Chestnut House.
Aside from the question about installing sprinklers, Coun Burn said there was also some concern about access for fire engines – noting that some of the borough’s 37 high-rise buildings were located at the end of narrow cul-de-sacs.
“There were 40 fire engines in London and there are some areas where we couldn’t get that.”
Coun Ken Meeson (Con, Dorridge & Hockley Heath) said: “With regard to sprinklers, there is an
issue about the retro-fit of sprinkler systems in older buildings.
“I’m not an expert on that at all and it’s very easy to say every building of that nature should have sprinkler systems but we mustn’t have a knee-jerk reaction. We must make sure that by putting [them in] that it doesn’t make the situation worse.”

  • SCH has prepared a FAQ about fire safety to answer some of residents' most common questions. Click here for more information.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Trio honoured by the Queen

RECOGNITION: Ellen Delaney
UNSUNG heroes have been recognised for their efforts in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Ellen Delaney, a playworker at the Meriden Adventure Playground, was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the Fordbridge community.
Aside from the many hours she spends helping out at the Chelmsley Wood playground, she is also involved in the MAD House youth club and Community Action Fordbridge.
Speaking after receiving the news, Ellen said: “I am really pleased that Her Majesty has heard of our project and chosen to recognise us with this honour.
“It’s not just about me, this is for all of us who are standing up for children and young people and their needs and rights – and for families too.”
Simon Rix, senior playworker at Meriden Adventure Playground, said: “Ellen’s honour reflects on all the parents, young people and community members who have contributed to that.”
Also among those honoured is Janet Down, the long-standing chief executive of local charity Solihull Life Opportunities (SoLO). She will now look forward to a trip to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE.
Janet has been with the organisation, which provides support for those with learning disabilities, for the past 17 years. During her tenure, the charity boss, who previously worked for Mencap, has overseen a number of new initiatives.
Not so many years ago, SoLO was facing significant financial pressures, but despite the challenges it has gone on to open a new base in Streetsbrook Road - complementing the existing HQ in Walnut Close, Chelmsley Wood.
In a statement SoLO paid tribute to Janet’s “deep commitment” to the cause.
Amanda Mordey, the principal of Forest Oak Special School, in Smith’s Wood, was awarded an OBE for services to special educational needs and disability.
The head also oversees Merstone School, in Shirley, with both sites having been ranked as outstanding by Ofsted.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Council outlines plans for Kingshurst Parade

PARADE UPGRADE: The shopping precinct was developed in the 1960s but
Solihull Council has acknowledged it has grown increasingly dilapidated.

RADICAL plans to redevelop Kingshurst Parade are finally moving forward, although questions remain about how the work will be funded and when it is likely to start.
Last month, Solihull Council outlined a £21million project to replace the ageing shopping precinct, which has become more and more run-down and been hit by dwindling visitor numbers.
Plans to rebuild the Parade have been under discussion for several years, but a series of delays have left local residents increasingly frustrated.
There was further concern last year, when it was suggested that one of the options under consideration would be a more modest plan to refurbish the existing site.
After seeking the views of hundreds of people, the council conceded that the clear majority were in favour of the Parade being completely demolished and replaced with a new development, which the local authority claim will be fit for purpose for the next 50 years.
The scheme which has now been drawn up would include a new medical centre, the creation of a community hub – including a library and offices – 2,000 square metres of retail space and residential units.
Councillor Debbie Evans (UKIP, Kingshurst & Fordbridge) said the redevelopment was “long
overdue”, but argued unanswered questions were still causing anxiety in the local area.
“There is a lot of rumour and innuendo going about, in particular [from] the shopkeepers and I daren’t go shopping on Kingshurst Parade at the moment because I’m hauled into every shop that’s going.
“They are concerned having looked at the rough outline that they will not be housed in the village centre. Now, I need to reassure those shopkeepers that everyone who has been loyal to Kingshurst... will get a place.”
Coun James Burn (Green, Chelmsley Wood) said: “It is really good to get this report to reassure the community that things are moving forward.
“I’m really pleased as well that the community have been listened to...they’ve said overall they
would like complete demolition and that’s what’s being proposed.”
Councillor Ken Hawkins,  the cabinet member for the environment, housing and regeneration at the time of the meeting, described the development as “a good investment for the north of the borough”.
“Detailed work is being done to look at the plans and costs and see if we can bring them down,” he said, acknowledging the current shortfall in funding.
A public consultation exercise will begin next month, with more detailed plans set to go back to cabinet in November.

Background: The creation of a new village centre in Kingshurst has always formed part of the Regeneration scheme, but the development has been hampered by delays.
Those residents who have seen work completed on similar projects in Chelmsley Wood and Smith's Wood have grown increasingly frustrated as the timetable for the Parade's own face lift has repeatedly slipped back.
Solihull Council conceded last year that it had been forced to abandon a number of previous proposals amid concerns they would not be commercially viable.
A sense that patience had run out among local people was very much felt at an election hustings which took place last month.
During the debate a number of residents criticised the delays, with David Cole, of Kingshurst Parish Council, suggesting that the Parade had seen its best days a decade ago. At this another member of the audience was heard to mutter "more like 50 years ago."
While the plans which were brought to cabinet a couple of weeks ago are more of a statement of intent than a detailed proposal, the council is keen to show that the project is still going ahead...