OTHER Side of Solihull looks back on the major news stories from across the local area during the course of the past 12 months.
IT may have been a mild winter, but as the year began the police received a frosty reception in Castle Bromwich.
Scores of residents had packed into a parish council meeting to confront an inspector over rising levels of crime in the suburb.
We revealed how one family had been left furious after masked men had tried to break in while their teenage daughter was alone in the house – only for officers to stand down the emergency response.
From calls for more boots on the ground, to a ban on trainers in the classroom – the CTC was unamused after more than 100 students turned up in casual footwear. A prank note was apparently to blame.
There was also anger among customers at HSBC, after the bank confirmed it would be closing the Castle Brom branch in the summer.
Over in Chelmsley Wood, residents in Lambeth Close implored the council to end the uncertainty over the future of their bungalows.
While in more cheerful news, old film footage discovered in a loft shed light on life in Marston Green many decades ago.
ONCE again residents were concerned about over-development - with Smith’s Wood councillor Mark Wilson arguing it would be “a calamity” if Auckland Hall closed its doors.
The possible loss of Bosworth Wood playing fields was also causing concern, with local mum Stacey Lanchester suggesting this would spell the end for a junior football club.
Elsewhere on the estate, it was confirmed that the Sports College had decided to close its sixth form in response to a dwindling roll-call.
Boy racers were back in the news, with those living near the Collector Road growing increasingly
There was also a lot of noise being made about dog mess, with the revelation that it cost Solihull Council £80,000 a year to empty the bins.
COUNCIL tax bills were hiked up by borough councillors, as the local authority admitted it was struggling to meet the mounting costs of social care.
Rather more appetising than a rates rise was the food cooked up by Marston Green school chef, Jose Davies Kochakkadan, who made it to the final stage of the National School Chef of the Year Awards.
After many years of hard work, the Three Trees Centre celebrated the official opening of its revamped premises...
Although later in the month, the community venue was left baffled by an apparent complaint to the police about a poster advertising a screening of the film 1984!
Chelmsley Wood residents learned that the HS2 rail development, which will rattle past Yorkminster Drive, had finally received the green light.
And we uncovered statistics which revealed that people living in Smith’s Wood and Kingshurst were among the most likely in Solihull to be involved in a road accident.
POLITICIANS crossed swords over the possibility of Solihull releasing more land for housing – always a concern in the densely populated wards locally.
From green belt to blue beds, denim fibres were used to prepare the ground for a number of a new wildflower beds in North Solihull.
Castle Bromwich takeaway Lime Pickle announced it was naming a dish in memory of regular customer Alan Watkinson who had died in a road crash.
There was a terrific response to the launch of the B37 Project – a Chelmsley Wood arts initiative which briefly occupied an empty unit in the town’s shopping centre.
Residents also rallied behind the Meriden Adventure Playground, which was reeling from the news that Solihull Council was to withdraw funding.
We visited the facility to meet parents and volunteers and formally launched a campaign encouraging people to help keep the playground open.
As the month drew to a close, allotment holders in Kingshurst were left fuming by a spate of arson attacks on the site.
There was rather less good feeling in Cooks Lane, where a learner driver’s test was brought to an abrupt end after it was alleged the instructor’s car wasn’t insured.
Two sisters from Chelmsley Wood were somewhat luckier, after they won £300,000 on a scratch card
– receiving their winnings despite ripping the ticket during their celebrations.
Police appealed for help in solving a terrifying robbery, in which an 88-year-old man from Smith’s Wood was threatened by intruders in his own home.
There was also a plea for help from a Castle Bromwich family, who had lost a treasured timepiece in a burglary.
In what proved to be one of our most viewed stories of the year, National Express confirmed sweeping changes to North Solihull’s bus network – a move which infuriated many passengers.
Claims that areas including Kingshurst had been “cut off” by the shake-up would continue to be heard throughout the year.