NEWS: Eden Café to be taken over by new management from March

Words & pics by Ed King


 
Eden Café, on Reservoir Rd, just off Six Ways roundabout, is to be taken over by new management from March this year – with the official launch scheduled for April.

2 Much Passion, a local Community Interest Company (CIC) ‘committed to teaching and creating mouthwatering projects’ and encouraging ‘real life cooking that will impact (on people’s) health and well being’ has been using the Eden Café kitchen for their community food solution projects.

But the CIC made the decision to move permanently into the YMCA owned site this spring, to extend their community support and breathe new life into the beleaguered café.


 
Already running a Warm Space facility from Eden Café on Wednesdays and Fridays between 12:30pm and 4:30pm, and a Community Pantry on Thursdays between 10am and 2pm, 2 Much Passion are looking forward to getting the once popular hub back open to the general public.

The hardworking CIC also have ambitious plans to extend their community outreach and support programmes, which currently provide lunches to the Northcroft Hospital “on a daily basis” and saw them use Eden’s kitchen to make meals to feed up to a thousand people a day during the summer.


 
There are also plans to bring live music and entertainment to the site, mirroring the current Eden Café strapline that declares the venue offers ‘more than coffee’.

Managing Director of 2 Much Passion, Vanessa Kelly, told Erdington Local: “We are looking forward to being the go to community café, providing the community led food solutions that Erdington really needs.

“We operate the Warm Welcome and Community Pantry, but for people using the café they will know that by buying a coffee or a meal with us that is being reinvested back into the community.

“We want people to know that Eden is there for benefit of the community, and with the cost of living crisis and everything that’s happening we don’t want anyone to go to bed hungry. So, if you can afford to – you can buy. But if you can’t we will feed you.

“By eating with us you support us to feed somebody else.”


 
For more on 2 Much Passion CIC visit www.2muchpassioncic.co.uk

For more on Eden Café visit www.facebook.com/eden.coffee.erdington/

NEWS: Man appears before Birmingham Crown Court for murder and fraud charges after body found at Baldmoor Lake Road address

Words by Ed King / Pic of Wallis Webb supplied by WMP – pics of Baldmoor Lake Rd from Google Maps

A man has appeared before Birmingham Crown Court, charged with murder and fraud by false representation after a body was found at a Baldmoor Lake Road address last week.

On Tuesday 6 February, Mr Wallis Webb, aged 65, was discovered dead at the Erdington address – sparking a murder investigation by local police.

Days later and Sakander Hussain, aged 25, was arrested and subsequently charged with the murder of Mr Wallis and fraud by false representation – after police found the deceased’s bank card had been used posthumously.

Mr Hussain, from Ingleton Road, Ward End, first appeared before magistrates and has now been processed through to Birmingham’s Crown Court, where he appeared via video link from HMP Hewell to confirm his name.

Judge Simon Drew KC, presiding, set a plea and trial preparation hearing for 22 April – where the accused will be asked to enter a plea against the charges brought before him. A provisional trail date has also been set for 5 August 2024.

Addressing Mr Hussain, Judge Simon Drew KC said: “I am going to adjourn your case.

“The next hearing will be on April 22, that is the hearing at which you will be expected to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty.”

He added: “I am fixing your case for trial on August 5. You must attend the trial and if you fail to do so, you could face a separate offence.”

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police further confirmed: “A 51-year-old man, who was arrested on suspicion of fraud, has been bailed with conditions while enquiries continue.”

They added: “We’re doing all we can to support (Mr Webb’s) family during this terrible time.

“We remain keen to hear from anyone with information which could help our investigation.”

Mr Webb, who served briefly as a local councillor, was found dead at the scene by emergency services on Tuesday 6 February.

His family released a statement through West Midlands Police: “To try to compress a life into short sentences does not do anybody justice. This is by far the hardest of them all.

“Wallis was a Councillor for a short period of time, because he really believed in trying to help others and felt strongly about the hardships people now have to endure without the help so many need.

“This is yet another life taken in a shocking and senseless manner.”

Anyone with any information that might prove useful to the investigation have been asked to contact West Midlands Police via Live Chat on their website at: www.west-midlands.police.uk/contact-us/live-chat  

Alternatively, people can call 101 and quote Log No. 631 of 6/2 – or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

BACK TO SCHOOL: Queensbury school celebrates the life and history of Martin Luther King

Queensbury school celebrated the life and history of Martin Luther King on the 15 January 2024.

Students investigated this inspirational leader who was one of the most prominent leaders in in the civil rights movement.

Students researched Martin Luther King then presented their findings in a range of creative outcomes including newspaper articles, posters, performances, and more, even making his favourite drink – lemonade – with a Martin Luther King inspired logo design.

Students shared their hard work and the entries were judged with prizes awarded in assembly donated by the Parent Teacher Association (PTA).

For more on Queensbury School visit www.queensburysch.com

For more on Impact Education Academy Trust visit www.educationimpact.org.uk

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Free app from Castle Vale Community Housing gives tenants savings and discounts

Words & pics supplied by Castle Vale Comunity Housing

Castle Vale Community Housing has partnered with Housing Perks to launch a free discount app for all our tenants. This discount app is called Housing Perks and it gives you discounts with 100s of brands and stores to help you save money with everyday spending. 

The free app will help you to save money on essentials such as groceries, car fuel, clothing, school uniforms and school equipment, home furnishings & DIY and family days out.

‍Discounts are also available with some of your favourite brands and stores including Sainsburys, Asda, B&M, Argos, Primark, TK Maxx, B&Q, Sports Direct and much more.

How to sign up:

Just download the free app in the App Store or Google Play  (or scan the QR code on the flyer at the top of this post). Then, select the name of the housing association Castle Vale Community Housing, press continue and then enter the first five digits of your tenancy reference number. You can find this number on letters and other communications from us.

Click on the following link to view and download these sign up instructions: How To Sign Up To Housing Perks


 
To help you with the process please click on the FAQ link below for more information on downloading and using the Housing Perks app: www.yourhousingperks.com/faqs

If we can be of assistance please contact us via email on contactus@cvch.org.uk or call us on 0121 748 8100.

The app is free, quick and easy to use and available to all tenants. So sign up today and get saving – click here, open the link and scan the QR code.

For more from Castle Vale Community Housing visit www.cvch.org.uk/

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

Castle Vale Community Housing, The Pioneer Group, and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

BACK TO SCHOOL: The Hive College in Perry Common graded ‘Outstanding’ in recent Ofsted report

Words by Ruth Martin and Ed King

The Hive College recently celebrated achieving an Ofsted rating of ‘Outstanding’. Students and their families, staff, and other stakeholders were delighted with the result of ‘Outstanding’ across all four key judgement areas following a three day full inspection in November 2023.

The Hive College currently has 120 learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) aged between 19-25 years and is part of the Education Impact Academy Trust (EIAT).

It offers three study programmes for learners, depending on their needs and aspirations, focused on employment and volunteering outcomes – as well as access to the community, to prepare learners for adulthood by encouraging them to be as independent as they possibly can.

Kim Everton, executive principal of The Hive College, said: “the college was confident going into inspection, but you always have that bit of self-doubt.

“We were elated, overwhelmed, and unbelievably proud to hear from the inspectors that what we do at The Hive is ‘Outstanding’.”

The report went on to state “learner’s behaviours and attitudes are exemplary”, that they are “kind and respectful to each other and their teaching and support staff”, and how they “thrive in an inclusive and harmonious environment.”

It further praised how staff at college have “developed an ambitious curriculum” and “use a range of activities before learners start college to gather rich and meaningful baseline assessments”, which enables learners to develop skills “significantly beyond” their target outcomes set out in their Education Health Care Plans (EHCPs).

For more on The Hive College visit www.hivecollege.org.uk

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: A 2024 wish list for Castle Vale Community Housing

Words by Simon Wilson, Chief Executive Officer – Castle Vale Community Housing


 
I didn’t write to Santa as I am sure he had enough on his plate but if he had any influence on the state of social housing my wish list would probably look something like this:

First and foremost, whatever the outcome of this year’s General Election (and I think it will be this year) whoever is elected the need for a ‘long term plan for social housing’ as advocated by the National Housing Federation would be top of my list.

We don’t need more arbitrary targets (that never get hit) on building of more homes but actual delivery. We need to see social housing as a bedrock of lifting people out of poverty and improving life chances, reducing the strain on health and social services. I’d like to see this as a national mission and one we can play our part in.


 
For those who live in social housing times are not set to get any easier in 2024. While inflation looks to be reducing, let’s remember that simply means the rate of price increases is slowing not coming down.

For those in low paid work and on fixed incomes the price of their ‘basket of goods’ will continue to be challenging and The Pioneer Group is committed to playing our part through our cost-of-living taskforce in 2024. Some economic relief would be on my list!

Last but by no means least I want us to deliver on our own list of actions in the year ahead – we don’t need a man with a white beard to deliver on our promises – we will build more homes, we will invest in our existing homes and we will continue to provide a top class repairs service and charitable services through Compass Support.


 
I know people will be worried about the plight of the City Council – I am too – but we will do our bit in making sure we fight for and work in partnership to protest and deliver housing and estate services into our core communities that our tenants, residents and service users need.

I wish all you a very happy and prosperous 2024 and look forward to sharing more about our work in these columns in the year ahead.

For more on Castle Vale Community Housing visit www.cvch.org.uk

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

Castle Vale Community Housing, The Pioneer Group, and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme – supporting independent local and community journalism.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Looking forward into 2024 with Witton Lodge Community Association

Words by Afzal Hussain – Chief Officer of Witton Lodge Community Association


 
I suspect many of us will be looking ahead to 2024 with mixed emotions. Community workers, volunteers and organisers tend to be optimistic by nature, who combine deep purpose with fairness and justice to affect change in their neighbourhoods.

We know that there are many positive things to look forward to, however, we also know that it remains a very difficult time for many local residents. For organisations like Witton Lodge Community Association, this means providing a safety net to support some of our most vulnerable, as well as acting as a springboard to nurture local talent and support people to fulfil their potential.

We are also redoubling our efforts to demonstrate that when public agencies like the Council, NHS or the West Midlands Combined Authority work with the grain of communities – when they reach into neighbourhoods, and listen… genuinely listen and engage, then not only do they achieve better results, but they also get better value for money, reduce frustration and improve trust and satisfaction.

It’s in this spirit of collaboration that we will be further strengthening our own relationships with local groups and public bodies to help improve lives and livelihoods in Erdington.

Now given the time of year, many of you will have made or in my case ‘recycled’ previous New Year’s resolutions. Do pop into one of our hubs, take a look at our website, or call us to see how we can support you.

And remember, if you’re looking to develop new skills, make friends or give back to your community then volunteering may be perfect for you.

For more on Witton Lodge Community Association, visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk

Witton Lodge Community Association is a key partner in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Key housing milestone for pioneering partnership

Words & pics supplied by Hema Chumber, The Pioneer Group


 
The Pioneer Group is a key partner of the Matrix Housing Partnership (MHP) which is celebrating a key milestone with the start of the GreenSquareAccord development at Swan Lane, West Bromwich – it’s 2,000th home.

In 2018 MHP was awarded an initial £84.5 million from Homes England to support delivery of 2,124 social and affordable homes across the West Midlands. A further £185 million has since been secured from the Government’s Affordable Homes Programme to support development of an additional 2,167 affordable homes.

MHP also comprises GSA, Black Country Housing Group, Citizen Housing Group, Rooftop Housing Association and Trident Housing Association.


 
Dave Livesey, Director of Development and Asset Management at Pioneer said: “Pioneer is proud to work with Matrix Partners on the delivery of affordable housing in the region.

“There is a chronic shortage in of good quality affordable housing across the country and marking the delivery of the 2,000th home with Matrix is important in recognising the role we have played in this.

“Pioneer is committed to providing Great Safe Homes and using our grant allocation from Homes England with our own resources ensures that we are doing what we can to address housing across the city.”

The Swan Lane development will provide 147 affordable homes for affordable and social rent.

Ruth Cooke, Chair of Matrix Housing Partnership and Chief Executive of GSA, said: “It is an honour for the Matrix Housing Partnership to be recognised as a key strategic partner of Homes England. We have been collaborating for nearly 20 years and the construction start at Swan Lane demonstrates our continued success in delivering affordable homes.”

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

The Pioneer Group and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

FEATURE: Erdington renters facing millions in extra energy costs as the government scraps efficiency plans

Words by Ed King and Josh Neicho

People renting private accommodation in Erdington could have paid out over £1.1million in extra energy costs this winter, after the Government scrapped plans to force landlords to up their energy efficiency standards – according to research by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).

The legislative U-turn was announced in a press release issued by Downing Street before Christmas, outlining several points where the Prime Minister has “revised plans” previously set for the UK to challenge climate change and to reach net zero by 2050.

According to the United Nations, whose member states made collective promises on environmental issues in the 2015 Paris Agreement, net zero means “cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible” – and to a level where any remaining emissions can be naturally “re-absorbed from the atmosphere”.

Amongst these commitments, the UK pledged to introduce new legislation that would force all privately rented tenancies to carry an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above by 2028 – bringing their properties in line with the most energy efficient systems and reducing bills for renters.

However, under new plans announced by the Prime Minister in late 2023, the Government has now stated it will: “Scrap policies to force landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties” but would “instead continue to encourage households to do so where they can.”

In new analysis, published by the ECIU, it was found that 73% of private rented homes in Erdington currently carry an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or lower – meaning the new laws would have forced an upgrade in thousands of homes across the constituency and made their energy consumption cost less.

With improved energy systems, and based on figures from energy ombudsman Ofgem and net zero consultants Cornwall Insight, the ECIU estimate Erdington renters could save up to £26million in energy costs by 2050 if all homes carried an EPC rating between A-C.

The ECIU further calculated private renters across the constituency missed out on £1.1million in potential savings over the 2023/24 winter months alone.

Other policy shifts made in the Government’s statement include pulling back on their proposed ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and extending the deadline for homeowners to install more energy efficient boilers.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calls the new plans a “fairer” approach to the UK’s commitment to becoming net zero by 2050, insisting the UK will still meet its targets for 2030 and 2035 and the revised agenda is “a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic path”.

Organisations representing private landlords have also welcomed the changes, with Ben Thompson, Deputy CEO at Mortgage Advice Bureau, highlighting the “pressing timelines” many were under to retrofit new energy systems. 

Environmental and social activists, however, have challenged the Government’s revised plans – arguing they renege on the UK’s previous promises to effectively challenge climate change, and leave individual households paying hundreds more in their annual energy bills.

Paul Barnes, regional organiser for community union ACORN West Midlands, believes private households will bear the brunt of the Government’s shift in policy.

He said: “Tenants in the UK are facing an impossible challenge of rising costs and stagnant wages. The government’s decision to row back on its commitments for landlords to increase the energy efficiency of homes will push renters and our members further into poverty.

“With growing issues of rent increase linked with increasing energy costs, many of our members are already having to make impossible choices. We demand that the UK Government brings back its commitments to increased energy efficiency.”

Jess Ralston, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, added: “Private renters include some of the most vulnerable people in society, such as those with a long-term illness or disability and low-income families. There’s no two ways about it, they will be made colder and poorer by scrapping these standards.

“The Prime Minister has essentially picked the landlord over the renter with his U-turn, in a move that makes no sense to fuel poverty charities or to energy companies alike.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, or want more information about your rights and responsibilities over domestic energy use, contact Ofgem via www.ofgem.gov.uk

for more from the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit visit www.eciu.net

NEWS: Erdington community mourns ‘local legend’ and Town Centre Manager Terry Guest

Introduction & pics by Ed King 

Local residents and businesses across Erdington are in mourning for the “local legend” and once Town Centre Manager Terry Guest, after he sadly passed away during the Christmas period.

Having run the Erdington Business Improvement District (BID) from 2011 to 2022, and acting at the Town Centre Manger throughout that period, Terry was a well known and respected face on Erdington High Street and beyond.

A local resident and business owner, Terry knew all the good, bad, and bright possibilities Erdington had to offer and worked tirelessly to champion the High Street – from fighting for the rights of local retailers, to supporting the music and art events that continue to bring the High Street together.

On hearing the news of his passing, Erdington Local asked some of the people who worked closely with him to express their condolences – which you can read below.

We would also welcome more thoughts, prayers, pictures, and personal messages from anyone who knew Terry for a wider memorial feature in our February/March newspaper. To get in touch please click here or email edking@erdingtonlocal.com

From everyone at Erdington Local: Terry, you will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and love are with Jill, your wider family, and friends.

Cllr Robert Alden: “It was an honour to call local legend Terry Guest a friend as well as a colleague, having worked with him as BID Manager in my roles as a local Councillor and director of the BID for over a decade.

“Terry in his time as a fellow Erdington resident and first shop keeper and then BID manager for the High Street truly left his mark on the community and helped to make it a better place than would otherwise have been.

“They simply don’t make them like Terry anymore and Erdington is worse off without people like Terry. Our thoughts and prayers and with Jill and the rest of his family and friends at this awful time.”

Cllr Gareth Moore: “Terry Guest was a true stalwart for the High Street for many years and strived to make it a vibrant destination for people to shop and visit.

“I am grateful for all of the considerable effort he put in, working with myself and Robert, to secure improvements for the High Street, some of which are still there today, and to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour which has sadly blighted our local centre for far too long. It was a pleasure to work with him as BID manager and he will be missed by local residents and businesses alike.”

John Lynch, Erdington Street Warden: “Terry did a lot of work on the High Street and a lot of people respected him, and he’ll be sadly missed.

“He lived in Erdington so this was his home as well and he really cared about the High Street; he always did his best to make sure things were OK here and help as many stores and people as he could. He made a difference, a big difference.”

John Hodgkiss, Town Centre Manager: “Terry worked tirelessly to continually improve Erdington Town Centre. He was extremely kind, generous, and was so well loved by all retailers and stakeholders on the High Street. Terry will be greatly missed by everyone in Erdington and all who knew him.”

Paulette Hamilton MP: “I am deeply saddened by the news of Terry Guest’s passing. As the former BID manager, Terry made a lasting impact on Erdington’s Business Improvement District for over a decade.

“He was instrumental in improving the security, environment, and vitality of our High Street, as well as being a strong voice for our local business community.

“He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and worked with him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Claire Marshall, Active Arts: “In one of our last conversations he fondly joked how he loved how out of mad and wild ideas, events would happen.

“Not everyone saw all that he did for the High Street, but he was often quietly supporting local activity and open to thinking about new ways to bring people to shop on the High Street.

“Thank you, Terry, for letting us put on music, crafts, and doing some really bonkers events, and for loving Erdington in a way that it deserves.”

If you would like to contribute any words or pictures to a wider memorial feature for Terry Guest in our Feb/Mar newspaper, please email: edking@erdingtonlocal.com