NEWS: Erdington Street Pastors take to the streets with official ‘commissioning’ ceremony

Words by Ed King

Erdington will the see the ‘commissioning’ of twelve Street Pastors on Saturday 18 September, at a public event taking place outside Costa Coffee on the High Street from 11am.

From Saturday onward a dozen Street Pastors will be patrolling the streets of Erdington, after being officially welcomed into the community during a ceremony from the nationwide Ascension Trust  – who pioneered the original Street Pastors project in 2003 in London.

Working with the police and local community leaders/groups, the Street Pastors will be helping to tackle issues around anti-social behaviour and public disturbances, whilst offering a friendly face for anyone who needs help or just wants to talk.

A global initiative, Street Pastors are working in communities across the world – with teams active in over 240 cities and town across the UK, including 20 in the West Midlands alone.

Recruitment is also already underway for more volunteers, with plans to train a further 20 Street Pastors from October – who will be active across Erdington in groups of twos and threes from November 2021.

Speaking at the commissioning event for the first twelve Erdington Street Pastors on Saturday 18 September will be the West Midlands Assistant Police Crime Commissioner, Tom McNeil, who will be making the keynote speech to welcome the initial team.

Also addressing both the public and Street Pastors will be MP for Erdington Jack Dromey, Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim from the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), and a selected group of civic and Church leaders.

Pastor Rasaq is the Chair of the management committee for the Erdington Streets Pastors project.

Pastor Rasaq told Erdington Local: “The Erdington Street Pastors are a chance for the Church to get out onto the streets – to help, listen to, and care for the people of Erdington. They will be there to offer support to everyone, no matter what faith or background the Street Pastors will be there to help.

“Erdington has seen an increase in crime an anti-social behaviour and the Street Pastors will be working with the police to tackle these ills in our community.

“There are Street Pastors working in cities and community across the world, and they have been proven to help reduce crime and increase support for the community.

“The Street Pastors are going to give people in Erdington another layer of support and will be a visible helping hand on the High Street and further across the constituency.

“Anyone looking to join the Erdington Street Pastors should get in touch – we offer full training and support, taking in new recruits from October.”

For more information about the Erdington Street Pastors and to see if you can get involved email Pastor Rasaq at chair.erdington@streetpastors.org.uk

NEWS: GKN Chester Road workers on ‘all out continuous strikes’ from September 27

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Unite the Union and Jack Dromey MP

Workers at GKN Chester Road’s factory will be on ‘all out continuous strikes’ from Monday September 27, a statement from Unite the Union announced today.

Earlier in the month, Unite the Union held a ballot for industrial action with 95% of workers who voted saying they were in favour of strikes.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “GKN’s cynical attempt to close its Erdington plant is a disgrace. We will not stand by and let this employer offshore British jobs without a fight.

“We will leave no stone unturned in the ongoing battle to ensure the future of the Birmingham factory and our members.”

Unite national officer Des Quinn added: “Melrose GKN has grave questions to answer, if it has taken government money for research and development and now intends to use what it has developed abroad, that is a betrayal of the workforce, a betrayal of Birmingham and a betrayal of UK taxpayers.”

In January 2021 GKN Driveline owners Melrose PLC announced plans to close the Chester Road, with production being moved to plants in Poland and France – making over 500 Erdington workers unemployed.

Hopes were the Erdington factory could play a key part in the electrification of the UK’s automotive sector, building the new propulsion units needed in electric vehicles.

But despite repeated efforts from Unite the Union, Jack Dromey MP for Erdington, and the Chester Road factory staff, Melrose have remained steadfast in their plans to close the Chester Road site.

In a previous statement, Melrose said: “GKN Automotive has fully considered the counter proposals put forward. However, the outlook for the highly competitive automotive market remains unchanged.

“Regretfully, therefore, we are proceeding with our proposal to close the site. Supporting our people continues to be our priority.”

Jack Dromey MP raised concerns over the future of the Chester Road factory when Melrose took over GKN back in 2018.

Since the closure was announced at the start of the year, Mr Dromey has been working with Unite the Union to negotiate a deal to save the Erdington factory.

In response to today’s announcement, setting the date for strike action as Monday September 27, Jack Dromey MP said: “For the past eight months, the 519 workers at GKN Chester Road have fought hard to explore all possible alternatives to closure of the Chester Road site.

“In that time, GKN/Melrose have rejected the workers’ comprehensive alternative business plan and since then have flatly refused repeated invitations to enter further discussions about how to save the plant from closure.

“GKN/Melrose have shown nothing but contempt for the workers and what is at stake for them and their families and also the great damage closure will inflict on the local economy.

“Faced with such intransigence by GKN/Melrose and their intention to push ahead with closure by summer 2022, the workers have been left with no alternative but to take strike action.

“The workers have mine and the local community’s 100% support. As their local MP, I and their trade union, Unite, will continue to explore all options to keep jobs and production at Chester Road.

“We believe there is a way forward and we stand ready to enter any talks to save the plant. GKN/Melrose and the Government must now show the same commitment.”

To find out more about GKN Automotive visit www.gknautomotive.com
For more from Unite the Union visit www.unitetheunion.org
For more from Jack Dromey MP for Erdington visit www.jackdromey.co.uk

NEWS: Erdington Labour and Kashmiri community host post-lockdown Eid Fair

Words by Ed King

On Saturday September 4, Erdington Labour and the constituency’s Kashmiri community will be hosting a post-lockdown Eid Fair.

Held at Highcroft Community Centre, Slade Road, Stockland Green, the event is free to attend and will run from 11am to 4pm.

Observers of Islam across the world celebrate two Eid events each year. Eid al-Fitr (or ‘little/sweet Eid’) is a three day festival marking the end of Ramadan in May. Whilst Eid-al-Adha (or ‘big/salty Eid) is a four day festival to celebrate Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah, starting on the 10th day of the last month in the Islamic calendar  which in 2021 would have been July 9 to 13.

This year, due to restrictions from the Covid pandemic, both Eid’s were celebrated within households and ‘bubbles’ – as many religious festivals were curtailed due to the spread of coronavirus.

But the chance to come together as a community, welcoming all faiths and backgrounds, has not been lost – with Erdington Labour and the Kashmiri community working together to host this special Eid Fair event.

Spearheaded by Naziah Rasheed, Erdington Labour’s BAME Officer, the Eid Fair will have a variety of food stalls, local produce, games, and fun activities for children – such as a bouncy castle and a face painting stall.

Naziah Rasheed told Erdington Local: “Since the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in July this year , we decided to organise a belated Eid Fair for the local community in Erdington.

“Although it’s an Eid event, it’s not only for Muslims but for all faiths to celebrate together.

“The aim of the event is to bring all communities together to have a fun day out and also to promote local small and home based businesses, for them to display their products and services.

“We have food stalls from different cultures and cuisines including Moroccan, Afghan, Kashmiri, Indian a,nd East African to name a few.”

The recently appointed Edington Labour BAME officer is also keen to hear from Erdington’s BAME communities, with a recent survey sent out asking ‘to know the issues the BAME communities are facing’ so she can ‘work towards making change locally and nationally.’

An online version of the BAME survey can be found at www.jackdromey.co.uk/erdington-labour-bame-survey

Open to all faiths, backgrounds, and ages, the Eid Fair will be held at Highcroft Community Centre on Slade Road, Stockland Green – running from 11am to 4pm on Saturday September 4.

For more on Highcroft Community Centre visit www.highcroftcommunitycentre.co.uk

For more from Erdington Labour visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonLabourParty

NEWS: Housing boost for Erdington as Witton Lodge CIC becomes official Registered Provider

Words by Steve Sharma / Pic of refurbishment supplied by WLCA

Hundreds more homes could now be refurbished and built across Erdington, as Witton Lodge Community Interest Company (WLCIC) has successfully become a Registered Provider.

The official status will allow the Perry Common based WLCIC to apply for funding to refurbish derelict properties, as well as to build new affordable and social housing – helping to address the city’s ongoing housing crisis.

According to the Birmingham City Council, Birmingham is facing a population increase of around 156,000 people by 2031 – leaving a housing shortage of nearly 90,000 homes.

Gareth Hopkins, Homes and Assets Manager for Witton Lodge, said: “Achieving Registered Provider status enables Witton Lodge CIC to progress its housing development aspirations.

“There are currently around 17,000 housing applicants on Birmingham City Council’s waiting list (May 2021) and over 9,000 empty properties across the city (August 2019)

“Homes England (the national government agency for development and regulation of affordable housing) has a national funding pot to address the housing shortage.

“By becoming a Registered Provider we can now apply directly for funding to develop and manage properties.

“We can now pursue the refurbishment of even more empty properties, those which have become a blight on local communities and can cause issues such as anti-social behaviour.”

Before/after refurbishment by WLCIC

Witton Lodge Community Interest Company was formed in 2015 as a subsidiary of Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) to progress housing and community asset development goals.

WLCA is a charity with a successful track record of community-led housing and capital asset development across North Birmingham – established by local residents in 1994, in response to plans to demolish the Perry Common estate.

Since then, WLCA have built and manage 187 properties, as well as developing other community assets such Perry Common Community Hall and Perry Common Library.

The Association organises and delivers a rolling programme of community support and engagement activities – tackling issues from employment and digital poverty to health and wellbeing, many of which became crucial lifelines during lockdowns.

WLCA are also currently running special employment support services from Perry Common Library as part of the Ignite Aspirations initiative, to help people over 29 get back to work after Covid.

Chief Officer, Afzal Hussain, said: “We’re delighted that Witton Lodge CIC has achieved Registered Provider status. The team and Board have worked hard to get us to this stage, however, in many ways the real work starts now as we know there is huge demand for good quality, affordable homes.

“Another important feature is the ‘community-led’ element, where we are able demonstrate that there is a different model to developing new housing, which works with the grain of local communities.

“The work of the CIC will also complement the charitable activities of the Association which provides health, employment and community support services to hundreds of local residents.”

For more on Witton Lodge Community Association visit wwwwittonlodge.org.uk

NEWS: Police officer killed and three injured in Tyburn Road crash

Words by Adam Smith / Location images taken from Google Maps

A police officer has been killed and three people injured in a fatal road crash in Erdington.

The Bromsgrove based officer was off duty when he sustained a “medical emergency at the wheel” at the junction of the Tyburn Road and Stoneyhurst Road.

He lost control of the car which veered off the road which also had three passengers inside who sustained “potentially serious injuries”.

No other vehicle was involved in the crash which happened on Saturday August 28 but details were only released by West Mercia Police yesterday.

Ambulance crews battled to save the man’s life at the scene but he was pronounced dead soon after paramedics arrived.

A spokesman for West Mercia Police said: “The circumstances of the incident are currently being investigated by our colleagues at West Midlands Police but it is believed that the officer suffered a medical episode prior to the collision.

“Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family, friends and colleagues.”

West Midlands Ambulance crews and the Air Ambulance was sent to the scene.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We sent four ambulances, two paramedic officers and the Midlands Air Ambulance from Tatenhill to the scene.

“On arrival, we found four patients. The first patient, the driver of the car, had suffered a medical emergency at the wheel and was in a critical condition.

“Crews immediately administered advanced life support but unfortunately, despite their best efforts, it became apparent that nothing more could be done to save him and he was confirmed deceased at the scene.”

The spokesman added: “The other three patients, a man and two women, who were passengers in the car, had sustained potentially serious injuries and were conveyed to Heartlands Hospital for further treatment.”

NEWS: Strike action set for GKN Chester Road factory as workers ‘fight for their jobs’

Words by Adam Smith / Pics supplied by Unite and Jack Dromey MP for Erdington

Workers at GKN Driveline have overwhelmingly voted to strike in the face of the Chester Road factory being closed next year.

Unite the Union held a ballot for industrial action and revealed today 95% of workers who voted wanted industrial action.

Announcing the ballot result Unite declared if GKN’s owners do not back down over closure they “could see strike action hit the plant and customers over the coming weeks.”

There was a turnout of 95% meaning of the 519 workers facing redundancy 93.1% voted to strike.

Unite can now call a strike within the next six months providing they give GKN seven days notice.

In January this year, GKN Driveline owners Melrose announced plans to close the factory and have ignored Unite the Union’s alternative business plan to save the factory.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “This is a tremendous result and shows the determination and confidence of the GKN workforce to fight for their jobs, their community and the long-term future of their plant.

“This is a highly viable plant which could and should be playing a leading role as the UK moves to the electrification of its automotive sector.”

He added: “It is now incumbent that everyone concerned with the future of GKN Driveline including customers, the government, local politicians and GKN’s parent company Melrose PLC, come together to hammer out a future for the plant and the UK’s supply of key components.

“The alternative is a long drawn-out dispute that will damage both GKN and the company’s customer base.

“We have called an urgent meeting of all parties involved and expect both GKN, its customer base, as well as the government, to respond positively to a viable alternative plan to secure the plant’s future.

“The ball is now firmly in GKN and Melrose’s court and how they respond will dictate how this dispute will develop over the coming weeks and months.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey worked extensively on the alternative business plan for the GKN plant and backed workers plans for industrial action.

He said: “Today’s result sends a clear and unambiguous message to Melrose/GKN that the 519 workers will do all in their power to save the historic Chester Road plant from closure.

“In one of the poorest constituencies in the country, the closure of the Chester Road plant would be a hammer-blow to the local community.

“Generations of local families have been given greater opportunities in life due to GKN, yet Melrose/GKN now want to close the plant without even considering any alternative to closure.”

He added: “The workers have today shown that they will stand up to protect their livelihoods, their local community and the opportunities available for future generations. They remain open to any discussions to avoid industrial action and to keep the plant open. They can be assured of my wholehearted support.”

To find out more about GKN visit www.gknautomotive.com

For more from Unite the Union visit www.unitetheunion.org

For more from Jack Dromey MP for Erdington visit www.jackdromey.co.uk

NEWS: Jason Delaney charged with wounding and threats to kill following dramatic stand off with police on Hillaries Road

Words by Adam Smith

A man has been charged with brutally attacking a Kingstanding pensioner last week and forcing police into a stand-off on Hillaries Road, Erdington.

Jason Delaney, 49, appeared before Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Saturday August 28 – charged with wounding and threats to kill.

Delaney was at the centre of a dramatic stand off on Hillaries Road on Tuesday August 24, which saw residents being told to stay in their homes before he was finally apprehended and Tasered by armed police.

In a pre-planned operation, dozens of officers surrounded the Stockland Green address as a negotiator tried to convince Delaney to give himself up peacefully.

Police believed he might have been carrying a gun and a grenade, which led them to flooding the area with armed response officers and specialist negotiators.

A police spokesperson said: “The 49-year-old eventually left the property and was Tasered by officers following reports he may be carrying a gun and a grenade.

“He was wanted in connection with an attack on a man in Cooksey Lane, Kingstanding on Sunday August 22.

“A man in his 70s was found with a slash wound to his head and was taken to hospital, although thankfully his injuries were not serious.”

The police spokesman added: “He (Jason Delaney) was remanded in custody to appear at Birmingham Crown Court on 24 September.”

Jason Delaney has now been charged with wounding and threats to kill and is set to appear before a judge.

Following the Kingstanding attack, a West Midlands Ambulance spokesman confirmed: “We were called to reports of a stabbing in Cooksey Lane on Sunday at 4.45pm.

“An ambulance, paramedic officer and the Midlands Air Ambulance from Cosford with a MERIT trauma doctor and critical care paramedic on board attended the scene.

“Crews treated one man who had sustained serious injuries which required trauma care on the scene. The man was conveyed by land ambulance on blue lights to hospital for further care.”

NEWS: Two arrested over suspicion of attempted murder after attack in Springthorpe Green

Words by Ed King / Pics by Lisa Smith & Estelle Murphy

Two men have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder following a vicious attack in Springthorpe Green, Tyburn, at around 5.20pm on Saturday 28th August.

The quiet Erdington suburb became filled with emergency services yesterday afternoon, as armed police and ambulance crews responded to an alert – alongside Dog Control Units and a police helicopter circling above the local area.

West Midlands Police reported a 30-year-old was attacked with a knife and suffered serious wounds at the scene.

After being receiving ‘emergency first aid’ from responding officers the victim is now in a stable condition in hospital – his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

The offenders reportedly fled the scene in a vehicle.

Following some ‘quick-time enquiries and intelligence checks’, investigating officers later spotted a van that was believed to be linked to the stabbing.

West Midlands Police further report the van ‘failed to stop for our officers before being abandoned in Chester Road. Two men ran from the vehicle but were arrested following a foot chase.’

Residents were told to stay in their homes as West Midlands Police blocked off the garages at end of The Feldings, Sprinthorpe Green – beginning an immediate investigation into the attack.

Locals trying to drive home were asked to leave their cars outside of the crime scene.

Eyewitnesses and local residents saw a body on the floor and what appeared to be bank notes strewn across the ground, with police on the scene unable to give further information.

Local resident, John Dale, told Erdington Local: “The guy had been… well he’d been stabbed, when we came here. And he was at the top there, and the armed police, they followed us to… where they’re parked up now.

“There was money all over the floor. £20 notes. But they seemed to think it was counterfeit or something, but they was all over the floor.”

Jean, another local resident, who was drying her hair at the time but looked out of here window to see the disturbance, confirmed there seemed to be bank notes on the floor.

Two men aged 22 and 23 remain in custody for questioning, having been arrested for attempted murder.

Superintendent Paul Minor from West Midlands Police said: “The victim has suffered serious wounds from what is believed to be a knife and is lucky to be alive.

“Our armed police attended the scene and performed emergency fast aid (an advanced from of first aid) to stem the bleeding before paramedics arrived.

“Our enquiries quickly led us to identify a vehicle we believe was connected to the stabbing and around an hour later we had arrested two suspects. That’s brilliant work from all the officers involved.”

West Midlands Police are e appealing for witnesses who’ve not yet spoken to them to come forward.

Anyone with information can message West Midlands Police on Live Chat via www.west-midlands.police.uk/contact-us/live-chat

People can also call 101 quoting crime ref 20/1708818/21 – or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

NEWS: Police swarm on The Feldings, Springthorpe Green as residents told to say in their homes

NEWS: Police swarm on The Feldings, Springthorpe Green as residents told to say in their homes

Words and pics by Lisa Smith & Estelle Murphy – reporting from the scene.

Following an incident this afternoon, police and emergency services swarmed across The Feldings, Sringthorpe Green investigating a potentially serious crime committed earlier today.

At around 5-6pm on Saturday 28th August, the quiet Erdington suburb was awash with uniformed police officers and Dog Control Units all attending the scene, along with local ambulances crews and a police helicopter circling above the local area and Pype Hayes Park.

Residents were told to stay in their homes as West Midlands Police began investigating an unconfirmed incident that had taken place at the scene – blocking off the garages at end of The Feldings, that neighbour the grounds of the Hollyfield Sports and Conference Centre.

Motorists who were trying to return home were stopped by officers still investigating the scene.

Eyewitnesses and local residents saw a body on the floor and what appeared to be bank notes strewn across the ground, with police on the scene unable to give further information.

Local resident, John Dale, told Erdington Local: “The guy had been… well he’d been stabbed, when we came here. And he was at the top there, and the armed police, they followed us to… where they’re parked up now.

“There was money all over the floor. £20 notes. But they seemed to think it was counterfeit or something, but they was all over the floor.”

Jean, another local resident, who was drying her hair at the time but looked out of here window to see the disturbance, confirmed there seemed to be bank notes on the floor.

Speaking to an Erdington Local correspondent as events unfolded at the scene, Jean witnessed: “There are now what look like incident police at the scene… the helicopter has left, I’m not sure on (the status of) the victim.

“Another neighbour was with him before the police or the ambulance came.”

According to a motorist driving up the Chester Road during the time, armed police were also seen stopping someone in a white Audi near the scene – although it remains unclear if the incidents are related.

Erdington Local contacted West Midlands Police who were unable to comment at the time, with no further reports issued by emergency services.

EXPLOITED: Residents fight plans for £399,999 ‘investment opportunity’ HMO on Yenton Grove

Words by Adam Smith / Pics by Ed King

A group of fed up Erdington residents are fighting plans for an exempt housing property on Yenton Grove after uncovering an historic covenant on the house.

The law currently allows companies to move vulnerable tenants into exempt housing without planning permission and the Erdington ward property has already been converted into six rooms with kitchenettes.

However, residents have uncovered a legal agreement stating the house must be kept as a ‘single dwelling’ property – which if enforced by Birmingham City Council could thwart developer’s plans to turn the property into exempt accommodation worth £399,999 .

Residents have created a WhatsApp group to share information, whilst Erdington Councillors Robert Alden and Gareth Moore are gathering local objections to present to Birmingham City Council.

To access an online version of Cllrs Alden and Moore’s ‘Petition to enforce single private dwelling covenant at 24 Yenton Grove’ click here.

One Yenton Grove mother, who does not want her family’s name revealed for fear of recriminations, contacted Erdington Local to help publicise the fight from local residents.

She said: “We already have an HMO on our little estate which has changed the character of the place so we are doing everything we can to stop another one or exempt housing.

“The deeds of the property include a covenant that state the house is for a single private dwelling and therefore by law the owner would need to apply for this to be changed.

“As part of that, notice would need to be given to neighbouring residents to enable them to object or support. No notice has been given and no change has been applied for.

“When questioned about the property at the beginning, the owner stated it would be a family home that he would be moving in to. It now has six rooms with ensuites and he has not moved in.”

She added: “There is a school 200 yards from the property. The back gate can be seen from the house. A multi-occupancy property of social housing is high risk with children walking by.

“One man in social housing down the road has had to be moved on due to him filming / taking pictures of the children at the back gate. Six individuals increase the risk of this happening again.”

She added: “The property has been put up for sale, but no notice has been put outside it. The only reason the residents found out was because one of them asked someone who came to view it.”

A petition has been launched by Erdington Councillors Robert Alden and Gareth Moore to put pressure on Birmingham City Council to honour the covenant on the house and prevent an HMO licence being granted.

Cllr Alden said: “There is a covenant on this property which requires it to remain as a single private dwelling, and so potentially could be used to stop the conversion if enforced.

“We have raised this with the Council and have demanded the covenant be enforced urgently and have launched this petition.”

He added: “We know there is speculation drug addicts and ex-offenders could be housed at the property.

“Clearly, we would be very concerned if the landlord intended to house such people at the property, especially given its proximity to Penns Primary School.”

24 Yenton Grove is listed on The Online Property Agency as for sale for £339,999 – the listing claims the property is suitable for an investment opportunity.

The OPA listed said: “Would you like a hands off investment opportunity? This property is let to a social housing provider on a 3 year lease until August 2024 rented for £2400 pcm/ £28,800 p.a.”

To see and sign the ‘Petition to enforce single private dwelling covenant at 24 Yenton Grove’ being circulated by Erdington Councillors Robert Alden and Gareth Moore, click here.