NEWS: North Birmingham Economic Recovery: Jobs and Skills Fair – to be held online 17th June

Words by Steve Sharma / Pic supplied by WLCA

On Thursday 17th June, the North Birmingham Economic Recovery: Jobs and Skills Fair will be held online – giving people across Erdington and beyond information about opportunities from some of the region’s biggest employers.

The event will be held live on Zoom from 10:30am on 17th June, featuring representatives from HS2, Commonwealth Games, IM Properties, and South & City College Birmingham.

To join the North Birmingham Economic Recovery: Jobs and Skills Fair simply log on at: http://bit.ly/jobsfairnber

Presentations from these organisations will give local job seekers the chance to hear about current employment vacancies, recruitment and training schemes while small and medium size enterprises can learn about opportunities for business development and growth.

Starting at 10.30am, the Fair will be delivered into two sessions.

The first will showcase employment opportunities while the second will invite participants to join breakout rooms where they can talk directly to the featured organisations as well as employment coaches.

Afzal Hussain, Chief Officer at Witton Lodge Community Association, which facilitates the North Birmingham Economic Recovery Task force, said: ” This unique partnership is creating jobs, procurement and skills opportunities and connecting these to local communities and businesses in North Birmingham.

As we emerge from the pandemic, it is essential that we reinvigorate the local economy and the Jobs Fair is one practical response that will aid job recovery locally.”

The Fair will also feature the official launch of the Business, Employment Support and Training – BEST web portal.

Afzal added “The portal has been designed to give residents direct access to task force partner employment, business and training opportunities. Support will be available for those requiring help to access or apply for opportunities.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey said: “The North Birmingham Economic Recovery Plan will be vital if our community is to bounce back from the challenges of Covid. Unemployment was already high before the pandemic, now it stands at double the national average.

“It is clear that action is needed, and this plan will bring a range of organisations together to support those who are seeking work to learn new skills and to find sustainable employment.

“We have a range of fantastic local organisations that are rooted in the local community, by working together I know we can tackle the scourge of unemployment and provide renewed opportunities for people across North Birmingham.”

The Jobs and Skills fair takes place on Zoom from 10.30am to 12 noon on Thursday June 17th. People can join the event by simply entering the link: http://bit.ly/jobsfairnber

 For more information about the Jobs Fair please call Jobeda on 0121 382 1930 or email: Jobeda.shahed@wittonlodge.org.uk

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

PICTURE GALLERY: Shine-a-Light vigil for Dea-John Reid – Sunday 6 June 2021

Pics & videos by Ed King

A selection of pictures and videos from the Shine-a-Light vigil for Dea-John Reid – held on Sunday 6 June 2021, at the place he died on College Road in Kingstanding.

Over 1000 people from across Erdington attended the peaceful vigil, which saw community leaders, local politicians, families and friends come together to mourn the loss of another young life.

For more about the Shine-a-Light vigil for Dea-John Reid click here.


Bishop Desmond Jaddoo adresses crowd

Prayer for unity – Pastor Calvin Young

Psalm 23:4 ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…’

“We are committed to be people of peace” – Bishop Mike Royal

“Every young man… come forward…”

Balloon release

Anyone who can help West Midlands Police with their investigation should contact them urgently via Live Chat on https://west-midlands.police.uk/

Alternatively, people can call West Midlands Police on 101 – quoting log 3313 of 31/5.

NEWS: Community comes together in peaceful vigil for murdered Kingstanding teenager, Dea-John Reid

Words by Adam Smith / Pics & video by Ed King

More than 1,000 people of all races, religions and colours stood together in Kingstanding last night in powerful message of unity in the wake of teenager Dea-John Reid’s murder.

Tensions have been running high since the killing of the 14-year-old on College Road on Bank Holiday Monday and organisers of the Shine-a-Light vigil received threats demanding it be cancelled.

Standing on the spot where Dea-John collapsed from his wounds his mother was flanked by her family, church leaders and politicians.

Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, who organised the vigil, told Erdington Local: “We have shown we are loving and caring people.

“We know race played a part in this but we showed we are bigger than that and we must stand tall in the fight for equality and against knife violence in our society.

“This was a galvanising of communities of black, white, and Asian in Kingstanding who have come together to show we will not tolerate hate and racism.”

He added: “There were silly messages going round but we are not going to let threats stop us doing what we are doing, which is doing good.”

People began arriving for the vigil at 8pm and by 9pm a crowd of more than 1,000 packed pavements, College Road and central reservations to hear a succession of speakers and prayers.

As the sun went down behind Twickenham Road candles were lit in honour of the schoolboy whose teenage friends shed tears and gave each other support.

Young men were especially the focus of religious leaders, being overwhelmingly the most likely to be the victim or perpetrator of knife crime in Birmingham. Fam

ily, friends and supporters also let off balloons and shout their support for grieving mother Joan Morris and her family.

Holding her hand Bishop Jaddoo called out to the crowd encouraging them to support Joan, who responded in kind.

He said: “We must respect what this mother wants. She wants unity. She does not another mother to go through what she is going through. We must support her.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey spoke along with Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood and Edgbaston MP Preet Gill.

Mr Dromey said: “It was a deeply moving act of sympathy and solidarity with Joan his mom grieving for her son, 14, who died on the streets of Kingstanding.

“It was an immensely powerful assertion that we will not let our community be divided or ever to be scarred by racialism. It was cry from the heart of the community that no more men can die of knife crime.

“Over 1,000 people were there from across the spectrum, all races, all backgrounds, all ages and it was a fitting tribute.

“What was so important, as well as the support for Joan, was the show of unity from the community because there were real risks terrible crimes like this can divide communities.”

“There are too many young men who have died. Too many young men who live in fear. Now it is about the legacy of Dea-John.”

The murder led to churches across Kingstanding and Birmingham to work together in a bid to calm tensions and call for unity.

Minister Malcolm Oliver, from Erdington Methodist Church, said: “The churches had to do something. What was lovely tonight was seeing all these people coming together, in a good atmosphere. OK, there was a smell of cannabis but apart from that it showed people were relaxed and were praying together.

“As Christians we have to stand up when we know something is not right, and because of Covid the different churches had been speaking to each other so we could come together and respond to something like this.”

There was a large police presence in Kingstanding throughout the day and evening but during the vigil were discreet and remained out of view from the majority of the crowd.

They kept a presence on Hurstwood Road and were on hand to arrest a man who was shouting racial slurs, pretended to have a bomb, attacked motorists, and tried to bite a labradoodle. Police, however, were adamant this was not connected with the vigil.

When crowds had dispersed, around 10.30pm but a minority remained officers began ordering individuals to vacate the area.

One of the last groups remaining were three youngsters dressed in proto-military outfits with logo ‘Forever Family’ and matching sunglasses. They chanted street poetry, marched on the spot and saluted as well as giving the Black Power salute.

The group’s leader Raspect Rebel Lion said: “The turnout was good, but it is not over yet. Our work is not done.”

He then challenged a motorist who pulled up and told those milling about to “drive over the first white person they see” telling him “don’t do stuff like that.” Other black women and men also scolded the driver.

International reggae star Amlak Tafari, bassist with Steel Pulse, also stayed behind at the vigil – watching well wishers light candles for the murdered teenager.

Steel Pulse’s back catalogue is full of songs highlighting racism, injustice and racist killings, including the murder of American teenager Trayvon Martin.

Amlak Tafari told Erdington Local: “I am glad I came here tonight. The youngsters of today showed they have had enough of living with racism. There was a time when something like this would have led to buildings being burnt down.

“But that we are still having to hold these kind of vigils in response to one of our own being targeted is just ridiculous.

“I go all over the world touring with Steel Pulse and see communities being persecuted so to come home and see this makes me feels no progress has been made as a society.”

Balloon release for Dea-John Reid as crowd shout his name in remembrance

Anyone who can help West Midlands Police with their investigation should contact them urgently via Live Chat on www.west-midlands.police.uk/

Alternatively, people can call West Midlands Police on 101 – quoting log 3313 of 31/5

NEWS: Two more charged with Dea-John Reid murder as police search for car that “could be crucial to the investigation.”

Words by Ed King / Pic of Dea-John Reid supplied by family – pic of car by West Midlands Police

West Midlands Police have charged a further two people over the murder of Kingstanding teenager, Dea-John Reid.

George Khan, 38, from Newstead Road in Kingstanding, will appear at Birmingham Magistrate Count today – alongside a 14-year-old boy who has also been charged with Dea-John’s murder.

Michael Shields, 35, from Alvis Walk in Castle Bromwich, was charged earlier this week and is now in prison on remand.

As officers continue to examine the horrific attack, which saw 14-year-old Dea John Reid fatally stabbed after being chased by a gang of men and boys on 31 May, West Midlands Police are looking for a car they believe “could be crucial to the investigation.”

It is believed the offenders arrived and left the scene at around 7.30pm in a dark blue VW Golf with the registration number TN07 GBR.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Mobberley from the West Midlands Police Homicide Unit, said: “We really need to trace this VW Golf and I would urge anyone who believes they have seen the car or knows of its whereabouts to get in touch.

“It could be crucial to the investigation so if anyone has any information please message us or call.

“People can call anonymously, we don’t need their names, just information.

“We are pursuing all lines of enquiry to find anyone else involved in Dea-John’s tragic death and anyone who has information should contact us.”

As anger and sadness washes over Kingstanding, Bishop Desmond Jaddoo has been calling for calm following reports of racial abuse towards Dea-John before the murder.

The Shine-a-Light candle lit vigil has been organsied for 8:30pm Sunday 6 June, outside the MacDonalds on College Road where the fatal stabbing took place – to bring a grieving community together and heal “whatever divisions we may have.”

Bishop Jaddoo told Erdington Local: “It is important at this time that we focus on the fact a young 14-year-old boy, with his life ahead of him, has been tragically taken.

“At this time, his family are in mourning and let’s focus on healing our community and whatever divisions we may have.

“The Shine-a-Light memorial vigil, taking place this Sunday at the spot where Dea-John lost his life, is important – for us to stand together, in unity and as a community.”

West Midlands Police will also be sending officers to Dea-John’s school, Harborne Academy, once students return after the half term holiday.

A Go Fund page has now been set up to support Dea-John’s family with funeral costs and ‘associated expenses in laying Dea-John to rest’.

To visit the online fundraiser visit:  https://gofund.me/3310a53d

Bishop Jaddoo has been running the Yes2Life campaign alongside Majid Khan, to challenge gun and knife crime across the city. Bishop Jaddoo brought the first bleed control kit to Erdington, installed at The Gravevine off-licence on Hawthorn Road, Kingstanding, in October 2020.

A further bleed control kit was installed at The Juicy Joint on Coton Rd, off Erdington High Street, earlier this year – following support from Scarlett Lewis, mother of 6 year old Jessie Lewis who was shot and killed in the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut.

Bishop Desmond Jaddoo with Joan Reid, mother of murdered schoolboy Dea-John Reid

Anyone who can help West Midlands Police with their investigation should contact them urgently via Live Chat on www.west-midlands.police.uk

Alternatively, people can call West Midlands Police on 101 – quoting log 3313 of 31/5.

For more information about bleed control kits and the work being done by Bishop Desmond Jaddoo visit www.desjaddoo.org.uk

For more about the Yes2Life campaign visit www.yes2life.co.uk

NEWS: Castle Bromwich man charged with murder of 14-year-old Dea-John Reid

Words by Ed King / Pics by Jobe Baker Sullivan – pic of Dea-John Reid supplied by West Midlands Police

A man has been formally charged with the murder of 14-year-old Kingstanding teenager, Dea-John Reid, who was stabbed on College Road on Monday 31 May.

Michael Shields, 35, from Alvis Walk in Castle Bromwich, will appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court this morning.

Dea-John’s family is being supported by a specialist Family Liaison Officer and have formally identified him as the victim.

The 14-year-old is understood to have been chased by a group at around 7.30pm on 31 May, before being stabbed on College Road.

He collapsed in the road and was pronounced dead at the scene despite emergency services administering advanced life support; a post mortem examination confirmed he died from a stab wound to his chest,

6 people were arrested on Tuesday 1 June, following an “immediate investigation” from West Midlands Police Homicide team which made “rapid progress”.

Investigating officers “flooded” Kingstanding looking for Dea-John’s killers, conducting interviews and scouring CCTV footage from across the area.

In a statement from West Midlands Police following the arrests on Tuesday, the force confirmed they were able  to “identify the people we believe responsible for the shocking attack.”

“All six were arrested within the space of a few hours this afternoon following the fatal stabbing last night (31 May) of the 14-year-old in Kingstanding.

“A man aged 33 was arrested from an address in Kingstanding at 3.35pm followed by a 13-year-old boy who was detained in the Walsall area.

“Another man aged 38 and a 14-year-old boy were arrested from a vehicle in Cheshire while two men, aged 36 and 35, surrendered to separate police stations in the West Midlands.”

Castle Bromwich man, Michael Shields, will be processed at Birmingham Magistrate Court this morning.

A 38-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy remain in custody for questioning today.

Two men, aged 36 and 33, and a 13-year-old boy have been released with no further action.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Mobberley said: “This is a significant step forward in our investigation, but we are still pursuing all lines of enquiry to find anyone else involved in Dea-John’s tragic death.

“We are looking at all the circumstances which led up to the events of Monday evening and anyone who has information should contact us.”

Anyone who can help West Midlands Police with their investigation should contact them urgently via Live Chat on www.west-midlands.police.uk

Alternatively, people can call West Midlands Police on 101 – quoting log 3313 of 31/5.

NEWS: Multi vehicle fire at Pype Haye Park sends thick black smoke across Chester Road

Words & pics by Liam Smith / Video by Tina Kerr

Local residents watched on today as thick black smoke billowed out from behind a residency near Pype Hayes Park.

Two fire engines were called to the scene at around 16:08 on Chester Road – at the vehicle entrance to the park – as a large group gathered on the street to watch firefighters tackle the blaze.

The cause of the fire was identified as two mini-coaches that had been set alight, emitting thick smoke which filled the nearby roads – causing passing cars to come to a standstill as extremely low visibility made it dangerous for traffic.

Smoke was visible far across the local area, with local resident Sue Parker saying: “I saw the smoke from my back garden on Tyburn Road.”

Lisa Smith, who lives in Pype Hayes, told Erdington Local: “I could see black smoke billowing out whilst in my garden. I alerted my family members right away who quickly ran to the scene.

“Initially, we were worried that it could have been a neighbour’s house on fire, but fortunately this was not the case and nobody was hurt as a result of it.”

Another local resident, Tina Kerr, took a video of the scene from the Chester Road – warning people to stay away from the area as conditions got worse. Watch her video below.

Families attending Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair were also caught up in the chaos as the fire raged on not far from the event site, emergency vehicles and fire engines causing a congestion of cars wanting to leave the park whilst the incident was dealt with.

Once the situation was under control and there was no danger to public safety, the West Midlands Fire Officer in charge at the scene told Erdington Local: “there are no casualties, nobody was present at the scene when we arrived thankfully.”

When asked what could have caused the fire, or if it could have started accidentally or naturally, he added: “it looks like a suspicious fire; we’re not treating it as accidental”.

The flames were soon under control, after multiple hoses were deployed with the second engine present at the scene leaving relatively quickly.

However, several curious onlookers stayed to watch as the firefighters continued to control the blaze, with one lady even buying some cold drinks for the emergency service staff from a nearby shop.

The fire has since been completely subdued and a team of investigators are now working to determine the cause of the multi-vehicle fire.

According to the public safety website fireprotectiononline.co.uk in the UK alone ‘there are approximately 100,000 cars fires and around 100 people are killed in a vehicle fire each year.’

Video of smoke across Chester Road – filmed by Tina Kerr

For more on fire safety from West Midlands Fire Service visit www.wmfs.net

NEWS: Murder investigation “immediately launched” and making “rapid progress” after fatal stabbing of Kingstanding teenager

Words by Ed King / Pics by Jobe Baker Sullivan

Shockwaves were felt across Kingstanding, following the fatal stabbing of a teenager on College Road last night.

West Midlands Ambulance Service was called out after a 14-year-old boy was found “in critical condition” at 7.35pm on Monday 31 May – with two ambulances, a paramedic officer, a MERIT Trauma doctor and critical care paramedic arriving within five minutes of the 999 call.

Despite efforts from emergency services, who administered advanced life support, the boy was confirmed dead at the scene.

A murder investigation was “immediately launched” by West Midlands Police, who “flooded the area with officers to search for the offenders” – asking for information from members of the public and looking through local CCTV footage.

Detective Inspector Ranj Sangha, from West Midlands Homicide Unit, said: “This is a shocking and senseless tragedy. Another young life has been taken far too soon.

“We have officers with the boy’s family who are facing the cruellest of news this evening. My heart goes out to them.

“We will be leaving no stone unturned in our hunt for the callous individuals responsible for this, or for anyone harbouring them, knowing what they have done.”

Reports from West Midlands Police told of an attack taking place on the junction of College Road and with Wardour Grove around 7.30pm, “by up to seven offenders, who ran off towards Chester Road.”

A further statement from West Midlands Police, stating they are making “rapid progress” in the investigation, described the attack in more detail.

“The youngster is believed to have been chased on College Road in Kingstanding by a number of people in the direction of McDonald’s.

“He is then believed to have been stabbed by one of the youths. He collapsed into the road and was pronounced dead a short time later.”

Following the murder, local residents were shocked that such brutality could happen on a busy thoroughfare in what are still daylight hours.

Ogenna, who lives on Broomhill Road, told Erdington Local: “I’ve been living here for 10 years and never heard of anybody dying so close to hear.

“Scenes like this… I’ve never witnessed.

“Perry Common has been a very quiet area, a good place to raise children. It’s unfortunate this is happening. Perry Common as a village does not have this – this must have come from out the Perry Common enclave”.

Bishop Desmond Jaddo has been working with the Yes2Life campaign to bring bleed control kits to Kingstanding, installing the area’s first zero responder unit at The Grapevine Off Licence on Hawthorn Road in October last year – in a campaign closely followed by Erdington Local.

Supporting the family of the murdered teenager last night, Bishop Jaddoo told Erdington Local:

“It’s heartbreaking that yet another mother is grieving for the loss of her son, a 14-year-old lad who had his life ahead of him will now leave an empty school chair in a classroom next week.

“But we cannot give up in our mission in a proactive and joint approach in the fight against knife and gun crime, including weapons bins and bleed control kits.

“Our city has seen too many families torn apart – I would urge the Police and Crimes Commissioner to show clear and strategic leadership on the issue.”

MP for Erdington, Jack Dromey, added: “I was deeply shocked and saddened by the news that a 14-year-old young man was stabbed to death on College Road in Kingstanding last night.

“I’d like to offer my sincere condolences to the family of the victim and I am offering them every support.

“Going forward, we need a renewed focus on the growing problem of knife crime in our city. We are losing too many lives to violent crime and we must ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

“In addition, we also need to tackle the root causes of these incidents of appalling violence that are blighting local communities to prevent more families losing loved ones.”

Anyone who can help West Midlands Police with their investigation should contact them urgently via Live Chat on https://west-midlands.police.uk/

Alternatively, people can call West Midlands Police on 101 – quoting log 3313 of 31/5.

For more on Yes2Life, including the work they do challenging knife and gun crime, visit www.yes2life.co.uk

NEWS: Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair returns to Pype Hayes Park for first event since 2019

Words by Ed King & Liam Smith / Pics by Ed King

Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair comes back to Pype Hayes Park this week, opening its gates for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdowns.

Running from Saturday 29 May to Sunday 6 June, the funfair is open to families from 12noon until 7:30pm everyday – with classic rides for both children and adults, alongside carnival stalls and refreshments.

Following the announcement of the event’s return via social media, hundreds of local residents took to the funfair’s Facebook page – many looking forward to the event after widespread closures and cancellations.

Michaela Aichaoui said: “Excellent news, perfect timing for my daughter’s birthday week.”

Adam Edwards added: “I’m heading down to the fair on Saturday, might even see some old faces from back in the day?”

Another local mum, Raychel Hetherington, said: “We’re coming my special needs lad loves how u all treat him here.”

Hosting events across Birmingham for over 30 years, Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair has been a regular fixture on the city’s cultural calendar – operating from large Council owned parks such as Pype Hayes, Small Heath, Cannon Hill, and Acocks Green.

But since the pandemic all events were put on hold, with Pype Hayes Park the first place to welcome back the Family Funfair since the Government began easing restrictions – returning to the site where the event was last held in 2019.

Speaking directly to Erdington Local, Pype Hayes resident Lailla Silini said: “A fair at Pype Hayes park has been a welcomed event since I was very little girl and still brings a day of enjoyment for many families.

“An affordable day out compared to themed parks and I really hope the weather holds out for them to get some money into their pockets.”

Ruth White added: “It’s nice to see some normality again, something for the kids in the area to look forward to. I hope this is the first of many events in Pype Hayes/Erdington this summer.”

But coronavirus was not the only challenge for the team behind the Family Funfair, as a week of torrential rain and sudden downpours had organisers working around the clock to ensure the event was operational in time.

Thankfully as the half term holiday week approached the bad weather eased up, allowing the crew to complete rigorous checks across the site and open as planned.

Robert Wilkinson, founder and operator of Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair, told Erdington Local:

“The funfair has been out of action for 18 months and this is the first event we’ve been able to put on since the pandemic hit – we’re excited to be coming back to Pype Hayes, bringing the families of Erdington a safe and fun event that they can enjoy together.

“The past year has been hard, people have lost jobs and loved ones, and we’re operating under Covid safe conditions to make sure safety is our top priority.

“People deserve a chance to smile and have fun as a family and that’s also what we’re here to do. So come down and enjoy yourselves; we’d be thrilled to see you in Pype Hayes Park this half term holiday week.”

For more on Robert Wilkinson’s Family Funfair at Pype Hayes Park, or to watch out for further events across the city, visit www.facebook.com/Robert-Wilkinsons-Family-Funfair-Birmingham-385221918652307

NEWS: GKN Automotive confirm closure of Chester Road factory – rejecting rescue plan from Unite and Erdington MP

Words by Adam Smith

The owners of GKN Automotive in Erdington have confirmed the factory will definitely close with the loss of 519 jobs.

Melrose Industries rejected a rescue plan brokered by Unite the Union and Erdington MP Jack Dromey to save the factory.

A Melrose spokesman 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 warned the Chester Road plant would be in danger when Melrose forcibly took over the firm in 2018.

As well as the 519 workers at GKN an estimated 1,500 jobs could be at risk in the supply chain of the company, which can trace its history back more than 200 years.

He said: “This decision is devastating for the 519 workers at the Chester Road plant. The workers, supported by the union, Unite, worked tirelessly to produce a comprehensive and detailed alternative plan to closure.

“It is therefore fundamentally wrong that GKN/Melrose have now called time on the consultation process and instead intend to push ahead with closure.

“GKN Chester Road is vital, not just to Erdington and the West Midlands economy but also the whole automotive industry in the UK. If the plant were to close, it would be a betrayal of the 519 workers, of British automotive, and the British national interest.”

He added: “I will therefore be seeking urgent discussions with the Chief Executive of GKN and also the Government, who have publicly indicated their commitment to offer support to allow the plant to remain open.

“The workers at GKN and their union, Unite, are determined to keep the plant open. As their MP, they have my total and unending support.”

Unite national officer for the automotive sector, Des Quinn, said: “Unite calls on all interested parties including central government, local government, the supply chain, customers and GKN Automotive to come together and ensure the factory’s future.

“The UK’s automotive sector needs e-drive suppliers and a sustainable supply chain or the entire UK automotive sector is at risk of collapse.

“GKN Birmingham has the ability to supply the e-drives that the UK’s automotive sector desperately needs, it just needs the vision, support and investment to ensure it has a crucial role to play in the electrification of UK vehicles.”

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: Biker gang blocks up Kingsbury Road – performing dangerous stunts in the traffic

Words, pics & video by Ed King

Hundreds of motorists were stopped from returning home on Friday after scores of bikers blocked up Kingsbury Road, near Tyburn House Island.

At around 6:30pm, a large gathering of motorbikes and quad bikes swarmed across the two lanes of traffic and onto the central reservation – many trying to buy petrol from the Shell garage.

As the gang of bikers grew in number, some began driving up and down the dual carriage way and grass embankment – performing ‘wheelies’ and ‘donuts’, leaving deep tyre marks across the central reservation. One daredevil was seen ‘careering’ into the early evening traffic with one wheel off the ground and both hands in the air.

With around 50 bikers blocking the throughfare, tired motorists could do nothing but sit it out and wait for the chaos to subside.

Jules Cox, 43, told Erdington Local: “I was sitting in the Burger King car park – I had just finished work in Erdington and was on my way to Castle Vale, pulling in to get a drive through and make a phone call.

“Suddenly I heard what sounded like cars on a racetrack, then about 10-15 motorbikes – high cc expensive looking ones – came careering down the Kingsbury Road and pulled up onto the central reservation.

“Within about five minutes there were maybe 40-50 motorbikes and quad bikes, but some were in the Shell garage next door and I couldn’t see the exact number.

“Pretty quickly they had blocked that whole side of the Kingsbury Road and traffic started to back up. The bikers were riding up and down both the road itself and the grass in the middle, doing wheelies and donuts.

“It was more annoying than threatening, but I wouldn’t have suggested challenging them. With that many people being reckless on high performance bikes, with the kind of adrenalin that brings, you never know what will kick off.”

A deliver driver collecting orders from Burger King, who didn’t want to be named, added: “I think they had come from town; there had been a lot of bikes in the city centre earlier waving flags and making noise.

“They didn’t bother me making my deliveries, but it is dangerous. Although I used to live in Italy and you would get hundreds of bikers together there, this is nothing compared to that.”

The Shell garage quickly put a ‘Closed’ sign in the window and waited for the bikers to move on.

Staff from the garage told Erdington Local gangs of bikers come to the garage about once a month, but never in such large numbers – they were worried about people driving off without paying.

Motorbikes are responsible for around 19% of all road traffic fatalities, according to a report by the Department of Transport. Over extended driving, calculating deaths per billion passenger miles, motorcyclists are over 100 times more likely to die in an accident than those in a car.

West Midlands Police had to be extra vigilant during lockdown, with dangerous drivers taking advantage of the empty roads and using them as their own personal racetrack.

Following an arrest earlier this year, where the offender was jailed for 14 months, Traffic Sergeant Mitch Darby, said:

“Anti-social off-road biking is a real concern for our communities. We’ve responded by running operations to catch offenders and they will continue throughout the summer.

“Anyone who rides dangerously – or rides an off-road bike illegally on public roads or in parks – runs the risk of being arrested and having their bike seized and crushed.”

Biker gang ride off from Kingsbury road – finally allowing rush hour traffic to move