NEWS: The Festival of Flying launches at Greenwood Academy today – with free to attend outdoor aerial theatre show, CastAway

Words by Ed King / Production pics by Andy Moore – Highly Sprung

On Friday, 20 May, Greenwood Academy will host the launch of The Festival of Flying – an ongoing project with local residents, Active Arts, and Highly Sprung Physical Theatre.

Free to attend, members of the public should get to Greenwood Academy on Farnborough Road for 4pm – to see a special performance of CastAway, Highly Sprung’s renowned outdoor aerial theatre show.

Suitable for people of all ages, the event will finish by 5pm.

A spectacular outdoor production, using a specially designed ‘gyroscopic flying machine’, CastAway explores the impact of today’s throwaway society on our waterway – in an innovative and fresh approach to aerial theatre with parts of the performance happening 26ft above the audience.

CastAway’s all female cast takes you through an underwater world where performers dive, twist, and float, in a narrative inspired by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a floating island of everlasting plastic that has now grown to 6½ times the size of the UK.

The free performance of CastAway, to be held at Greenwood Academy at 4pm on Friday, 20 May, will mark the official launch The Festival of Flying, 

Organisers hope to ‘inspire the next generation of innovative engineers’ through special workshops and the outdoor ariel theatre show.

For more on CastAway check out the trailer from Highly Sprung Physical Theatre below.

Exploring the industrial, regeneration and green future of Castle Vale, The Festival of Flying will work with Castel Vale residents and the local community to produce a week long fusion of music, aerial, and mass performance this September.

Led by Active Arts, The Festival of Flying will champion ‘the creativity, energy, and passion of communities in Castle Vale,’ with organisers of the programme working with local communities over the coming months to ‘produce a unique event, celebrating local history, heritage, and innovation’.

Presented as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, The Festival of Flying is a Creative City Project generously supported by Birmingham City Council.

Artistic Director, Sarah Worth, said: “The Festival of Flying will be working with young people to inspire them to find new ways to express untold stories. We are proud to realise it in Castle Vale and to be part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.”

CastAway – Highly Spring Performance

For more on Active Arts Castle Vale visit www.activearts.wordpress.com

NEWS: Police cordon off Gravelly Hill North after woman “kicked and punched” in vicious assault

Words & pics by Ed King

Police cordoned off a section of Gravelly Hill North last night after a vicious assault where a woman was believed to have been “kicked and punched’ – sustaining head injuries needing immediate hospital attention.

Alerted to the attack by West Midlands Ambulance Service, the first to attend the scene at around 9:30pm, local law enforcement arrived soon afterwards and began an immediate investigation – taping off the crime scene until after midnight.

Uniformed officers remained on Gravelly Hill North until the early hours, ensuring public safety whilst investigators scoured the scene for clues.

After lifting the police cordon at 12:30am, police are now continuing their investigation collating CCTV footage from around the area and appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

The woman who suffered the attack was initially treated at the scene before being taken to hospital for “further assessment”.

Despite immediate concerns and the severity of injuries to her head, it is not believed the physical damage suffered by the victim is “life threatening or life changing.”

A spokesperson from West Midlands Ambulance Service told Erdington Local:

“We were called at 9.22pm to reports of an incident on Gravelly Hill North, Erdington, Birmingham. One ambulance, a MERIT trauma doctor and critical care paramedic and a Patient Transport Service crew who came across the incident attended the scene.

“Upon arrival we found a woman. She was assessed and had sustained potentially serious injuries.

“She received treatment on scene and was conveyed to hospital for further assessment.”

A statement from West Midlands Police added:

“We’re investigating an assault after ambulance colleagues alerted us to a woman with injuries in Gravelly Hill North, at just before 9.30pm yesterday (Monday).

“Officers attended and found a woman in her 30s was being treated by paramedics for an injury to her head.

“We understand she had been kicked and punched and officers cordoned off the scene as initial enquiries were carried out.

“The woman was later taken to hospital for further checks for injuries which are not believed to be life threatening or life changing.

The cordon was lifted by about 12.30am and investigations continue with CCTV footage being retrieved from the area.”

West Midlands Police have asked for anyone with information on the assault to get in touch, via Live Chat at www.west-midlands.police.uk – quoting investigation 20/468351/22

Alternatively, members of the public can call 101 to make a direct report to the police.

NEWS: Local GP surgery prescribes Erdington Walking Group for healthier mind and body

Words by Jobe Baker-Sullivan / Images supplied by Erdington Walking Group

A Stockland Green GP surgery is prescribing the Erdington Walking Group (EWG) to help improve local resident’s mental and physical health.

Healthcare officials at Tudor Practice, Reservoir Road, Stockland Green, have recognised the EWG as a vital resource for people who are feeling “isolated, lonely or inactive”, especially following the Covid pandemic and lockdowns

“I found out about EWG through Facebook and the ‘Next Door’ app,” explained Alex, a healthcare support worker at Tudor Practice. “I also had a patient who was part of the group mention it to me.

“Before Covid we used to have a different walking group that we would refer patients to which was beneficial, but due to Covid that stopped. Covid caused a lot of patients to feel isolated, lonely, and inactive. Coming out of lockdown, it was hard for them to get back into a routine they may have once had.

“I thought signposting them to Selina (EWG founder) would be a good idea. Not only does the walking group combat loneliness and isolation, the exercise is beneficial for health reasons.

“A lot more patients were getting diagnosed with pre-diabetes/diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity etc.”

EWG host free meet ups, which are ‘open to all age groups, abilities and doggies on leads’. The group meets every Monday and fortnightly on Thursday between 6:30pm and 7:30pm.

Due to “growing demand” the EWG have added another weekly group, meeting every Tuesday between 1pm and 2pm – said EWG founder Selina Gooden.

Harold MacDonald has been a regular walker with EWG for over two years. He told: “It was the perfect incentive to get off the settee and mentally de-stress while getting some fresh air and gentle exercise.

“There’s always a nice mix of people of all ages, ethnicity, and both sexes – even the odd dog walker and pram pusher too. People can walk as fast or slow as they like. I would recommend it to everybody.”

EWG founder Selina Gooden is planning more events as the weather improves. “The group is open to all ages; we’ve had people from the age of five to 84 walk with us.

“With the summer coming up I’ll be putting on a treasure hunt – there will be gifts, animal toys, and edible treats along the route for people to find along the walk,” added Selina.

For more information on Erdington Walking Group contact erdingtonwalkinggroup@hotmail.com – or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/erdingtonwalking

NEWS: Love Erdington arts festival at Central Square running from 10-15 May

Words by Jobe Baker Sullivan

Celebrating creative talent this spring, Arts All Over the Place (AAOTP) have planned five days of poetry, music, and art in Central Square on Erdington High Street, running from 10 – 15 May.

The completely free Love Erdington festival is a culmination of the Creative Catalyst workshops, held every Thursday at the Secret Art Studio Space (SASS).

The weeklong programme starts on Tuesday, 10 May with a VIP launch lunch from 12pm – featuring Erdington based conservatoire graduate Edwin Podolski playing violin.

Open to members of the public, anyone wanting to attend the Love Erdington festival VIP launch lunch should email: artsallovertheplace@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, 11 May will see two sessions with Birmingham poet Kiran ‘Kiz’ Manley, from the collective Hip Hop HEALS. “We do creative workshops with a well-being twist,” explained Kiz.

“We use scientifically evidenced calming techniques from expressive arts research to settle people into sessions. Then we energise people’s expression and connection with others through fun prompts to bring about a creative buzz.”

Thursday, 12 May will host a craft workshop with Margaret Murray, an art facilitator who ran the regular AAOTP Creative Catalyst workshops. Her plan is to create models of birds with movable wings, which members will flap as part of a procession used in the festival’s grand finale.

“Creative Catalyst has really lived up to its name,” said Margaret. “It has been providing opportunities for participants to revisit or learn new skills and to share their creative talents. It has provided a really friendly place to chat and even laugh.”

Arts All Over the Place (AAOTP) work with people who have experience of dealing with mental health issues. “We care for carers, as well as care for people who need caring for,” told Cathy Crossley, head of AAOTP.

Friday, 13 May is set to be a ‘carers day with information stalls’ from Home, a group with a contract through Birmingham City Council that provides support for carers. “They will be giving out information in the afternoon,” added Cathy.

Also on the Friday, from 2pm there will be a workshop with professional model maker Trevor Boddington. AAOTP previously ran Creative Catalyst workshops in Castle Vale where Trevor and the participants created a model of The Sanctuary on Tangmere Drive.

Trevor will be teaching people how to create models out of junk material such as tin cans and cardboard boxes. “Trevor is fantastic at creating things out of other things that are too nice to throw away,” said Cathy.

Saturday, 14 May, the final day of the festival, will present a procession in Central Square and music from three bands, including the Village Green Band – founded in 2022 as an offshoot of the Erdington Traditional Irish Sessions.

“We can’t wait to be part of this festival. Anything that’s a chance for me to bang my drum, both literally and figuratively, celebrating Erdington,” said Robert Tanley, co-founder and Bodhran player for the Erdington Traditional Sessions. “It also gives us a chance to advertise our third Sunday sessions at the New Inns.”

For more details on the Love Erdington festival email: artsallovertheplace@yahoo.co.uk

NEWS: “The Justice for Dea John Reid campaign has a lot of work to do,” as teenager guilty of killing is sentenced to six and a half years

Words by Ed King

The teenager convicted of killing 14 year old Dea John Reid in Kingstandng last year has been sentenced to six year and a half years, with an order to serve half of it in a juvenile detention centre.

Dea John Reid was fatally stabbed on Collage Road on 31 May 2021, with two adults and three minors arrested and charged with his murder. In a shock verdict in March 2022, all were acquitted or murder – with the charge against the boy who delivered the fatal blow dropped to manslaughter.

In UK courts, manslaughter can carry a jail term of up to 24 years for adults – with sentencing guidelines cutting that in half for minors.

At the sentence hearing on Friday 6 May, for the prosecution Richard Wormald QC argued how the court has “clearly rejected his (the minor guilty of manslaughter) defence of self defence,” and the killing had been “motivated by revenge… after an orchestrated chase”.

He added the killing was especially “shocking” as it “took place in broad daylight” in a busy residential area and in front of numerous members of the public.

Speaking for the defence, Tim Clarke QC mitigated how the “negative influence” from the adults who had been previous charged with murder was a significant factor and “the motivation they had and the words they used” were not the same as his client’s.

Throughout the case, extensive CCTV footage had clearly shown racist language being used towards Dea John and his group of friends by some of those accused, although not by the young person now guilty of manslaughter.Mr Clarke QC added, there was a “public duty to reach the right sentence, not the one that will bring comfort” to those hurt and affected by the case.

Presiding over the case, Mr Justice Johnson told the juvenile “You killed Dea John Reid. You had armed yourself with a knife. He stood no chance; he was unarmed he was no threat to you.

“You have taken the kitchen knife to the scene, along with the balaclava and gloves – you had planned to commit some form of offence. It involved others but you look a leading role.

“The CCTV shows there was a concerted chase of DJ which was led by you.

“I can only impose a custodial sentence when no other avenue is appropriate. I do not think you are a significant risk to the public, but you took Dea John’s life – the offence is so serious I have to impose a custodial sentence.”

Dea John’s family were present in the courtroom as the sentencing was handed out and were permitted to address the court with a statement from Dea John’s mother, Joan Morris.

Read by Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, who had been counselling the family since the killing and throughout the trial, the personal message told how the family had “put our faith in the justice system” and felt “let down” by the previous acquittals.

Following the sentencing, which will see the teenager who killed Dea John spend only another three years in a detention centre, Bishop Jaddoo addressed a crowd outside the court, stating how the trial “tells us how this system is not gear up to give black people justice”.

He told how Dea John had been “chased by a lynch mob and knifed to death” and how “this does say that this great city Birmingham, that does say black lives matter… black lives just do not matter.”

Closing his remarks, on behalf of Dea John’s family, Bishop Jaddoo added: “Dea John’s death must not be in vain and trust me it will not be.

“The Justice for Dea John Reid campaign has a lot of work to do.”

Bishop Desmond Jaddoo outside Birmingham Crown Court – Friday 6 May

NEWS: Erdington’s city councillors announced as local election results declared

Words by Ed King

Voters across Erdington have decided their next council representatives, as the results of the local elections were announced today.

Winning the Castle Vale Ward, Labour’s Ray Goodwin was “blown away” by the support he received from local voters – beating The Green Party’s John Macefield by a narrow 44 votes, but with a confident 233 lead over the Local Conservative candidate Tyrese Romain.

He told Erdington Local: “I’m absolutely blown away; this is absolutely amazing. I did wonder if I should stand, but as many people know it was Jack’s (Dromey, Erdington’s recently deceased MP) last wishes was that I stand, and it was really important that I did. So, in my mind I did it for Jack. And Jack, I won it for you as well.”

The Green Party also picked up many new votes in the Gravelly Hill Ward, where newly standing candidate Siobhan Harper-Nunes achieved 363 votes – beating the Local Conservative candidate into second place by 35 votes.

Although not enough to take the ward from Labour’s Mick Brown, who has traditionally held a strong lead in Gravelly Hill, The Green Party’s endorsement from local voters shows a significant move away from previous local election – with Labour losing over 400 votes from the 2018 results.

Green party candidate Siobhan Harper-Nunes told: “Of course, I am disappointed but really not surprised.

“I have loved every minute of the Gravelly Hill campaign, meeting people, getting to grips with local issues and of course solving problems.

“We have gained a lot of support and the Green Party has made a footprint across the city. At local elections people must vote for the candidate they believe in and it’s clear, their belief is still unanimously with the sitting councillor.

“My work as a Green Party advocate has only just begun and I will still be around pushing forward on green issues.”

Labour continued to clean up across the constituency, with both candidates in Stockland Green – Jane Jones and Amar Khan – successfully retaining the ward for the party, although losing hundreds of votes from the 2018 elections.

Local Conservatives’ new Stockland Green candidate, Estelle Murphy – who moved into politics after successfully campaigning to save Short Heath Playing Fields – was voted in third, and the only front runner candidate to improve on her counterpart’s performance in the 2018 elections.

She told: “This has been a brilliant learning curve as a first innings and I’m looking forward to what I can achieve in the next four years.”

Elsewhere across the constituency, Perry Common was won by Labour’s Jilly Bermingham, who beat the Conservative candidate Rachael Okello with a 204 vote lead.

Whilst Pype Hayes was won by Labour’s Basharat Mahmood, beating Local Conservative Clifton Welch by 91 votes – mirroring the closely fought contest in the 2018 local elections.

Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore retained the Erdington Ward with a confident majority, the largest in the constituency, collectively beating Labour’s Suriyah Bi and Basharat Mahmood by 1189 votes.

Speaking to Erdington Local after the announcement, Cllr Alden said: “It’s a huge honour to represent the people of Erdington, something I’ve been delighted to do for almost 20 years.

“Erdington’s an incredible place and we’ll keep doing all we can to represent the people of Erdington.”

Cllr Gareth Moore added: “The responses, over the last few weeks on the campaign trail, have been really positive and people are grateful for the work Robert (Alden) and I have been doing in Erdington and it’s great to see that reflected in the result today.”

But the shock of the day came in Kingstanding, as Labour and Local Conservatives split the ward with one candidate winning for each party – Rick Payne taking 1286 votes for the Local Conservatives, and Des Hughes receiving 1350 for Labour.

Whilst both candidates were saddened their running mates would not be join them in local office, each were firm that they would work together for the good of Kingstanding.

Local Conservative Rick Payne told: “I just want to thank all the people of Kingstanding who have put their trust in me to represent them as a councillor.

“And I will work with who I have to work with to get the best for Kingstanding.”

Labour’s Des Hughes, who was elected Kingstanding councillor in 2015 but lost the ward the following year, added: “I’m delighted that the electors in Kingstanding have given me the opportunity to represent them again, which I look forward to doing with enthusiasm and vigour.

“I do regret that my college, Naz Rasheed, isn’t able to join me. But ultimately, we’ve (Rick Payne, Local Conservatives) got our political differences, but the objective is to serve the residents of Kingstanding and that’s what counts.”

NEWS: Green Party candidate Siobhan Harper-Nunes exposes Gravelly Hill HMO from hell

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Siobhan Harper-Nunes

As people across the country head out to polling stations, one Gravelly Hill resident is too scared to leave her house after constant “torture” and “emotional abuse” from a neighbouring HMO (house in multiple occupancy).

Green Party candidate for the Gravelly Hill Ward, Siobhan Harper-Nunes, met the distressed resident whilst canvassing ahead of the current local elections – and has worked with her and her frightened family to get their noisy neighbours removed.

After an initially successful intervention from local police, and the confiscation of hi-fi systems being used to blast out loud music, problems with the troublesome property subsided – giving local residents a respite from the noise and anti-social behaviour.

But now the Gravelly Hill HMO from hell has flared up again, with residents around the hotspot reporting up to six families are now crammed into the three bedroom terrace house.

Erdington Local was also told Birmingham City Council had previously contacted the landlord over the HMO’s “unsanitary” conditions.

But recent pictures taken by Gravelly Hill Green Party candidate Siobhan Harper-Nunes show a distressing amount of waste and rubbish blocking up the back of the house, with a fridge freeze also clearly seen installed in the front room.

Siobhan Harper-Nunes told Erdington Local: “This cannot go on. The council has acted ineffectively. This house must be shut down permanently.

“There are multiple issues here. We believe there are young school aged children living here and it’s unfit for human habitation.

“Not only from what you can see in our photos but there are rat droppings in the neighbour’s garden.

“Plus, the affect it’s had on the people living next door and near to the property is unacceptable; it’s made their lives a living hell.

“One neighbour, whom I’ve been working with over the past few weeks, simply doesn’t want to leave her house through fear. But at the same time can’t live next door to such disarray and aggression.

“She says she has suffered constant torture and emotional abuse from her neighbours at this HMO, leaving her feeling suicidal and on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

“But we’ve spoken to many honest decent local families who are having their quality of life compromised, whist our council sits back and waves through the steady stream of local planning applications to turn more homes into slums. It simply needs to stop.”

Houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs) and exempt accommodation often house vulnerable people, families struggling financially, or residents who need regular care or support – including those suffering with issues over mental health or substance abuse.

Whilst a response to the desperate need for housing, serious problems can arise when rogue landlords or letting agents responsible for the properties do not fulfil their duty of care.

There are also widespread concerns from both politicians and public alike over a frightening absence of adequate regulation from either central government or local authorities.

An issue that plagues Birmingham and many other cities, HMOs and exempt accommodation have been a hot topic in both the recent Erdington by-election and the current local elections – with most people running, publicly recognising the need for change.

But Gravelly Hill Green Party candidate Siobhan Harper-Nunes, who lives in the area, has a clear stance that would force out the rouge landlords.

She added: “If elected I want a map of every single HMO in the ward. I want them checked for standards.

“I will throw every misdemeanour at them, and I will hound them until they are gone. I want houses like this put under compulsory repurchase.”

For more on Siobhan Harper-Nunes visit www.facebook.com/public/Siobhan-Harper-Nunes

NEWS: Erdington Ward Labour candidate Suriyah Bi petitions Government for £10 ID cards to help employment

Words by Ed King

Erdington Ward Labour candidate Suriyah Bi has petitioned Government for ‘an affordable national identification card’ to help people get back to work.

Responding to the concerns of one Topcroft Estate resident, Ms Bi wrote an open letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – the Rt Hon. Thérèse Coffey – asking for ‘ID that people can access at no more than £10.’

For many jobs, potential employees are required to show an officially recognised national ID such as a passport or driving licence.

Current UK passports for adults can cost between £75-95.

A provisional driving licence can cost up to £43, with the cost of the theory and practical tests adding up to another £98 – whilst learning to drive can amount to hundreds of pounds before you even take a test.

For many people across the UK these costs are too high, leaving them without any way of having the official ID required by employers.

Suriyah Bi is now asking the Work and Pensions Minister to introduce cheaper identification, to help break ‘cycles of poverty and homelessness’ and support those struggling financially ‘to access employment and have a means of income.’

Ms Bi told Erdington Local: “While door knocking on the Topcroft Estate, I met a lovely resident who told me about the difficulty in finding employment due to having to have a form of ID, such as a passport or a driving license.

“However, with the current cost of living crisis she was stuck between feeding her family, heating her home and having to pay around £90 for a passport to access employment.

“She wanted an affordable form of ID that would cost no more than £10, so she could become employed.

“I felt it was my duty to take her concerns directly to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and ask her to consider implementing this nationally, as many people may be in a similar situation.

“This could be a very important step in the right direction to break cycles of homelessness and poverty.”

Suriyah Bi is standing as one of the two Labour candidates contesting the Erdington Ward in the local elections on 5 May, alongside Basharat Dad – Labour’s second candidate.

Erdington Ward is currently represented by Local Conservatives Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore.

Local elections take place on Thursday 5 May.

For more on Suriyah Bi and Basharat Dad’s campaign for the Erdington Ward visit www.facebook.com/SuriyahBiandBasharatDadforErdington

NEWS: Erdington Court Bowls Club looking for volunteers for national sport research project

By Erdington Local news team

Erdington Court Bowls Club is appealing for volunteers to help with a national research project.

On Friday, 22 April, officials from Bowls England will be using two of the club’s rinks for an active study which could help determine the future of the sport.

Erdington Court marketing officer Ray Woods said: “Bowls England will be using two of our all weather outdoor rinks for a new research project that will be rolled out nationally in a month or two’s time.

“They are looking for volunteers in a range of ages from juniors upwards, who do not play bowls currently.

“The research will include two separate sessions, one at 10am and another at 11am. Each will be followed by 20 minutes of feedback from the participants.”

He added: “The volunteers will be provided with free drinks and biscuits.

“This is purely for research purposes and there will not be any pressure for volunteers to take up bowls – unless they express an interest – and they do not need to live near our own club.”

Bowls England are researching how to make the sport more inclusive to ensure it thrives in years to come.

The national sporting body want people of all ages and backgrounds who have never played bowls before to volunteer.

To volunteer and take part in the research project ring the club on 07801 227 367

Ray said: “This is about the future of the sport as Bowls England wants the sport to be more inclusive.”

Erdington Court Bowing Club is the biggest flat green bowls club in North Birmingham and all abilities are welcome.

The club has been at its ground, near Goosemoor Lane, for nearly 100 years.

The ground was previously the Methodist Youth Club but in 1925 became the Bowls Club. In the mid 1970s the club built its indoor bowls rink making it one of the only club’s in the country to have both indoor and outdoor bowls arenas.

The club is also holding its annual open day on Sunday, 29 May, from 11am where anyone is invited to have a go at the sport.

Bowls will feature in this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

For more on Erdington Court Bowls Club visit www.erdingtoncourtbowlsclub.org.uk

 

NEWS: Labour candidate Naz Rasheed brings top city officials to Kingstanding for youth crime rally

Words & pics by Ed King

Campaigning for the Local Elections kicked off in Kingstanding over the Easter weekend, with Labour candidate Naz Rasheed pulling out all the stops at a public rally on fighting crime and the importance of youth engagement.

Held outside The Grapevine convenience store and off licence on Hawthorn Road, where the first bleed control kit was installed in Kingstanding in October 2020, Ms Rasheed introduced speeches from Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward, Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil, Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton – alongside several local campaigners and members of the community.

The event was organised to show the Labour candidate’s focus on tackling issues over youth crime, street and gang violence, and supporting youth services in Kingstanding.

Bringing some of the city’s top politicians and crime fighters to Kingstanding, the message was clear – if elected on 5 May, Labour’s Naz Rasheed is committed to: “get youth violence off our streets.”

She continued: “We already have resources (in Kingstanding) we can use; we have schools, churches, Gurdwaras, where we can help engage with our young people.

“After 5 May I will be forming a task force with local schools, churches, and other local organisations for a better and safer Kingstanding for us, our children, and future generations.

“Today has brought community leaders, politicians, and the public together; it has shown we can work together to rebuild youth services and community policing.

Then citing the old proverb about family and community, Ms Rasheed surmised: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Council Leader Ian Ward was the first speaker at the youth crime rally, putting his support behind the Kingstanding Labour candidates and reiterating the £1m cash injection from Birmingham City Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) to hire more youth workers and challenge youth violence.

First announced in February 2022, the six figure youth support package will be spread across the city – with an unknown amount earmarked for Erdington or Kingstanding.

Cllr Ward told the crowd: “Over the last ten years of austerity… we (Birmingham City Council) have been unable to increase the number of youth workers we have working across the city.

“But this financial year, we have managed to find £1m which we’ve set aside to employ more youth workers across Birmingham – working alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“The PCC has been running a scheme employing resources along the routes that schoolchildren use to walk to and from school, and we’re going to use the £1m and the youth workers we’re going to employ to supplement that scheme and directly focus on the issue of knife crime across the city.”

Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil began his speech by supporting the Council’s “choice” to put extra money into youth services, then adding “a bit of optimism” and celebrating the city’s young people and what they can go on to achieve.

He continued: “We’re (Police and Crime Commissioner’s office) using what little resources we have to really prioritise preventative activities – to get young people into education, into skills and jobs, but also recognising the mental health challenges as well.

“It’s not just about saying ‘come on, pull your socks up and work harder’ it’s about recognising the difficult circumstances they (young people) have.

“It’s why Simon Foster, the elected Police and Crime Commissioner, has committed to an extra 450 police officers back in the community – not to take a heavy handed approach, but to build relationships with the people here doing proper community work and to problem solve our way out of it.”

Recently elected Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton also gave a passionate speech about the importance of “working with partners… if we are going to drive change” and the failings of the Conservative councillors in Kingstanding.

After her speech, Paulette Hamilton further told Erdington Local:

“Kingstanding is a really important part of Erdington. What I can say to the residents of Kingstanding is ‘we have heard you’. There aren’t enough resources given to the area around the (Kingstanding) circle, we’ve got no centres for young people that I know of in Kingstanding. The churches have tried to do what they can, but they can’t do it in isolation.

“We need more work going on with early intervention and early prevention; we need work going on across our schools; we need work going on across our colleges and universities to ensure that we don’t lose young people along the way.”

When asked about the £1m investment into youth workers from Birmingham City Council and the PPC’s office, the Erdington MP was positive but explained more work needed to be done.

Paulette Hamilton added: “£1m (spread across the city) is not a lot of money, but it shows me there is a commitment (from Birmingham City Council) and that we have to work from that commitment to ensure we have a clear policy and what that means for areas like Kingstanding.

“As a local MP I have to be clear on what the (community) partners are doing, on what young people are saying they are lacking and what they want, and whether the polices are there to support this and to challenge that at a government level.

“But we can’t just run ahead; we need to listen to the community and from there make the changes.”

Problems around youth crime are a nationwide concern, with the West Midlands recording a considerable rise in incidents of serious violence amongst young people since coronavirus restrictions were lifted.

In May 2021 alone, as school and colleges reopened their classrooms, reports of youth violence went up by over 30% across the region.

Last May, the high profile killing of schoolboy Dea John Reid took place on College Road in Kingstanding – a revenge attack that culminated in the fatal stabbing, following violent altercations between two groups of young people earlier in the day.

Local Elections will be held across the UK on Thursday, 5 May. The Labour candidates for Kingstanding (Erdington) are Naz Rasheed and Des Hughes.

For more on the Labour candidates for Kingstanding visit www.facebook.com/KingstandingLabour