CCTV and other anti-crime measures will be installed in Stockland Green after a £432,000 grant from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and Birmingham City Council applied for the money after a rise in crime in Stockland Green attributed to increased exempt housing in the area.
As well as CCTV, improved lighting, and security gates, the money will be used to clamp down on burglary, robbery, and vehicle theft.
The Government promised more funding will be available to target changing the behaviour of some men, so women and girls feel safer.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said:
“After years of essential preventative public services being starved of funding it is good to see we’ve been able to secure some additional money to make small, but not insignificant, improvements to our streets.
“We know there are simple things that can be done to prevent crime and, working with the council, we intend to use this money to do them.
“We’ll tighten security where we think it can be tighter and make sure CCTV is fitted in crime hotspots.”
Councillor John Cotton, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “This is very welcome news and will be a real boost to our efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour and support the community.
“The Council will be working closely with residents, the PCC, and the police to make sure this extra money helps to deliver a safer neighbourhood for everyone who lives or works in Stockland Green.”
Erdington MP Jack Dromey welcomed the cash injection after constituents complained about the changing nature of Stockland Green, blaming a mushrooming number of HMOs on the increase in anti-social behaviour and crime.
He said: “I have been contacted by numerous constituents who are worried, many say they do not feel safe in their local area.
“Securing almost half a million pounds from the Safer Streets Fund will help protect local communities from crime by funding the installation of additional street lighting to deter criminals and the fitting of CCTV in problem areas so we are able to catch those committing crimes to ensure they are brought to justice.”
He added: “I’d like to pay tribute to West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council and local campaigners who have worked hard to secure this funding that will improve the lives of residents in Stockland Green.”
Schools across Erdington are facing a ‘funding crisis’ due a lack of financial support from Government and the spiralling costs of Covid, a recent survey from Erdington MP Jack Dromey has found.
Contacting headteachers across the constituency the report discovered half of all Erdington secondary schools, primary schools, and maintained nursery schools (MNSs) are under severe financial strain – with 60% expecting to set a deficit budget in 2021/2022.
93% of schools contacted agreed the lack of Government funding ‘will have a negative impact on the quality of education offered.’
Whilst a shocking 100% of respondents said their school ‘does not have enough resources to meet the needs’ of students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – leaving some of the most vulnerable young people in their care at the most risk.
Extra costs incurred during the pandemic, such as the extensive cleaning and signage needed to keep schools Covid safe, pushed many already thinly stretched educational budgets to breaking point.
Additional staffing costs have also been a major factor with 92.7% of schools citing this as an extra financial pressure during the pandemic – 63.7% reported staffing as the area in which they have incurred the most additional expenditure.
The stark reality means many schools are having to consider reducing the number of staff at all levels and pulling back non-educational services and extracurricular activities.
Educators across Erdington are calling on the Government to address its financial support strategy for schools and maintained nurseries, with 92.7% wanting extra funding to cover additional costs caused by the pandemic.
Castle Vale Nursery has been fighting educational budget cuts and funding concerns since before Covid, stating added financial pressure from the pandemic could be the ‘final nail in the coffin’ for many educators.
“This pandemic has hopefully highlighted to our government what is important moving forward and that is what future we can give to our children. Early years and schools need to be properly funded so they can do the best for children, not just the best they can manage.
“Early years has been woefully underfunded for years and this is starting to see nursery schools closing. COVID costs have just been the final nail in the coffin for many.
“Many children under five have missed out on life experiences and even spending time with other children. This is an opportunity for our government to spend money in a way that will benefit our society for the future. Fund all aspects of education properly and the country will reap the benefits”.
Elsewhere on the Vale, TiggyWinkles Day Nursery is set to close at the end of July despite the early years provider fighting hard to keep the nursery open – including a ‘significant cash injection’ from The Pioneer Group.
TiggyWinkles staff have been using their last few weeks to find nursery placements for all the children in their care, as well as seeking for alternative employment for themselves.
“This survey highlights the serious consequences a decade of underinvestment in our educational system is having on the education of our children and young people.
“Even before the pandemic, rising levels of child poverty meant that annual improvements in pupil outcomes had started to recede, and the narrowing of the attainment gap between less and more privileged students had stopped, and possibly even gone into reverse. The COVID-19 crisis has compounded the sense of urgency.
“Urgent action is required, therefore. Yet in spite of all the rhetoric, the Government is failing to back their promise to ‘level up’ education with the action needed to ensure its realisation, leaving schools without the funding and resources they so desperately need.
“Enough is enough. The Government must commit to funding schools properly in the autumn Comprehensive Spending Review. It is time to stop viewing education spending as a cost and to start seeing it as an investment in our children’s, and by extension our country’s, future”.
Words by Adam Smith / Crime scene pics by Ed King, profile pic & video courstesy of West Midlands Police
Tony Green has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years for murdering Shkelzen Taka outside an Erdington brothel in the early hours of Boxing Day morning.
The entire incident was captured on CCTV and West Midlands Police have released harrowing footage of the final moments of Mr Taka’s life – which helped the jury convict Green of murder.
At Birmingham Crown Court this morning Judge Melbourne Inman told 27-year-old Green, of Suffield Grove, he had used his car as a “lethal weapon” to kill Mr Taka who sustained catastrophic head injuries when a road sign Green’s car crashed into landed on his head.
Judge Inman said: “The injuries caused to Mr Taka were truly horrific. The pole struck him with such force it split his head into two. His brain was recovered separately.
“You continued to drive over him in reverse and back over him to get away. You drove away.”
The court heard Green and Taka, 28, had exchanged brief words outside Ayurveda Health Spa Sauna, Coton Lane, at around 6am as Green was leaving and his victim and friend were entering. From this moment Green, who had been drinking brandy and wine throughout Christmas Day, was then intent on seriously injuring his victim.
Green, hoping Taka would leave the brothel so he could attack him, then jumped on Taka’s car’s bonnet and smashed his windscreen.
The commotion caused Taka to leave the brothel, get a metal bar and try to hit Green’s Skoda. Green then reversed as fast as he could at his victim, escaping the scene after killing him.
Green denied being responsible for destroying evidence after his car was found on fire later that day saying the blaze was “bad luck”.
He also claimed he reversed by mistake after having had problems with the gear box.
The jury took just an hour to convict Green of murder.
Mr Taka’s siter Sonila said: “Shkelzen was a much-loved brother and partner and his family are devastated at his loss.
“The pain we feel is not easily cured – pain in the soul that breaks me into a thousand pieces.”
Judge Inman paid tribute to the victim as he began sentencing. Addressing the defendant, who was dressed in an Adidas tracksuit and had several family members in court, he said: “Shkelzen Taka was only 28 years of age when you killed him.
“He had his life before him. He had come to this country from Albania and supported his family.
“No-one listening to the statements of friends and family could fail to have been moved by the love clearly held by those who knew him and the depth of their grief. They are clearly going to find it difficult to ever come to terms with their loss.”
Judge Inman outlined several points when Green could have left the scene but was instead in a “highly aggressive state of mind” and was intent on murder.
Referencing Green’s previous convictions as a drug dealer the Judge said he was “not of good character” but took into account he had not been in court for violence before.
The minimum sentence the judge could have handed down was 15 years but he instead he sentenced Green to a minimum of 20 years behind bars.
Green shook his head when told the sentence and there were gasps of anguish from his family, one of whom said: “disgusting”. When led away to the cells Green gave his family a thumbs up.
Three family members of the victim sat in silence throughout the proceedings.
Detective Inspector Wes Martin, from the force’s Homicide Unit, helped build the case against Green.
He said: “This is a tragic case where a chance encounter has led to the death of a family man and the imprisonment of another for life.
“All too often impetuous acts of violence lead to tragedy as we have seen here.”
He added: “My thoughts remain with Shkelzen’s family who continue to mourn his loss.”
Mark Heywood, defending, said: “He is still a comparatively young man. He has a supportive family split between two parts of the country. This has been a terrible experience for all of them but I am sure nothing compared to the family of the unfortunate Mr Taka.
“He has always been deeply affected by the death regardless of how he chose to conduct the trial.”
CCTV footage of Tony Green damaging car and attacking Shkelzen Taka
Questions and confusion swept across Erdington yesterday as the body of ‘a man’ was pulled from the Fazeley canal near Butlers Bridge on the Kingsbury Road, Tyburn.
As of yet unnamed, the man was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency services responded to a call at around 11am.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 11.08am to reports of a patient in the water on Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.
“We sent two ambulances and two paramedic officers to the scene and on arrival they found one patient, a man, it immediately became apparent that nothing could be done to save him and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.”
Local residents were alarmed as sirens and uniforms flooded the area, with police officers searching CCTV footage until the evening.
Reports came from people living in Burcote Road as emergency services descended on quiet off-shoot of the Tyburn Road, which has allows access to the Fazeley canal through a small iron gate.
Further up the canal, towards Egerton Road, residents also saw police officers searching for clues – but with no information on the man’s identity concerns grew that it could be a friend or neighbour.
A local resident who has lived on Gunter Rd since the new houses were built nearly 20 years ago, told Erdington Local:
“A friend of mine who lives on Burcote Road said they (emergency services) were outside her house at around 11am – but my son saw the police here (Egerton Road) not so long ago.
“I thought I’d come down and have a look, I might see something; I thought the family might have put some flowers down which might have a name on the card.
“I’m just wondering if it’s somebody local, from round here… we don’t even know how long he was in the canal for.
“Apparently, somebody walking their dog found him and called the ambulance and police, but we don’t know.
“We usually fish here, with the kids; we’re only on Gunter Road. Quite a few people have drowned in here… It makes you wonder if it’s anyone you know, being so close.”
Staff at the nearby KFC restaurant on Kingsbury Road also confirmed to Erdington Local: “They (the police) were looking for CCTV cameras to see if they (the deceased) crossed the car park to get to the canal.”
Birmingham’s canals have been marred with mystery before, such as when the body of an unknown middle aged man was found by factory workers near the Tyburn Road in November 2010.
Seven years after the grim discovery West Midlands Police launched an appeal for information as the man was still unidentified nearly a decade later.
Earlier today, West Midlands Police made the following statement about the body pulled from the canal by Butlers Bridge:
“Yesterday (14 July), we received a 999 call reporting a body in the canal at Kingsbury Road, Erdington. A man was recovered from the canal, and sadly pronounced dead at the scene.
We are in the process of formally identifying the man, who we think is in his 30s. At this stage his death is being treated as unexplained.”
You can contact West Midlands Police via live chat at www.west-midlands.police.uk if you have information that could help – quoting reference number 1047-140721.
If you’ve been affected by this event, the charity Samaritans is there 24/7 to listen.
On Wednesday 7 July, more than 220 people braved torrential rain to protest against the closure of GKN‘s factory on Chester Road in Erdington.
Unite the Union organised the protest in response to owners Melrose International’s announcement the sprawling plant would be closed next June with the loss of 519 jobs.
Workers have taken the first step to strike this summer and are expected to take a ballot on industrial action in the next few weeks.
Union representatives also protested outside Parliament in a bid to force the Government to back their alternative plan for the factory.
A defiant Frank Duffy, Unite Senior Rep, addressed the crowd at Sorrell Park, Pype Hayes, in the shadow of the giant factory.
He told Erdington Local: “We are not giving in. It does not make sense to close this factory, we have proved we can make a profit and we will do everything we can to stop Melrose.
“They want to throw 519 loyal, skilled and dedicated workers on the scrapheap.
“Could you imagine a French or German multinational company shutting its only home plant and moving the work to elsewhere in Europe, there would be a national outcry.”
Unite regional secretary for the West Midlands, Annmarie Kilcline, also attended the protest.
She said: “The protest demonstrated the strength of feeling among workers at GKN and the local community against the plans to close the factory.
“This is a highly viable factory which should be preparing to play a key strategic role in the move to electrify the UK’s automotive industry. Closing the factory would be an act of gross industrial vandalism.”
She added: “It is not just the workers at the factory who would be affected by the potential closure but hundreds of workers in the company’s supply chain and the local community would all suffer job losses.
“It is essential that the government makes good on its promises to provide assistance and they work with Unite and local politicians to keep this factory open.”
Erdington MP Jack Dromey, who helped draft the alternative business proposal, backed the GKN workers.
He said: “What Melrose is doing to GKN is outrageous, I stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers in Erdington. If they decide to take industrial action then I will support them.”
Speaking at the rally, Birmingham City Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward had messages for both Melrose and the GKN workers facing unemployment.
He said: “Step in now and work with the workers at GKN to save this plant. Anything less is simply a betrayal of the hard-working, loyal & dedicated workforce.
“I assure you the city will stand with you and support you all the way in this dispute”
Despite the viability of the factory and potential massive Government backing Melrose still plan to relocate GKN operations from Chester Road to Poland.
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.”
Unite the Union and GKN workers protest closure of Chester Road factory
During the coronavirus pandemic, local NHS nurse and mother of two, Rosie Kaur, has been making luxury baskets and hampers to raffle off and raise money for charity.
Filled with things to pamper and lift people’s spirits, including luxury chocolates and eco-friendly Body Shop products, the care packages quickly became in high demand after Rosie took the first one into work to help raise funds for a local charity.
Now, through the encouragement of family and friends – as well as the demand from colleagues and co-workers, Rosie has now turned her charitable endeavours into her very own business.
Rosie told Erdington Local: “I wanted to do something to cheer people up. It’s been really hard at work for some people, and I noticed that people don’t always think to treat themselves or care for themselves.
“I created hampers filled with candles, chocolates, teddy bears, and creams that I would recommend people in my capacity working as a home consultant [for The Body Shop].”
Rosie has worked as a nurse since 2007 and has been on both the Covid and cancer wards at Queen Elizabeth (QE) hospital in Selly Oak. It was her experience at the QE which inspired her to start creating gift packages.
“You see some horrific cases – I’ve seen really low staff morale. All the nurses were thinking of was Covid, Covid, Covid. The hampers were so people can think of themselves for a bit, in a good way.”
Starting around December 2020, Rosie’s Christmas hampers were raffled off at work and she raised around £80 for Cancer Research UK.
Following an overwhelming response from friends, family, and colleagues, Rosie started to explore the idea of turning her gift baskets into a viable business.
Rosie added: “My dad said to me ‘why don’t you get some business cards?’
“That’s when I started making them (the hampers) for special occasions, for Easter time, birthdays, baby showers – my neighbour Richard for his colleagues at work to raffle for a mental health charity.”
Whist many people have lost their jobs or are struggling to find employment, due to the widespread difficulties faced by businesses during Covid, Rosie has weaved a new enterprise called ‘Hampers by Rosie’ – having recently been working on orders for Father’s Day.
Rosie continues to raise money for charities such as University Hospitals Birmingham and Acorns Children’s Hospice.
Rides, games, prizes and food were in abundance, with the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions meaning the family favourite attraction could return to the park for the first time since 2019.
Erdington Local paid a visit to soak up the atmosphere. Whilst resisting the urge to have a go on the waltzers and dodgems, we spoke to the local residents and families who had also paid a visit.
Courtney, mother of two, told Erdington Local: “It’s lovely, it’s been very good. It’s good to finally get a good day out, it’s been horrible being stuck inside for a year so it’s nice to get out and have something for the kids to do.”
We also spoke to Lee, a staff member running one of the games at the fair. He said: “It’s brilliant to be back. It’s nice to see people out enjoying themselves again.
“We’ve all come out of lockdown and people are wanting to get out and spend their money, which is good for the fair and the community.”
Other parents we spoke to shared the sentiment, with some saying they had been “desperate to get out and do something… the kids have been looking forward to it for weeks now.
“It makes a nice change from only being able to go to school then being stuck in the house all the time.”
Louise, 25, from Pype Hayes, added: “I used to come here all of the time as a child, so for me it’s great to see it back with all of the old favourite rides here. It’s very nostalgic walking through the fair seeing kids running around having fun like we used to.
“I can’t imagine how exciting it must be especially for the younger kids who this could be their first time here. It’s nice to see smiles on everyone’s faces.”
The fair’s return was overall hugely welcomed in the area, with the organisers staying for a week longer than originanlly planned.
Words by Adam Smith / Pics & video by Simon Lefevre
On Thursday 1 July, homeless people and Erdington residents living on the breadline were given much needed hot meals by the local Kashmiri community.
The giveaway was the first community event organised by Erdington Labour Party’s new BAME officer Naz Rasheed.
Local people in need of a good hearty hot meal flocked to Six Ways Baptist Church to receive chicken and rice, cake and essentials – coinciding with the longstanding Erdington Food Bank, which opens its doors every Thursday between noon and 2pm.
Naz Rasheed told Erdington Local: “We gave away 150 meals today and plan to do the same every month. I’m part of Erdington’s Kashmiri community and we wanted to share what we do so well – creating great food – with those who need it the most.
“A lot of people helped to ensure this was a success, including my husband, and through the Labour Party we want to bring people together in our community.”
Erdington MP Jack Dromey helped distribute the meals and spoke at length with several people who explained why they were in need of emergency provisions.
He said: “It is a sad commentary on 21st Century Britain that a country like ours needs a foodbank like this.
“It was a very moving experience watching people come and receive this food, one person, who I cannot forget, told me it will be their first hot meal in three weeks. There are a lot of people who are going hungry out there.
“We had people who were homeless who really needed help and they were met with loving admiration by the Kashmiri community who I would like to pay tribute to for such an outstanding display of generosity.”
Erdington Kashmiri Labour Party member Ansar Ali Khan helped package the meals for the foodbank.
He said: “We wanted to make a small difference, and if we can do this regularly then we know we are helping those who need help the most in Erdington.”
Between April 2020 and March 2121 Erdington Foodbank handed out 22,066 ‘three day emergency’ food parcels to local residents, all made and distributed from kitchens at Six Ways Baptist Church and George Road Church (which is open Tuesdays noon until 2pm).
Reverend Gerard Goshawk, who runs Erdington Foodbank on behalf of The Trussell Trust, said: “It was great to see the people who use our foodbank being offered hot meals by the Kashmiri community.
“We are here every week and there is a real need for what we provide.”
Jack Dromey MP and Naz Rasheed at Erdington Foodbank 01.06.21
Children from all year groups at the Kingstanding primary school took part in the workshops, which explored a repertoire of the regional dances of the Ivory Coast.
The Ivory Coast (officially the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire) is a country located on the south coast of West Africa, with roots into some 60 distinct ethnic groups and one of the most varied and dynamic traditional dance cultures in West Africa.
Led by Gaspard Zamble, the African dance workshops gave children at Kings Rise a chance to try something they may never had experienced outside of the school – as well as giving them a fun way to exercise and encourage good health.
All ages took part, from the older pupils in Year 6 right down to the youngest children in Kings Rise Academy’s nursery and Early Years groups.
Kings Rise Academy has recently invested over £175,000 in a new nursery and Early Years setting, which will open its doors at the beginning of the new school year in September – offering the children of Kingstanding the best start to their education.
Kings Rise Academy Vice Principal, Gary Byrne, told Erdington Local: “The dance workshops were a lot of fun and a great way for the children to learn about African culture – Gaspard was amazing, and the children really engaged with him.
“The rich culture and history of the Ivory Coast is not something everyone would get the chance to experience, but now our young people have learnt a bit more about the world we live it – inspiring them the look further, explore deeper, and learn even more.
“Plus, as it’s dancing, it’s a healthy alternative to classroom based learning.
“Our children have done so well during lockdown but now we’re back together it’s good for them to work and learn together, in a way the encourages better health.”
Nursery and Reception places are still available at Kings Rise Academy, with open days on Wednesday 7 July and Thursday 8 July – limited places are available for other year groups.
To arrange visits on alternative days, simply contact the school office who will be happy to help – call (0121) 464 4635 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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