NEWS: Erdington MP calls for General Election after Liz Truss resigns as Prime Minister, as Erdington reacts to PM stepping down

 Words by Ed King

Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton has called for a General Election following the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss yesterday.

Liz Truss publicly stepped down as Prime Minister, addressing media and crowds outside Number 10 Downing Street on Thursday 20 October – claiming she was “unable to deliver the mandate” she had been elected by the Conservative Party to push through Westminster.

Following widespread reaction and speculation across the county, Erdington’s MP Paulette Hamilton told Erdington Local: “It’s been 45 days of chaotic and disastrous leadership.

“The Conservative Government under Liz Truss has crashed our economy so badly that working people in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale are facing an average mortgage increase of £413 a month.

“The mess that the Tories have created is of their own making. The damage they have done could take years to fix, but it will be people in our community picking up the pieces.

“The Tory party can no longer be trusted to decide who runs the country. A General Election is the only way to end this nightmare.”

The recently elected Labour councillor for Castle Vale, Ray Goodwin, also mirrored the message coming from the Erdington MP and Labour Party leadership.

Cllr Goodwin told Erdington Local: “I find it quite shocking that the country is in complete turmoil, families are worried about food or fuel. An economic plan is in tatters, which nearly bought the country to its knees.

“Services so under pressure by families in crisis, the sort of leadership that the labour party in Birmingham has shown by announcing emergency funding and a cost of living emergency, this is needed nationally.

“This is why I believe the only solution left, is to let democracy take place and a General Election must now be called.”

Outside of the political arena, voters across Erdington were also reacting to the news of Liz Truss’ resignation – as the Conservative Party face yet another leadership election and fight to reassure the public they are united enough to lead the county.

Castle Vale resident Terri-Anne Coope said: “I feel all this yo-yoing in London is just causing more uncertainty in the local area, people are already experiencing political fatigue.

“And a lot of the services in Erdington and surrounding areas are provided by charities, volunteer, or community interest groups – the looming idea of more Government cuts to services is just going to put more pressure on those who already volunteer their time for free.

“Those groups also have to pay bills too, so unless there’s money to support this I can see vital community services having to reduce the services they offer or scrap them completely.”

Sue Spicer, former Chair of the Castle Vale Community Housing Association, told: “As an ex Prime Minister she is possibly entitled to a payment of £115,000 each year for life when she was only Prime Minister for about 45 days.

“When the general public are worried whether they can afford to eat or keep warm this absolutely scandalous, if it does happen. I also can’t believe that there is a call for Boris Johnson to come back as PM but then again, I am not sure who would be the person for the job from the current government.”

Outside of the Castle Vale estate, Erdington ward resident Sue Bicknell added: “I think we have become the laughing stock of the world.

“My worries about local area are that there will be less money for services that are needed and the middle is society will be squeezed, e.g. the families that do not qualify for benefits and have to pay for everything themselves but are less well off than some on benefits because of this.”

Following the announcement of Liz Truss’ resignation as PM, the Government has announced there will be another Conservative leadership “in the coming week”.

Erdington Local approached Erdington ward councillor and leader of the Birmingham Conservatives Robert Alden but has yet to receive a response – which will be published in this article, or elsewhere at Erdington Local, if received.

NEWS: City ‘calling time on rogue landlords’ as Stockland Green and Gravelly Hill set for new Selective Licensing Scheme

Words by Ed King

Stockland Green and Gravelly Hill are amongst 25 political wards across Birmingham set for a new Selective Licensing Scheme, to curb the rise of unruly HMOs and rogue landlords.

Overseen by Councillor Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness for Birmingham City Council (BCC), the scheme was recently approved by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – under the Housing Act 2004.

From 5 June 2023, landlords will have to apply for licences for privately rented accommodation, costing £700 for each property for five years and carrying various requirements and commitments.

Birmingham’s new Selective Licensing Scheme will be the largest in the country, covering up to 50,000 properties – implemented in wards with over 20% rented through the private sector and ‘high levels of deprivation and/or crime’.

Alongside Erdington, other North Birmingham wards included in the scheme are Aston, Lozells, Handsworth, and Ward End.

Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Ian Ward said: “This is about supporting tenants and communities and we have received widespread support for the scheme.

“Good, responsible landlords in Stockland Green, Gravelly Hill and across the 25 Birmingham wards covered have nothing to fear from the Selective Licensing Scheme, but we’re calling time on rogue landlords who exploit tenants and blight communities.”

Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton added: “The rollout of a selective licensing scheme in Stockland Green and Gravelly Hill is a welcome step forward. This scheme will help the council drive up standards in private rented properties, including Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs), allowing them to tackle anti-social behaviour and hold rogue landlords to account.

“Far too often we see badly run private rented properties causing misery in our community, with rogue landlords putting profits before the legal responsibilities they have towards their tenants. This scheme will help put some of those issues right.”

However, despite being introduced to tackle the problems often caused by private landlords converting houses into HMOs, and poorly managed private rentals creating dangerous living environments or exacerbating anti-social behaviour, the scheme does not include exempt accommodation.

Exempt accommodation are a ‘supported living’ dwellings, often housing adults with additional needs – such as those living with severe mental health issues, where the landlord is paid directly from the Department of Work and Pensions in exchange for providing adequate care and assistance for their tenants.

Exempt from the ceiling charges that can be placed on standard state support, such as Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, landlords of exempt accommodations have been found to charge in excess of £200 per tenant, per week – with many failing in their agreed duty of care.

Cllr Jane Jones (Labour, Stockland Green), told Erdington Local: “For some years local residents have aired their concerns over the loss of family homes as they are converted to houses of multiple occupation including exempt properties.

“The new registration scheme will require all private landlords to register their properties and ensure that they provide good quality housing and the support their tenants deserve.

“I will continue to push for a change in the law so that exempt properties are also required to have their properties licenced by the Council.”

Cllr Mick Brown (Labour, Gravelly Hill) added: “While I am disappointed that this does not include exempt accommodation, because the legislation doesn’t classify exempt accommodation as being in the private rented sector; I am pleased that Birmingham City Council has introduced one of the biggest licencing schemes for landlords.

“This is good news for residents across Gravelly Hill as it will require all private landlords to register to rent out homes; and it’s positive to see that this will include houses and apartments as well as HMO’s, and make it easier for the Council to take action against bad landlords.”

Erdington Local also approached Cllr Amar Khan (Labour, Stockland Green) for comment, but at the time of writing has received no reply.

Until recently, Mr Khan has been a director of two companies whose nature of business are registered at Companies House as being the ‘renting and operating of Housing Association real estate’.

Select Homes (UK) Limited and Select Estates Properties Limited are both registered at 200 Slade Road, Stockland Green – with Mr Khan resigning from his role as director from the companies on 15 January ’22 and 10 July ’22 respectively.

Mr Amar Khan was elected as the Labour Party councillor for Stockland Green in May 2022, representing the ward alongside Ms Jane Jones.

NEWS: ‘Let’s Get Together’ community group showcase at Erdington Court Bowls Club – TODAY, 11am to 1pm

Words by Ed King

Today (Thursday 20 October) a special community group showcase will be held at Erdington Court Bowls Club – introducing activities and services supported by the Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme (ENNS).

Running from 11am to 1pm, with a light lunch and refreshments provided, ‘Let’s Get Together’ is totally free to attend – and a chance for people over 18 to discover, and get involved in, activities and programmes in their area.

From local art groups, coffee mornings, and adult swim classes, to support groups for carers and people suffering with Alzheimer’s, ‘Let’s Get Together’ will be an opportunity to learn about local services and community groups operating across Erdington.

There will also be a chance to meet an Adult Social Care Team and Occupational Therapists Team, alongside ENNS networkers who will help people find the right groups and services.

Further organisations attending the ‘Let’s Get Together’ event include: Midlands Medical Partners (Eaton Wood), The Alzheimer’s Society, Cuppa Squad, Salus Fatigue Foundation, No.7 Arts, Erdington Court Bowls Club, Compass Support, Care for Carers Group, The Meeting Place Café, Arts All Over the Place, CAMEO, and AquaBabes

The Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme (ENNS) is delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association and Compass Support, helping community groups access funding and support.

Chantelle Holmes, WLCA Project Monitoring & Quality Officer, told Erdington Local: “The ENNS Let’s Get Together event is a fantastic opportunity for residents of Erdington over the age of 18 to find out what groups and activities are happening in the local area that help to reduce isolation and help them to live independent and connected lives.

“It is predominantly aimed at the over 50’s and for adults who have additional needs, the activities range from things like arts and crafts, day trips, groups for carers, swimming sessions, music lessons and many more.

“It is also an opportunity to meet some of the Occupational Therapists, some of the Adult Social Care Team and Social Prescribers too.”

Erdington Court Bowls Club is a registered charity, part of the Erdington Recreational Trust, and one of the few flat lawn bowls clubs in the area.

Ray Wood, trustee of the charity and Marketing Officer for Erdington Court Bowls Club, added: “The objectives of the charity have always been to support the local community. Earlier this year we decided to increase our local links in a number of ways.

“Our lounge has been under utilised in recent years and we were delighted when officers of the nearby Witton Lodge Community Association approached us to host their exhibition of local neighbourhood support groups.”

‘Let’s Get Together’ will be held at Erdington Court Bowls Club on Thursday 20 October, between 11am and 1pm. Free to attend, a light lunch and refreshments will also be provided.

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

For more on the ENNS, as delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association, visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk/our-projects/living-well/supporting-you/erdington-neighbourhood-network-scheme

NEWS: Erdington poet Paulette Francis Green to stage manage world première of She’s Royal

Words by Ed King / Images supplied by Paulette Francis Green & Blackstory Partnership

“I’m pleased someone from Erdington can be part of this fantastic play, but the important thing about She’s Royal is the hidden history that many people did not know about.”

Erdington poet and spoken word artist Paulette Francis Green (Empress P) is set to stage manage the world première of She’s Royal, launching at the Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio on Tuesday 18 October.

Written by Tonia Daley-Campbell and directed by Lorna Laidlaw, who plays series character Aggie Bailey in Coronation Street, She’s Royal explores the stories of two women of colour who were prominent members of the royal household under Queen Victoria – Sarah Forbes Bonetta and Sophia Duleep Singh, both goddaughters to the monarch.

A child slave in the court of King Ghezo of Dahomey (today southern western Nigeria), Sarah Forbes Bonetta was gifted to Queen Victoria via Captain Forbes – with the monarch impressed by her intellect and encouraging her to enter Victorian high society.

Sophia Duleep Singh was the British born third daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh, who became a key part of the rising Suffragette movement and getting royal consent for the Equal Franchise Act in 1928, enabling women over age 21 to vote on a par with men. Singh would go on to establish the Suffragette Fellowship in 1930.

Paulette Francis Green, who has worked with Birmingham Opera Company and Erdington Arts Forum, told Erdington Local: “I think the story is important because we are made aware that there were people of colour in the household of the monarchy, in this example Queen Victoria.

“Because of what happened in India (colonial rule) she decided that she would have Sophia Duleep Singh as her goddaughter, along with Sarah Forbes Bonette. To me it’s’ a hidden story that needs to be told.

“Also, Queen Victoria’s relationship with Abdul Karim – who was initially one of her servants but became her cook, and we mention that in the play. So, you can see in the household of Queen Victoria she did have people of colour around her and in positions that were close to her.

“There are diaries by Queen Victoria… there is a part in the play that mentions her saying ‘regardless of people’s race, yes I will promote someone who is of colour.’

“So, it’s a good lesson – but it’s also saying stop being naive, stop thinking there weren’t people of colour around the monarchy.”

Throughout the rise and fall of the British Empire, which at its height counted over 412 million people as it’s subjects – 23% of the world’s population at the time, people from countries and dominions across the globe made England their home.

But the impact and presence of people of colour in the UK spans back throughout history, even to the times of the Roman Empire.

“I’m tired and also pleased we’re still having the conversation,” added Paulette. “But what people have to realise is that we (people of colour) didn’t just come to the UK in 1948 on the SS Windrush – we have been here since the Roman times, with Lucias Septimius Severus (Rome’s first African Emperor) who conquered Caledonia.

“There’s been a black presence in the UK going back centuries, just look at John Blanke – one of the key trumpeters Henry VIII’s court. And what is frustrating is that it is history, it is our history, and it should be told – it should be told in schools.

“There are so many things people of colour have contributed to British history, but why don’t people want to talk about it, why don’t people want to accept it. It happened, it happened, it happened…”

She’s Royal opens with its world première at Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio on Tuesday 18 October, with a performance at 7:30pm. There will also be performances of She’s Royal on Wednesday 19 October at both 1pm and 7:30pm.

Tickets start from £15 by calling the box office on 0844 338 5000 or online via: www.birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/shes-royal/

She’s Royal will also be performed at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on Tuesday 1 November at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

She’s Royal – official trailer

She’s Royal is an original production from Blackstory Partnership. For more on Blackstory Partnership visit www.blackstorypartnership.com

For more on the Birmingham Hippodrome visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com

For more on Paulette Francis Green (Empress P) visit www.instagram.com/empressppoet

NEWS: Watch world première of Taking Flight from The Festival of Flying on Castle Vale – ONLINE TODAY AT 7PM

Words by Ed King / Pics by Claire Taylor – with additional images of Taking Flight by Andrew Moore

On Saturday 17 September, The Festival of Flying came to a close on Castle Vale – following months of community engagement, creative workshops, and inspiring sessions encouraging people on the North Birmingham estate to realise their ambitions and reach for the skies.

The grand finale, a world première of a specially commissioned aerial theatre performance called Taking Flight, will be streamed online today at 7pm – simply click here to visit the Active Arts YouTube channel, or stream directly via the window.

Told through high energy dance, music, smoke, fire, and aerial movement, Taking Flight tells the tale of the evil ‘destroyers’, a wild bunch of greedy wrongdoers who are stealing all the natural resources from the planet. But just as a butterfly emerges from its cocoon, destruction never truly wins where hope lies…

For a sneak peak of the Taking Flight, check out the PICTURE GALLERY below for images from the spectacular show that closed The Festival of Flying on Saturday 17 September.

Led by Active Arts, The Festival of Flying was a continuous programme of community engagement on Castle Vale – encouraging people across the estate to explore exciting new ideas and creative adventures, combining arts and engineering.

The Festival of Flying followed the foundations stones laid by The Butterfly Effect project in 2015, where Active Arts Castle Vale explored how small actions on the estate can lead to big changes

Ending on a day of family fun and spectacle, The Festival of Flying closed with a one day event on the grounds on Greenwood Academy – starting with an afternoon Community Showcase with local talent performing on stage, including Castle Vale dance groups Centre Stage and Mini Movers.

Then at 7pm, hundreds of people gathered for the world première of Taking Flight – produced by critically acclaimed performance company Highly Sprung, in partnership with Active Arts Castle Vale and commissioned and written as part of The Festival of Flying project.

Taking Flight featured a cast of trained acrobatic performance theatre professionals from Highly Sprung, alongside local dancers and performers – including Castle Vales’s own Charlotte Dodds, who has travelled the world performing in theatre, film, and TV shows from the UK to New Zealand.

Charlotte Dodd told Erdington Local: “I have lived on Castle Vale most of life, and when I worked with Highly Sprung I gained a lot of confidence in myself and my work as a performer.

“They showed me that it is possible to have a career in the arts, and at the time that was a big thing for me. They believed in me.

“Coming back to perform on Castle Vale (at The Festival of Flying) and give something back to the community with feels very rounded. It feels like a journey has been complete.”

Check out the PICTURE GALLERIES below for a look at The Festival of Flying Community Showcase, and the live debut performance of Taking Flight.

Watch Taking Flight online today at 7pm:

PICTURE GALLERY (1): The Festival of Flying – Community Showcase / Claire Taylor

 

PICTURE GALLERY (2): The Festival of Flying – Taking Flight / Claire Taylor and Andrew Moore

To know more about The Festival of Flying and other projects from Active Arts, email Active Arts Project Director Claire Marshall on www.activearts.wordpress.com

NEWS: Campaign to give Leon Edwards ‘historic figure of Birmingham’ blue plaque in Erdington

Words by Erdington Local news team

A campaign is underway to give local MMA fighter Leon Edwards a ‘historic figure of Birmingham’ blue plaque and official key to the city – after the Erdington raised and trained athlete became UFC World Welterweight Champion earlier this year.

Since winning the world crowing fight in August ’22, a portrait of Edwards has been painted onto the old Maplin site mural by Six Ways Island – which identifies all the aspects of Erdington people can be proud of.

But now an online petition wants to further recognise the athlete’s local ties and global achievements and see the ‘real life Rocky’ and ‘inspiration to everyone’ honoured in his adopted hometown with a key to the city and a blue plaque installed in Erdington.

Leon Edwards was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved with his brother Fabian to Birmingham when he was a teenager – training at the now closed MMA gym on Erdington High Street.

In the early hours of Sunday 12 August, Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards created sporting history by beating Kamaru Usman to win the coveted UFC world title in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

Previously Edwards had suffered set back on his was to become World Champion, with four key fights cancelled due to the athlete testing positive for Covid-19.

His last fight with Belal Muhammad in March 2021 was also halted after Edwards accidentally poked his opponent in the eye in the second round – with the injury causing the fight to be stopped and declared ‘no contest’.

But after beating Californian Nate Diaz in June 2021, the UFC announced Edwards would be in line for a title fight with Kamaru Usman. The pair had met in the Octagon before, with Edwards eventually being outwrestled by Usman – but after the August fight the Brummie brawler left with the coveted champion’s belt.

The UFC Welterweight Championship is one of the most keenly contested belts in combat sports, with Leon Edwards the only UK champion and the second UK fighter ever to win a UFC belt.

A campaign page on the change.org website, started by Tye Forde, states: ‘Leon Edwards local Erdington, Birmingham lad is an inspiration to everyone. A real life Rocky who should be recognised as a Birmingham Hero & legend.

‘Leon is a role model for the younger generation to show dedication, being respectful and hard work determination pays off.

‘I propose that Birmingham City Council install a historic figure of Birmingham blue plaque for Leon Edwards only the 2nd ever British World UFC Champion. Also Leon should be given a key to the City of Birmingham.’

Commenting on the petition page feed, Rachel Walker states: “I’m Erdington born and bred, this Gentleman is an inspiration”. Whilst John Howard adds: “Hats off to the world champion from Erdington.”

There are over 100 blue plaques dedicated to people and places across Birmingham, awarded by The Birmingham Civic Society. Other blue plaques in Erdington have been presented in recognition of GP and physician George Boddington, and the world renowned Mothers rock and live music venue.

The blue plaque scheme, which runs nationally, has also come under recent criticism in Birmingham for its significant of lack of people with Black or Asian heritage being recognised.

To see more about the campaign visit www.change.org/p/honourary-historic-blue-plaque-installed-key-to-city-birmingham-leon-edwards     

For more on Leon Edwards visit www.ufc.com/athlete/leon-edwards

NEWS: ‘I walked it… you share it’ – messages of hope hidden across Erdington on World Mental Health Day

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by The Recovery Foundation

On Monday 10 October, people across Erdington will be finding special shoe shaped keyrings –attached to a postcard telling someone’s real life mental health story, with a message of hope from them to others.

Organised by The Recovery Foundation, an Erdington based mental health charity, the ‘I walked it… you share it’ campaign was launched on World Mental Health Day 2022 – marking the international awareness day with 50 colourful packages of hope hidden in accessible public places.

According to the World Health Organisation, ‘close to 1 billion people have a mental health disorder’ – with limited accessibility to resources, support, and ‘quality mental health services’.

Using first-hand stories, The Recovery Foundation’s ‘I walked it… you share it’ campaign aims to encourage an open discussion on mental health – and show people dealing with mental health issues there is always ‘hope’ and ‘living well’ with mental illness is a possibility.

The shoe shaped key rings are a nod to the journey people go on when facing mental health challenges, with the postcards containing personal and inspiring accounts of how they can be overcome.

Anyone who finds a keyring and postcard will be invited to take a picture of their discovery and share it online, tagging in the social media information for both The Recovery Foundation and Erdington Local – alongside the campaign hashtag #trfwalkedit

Janelle Smith, The Recovery Foundation Youth & Community Director, previously told Erdington Local: “I had this idea about six months ago, and now with World Mental Health Day around the corner it’s a great time to help people share their stories with the world.

“I’d love this to encourage people to share their stories and find hope.”

Registered with the charity commission in 2020, The Recovery Foundation was set up after founder Emma Sitole overcame her own mental health challenges following a diagnosis for Schizo-Affective Disorder in 2007.

With the charity’s key message being one of ‘hope’, Emma Sitole explains on The Recovery Foundation’s website: ‘…if I was able to find hope and use it to grow my recovery, maybe others could too?’

The Recovery Foundation recently ran a series of successful art workshops in both Sorrell Park and at the Secret Art Studio Space (SASS) – led by the charity’s Creative Arts Director, Angela Chapman.

With their art showcase still on display at SASS, located downstairs at the Central Square Shopping Centre on Erdington High Street and displaying over 100 pieces of original artwork, The Recovery Foundation are looking to continue their engagement and art programmes.

Speaking to Erdington Local at the launch of the exhibition, Emma Sitole told: “We trialled Art in Parks last year, which was really successful, and off the back of that people were saying they’d love something that explored different techniques and looked into different things.

“Angela (Chapman), our Creative Arts Director, put together a programme and we’ve seen about 50 people come through our doors with these workshops.

“It’s a privilege to walk alongside people and see them discover they’re really creative.”

For more on The Recovery Foundation visit www.therecoveryfoundation.org.uk

For more on World Mental Health Day 2022 visit www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/2022

NEWS: WLCA Enterprise Hub development to get £795,000 from Birmingham City Council

Words by Ed King

Witton Lodge Community Association’s (WLCA) plans to redevelop the old Erdington Baths into a vibrant ‘Enterprise Hub’ are set to receive £795,000 from Birmingham City Council.

Announced today, the City will be allocating over three quarters of a million pounds from its Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) fund – to help repair the old public bath’s roof and allow WLCA to manage operations from the site.

The significant investment from Birmingham City Council follows a recent £2m commitment from the West Midlands Combined Authority, who pledged the money as part of its 2018 brownfield and housing delivery programme.

With further support from Birmingham City Council, the ambitious project – which would create jobs and opportunities for new business in the heart of Erdington – will be part a key of the revised Levelling Up Fund application which could bring millions to Erdington High Street.

As he approved today’s grant, Birmingham City Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward said: “For generations, the baths were a much-loved facility for the people of Erdington, and this is an important step in the efforts to give this historic building a new lease of life right at the heart of the community.

“I’m delighted we are working alongside Witton Lodge Community Association to transform the old baths building on Mason Road and this exciting project is a key part of the overall Levelling Up Fund bid for Erdington High Street, which will bring the community together, support local businesses and improve accessibility to wider employment opportunities for the residents of Erdington.”

Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, who has worked with the City Council to develop the Erdington High Street Levelling Up Fund bid, added: “This funding is fantastic news. I hope it will kick start our plans for a brand new community and enterprise hub in Erdington run by Witton Lodge Community Association, who do amazing work locally.

“The new hub would bring enormous benefits for local people by providing employment opportunities, helping to develop skills and offering space for small businesses to develop and grow.

“The Council’s decision to help fund this project should send a message to Ministers about how committed we are to transforming Erdington High Street. We want to make the area a destination again, and now we need the Government to back our Levelling Up bid to make that a reality.”

Witton Lodge Community Association Chief Officer Afzal Hussain told Erdington Local: “We’re deeply grateful to the Council for its support and funding to kickstart Phase 1 works on the Erdington Enterprise Hub.

“The funding will enable us to refurbish the roof and entrance area and actively engage local residents, entrepreneurs and businesses to showcase and shape plans on the ambitious project.

“We have already secured funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority and with planning approval also in place, we’re now only waiting on the Government to approve Erdington’s Levelling Up bid. Fingers crossed!”

For more on the new Enterprise Hub visit www.erdingtonbaths.webflow.io

“We just want her home and safe” – Wolverhampton family appeal to Erdington residents for help finding teenage daughter

Words by Erdington Local news team / Pics supplied by family

Erdington residents have been asked to help find a missing teenager who has been seen multiple times in the area.

The parents of 15-year-old Shannon Hyde have been driving around Erdington since she went missing 21 days ago.

Shannon’s father Shaun Hyde, from Wolverhampton, has been frantically following up tip offs from people on Facebook.

He told Erdington Local: “She has been missing for 21 days now and her phone has been switched off since last Friday.

“She was last seen meeting an older man in Erdington.

“People are commenting on Facebook that they have seen her in Erdington, Birmingham, but the police don’t seem to be following the sightings up until it is too late.

“We’ve been told she was seen outside an HMO in Erdington, by Old Square, and approached several people in pubs in Erdington.”

He added: “We just want her home and safe, she is vulnerable and I’m asking anyone who has seen her to get in touch with the police.”

Shannon’s disappearance has been shared across social media and Shaun has even been getting messages from Americans who are trying to locate her via the Internet.

He said: “I’ve had Americans on Snapchat getting in touch about where she could be, I really hope she contacts us soon.

“I am really worried about her being groomed by gangs and her mother and I are going out of our minds with worry about what could happen to her if she is not found soon.”

West Midlands Police have now put out two appeals for information about the whereabouts of Shannon.

Police first posted about Shannon on 13 September and again this week posting a more recent picture of the teenager.

A police spokesman said: “Shannon is 5ft 3ins tall, with shoulder length brown hair and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a cream T-shirt, chequered jacket and blue and pink trainers.

“We still need to find Shannon. Can you help? Please contact us with any information.

“We’re still searching for Shannon. The 15-year-old is missing from Wolverhampton. She was last seen wearing grey bottoms, white trainers and a beige check jacket.”

If you have information on Shannon’s whereabouts call 101, quote PID390949.

NEWS: St Barnabas to hold public consultation over churchyard renovation – Thursday 29 September

Words & pics by Ed King

St Barnabas Church in Erdington are inviting members of the public to attend a public consultation to discuss plans to renovate the churchyard.

Held at St Barnabas on Thursday 29 September, the drop in session will be free to attend – with the Erdington High Street based church keen to hear from as many local residents as possible.

Plans to renovate the churchyard have been discussed internally at St Barnabas for several months, with ambitious ideas on how to turn the dilapidated areas into vibrant public spaces that better serve the local community.

A poster advertising the public consolation explains how St Barnabas want to create ‘a safe and beautiful place that benefits people and wildlife’.

St Barnabas’s churchyard has been known as a hot spot for street drinkers, drug taking, and anti-social behaviour, with the plans for renovation hoping an ‘improved churchyard means better links for local people to use and visit it.’

Current plans include a special memorial tree, a stone ‘labyrinth’ and ‘focal space’, art murals, and areas for the public to sit and reflect.

Reverend Emma Sykes at St Barnabas told Erdington Local: “Our church sits at the heart of the High Street and we want the churchyard to be a place of peaceful reflection as well as a safe and green space that benefits all those who use it.

“We know there are challenges ahead as it’s going to be a long and costly project to restore the currently unsafe parts and reform the whole area, but we are excited that we’re already making positive steps and there are reachable goals in sight.

“We’ve engaged with specialist consultants and with help from our support partners, ideas for the future plans include living memorials, wildlife areas, education trails for children, historical insights, improved lighting, benches and a community space which could be used for outdoor church services, activities and other events.

“All this is against the backdrop of respecting all those who are at rest in the churchyard and their families and loved ones.”

First built as a chapel of ease in 1823, St Barnabas is a Grade II listed building designed by Thomas Rickman – a self taught architect who was a major figure in the 19th century Gothic Revival movement.

Badly damaged in a suspected arson attack in 2007, which destroyed the roof and all but one of its famed stained glass windows, St Barnabas underwent major renovation work to its building in 2011-12.

The churchyard is no longer available for public burial and contains 66 graves to service men and women from both the Great War and World War II.

Reverend Emma Sykes added: “The public consultation will be an important opportunity for people to come along and tell us what they think of the plans and we can answer questions.

“We continue to be grateful to all those who have supported us so far and we want to bring on board more people from the local community as we move forward as together, we can make very positive changes.”

For more on St Barnabas visit www.stbarnabaserdington.org.uk