NEWS: Free Easter Egg Hunt to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – from 12noon on Saturday 30 March

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Short Heath Fields Trust

A free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields this Saturday (30 March) with local children and families from across the Erdington constituency all invited.

Running between 12noon and 2pm, special festive eggs will be hidden along the hedgerows and sides of Short Heath Playing Fields – which sits in just off Short Heath Road and next to Bleak Hill Park – with each egg carrying an individual pattern.

Children must first hunt for the eggs across the parkland, draw the patterns – to prove they’ve found the eggs, then head back to the Easter Egg Hunt HQ and claim their prize from the Short Heath Easter Bunny.

There will also be an Easter Bonnet Parade held at 1pm, where those attending are invited to show off their festive head gear and decorated Easter hats – with prizes given to the ‘best boy’ and ‘best girl’ in the parade.

The event is totally free, to enter or attend, with no charges for the prizes or anything given to the children for taking part.

Organisers have confirmed the prizes for children will contain chocolate, and there will be a paid for raffle held with more prizes that adults can enjoy.

There will also be a refreshments tent open during the event, run by the Short Heath Wombles – the local community group who litter pick across the park. All money raised with help support future events on the Playing Fields, such as the annual Halloween Pumpkin Hunt which attracts families from Castle Vale to Kingstanding.

Organised by Short Heath Fields Trust, who took over the management of the parkland in May 2023 after a fiercely fought battle to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ from a Council led housing development, the Easter Egg Hunt is now in its third year.

Run by dedicated volunteers and supported by the local community, the Trust has been responsible for organising many free to attend events on the Playing Fields – whilst also arranging for regular football sessions to be held there every Saturday, run by Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy.

Ahead of the Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday, a spokesperson from Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) told Erdington Local: “The Easter Egg Hunt is a great event for the kids and their families. SHFT are establishing this free event as a regular for the community’s calendar, as this is our third one.”

They added: “It’s a chance to have some family fun, and with it being free it means it really doesn’t matter what your background is – it’s for everyone to enjoy, especially with money being so tight for so many families at the moment.”

The SHFT free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 30 March, between 12noon and 2pm. For more details, click herE to visit the SHFT Facebook event page.

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit: www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Kingstanding rallies round family after sudden death of kind hearted mum and animal lover

Words by Kingstanding editorial team

The Kingstanding community has rallied round a kind hearted local family, after the sudden death of a 42-year-old mum left behind more than just her grieving loved ones.

Animal lover Clare Banks, who had attended Stockland Green School, could never turn her back on an animal in distress, and along with her long-term partner Simon and their seventeen-year-old son Mikey had adopted a house full of rescue animals.

But following her fatal heart attack at home earlier this year, Clare’s tragic and sudden death also left her beloved 22-year-old horse Tallulah facing an uncertain future – with the horse potentially being put down if the stable costs to keep her could not be met.

Clare’s friend Louise Jordan, who also looks after Tallulah’s sister, launched a GoFundMe page to safeguard the horses’ future and prevent her being put down if a buyer cannot be found.

Within 48 hours nearly 40 people donated more than £1,300 to the online campaign, smashing the target of £1000 and ensuring Tallulah had the finance needed to keep her safe and pay for her upkeep at the stables where devoted Clare had cared for her.

Louise Jordan told: “Clare was just 42 when she unexpectedly lost her life. The family have requested no flowers, but instead are asking for donations to help look after her beloved horse (Tallulah) who’s missing her so much.”

A well loved member of the Kingstanding community, hundreds of people turned out for Clare’s funeral on Friday 13 October at Streetly Crematorium and for the wake held at New Oscott Social Club.

Greving partner Simon, 47, explained: “Clare was like Dr Doolittle, I’ve never known anyone love or care for animals like she did.

“When she was a girl, she found an injured squirrel and managed to tame her and have it as a pet for years, its unheard of to that with a wild squirrel.

“She was one of a kind. I’ve so many pets now, including four dogs; she would always get her way when it came to saving a dog from being put down. She should have been a vet.”

He added: “She even convinced me to get two horses, not one, when she told me Tallulah’s sister needed a home too. And she presented the horse to her friend as a Mother’s Day present, because she was like that.”

“However, we need to ensure Tallulah is looked after so she can stay with her sister at the stables in Walsall Wood. So many people have come forward, because she touched so many lives.”

Simon, an asbestos removal manager, added: “Kingstanding has just been amazing, so many people have offered their love and support.

“There is not a lot that can be said at the moment, we are all in shock. All I can do is give people a hug and thank them.”

To help support Tallulah and donate to the appeal, visit www.gofundme.com/f/keep-clares-horse-whos-missing-her-so-much – or search ‘Keep Clare’s horse’ on www.GoFundMe.com

NEWS: Nationwide campaign against dangerous driving holds public protest on the Chester Road today

Words and pics by Ed King

A nationwide campaign against dangerous driving is holding a public protest on the Chester Road in Erdington today.

Held at the crossroads off Gravelly Lane/Boldmere Road and Chester Road, the Safe Streets Now instigated protest will begin at 11am – running until 12noon, including a minute silence for all those killed and affected by road traffic accidents.

At the same spot in May this year, a cyclist was fatally hit by a car.

Running alongside similar protests across the country, co-ordinated by the National Safe Streets Now campaign, the Birmingham event will mirror those in Norwich, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Penarth, Oxford, Bristol, Bath, and Worcester.

Safe Streets Now chose the Gravelly Lane/Chester Road interchange as its Birmingham location due to the significant number of Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) that occur at busy crossroads across the city, as well as the fatal incident in May.

The national campaign is supported by organisations and charities including Brake, Roadpeace, Playting Out, and Action Vision Zero.

Dangerous driving has been a constituency wide concern across Erdington for many years, with ‘hotspots’ for fatal and life altering collisions being cited on Chester Road, Kingsbury Road, and the Tyburn Road.

All the UK-wide protests are being held on the same day the Department for Transport (DfT) will publish their Reported Road Casualties statistics for 2022.

According to the Government source, there were an estimated 1,711 RTC fatalities in Great Britain in 2022 with a further 29,742 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties. The report also sates there were 135,480 casualties ‘of all severities’ in the UK last year.

Protest organiser, Mat Macdonald, told Erdington Local: “Earlier this year there was a man on a bike killed at where we will be gathering on Saturday, and as part of a series of actions taking place across the country – calling for improvements to the safety of our streets – we will be gathering at that location. Essentially to reflect on the alarming trend of road deaths in the city and to have a minute’s silence to honour all the victims of road violence.”

He continued: “We’ll be gathering at the Chester Road Baptist Church… we’re going to have a few speeches, we’re going to hold some signage up, and then we’re going to culminate with the minutes silence at midday – which will be happening at several locations across the country simultaneously.”

Reverend Danny Brierley from Chester Road Baptist Church added: “I see every day the dangers of this junction. Far too many speeding cars also cross on ‘red’, creating danger for others.

“A cyclist was tragically hit by a car and died at these lights on 31 May. I was the first to reach him. Despite the amazing efforts of an off-duty firefighter and a passing A&E Doctor, then paramedics and the Air Ambulance, his injuries were too catastrophic. I still see his face.

“Despite in places having to cross four lanes of traffic, there is no pedestrian control at this junction. Parents and carers walking their kids to and from school have to chance it.

“I appreciate money is tight, but this is a dangerous junction. What price a life? As a Church Minister I’m forever saying every person is beautifully, wonderfully made in God’s image – priceless. No one deserves to lose their life due to dangerous driving at a dangerous junction.”

Organisers have asked anyone wishing to take part to meet in front of Chester Road Baptist Church, ready for the protest to begin at 11 am.

Organisers have further confirmed with Erdington Local that there will be “stewards at (the) event” helping manage activity and that “public safety is our top priority.”

For more on Safe Streets Now visit www.safestreetsnow.co.uk

NEWS: Free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – Saturday 19 August

Words & pics by Ed King

A free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day is being held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 19 August, running from 12noon to 4pm – organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Open to children of all ages, organisers are inviting local families to take part in a day a community sports, games, and outdoor activities.

Classic school sports day games will be held – such as three legged, sack, and egg and spoon races –  alongside more contemporary children’s sports, including soft archery and badminton.

All games will be free to enter and take part in, with stalls selling local gifts and refreshments available at The Womble Tea Tent. There will also be a raffle or tombola to help raise money for SHFT – the community group that fought to save, and now manages, the beloved local green space.

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council (BCC) tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

After a long fought battle with BCC, on 8 June this finally year SHFT signed a license agreement giving them official responsibility of the playing fields until 31 May 2024.

Championed for its importance to the local community, used by individuals and families for outdoor and wellbeing activities, the cherished parkland on Short Heath Road has hosted regular events for local residents – including the annual Pumpkin Hunt, which sees hundreds attend from all over the constituency.

With the UK Met Office predicting a comfortably sunny day on Saturday 19 August, event organisers are hoping the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day will offer more local families a chance to enjoy an active day together without breaking the bank.

A spokesperson from SHFT told: “SHFT have always believed that free events for the children of our community are important.

“Crucially, a free event like our Fun School Sports Day will mean all kids can join in and their parents/carers don’t need to pay a penny for it – unlike a visit to a zoo or adventure park.

“It’s all about inclusivity, and every child deserves to have FUN.”

For more on the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day, click here to visit the event’s Facebook page. 

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

FEATURE: “Our very own field of dreams,” FC Elite Academy to deliver football sessions on Short Heath Playing Fields

Words by Ed King & Estelle Murphy / Pics by Ed King & FC Elite Academy

Sport is set to return to Short Heath Playing Fields, as Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy have teamed up with Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) to deliver a programme of youth football coaching on the beloved green space.

Having secured planning permission to develop their existing home at Twickenham Park into a permanent sports facility and community hub, FC Elite Academy are now looking at Short Heath Playing Fields to train up some of their younger squad members.

The ambitious Kingstanding club are looking to develop their current College Road ground and are currently fundraising for the £70-80k they expect the project to cost – including building a 3G pitch, clubhouse, changing areas, café, on site office, and parking facilities.

Plans for Short Heath Playing Fields, revealed to Erdington Local, show the establishment of four football pitches, five training ‘grids’, a ‘runner’s route’ around the parkland, and an ‘event zone’ at the top end near Short Heath Road.

FC Elite Club Chairman, Mario Gerroni, told: “Football sessions will be taking place on Short Heath Playing Fields in May. FC Elite Academy and Short Heath Fields Trust are forming a new partnership.

“It’s a positive move for everyone involved and I am excited to see the growth of sports from Short Heath Playing Fields, bringing something back to the community.”

Short Heath Road resident, Ifan Stretkesia, added: “This is a good thing, it’s good that we are finally listened to and our children have something they can now do.

“We go to all the events at the (playing) field and my daughter wants to play football. There is nothing for children now, just Xbox. They need to grow strong.”

FC Elite Academy was set up in 2013 by Mr Gerroni, an experienced football coach who previously worked with Aston Villa and trained ‘soccer’ in North America. The club’s website describes its ambitions to ‘continue growing grass roots football in the North of Birmingham.’

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

But following years of fiercely fought campaigning by concerned residents, a recent letter from the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, confirmed the site will now only be sold as a ‘sports field’. The letter also confirmed SHFT would be give a 12-month license to manage the site and ‘establish themselves’ as effective landlords.

A report conducted by Birmingham City Council into the viability of using the playing fields for residential development further identified acid grass on the green space, making it harder to continue with their plans for housing. Further environmental concerns were raised by about the wildlife and plant life that would be affected by building on the parkland.

SHFT began talking to FC Elite Academy back in August 2020 about providing football on Short Heath Playing Fields, who were busy working on their planning application for the Twickenham Park site.

Plans to bring sport back to Short Heath Playing Fields, a parkland once used by several local schools for Physical Education, are now moving forward – with the club offering to both set up and maintain the football pitches and start sessions this May.

As part of the deal, all community events organised by SHFT will continue on the playing fields – including the annual Halloween event and Easter Egg Hunt. A special dog walking circuit will also be established, allowing the many local pet owners who use the green space to continue unheeded.

A spokesperson for SHFT told Erdington Local: “Mario from FC Elite becoming SHFT’s sporting partner and bringing football for 4 to 12 years olds back to Short Heath Fields is a community dream true, you might say our very own field of dreams.

“And with a guaranteed one year license from Education (at Birmingham City Council) you know those dreams will become a reality.”

SHFT added: “It’s been a hard fight to save the playing fields. Now it’s the people of Erdington’s chance to get involved and use the playing fields as a sports field again, this is a great opportunity for boys and girls of all ages 4 and up to come and train and take part.

“FC Elite have a proven track record and we are all looking forward to working together in the future.”

For more on FC Elite Academy visit www.fcelite.co.uk and for more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Community up in arms after “hurtful and ugly” vandalism destroys Covid memorial on Bleak Hill Park

Words & pics by Ed King

Local residents and community campaigners are up in arms after a “hurtful and ugly” act of vandalism recently destroyed a Covid memorial garden in Bleak Hill Park.

According to Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT), the action group that fundraised and built the Covid memorial, vandals snapped in half the ornamental cherry trees that stood centre place in the garden – before using the wooden stakes to try and smash the sign welcoming people to the site.

Away from the memorial garden, which is situated along the path cutting through the park from Short Heath Road to Marsh Lane, vandals also damaged a bin for dog mess SHFT had also installed.

Short Heath Fields Trust began building the Covid memorial garden on Bleak Hill Park after having plans approved by Birmingham City Council in March 2021 and securing funding from the National Lottery.

400 trees were further donated by the Woodland Trust, as part of their ‘Free Trees for Schools and Communities’ initiative.

Around 6000 bulbs have also been plated at the Bleak Hill Park Covid memorial, including British bluebells, snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils.

However, the community led project has seen challenges since the start – including plants being stolen, and the accidental destruction of 200 trees when ‘Council error’ mowed them down during routine park maintenance.

Local residents have also reported significant litter at the site, including broken booze bottles and drinks cans scattered around the two benches made especially from environmentally friendly recycled plastics.

A spokesperson form SHFT told Erdington Local: “This is a heartbreaking moment for the Trust and its members, many of whom have worked hard on this project.

“The community turned out in all weathers to make this a peaceful but engaging part of the park and a fitting memorial for Erdington people lost to Covid 19.

“This project has hit obstacles at every stage, including the Council mowing down the sapling trees in the area they told us to plant, to the plants being stolen. But this is by far the most hurtful and ugly.

“Local tempers are running high, and people are extremely disgusted at the mindless vandalism and destruction of the ornamental cherry trees in the memorial site and the dog mess bin further in the park.

“Locals are asking questions like ‘why?’ and ‘what possesses anyone to think this is OK?’”

But despite the cruel attack, which has brought widespread condemnation of those responsible, the local community are committed to rebuilding the Covid memorial garden and breathing new life into the project.

One of the four cherry tress remained untouched by the vandals, which residents and campaigners now see as a sign of hope for the community led Covid memorial garden.

A spokesperson for Short Heath Fields Trust added: “One tree remains, but that tree represents the hope and belief that we as a community will overcome and win against the adversity that stands in our way.

“The community will always win.”

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com/

NEWS: New Year Erdington bus passengers set to save 30% as part of Get Around for £2 campaign

Words by Ed King

This New Year, passengers on Erdington bus routes will be set to save nearly 30% on all single journeys – as the Government introduces it’s Get Around for £2 campaign.

Launched on Sunday 1 January and running until Friday 31 March, the public transport project will see over 130 bus operators slash their single fare prices on over 4600 routes across the county

With bus companies across the UK taking part in the New Year money saving scheme, all but two running through Erdington are taking part in the national initiative.

An average single fare on buses across the UK normally costs around £2.80. But the New Year prices are now capped at £2 until the end of March, following a £60 million Government investment to encourage people to use public transport.

Passengers using the following bus routes through Erdington, operated by West Midlands Travel and Arriva Midlands West, will benefit from the Get Around for £2 initiative:

96 (Chelmsley Wood – Kingstanding), 11A/11C (Birmingham Outer Circle), 28 (Small Heath – Great Barr), 66 (Birmingham – Sutton Coldfield), 77/77A (Walsall – Erdington), X3/X4/X5/X14/X15 (Birmingham – Sutton Coldfield), 110 (Birmingham – Tamworth)

Operators Diamond Bus and The Green Bus, who run the routes 600 (Brookvale Park – Erdington Circular) and 842 (Aldridge – King Edwards Handsworth Boys School) respectively, are not listed as taking part in the Get Around for £2 campaign.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “By helping passengers outside London save almost a third off the average single bus ticket and taking two million cars off the road, the £2 bus fare cap is a fantastic way to start the new year.

“Buses are a key part of our vision for a clean, efficient and modern transport network that is affordable for everyone. That’s why we’re investing £60 million to encourage everyone to hop on the bus and ‘Get Around for £2’.”

As part of the National Bus Strategy, published in 2021, the New Year public transport initiative also forms part of the Government’s Help for Households campaign, supporting people affected by the rising cost of living.

A press release from the Department for Transport further stated: ‘The Government will continue to work closely with bus operators and local authorities and consider future support to help passengers continue accessing reliable and affordable bus services after March.’

Norman Baker, Head of External Affairs at Campaign for Better Transport, added: “Affordable bus travel really is a win-win.

“Capping bus fares in this way will help struggling households, cut traffic congestion and carbon emissions, and inject new life into dwindling bus services.”

To see the full list of bus services you can save on in Birmingham as part of the Get Around for £2 campaign, visit www.gov.uk/guidance/2-bus-fare-cap

NEWS: Halloween Pumpkin Hunt returns to Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 29 October

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by SHFT

On Saturday 29 October, Short Heath Playing Fields will see the return of the annual Halloween Pumkin Hunt event – as organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Completely free to attend and open to children (and big kids) of all ages, the SHFT Pumpkin Hunt has become a firm,  fun, and frightening fixture on the local community calendar.

Running from 5m to 8pm, people are invited to take part in the park wide ‘hunt’ – looking for the handmade ‘pumpkins’ hidden across Short Heath Playing Fields.

Handcrafted by SFHT Chair Estelle Murphy and hidden across the playing fields by the committee members and local volunteers that make up SHFT, the illuminated pumpkins each have different Halloween based motifs – such as bats, ghouls, and grinning Jack-o’-lanterns.

People entering the playing fields from Short Heath Road will be asked to find and draw the ten pumpkins hidden across site, which can be exchanged with SHFT event volunteers for a special surprise treat at the end.

Alongside the Pumpkin Hunt, there will be fancy dress competitions for ‘Best Dressed Under Five’, ‘Best Dressed Boy’, ‘Best Dressed Girl’, and ‘Best Dressed Adult’ – as well a pound entry raffle, and an array of stalls selling hot chocolate, sweets, bath bombs, scents, and other fancy goods.

There will also be a mystery haunted tunnel, where those that dare can enter and face the ghoulish surprises inside… suitable for all ages, but with adult supervision advised for younger children.

Organisers also suggest people attending should bring their own torch and a sturdy pair of shoes suitable for walking across parkland in the dark.

Following on from the success of the past two years, the SHFT Halloween Pumkin Hunt on Short Heath playing fields has welcomed hundreds of families – with people coming from Kingstanding to Castle Vale to take park in the now annual event. Situated right on the No28 bus route, Short Heath Playing Fields is accessible across the constituency.

Organised and managed by Short Heath Fields Trust, the popular Pumpkin Hunt is one of the first regular events to be held on the parkland – following a fiercely fought battle to save the green space from development.

In August 2020, a campaign to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ was launched by local residents to challenge Birmingham City Council’s plans to build an 84 strong housing estate on the parkland.

Following over two years years of fierce negotiations, the housing development plans were finally scrapped by Birmingham City Council, and SHFT – which became a formally constituted groups from the original campaign group – are currently in talks with the Council about a lease to take over the official management of the site.

Organisers of the Pumpkin Hunt and other events on the playing fields, SHFT have long stated the area should be preserved as a community asset – used for health, wellbeing, community sports, activities, and events.

SHFT Chair Estelle Murphy told Erdington Local: “After the amazing success of the last few years the Pumpkin Hunt is back again. We have seen visitors from Castle Vale all the way through to Kingstanding.

“It’s a great opportunity for families to have some fun outdoors together. We always look forward to seeing friends we have made through previous events and making new ones.

“We have had some amazing fancy dress costumes over the last couple of years and we are looking forward to all the monsters, goblins, and witches we will meet this year.

“Bring a torch if you are coming after dark, but turn it off in the mystery haunted tunnel, if you dare…”

For more on the Short Heath Fields Trust Halloween Pumpkin Hunt visit www.facebook.com/events/607795361128944

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.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: 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