NEWS: Castle Vale Councillor to hold ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ at Greenwood Academy on 18 May

Words & pics by Ed King / Profile pic supplied by Cllr Ray Goodwin

Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin (Labour) is to hold a special ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ to address concerns of crime and policing on the estate.

Scheduled for Saturday 18 May, the event will be held in Greenwood Academy’s main school hall from 1:30pm – open to all and free to attend.

Local residents and community groups will be invited, as will the local police force, representatives from the estate’s main housing provider The Pioneer Group, and the Erdington constituency MP Paulette Hamilton.

Cllr Goodwin has informed Erdington Local he will further be inviting the sitting West Midlands Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, who will both begin their new terms in office from 2 May.

Cllr Goodwin has organised the public meeting after being “fed up” with the “hands off approach” to policing on Castle Vale, and the dangers a lack of visible police presence can allow.

Having held a previous public meeting about safety on the estate in 2023, Cllr Goodwin has pushed forward this year’s ‘crime summit’ after police seemingly ignored local witness reports of gun shots following a “violent disorder” on the High Street on Thursday 5 April.

According to the police’s initial statement issued on Friday 6 April, the attack, which took place in broad daylight in and around the Nisa convenience store, was isolated to “four masked men – understood to be carrying machetes”.

However, multiple Castle Vale locals reported hearing what they believed to be gun shots and took to social media to warn others about the incident.

Cllr Goodwin repeatedly petitioned police to escalate their investigation and take seriously the potential involvement of firearms, even taking them to where spent shotgun cartridges had been found near the scene of the crime.

Days later and after heavy rainfall, police returned to continue with forensic investigations, stating they had received “a report of a firearm being discharged” and were “keeping an open mind” about the nature of the assault.

Cllr Goodwin told Erdington Local: “Like many residents, I am fed up with what feels like a hands off approach from the police when it comes to crime on Castle Vale. I understand budgets have been cut, but the lack of police presence on the estate is a serious concern.

“Plus, the seeming unwillingness to listen to local residents is totally unacceptable – we should be working together to keep Castle Vale safe; residents should not have to push the police into action over reports of serious crime.”

Crime on Castle Vale is often a cause for concern amongst the local residents, businesses, and civic stakeholders who live and work on the estate. In a recent Ward meeting, one of the action plan points was how to make Castle Vale ‘bold and safe’ – with a formal request to see the estate’s CCTV upgraded featured on the meeting minutes.

The absence of a local police station in Castle Vale has also often been criticised, following its closure after West Midlands Police announced an initial 28 community stations were getting axed in 2015. The building, situated at the end of Castle Vale High Street, has now been converted into apartments.

But whilst the impact of crime and the loss of community policing is felt across the city, there are a mix of opinions about how these issues directly affect life on the north Birmingham estate.

One Castle Vale resident told Erdington Local: “I don’t think the policing on Castle Vale is any worse than other areas of Birmingham. The recent incident (on 5 April) highlighted the fact that the police need to listen to the residents more and take on board what they say. 

“If it hadn’t been for Cllr Ray Goodwin and Erdington Local, they would not have investigated the firearms involvement. A bigger police presence would be appreciated at night when the street cruising and racing around the estate is rife.”

However, another Castle Vale local and young mother added: “I can’t let my children play out on the estate due to the amount of violent crime which goes unchecked. If there was a more visible police presence there wouldn’t be as many teenagers out to cause trouble. 

“Youngsters on motorbikes race round the estate and, even if reported, the police don’t come to investigate or find them. We also need the CCTV system to be fully functioning and monitored 24 hours a day.”

Organised by Cllr Ray Goodwin, the ‘Crime and Community Safety Summit’ will be held at Greenwood Academy from 1:30pm on Saturday 18 May – free to attend and open to all.

Updates will be posted online at www.facebook.com/thisiscastlevale and on Erdington Local

NEWS: Police “keeping an open mind” as investigations continue following the attack on Castle Vale High Street last week

Words by Ed King / Pics from the scene supplied by Castle Vale residents

Police were back on Castle Vale today, cordoning off areas around the High Street and St Cuthbert’s Church as they search for more clues after the widely reported attack on the High Street last week.

Following the discovery of spent shotgun cartridges near the scene of the crime, and continued reports of local residents having heard gun fire, officers are now “keeping an open mind” as they continue their investigations.

On Friday 5 April, police responded to an emergency call at around 5:10pm where masked individuals were seen brandishing machetes and chasing another man into the Nisa convenience store on the High Street.

No injuries were reported, and within 72 hrs the police had arrested an 18 year old and a 16 year old for violent disorder.

Under the Public Order Act 1986, violent disorder can carry a jail term of up to five years if the accused ‘used or intended to use firearm or other highly dangerous weapon.’

But from the most immediate reports, including those who claimed to have witnessed the attack or the immediate aftermath, many members of the public also told they had heard what they believed to be gun fire – taking to social media to warn others on the close knit North Birmingham estate.

The first post on the popular Castle Vale Community Facebook Page, following the incident, read: “Shots fired up by Nisa… 4 lads with long blades.

“Speed off in a car people please get your kids in doors as there’s a lot about the high Street. Armed police now here.”

One local mother also posted: “My son was by St Cuthberts (Church) when he heard the shots and saw lads with machetes running into a car. The car was not far from him and he turned straight back around.”

The initial response from West Midlands Police, however, was that there was “no evidence of any gun being fired”.

But following continued reports from people living around the area, and the discovery of spent shotgun cartridges near the scene, Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin (Labour) petitioned the police to step up their investigation.

On Saturday 6 April, the day after the initial attack, police returned to Castle Vale – using official police tape to cordon off the Pitstop Service Station and continue their forensic investigations.

Then again earlier today, Monday 8 April, blue and white tape was back up around the Tangmere Drive end of the High Street and St Cuthbert’s Church – with officers at the scene telling members of the public it was related to the attack last Friday.

In a report issued later, a spokesperson for West Midlands Police confirmed: “An investigation has been launched into violent disorder that took place in Castle Vale on Friday (5 April).

“We were called to reports of an armed group chasing another man into a shop on the High Street at around 5.10pm and a report of a firearm being discharged.”

They continued: “Cartridges have also been recovered nearby, and will be examined to see if they are linked to the investigation.

“We’re keeping an open mind and we’d ask anyone with information to contact us via Live Chat on our website, or by calling 101, and quote 20/380920/24.”

West Midlands Detective Chief Inspector James Spencer added: “We understand the worry this has caused the community and are doing everything we can to establish what took place.

“Today we will continue CCTV enquiries and will be speaking to witnesses. We will also have our forensics team searching the area.”

He added: “There will be an increased police presence in the area this week to offer reassurance to the local community.

“Please come and speak to us if you have any concerns or information.”

But one concerned Castle Vales resident, who lives near the crime scene and wished to remain anonymous, told Erdington Local: “I would like to know why the police have taken three days to investigate the reports of gunfire from local residents and eyewitnesses. 

“The residents of this estate have been let down yet again. If this had been a more affluent area of Birmingham the police would have been on it immediately and the relevant areas cordoned off for forensic investigation.”

They added: “The police were told there were gunshots, gun cartridges were found, what more evidence did they need.”

After hearing the updated statement from West Midlands Police, Councillor Ray Goodwin also commented: “I welcome the development that West Midlands Police have now acknowledged that residents reported fire arms being discharged.

“I am concerned that the community was not listened to on Friday; what’s important now is the police ensure there is a presence and the community feels safety in the community they live in.”

Following the attack last week, Cllr Goodwin has previously promised to hold a ‘Community Crime and Safety Summit’ to address concerns over crime and policing on the Castle Vale estate.

No date has been set for the summit, although Erdington Local has been told that following the elections for West Midlands Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner on 2 May – whomever is in office will be invited to attend.

The investigation into the attack continues.

If anyone has information regarding the attack on 5 April on Castle Vale, or that might aid the investigation, please contact West Midlands Police via their Live Chat: https://www.west-midlands.police.uk/contact-us/live-chat

Alternatively, people can call 101 and quote the crime reference number: 20/380920/24

NEWS: Police cordon off Pitstop Service Station after shotgun cartridges found following disturbance on Castle Vale

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Castle Vale residents

West Midlands Police have now cordoned off the Pitstop Service Station on Castle Vale, after a local resident found spent shotgun cartridges around the corner from where the violent attack that took place on Castle Vale High Street on Friday afternoon.

Following reports of a disturbance on Friday 5 April, where local residents heard what they believed to be gunshot fire and saw masked men wielding machetes, West Midlands Police (WMP) have been investigating on the estate.

In a statement issued by WMP earlier today, the force confirmed that whilst they acknowledged there had been “masked men… carrying machetes” they were not treating this as a gun related crime.  

But following the findings of shotgun cartridges from a local resident, and the insistence of Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin that the police treat this as a potential gun related crime, WMP have now come back to the North Birmingham estate to continue with forensic invetigations.

Having reported the incident earlier today and been told by WMP that “at this stage” the police had “no evidence of a viable firearm being fired”, Erdington Local has asked for any updates or developments .

At the time of writing, Erdington Local has been told of no immediate danger to any residents on Castle Vale and police presence in the area is purely investigational.

In their statement issued earlier today, WMP advised: “We’re investigating after weapons were brandished during disorder in High Street, Castle Vale, at just after 5.10pm yesterday (5 April).

“Up to four masked men – understood to be carrying machetes – chased another man into a shop. They then fled and no-one was injured.

“We’re carrying out CCTV – and other enquiries – and anyone with information can contact us via Live Chat on our website, or by calling 101, and quote 20/380920/24.”

Erdington Local has asked West Midlands Police for any updates on the investigation or possible threat to public safety.

NEWS: Castle Vale councillor to hold ‘Community Crime and Safety Summit’ after reports of shots fired and men carrying machetes on High Street

Words & pics by Ed King

Castle Vale’s Councillor Ray Goodwin (Labour) is set to hold an emergency ‘Community Crime and Safety Summit’ following reports of shots fired and men carrying machetes on the North Birmingham estate.

On Friday 5 April at around 5pm, several people posted messages saying they heard gun fire on or around the High Street and seen men wielding large knives – with some saying they had seen armed police and emergency services attend the scene.

Cllr Goodwin posted updates on his own Facebook page, confirming he had visited the area to “make sure residents are safe” and that the police had attended, but that things were “getting back to normal”.

He further added, in response to the incident and growing concerns over crime and policing on the estate: “We will be holding another Community Safety meeting… to talk about some of the issues we’re facing (on Castle Vale) as clearly some of these issues have not gone away.”

Posts on the popular Castle Vale Community Facebook page showed that some Castle Vale locals were even almost caught up in the violence, being close enough to witness aspects of the attack and even see those involved flee the scene.

Adam Stansbie posted: “Shots fired up by Nisa… 4 lads with long blades. Speed of in a car people please get your kids in doors as there’s a lot about the high Street. Armed police now here.”

Jess Bolton quickly confirmed: “Yes seen armed police car go along Manby Road however went off the estate at speed not long ago.”

Thankfully, at the time of writing no reports of anyone being injured have yet been made.

But the reality of how easily innocent bystanders could get hurt became all too apparent to those with families in the area.

On Friday afternoon, not long after the first reports of the incident came in, one local mother posted: “My son was by St Cuthberts (Church) when he heard the shots and saw lads with machetes running into a car. The car was not far from him and he turned straight back around.”

She added: “He’s a grown man and it shook him up. My husband has just drove by to go pick him up and there’s police and kids all dressed in black hanging around. Hopefully cameras will catch something. Really hope nobody was hurt!”

In a Facebook Live video from the scene, Cllr Goodwin further identified the need for the Castle Vale police station to be reopened and for “a proper police presence on this estate”.

Castle Vale was one of the first community police stations to be closed across the West Midlands, following the announcement made by West Midlands Police in 2015 that they would be shutting an initial 28 facilities to save money.

To watch the full video from Cllr Ray Goodwin, click here.

Cllr Goodwin later issued the following statement to Erdington Local: “Castle Vale is a strong vibrant community full of amazing individuals which is why tonight’s incident is more shocking.

“I am determined to deal with this issue head on and stop crime increasing further. This is why I am announcing we will be organizing a Community Crime and Safety Summit. Time, date, and venue will be announced shortly.

“I will be inviting the Police and Crime Commissioner, other local partners, and the MP Paullette Hamilton.

“I will be rolling my sleeves up to ensure more resources and better visible policing are allocated to Castle Vale.”

Erdington Local contacted West Midlands Police and West Midlands Ambulence Service for any updates or information.

West Midlands have released the following initial statement: “We’re investigating after weapons were brandished during disorder in High Street, Castle Vale, at just after 5.10pm yesterday (5 April).

“Up to four masked men – understood to be carrying machetes – chased another man into a shop. They then fled and no-one was injured.

“We’re carrying out CCTV – and other enquiries – and anyone with information can contact us via Live Chat on our website, or by calling 101, and quote 20/380920/24.”

For more on Councillor Ray Goodwin visit www.facebook.com/thisiscastlevale