OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

Our local Libraries in North Birmingham are vital community hubs helping to support residents of all ages. Erdington Library in particularly has a brilliant children’s library, excellent staff and services. While the building itself, a Carnegie Library, is listed and a key heritage site on our High Street.

A recent investigation has revealed in the last two years 92,950 people have used Erdington Library while 31,586 people have a membership and 67,779 books have been issued. Making Erdington Library one of the busiest libraries in the city.

As residents you will know Cllr Gareth Moore and I have been fighting over the last few years for the repairs and investment into the Library that are required to ensure that the service is what residents would rightly expect.

Sadly having effectively bankrupted the Council, through their equal pay crisis and botched IT rollout, the Labour administration have now announced that they are closing 25 libraries across the city. Meaning that Erdington Library, along with all the rest in North Birmingham are at risk of closing and being sold off.

Cllr Gareth Moore and I are clear that Erdington Library, along with Kingstanding and Perry Common libraries, must be saved. It would be totally unacceptable for it to close and so we have launched a campaign to protect and save Erdington Library from closure.

Residents can rest assured we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to save our libraries.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

 

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

Sadly, January has seen the Labour Council announce they are putting up Council Tax by up to 21% across the next two years.

That means since the 2012 election, when the Labour administration was elected on a promise not to increase Council Tax, the average resident is paying £855 more, (a 77% increase in Council Tax) since 2012 by the end of next year.

It’s disgraceful that residents are being made to pay more for less services to make up for the failure of the Council Administration.

Before Christmas we had the pleasure of attending many of the wonderful Christmas events that were held; including those at Erdington Abbey Church Hall and St Barnabas School. Thank you to everyone involved with events to share the season with residents, it is really appreciated. 

Frustratingly it’s been another year of botched Christmas refuse collections. The Council advertised a new way of collecting the waste this year – effectively everyone had two collections across three weeks.

However, the dates they published didn’t match the date collections occurred meaning many residents missed refuse/recycling collections. We’ve raised this with the Council.

In what seemed like a trial for Labour imposing fortnightly collections in the future it instead proved why it would cause a massive increase in litter on the streets, e.g. Jarvis Road became covered in uncollected waste.

We’ve demand improvements from the Council and for rubbish to be cleared.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

Last month saw the latest Police All Out Day on Erdington High St, which Cllr Gareth Moore and I are pictured taking part in.

We’ve been working with the local Police and partner agencies to try and increase the enforcement of the Public Space Protection Order and secure increased visibility of Police locally. The regular Police All Out Days are a key part of increasing that visibility and thank you to the local officers for their efforts in recent months. 

Gareth and I were proud to once again help switch on the Christmas Lights this year at the Erdington BID Christmas Light Switch on event. Thank you to John, the BID manager, for his work in pulling the event together again.

Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign against the recent attempt to convert a terraced house on Orchard Road into a children’s care home. The Council policy is clear that terraced houses should not be used due to the impact it has on the surrounding area and, thankfully, the Council rejected the application following the campaign.

Residents will recall that Labour’s equal pay crisis has caused the Council to become effectively bankrupt. We will be doing all we can to protect local services and sites from Labour’s axe when they announce their new budget.

Finally, December brings a wide range of amazing community events to celebrate Christmas in Erdington – Gareth and I look forward to seeing you at some of them during the next few weeks!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas.

(This column was written for initial publication in the Erdington Local newspaper – published on 8 December)

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Recent weeks have seen further developments in the effective ‘bankruptcy’ at Labour run Birmingham City Council, with the external auditors and press raising concerns about what appears to be inappropriate and intimidatory behaviour and toxic working relationships between the Labour Party and senior officers. 

Locally, Cllr Gareth Moore and I have been monitoring the progress of the improvements to the play area and outdoor gym in Rookery Park (pictured inspecting the work recently).

The play area work has been funded by money we secured from the redevelopment of Rookery House, and we supported the Friends of Rookery Park to secure funding for the outdoor gym equipment.

We have continued our work to help keep Erdington safe and are delighted that attempts by an amusement arcade to secure 24 hour opening hours on the High Street have been rejected. This would have attracted ASB and was totally unnecessary.

We have also seen a number of other successes recently with our campaign to retain the Erdington Police Station as the base for local Police teams. This will ensure the building is retained allowing, a possible reopening of the front desk in the future, while also ensuring our Police teams are based locally. 

We are also delighted to announce that we’ve successfully fought to keep Ticket Offices at Erdington, Chester Road and Gravelly Hill Train Stations open following the recent consultation about closing them. 

Thank you to everyone who signed our petitions as part of these campaigns.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

NEWS: Meeting held to tackle “endemic” crime and anti-social behaviour in Erdington Town Centre

Words & pics by Ed King

A meeting was held last week between West Midlands Police and High Street retailers, looking at ways to tackle the “endemic” crime and anti-social behaviour in Erdington Town Centre.

In attendance from West Midlands Police were the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, and Chief Superintendent Richard North – alongside Inspector Shameem Ahmed and Seargent Nicola Hooper, who oversee the Erdington police teams.

The meeting was held at St Barnabas Church, Erdington High Street, and was closed off to members of the public.

Representing the local retail community were managers and staff from a handful of High Street businesses including Superdrug, Card Factory, Erdington Pet Centre, The Church Tavern, and BoyleSports UK – the latter petitioning the local police to tackle alleged drug dealing outside their outlet at 210A High Street.

“Why can’t we have a dispersal order?” questioned a senior staff member from BoyleSports UK, asking the police directly what they are doing to challenge the alleged dealers.

“I don’t want these people outside my shop…” she continued, “they need to be gone, they’re a blight on the High Street. It’s relentless, they start dealing from 8am.”

Organised by the Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton and Erdington Business Improvement District (EBID), last week’s meeting was the continuation of conversations between the High Street business community and law enforcement representatives that began in February this year.

But whilst many retailers welcome any attempts at addressing the issues affecting the High Street, many others have pulled back from the meetings – telling Erdington Local they have stopped engaging with local police or politicians, who they feel are failing to get to grips with the problems or offer any effective solutions.

When the lack of local businesses in attendance was raised at the recent meeting, one longstanding High Street retailer explained: “The shop keepers have been at the first and fourth meetings, and they don’t see any change. What’s the point of calling the police when it takes them over one hour to respond.”

Another retailer supported the frustrations reportedly felt by many High Street businesses, telling the group: “There are no consequences to what they (the shoplifters) do. And there’s a lot of apathy from (High Street) retailers… nothing seems to get done.”

However, Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, who’s office invited local business to attend the meeting last week, was resolute that local businesses had been given adequate chance to be involved. She told: “We went to virtually every shop on the High Street… the people who aren’t here don’t want to be here. We can only work with what we’ve got.”

Further addressing the local businesses, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster – who has visited Erdington High Street several times – told: “It’s (crime and anti-social behaviour) endemic… we’re hearing about problems again and again. The issue is not being gripped… for a variety of different explanations.”

He continued: “A big part of the answer is making sure we rebuild community policing… visible policing helps keep families and communities safe,” before warning retailers “don’t underestimate the task” the police had in front of them to tackle crime on Erdington High Street.

Chief Superintendent Richard North also confirmed he had “seen some of the challenges and appreciate the frustrations”, and that he would “defend the officers here who are dealing with crimes across the constituency”.

He further told how West Midlands Police were recruiting new officers, but it would take time to train any incoming staff “up to independent control status”. Although Chief Superintendent Richard North did confirm that “going forward” there should be “more officers” deployed into Erdington.

He added: “As recruitment settles down, we should be in a better position.”

Outside of recruiting and training new police officers, there is also a ’10 Point Plan’ currently being worked through by Birmingham City Council to address issues on the High Street from street lighting to police presence.

Ending the meeting everyone in attendance was invited to comment, with Erdington Ward Councillor Gareth Moore telling: “It’s great that we met today but there needs to be more progression… I don’t want to meet again in a couple of months and be talking about the same things.”

Paulette Hamilton MP added: “I want to be able to walk up and down that High Street and feel as safe as I used to.”

The next meeting, which is open to all retailers in Erdington Town Centre, is scheduled for February 2024.

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

I was honoured to join, along with local school children, the Erdington Rotary Club this month for the opening of their Peace Garden at Spring Lane Playing Fields.

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped build this lovely addition to our local area.

Much of Cllr Gareth Moore and my work this month has been connected to the damning section 114 notices about the Council effectively being declared bankrupt due to equal pay bills and the Leader of the Council refusing to act to prevent the Council collapsing despite warning from auditors, the opposition, and officers at Birmingham City Council.

Therefore, we have been meeting with officers to discuss protecting Erdington Library and to try and ensure plans to regenerate the former Erdington Baths site continue to go ahead.

We have also been meeting with officers to discuss what plans the Council have for other assets locally, such as office blocks, and to stress they must not sell any of them for exempt accommodation.

We are clear that our heritage/cultural assets and green spaces must be protected. They were left for the people of Erdington to enjoy in perpetuity, not to be flogged off to pay for the mistakes of the Labour administration. 

We have also been pressing the Council to ensure the improvements to Rookery Park we secured still happen. We are delighted to confirm they will still go ahead, following a short delay, and work begins in early October. 

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

The last few months have seen progress on Cllr Gareth Moore and my efforts to tackle crime and disorder across the Erdington Ward. We both supported the recent police all out day on the High Street.

This has seen approximately 800 illegal vapes seized from two premises which have been referred to trading standards with a view to further action, while during July over 20 PSPO tickets have been issued to individuals.

As a director of Erdington Town Centre Business Improvement District I’m delighted we’ve been able to secure an additional High Street warden.

Police have been able to act on intelligence from residents and a local Neighbourhood Watch group to be able to raid a property on Dunvegan Road and remove over 250 cannabis plants. This follows recent seizures and arrests on Chester Road.

We always urge residents to report any information they have to the police as, while it may not instantly lead to something happening, this intelligence is added to other reports and can lead to arrests like those above.

Everyone in Erdington can help make our area safer by reporting anything suspicious to the police.

This month saw the return of travellers to Rookery Park. We secured their eviction and a deep clean of the park and have had concrete blocks placed to prevent the gates being broken open again whilst a longer-term solution is found to keep the park secure.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

(Ed’s note: This column was first published in the Erdington Local newspaper on 4 September, before the announcement of a Section 114 notice issued by Birmingham City Council.)

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

This month Cllr Gareth Moore and I have been finalising the design for the improvements to the play area in Rookery Park. The Council will be starting this work in September having decided they could not finish the work in time to have the play area reopen for the school holidays.

We have also been pushing the Council to act on the state the former gatehouse for the park has been allowed to get in to and we’ve been informed work should be happening over the summer to improve it.

This month, West Midlands Railway launched a consultation on the closure of ticket offices across the region including at Erdington and Chester Road Train Stations. Gareth and I have collected a petition opposing the closure and submitted it along with an objection to the consultation. An announcement on the consultation result is expected later this year.

Following the recent success of stopping the conversion of the Royal Oak into a HMO, I have launched a petition opposing a similar application to convert 120 Gravelly Lane.

You can see details of how to object to the application on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

This month we welcomed the Birmingham Jazz & Blues Festival to Erdington. It was great to see so many residents enjoying the shows. This is a great new addition to Erdington and is hopefully something that can be grown in the coming years.

Thank you to the Town Centre Manager, Oikos Café and the Jazz festival or making this possible.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

Words by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

June has been another busy month, here is just some of what Cllr Gareth Moore and I have been up to in recent weeks.

We have continued to work with local Police and High Street businesses to make the High Street safer. We have written to the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police as part of our on-going call for average speed cameras on the Chester Road to help tackle people racing along the road.

This is something we have been raising with the Council for a number of years – sadly this site has seen a number of fatalities in recent years, the last leading to a reduction in the speed limit from 40 to 30mph. The Chester Road has a number of vulnerable locations including Pype Hayes Park and the Yenton School.

We are also speaking to the Council about what improvements to road safety are possible at the sites of the other recent horrific crashes locally, and will update residents when there is progress on the options.

We also supported the Neighbourhood Watch meeting to discuss HMO’s and Exempt Accommodation. Earlier this month I joined with colleagues to meet with members of the Eastern European community across North Birmingham to discuss local democracy and issues.

Finally, I have launched a petition opposing the plan to convert the Royal Oak on the corner of Marsh Lane/Short Heath Road into a 10 bed HMO. You can sign the petition at facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews

OPINION: Erdington Cllr Robert Alden, Leader of Birmingham Conservatives – June ‘23

Pic supplied by Cllr Robert Alden (Erdington Ward, Conservative)

(Ed’s Note: This column was written to be published in the Erdington Local newspaper – out from 5 June)

Recently Birmingham City Council tried to convert Erdington Library into a Youth Centre. Cllr Gareth Moore and I jumped into action to fight to save Erdington Library – a campaign that was thankfully successful. This is how the campaign unfolded.

Cabinet Member Jayne Francis (at the time of writing, Head of Service for Libraries) and Cllr Robert Alden at Erdington Library

On 28 April, a Friday, Birmingham City Council announced they had submitted two planning applications to turn Erdington Library into a Youth Centre and extend the building.

Understandably residents contacted us, furious with the Council for attempting to close down our much loved and well used Library. On Saturday 29 April the library had over 250 visitors by lunchtime, proving how popular the service is.

By 1 May we had launched a petition demanding the Labour Administration at the Council scrap their plans to close Erdington Library.

On 2 May I met with the Chief Executive of the City Council to raise residents’ concerns and demand Erdington Library is saved.

On 4 May I met with the Cabinet Member and Head of Service for Libraries to discuss the situation.  This was a constructive discussion and that afternoon I emailed the Youth Services department and Library Services demanding the planning applications were withdrawn and a meeting set up to discuss how to protect Erdington Library and the service going forward.

Following our interventions, the Council withdrew the planning applications and have placed any changes on hold. In the coming weeks we will be meeting the services and pushing to protect and improve Erdington Library for years to come.

For more from Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonNews