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

NEWS: Erdington teenager found not guilty of Cody Fisher Boxing Day murder

Words by Ed King

An Erdington teenager accused of murdering footballer Cody Fisher (23) on Boxing Day 2022 has been found not guilty, as the highly publicised trial came to an end at Birmingham Crown Court earlier today – 25 March.

Reegen Anderson (19) from Erdington was cleared of murder, but found guilty on a separate charge of affray.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, affray refers to violent conduct in public setting ‘such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness… to fear for their own personal safety’ and could carry a sentence of up to three years following a conviction.

Anderson’s co-accused, Remy Gordon (23) from Rednal and Kami Carpenter (22) from Kings Norton, were both found guilty of murder and could be facing life imprisonment. Remy Gordon was also found guilty of affray.

All three will be sentenced at a later date.

(l-r Remy Gordon, Kami Carpenter, Reegan Anderson)

Cody Fisher was fatally stabbed at Crane nightclub, Adderley Street, Digbeth, on Boxing Day 2022 – pronounced dead at the scene despite the best efforts of emergency services attending the incident.

He had been a semi-professional footballer from Redditch who had been part of the Blues Academy and played for teams in Bromsgrove, Stourbridge, and Stratford.

Following the killing, Remy Gordon and Kami Carpenter were initially arrested – with Erdington’s Reegan Anderson the last to be formally charged on 12 January 2023.

During the trial, the jury at Birmingham Crown Court heard how the defendants targeted Cody Fisher after a “minor altercation” at Popworld in Solihull, two days before the fatal stabbing.

Evidence showed Remy Gordon had used social media to try and identify Cody Fisher, and that both Gordon and Carpenter discussed how they could potentially smuggle a knife past security at Crane nightclub, where it was believed Cody Fisher would be on Boxing Day.

Further evidence showed Remy Gordon and Kami Carpenter approaching Cody Fisher on the dancefloor and “immediately being aggressive towards him”, where he has fatally stabbed through the heart and the murder weapon left “embedded” in his chest.

The jury also heard how Reegen Anderson had not known his co-accused for long and had met them through social media.

He told the jury: “I was added to a Snapchat group chat called Ravers Assemble. I’m not thinking these lads carry knives, I thought it was people who liked going out to raves.

“I had known these lads (Gordon, Carpenter) for two months.”

When questioned by Matthew Brook KC, he added: “These are not really my close friends, I have other friends I chat to on social media, I’m not always on this Snapchat group.

“I just went out for a good time.”

In a statement issued by the CPS following the verdict, David Parsons said: “Cody Fisher was an innocent party who was just trying to enjoy a night out with his girlfriend and friends when he was senselessly killed.

“The defendants showed a complete disregard for his life and their actions have robbed Cody Fisher of his future and caused immeasurable pain to his family.

“These two men (Gordon, Carpenter) lied and denied their involvement in Mr Fisher’s murder but we were able to present clear and compelling evidence including that from DNA, messaging on social media, witness testimony and CCTV footage which proved the murder was premeditated and that all three defendants were responsible for Mr Fisher’s death.

“The jury’s verdict reflects the gravity of their actions. Our thoughts are with Cody Fisher’s loved ones.”

NEWS: Responsibility for crime fighting strategy in Erdington to stay with Police and Crime Commissioner after courts reject Home Office appeal

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pics by Ed King

The responsibility for a strategy to fight crime in Erdington and across the West Midlands will stay with the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) office, after the Court of Appeal rejected a Home Office appeal which would have seen the role taken over by the West Midlands Mayor.

On Friday 22 March, judges at the Court of Appeal denied legal requests made by the Home Office that countered a previous High Court ruling, made earlier in March, blocking the Government from amalgamating the PCC’s office into the West Midlands Combined Authority’s portfolio.

The argument presented by the Home Office was that the Mayor’s office could be more effective in supporting a crime strategy, alongside their other roles and responsibilities across the region.

However, the legal battle began when Labour’s incumbent PCC for the West Midlands, Simon Foster, challenged the Home Office over their decision to combine the roles – arguing the required consultation had not been honoured and repeatedly calling the move a “hostile takeover.”

At the time, Mr Foster said: “The Mayor’s hostile takeover of PCC powers represents nothing more than his own personal vanity project and it is in no-one’s interests, save that of the Mayor. I am concerned that this hostile takeover will mean more cuts, more chaos and more crime.”

He added: “This is a matter that is entirely of the Mayor’s own making. I have repeatedly advised him against this shocking waste of taxpayers’ money. The Home Secretary and the Mayor are more than happy to spend taxpayers’ money on legal costs when it suits them.

“The people of the West Midlands will be rightly concerned that the Mayor’s cynical, divisive, unnecessary and undemocratic power grab, that has never secured a local democratic mandate in the West Midlands, would waste up to a shocking £3.5 million.”

England and Wales saw the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) in 2012, following campaign pledges made by both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to reform policing procedure in the 2010 General Election.

Mr Foster was voted as PCC for the West Midlands in May 2021, retraining the role for Labour since it first came into being in 2012.

However, last November the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, agreed with requests made by the West Midlands’ Conservative Mayor, Andy Street, for the West Midlands Combined Authority to absorb the PCC’s responsibilities – which became possible following the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act passed in 2023.

Most local police forces are represented by a Police and Crime Commissioner, but since the change in legislation last year, London, Manchester, and West Yorkshire have all devolved the powers of the PCC to the regional Mayor’s office.

But in what could be seen as an overtly political move, to take regional policing powers away from the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner and transfer it to the Conservative Mayor, has created frustration on both sides of the aisle.

Richard Parker is the Labour candidate for Mayor and if he beats Andy Street in the elections on 2 May, he will now be in the position of having fewer powers due to a Labour PCC’s legal challenge.

A Labour source told Erdington Local: “Simon Foster’s legal challenge was the last thing we needed.

“It has confused the optics of the election. We are favourites to win the mayoral election so it is not about Mr Street but about the office of Mayor.

“And if we win it feels like we have shot ourselves in the foot before starting on our first day.”

The source added: “Simon (Foster) had a good run as PCC, especially as he was a Corbyn man who stayed long after the party had changed, and sometimes you should just accept time’s up.”

Erdington Local met with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street on Thursday 21 March, at his first public address on his re-election campaign – held at Stockland Green School on Slade Road.

When asked about the challenge made my Mr Foster over the region’s police and crime responsibilities being moved over to the Mayor’s office, he said: “This should have been straightforward. Mayors in London, Manchester, Leeds, and soon Sheffield, all have the powers of the PCC now. However, we have got ourselves into a process which involves a legal battle.

“I have no interest in processes, I just wanted to get on trying to cut crime in the West Midlands because the PCC has around for 12 years and obviously does not work because crime has gone up.”

He added: “I am deeply disappointed with Simon (Foster) for legally challenging the Home Office decision. This is not my legal case, or appeal, the Home Office lodged the appeal. And now we are all in the courts hands, but it is no way a done deal and I am confident they could win.

“People are worried about crime. This would have made sense in the battle against crime in the West Midlands. The mayor, just like in London and Manchester, is in the best position to deliver policies in fighting crime.”

NEWS: Man appears before Birmingham Crown Court for murder and fraud charges after body found at Baldmoor Lake Road address

Words by Ed King / Pic of Wallis Webb supplied by WMP – pics of Baldmoor Lake Rd from Google Maps

A man has appeared before Birmingham Crown Court, charged with murder and fraud by false representation after a body was found at a Baldmoor Lake Road address last week.

On Tuesday 6 February, Mr Wallis Webb, aged 65, was discovered dead at the Erdington address – sparking a murder investigation by local police.

Days later and Sakander Hussain, aged 25, was arrested and subsequently charged with the murder of Mr Wallis and fraud by false representation – after police found the deceased’s bank card had been used posthumously.

Mr Hussain, from Ingleton Road, Ward End, first appeared before magistrates and has now been processed through to Birmingham’s Crown Court, where he appeared via video link from HMP Hewell to confirm his name.

Judge Simon Drew KC, presiding, set a plea and trial preparation hearing for 22 April – where the accused will be asked to enter a plea against the charges brought before him. A provisional trail date has also been set for 5 August 2024.

Addressing Mr Hussain, Judge Simon Drew KC said: “I am going to adjourn your case.

“The next hearing will be on April 22, that is the hearing at which you will be expected to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty.”

He added: “I am fixing your case for trial on August 5. You must attend the trial and if you fail to do so, you could face a separate offence.”

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police further confirmed: “A 51-year-old man, who was arrested on suspicion of fraud, has been bailed with conditions while enquiries continue.”

They added: “We’re doing all we can to support (Mr Webb’s) family during this terrible time.

“We remain keen to hear from anyone with information which could help our investigation.”

Mr Webb, who served briefly as a local councillor, was found dead at the scene by emergency services on Tuesday 6 February.

His family released a statement through West Midlands Police: “To try to compress a life into short sentences does not do anybody justice. This is by far the hardest of them all.

“Wallis was a Councillor for a short period of time, because he really believed in trying to help others and felt strongly about the hardships people now have to endure without the help so many need.

“This is yet another life taken in a shocking and senseless manner.”

Anyone with any information that might prove useful to the investigation have been asked to contact West Midlands Police via Live Chat on their website at: www.west-midlands.police.uk/contact-us/live-chat  

Alternatively, people can call 101 and quote Log No. 631 of 6/2 – or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

FEATURE: No laughing matter, now nitrous oxide is illegal what changes will criminalising happy gas make to our streets?

Words & pics by Ed King (except lead image – Adobe)

On Wednesday 8 November, the British Government made nitrous oxide an illegal substance as per the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1971, effectively banning the recreational use of the ‘happy’ or ‘laughing’ gas which has seen a significant rise over recent years. Now registered as a Class C controlled substance, ‘serious users’ of nitrous oxide could face up to two years in prison.

Erdington Local looks at the ambitions of the legislation and the effects of both the ban and the drug on the wider community.

We’ve all seen them, small silver bottles that look like they belong in a SodaStream or balloon pump, lying scattered around park benches or bus stops. Nitrous oxide. Or the more colloquially known ‘laughing gas’ or ‘happy’ gas.

What was originally used to numb the pain of root canal surgery has been taken by recreational drug users since the 70s. But in recent years, the increasingly overt use of nitrous oxide has become a flashpoint for community concerns over anti-social behaviour and aggressive youth culture.

Nitrous oxide had already been recognised by the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, which addressed non-legitimate supply of the substance and issues such as direct sales to consumers and cannister sizes. But the Government further criminalised it as part of their Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan, making it a ‘criminal offence to be found in possession of (nitrous oxide) where its intended use is to be wrongfully inhaled’, or ‘to get high’.

As per the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, non-authorised possession of nitrous oxide is now as illegal the synthetic sedatives Diazepam and Temazepam.

The Home Office explains: “Associated antisocial behaviour causes wider harm felt by communities and to the environment. This includes group gatherings to abuse the drug in public spaces, such as children’s parks or high streets, and subsequent littering of the discarded canisters. There have also been deaths connected to drug driving incidents.”

Over on Castle Vale, many have welcomed the new law. One resident, Barabra, who lives neighbouring Centre Park, tells Erdington Local: “(Castle Vale) is going back to the eighties, to how it was with drugs, fighting all the while, kids out on the street.

“I’m a member of Families for Peace, I have been for 20 years, I don’t believe in guns, I don’t believe in knives, and I certainly don’t believe in drugs. I pay £10 a month for children to be kept off the street so that they’re kept safe.

“I’ll walk through here (Centre Park) at 5:30pm and they’ll all be high as a kite. You feel intimidated, you have to walk out of the park and walk all the way round. Why should we? I’ve got grandchildren.”

But many of the young people that live on Castle Vale don’t use nitrous oxide and feel they are being blamed for the actions of a few or are just “getting grief” from using local parks and public spaces when “there’s nowhere else to go”.

Likewise, in a review of nitrous oxide in 2021, requested by the then Home Secretary Priti Patel, the Independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) found the drug was already adequately covered by existing laws, officially stating: “the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 remains the appropriate drug legislation to tackle supply of nitrous oxide for non-legitimate use.”

The counterpoint to further criminalising nitrous oxide is that you would turn a legally available substance, one used predominately by young people, into a criminal offence overnight.

Over on Gravelly Hill North, Birmingham’s Youth Offending Team have traditionally operated from the Kingsmere Unit. Run by Birmingham Children’s Trust the future of the site is uncertain, but it has been a widely recognised starting point for many young people entering the criminal justice system

One ex-employee explains: “I think it’s a good idea the Government have now criminalised it along with other widely used recreational drugs, such as cannabis and amphetamine, as it is a dangerous substance and young people need to be educated about the potential harm. I think a lot of young people are just ignorant to the side effects of drugs and don’t really understand how damaging they can be.”

However, mirroring the findings recommendations from the ACMD report other professional bodies and individuals feel the move could cause more damage to young people than good.

One experienced services manager with over 25 years experience in the criminal justice system, supporting people suffering with significant drug and alcohol abuse issues, explains: “Legislation in itself will not make it safer for young people who use nitrous oxide, but it will push them into the criminal justice system and the long term effect of this could harm them more.”

Over their tenure they worked closely with the police, probation service, and a variety of partners and support agencies in the West Midlands and the Northeast.

They add: “As yet we do not know all the long term effects of this substance on individuals but it can cause both physical and mental health problems if abused. This is a Public Health problem and should be treated as such. The Criminal Justice approach will not make young people safer.”

Back on Castle Vale, local resident Barbara is concerned about the sizes of cannisters found in Centre Park. And as she works with the estate’s groundskeeper to clean up the mess left by a weekend of late summer sun, the immediate impact drug misuse has had on her family comes out in conversation.

“My son was a drug addict… I’ve just lost him. It would have been his fiftieth birthday tomorrow, and I’m in bits. He was off drugs at the finish, my grandson got him off them. He was off them for nearly two years, but he died from kidney failure.

“But this is all you see,” Barbara adds, picking an empty Sealy Bag up from the park grass.

“I told my son to get help, I took him to get help… but addicts don’t accept help. I spoke to the kids (in the park) last night, I asked where are your parents? They just told me it was none of my f’ing business. I’m worried they might hurt themselves… too damn right I am.”

But with extended or relaxed legislation, the answer to many social ills lies in the community itself. And when it comes to the little silver bottles, at least on Castle Vale, there is also a silver lining.

Cllr Ray Goodwin (Castle Vale Ward, Labour), explains what he and his team are doing to tackle the issues highlighted on the North Birmingham estate: “I have been working closely with worried residents, The Pioneer Group and Castle Vale Community Housing, our local police teams, and local youth organisations, to come with robust plan of action – we need to engage with young people and ensure they are engaged with other activities.

“Young people need good facilities and places for them to be actively involved in things. They need youth centres, creative outlets, and sports clubs to join, so they are not just hanging around parks and public spaces where their presence and actions can infringe on other members of the community – even if they did not intend to cause concern or trouble to others.

“This collaborative and proactive approach, and ongoing relationship building with young people and local services, is the best way to protect our young people, prevent them from accessing these clearly dangerous cannisters, and make our communities a safer and happier place for everyone to live in.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article and want to tell Erdington Local about it please email: mystory@erdingtonlocal.com

For more on the recent Government legislation over Nitrous Oxide visit www.gov.uk/government/news/possession-of-nitrous-oxide-is-now-illegal

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

As your local MP representing Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale, I care about the issues that affect you and our community. Here are some of the things I have done in the past month:

I recently hosted a meeting with Simon Foster, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Superintendent Richard North, local traders, and officials from Birmingham City Council. 

We discussed the ongoing issues of crime and antisocial behaviour on Erdington High Street.

Importantly, they heard concerns from our traders, recognising the need for more robust measures to enhance security and enforcement, and the need to work more closely to combat crime in the area.

I was also approached by traders on Slade Road who raised concerns about issues they were experiencing, including theft, antisocial behaviour, and the presence of sex workers. I empathised with the challenges facing local traders and will be following up on their concerns and working towards a constructive solution. 

I recently participated in a National Day of Action for Safer Streets to prevent road accidents, injuries, and deaths. As part of this effort, I’m backing the campaign to reduce speeds to 30mph on local roads. I would urge everyone to have their say by taking part in the consultation – please do get in touch if you want to know more. 

Despite 13 years of Conservative cuts to policing, I will not give up on fighting crime and antisocial behaviour in our area. I will keep working to secure the resources we need to keep our community safe. 

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

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.

NEWS: Erdington drug dealer gets over two years behind bars following arrest in Burton upon Trent

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pic of Burton Police Station from Google Maps

An Erdington based drug dealer has been jailed for over two years for selling crack and heroin, following his arrest in Burton upon Trent – Staffordshire Police confirmed this week.

Filipe Lopes, 20, from Gravelly Lane, was stopped by eagle-eyed police officers in the Staffordshire town earlier this year. After searching Lopes, officers found more than 100 wraps containing class A drugs, £150 in cash, and a mobile phone.

Lopes was taken to Burton Police Station and questioned about the findings whilst in custody. He was later charged with drug supply offences, and faced with overwhelming evidence chose to plead guilty at the earliest opportunity.

On Friday 6 October, Lopes was sentenced to 27 months behind bars at Stafford Crown Court after pleading guilty to possession with intent to supply cocaine and heroin and using criminal.

Lopes was given a 25 per cent reduction in his sentence due to an early guilty plea which helped ease the strain on the criminal justice system.

Detective Sergeant Jonathan Bradbury, who was the lead officer in the case, welcomed the sentence.

He said: “I’m happy we’ve been able to jail another dealer who was intent on distributing harmful drugs within our communities.

“Officers across the force are committed to proactively targeting drug supply and will continue to act on intelligence leads and reports from the public to bring these people to justice.”

He added: “We will continue to take proactive action against those involved in supplying drugs in Staffordshire.”

Combatting county lines, which is when inner city criminal networks sell drugs in rural towns and villages using dedicated mobile phone lines to trade their illegal wares, is a priority for Staffordshire Police.

Across the region, police teams have been working with each other and external agencies to ‘identify criminals involved in serious organised crime’ and national gang networks, as part of their ongoing Operation Target – as launched in May 2023.

A spokesman told: “This successful case follows our ongoing commitment to tackling serious and organised crime and protecting those who are at risk of exploitation through criminals – called Operation Target.

“Work is continuing to proactively target the groups responsible for these crimes – including county lines, drug distribution, illegal firearms and sexual exploitation.”