NEWS: Shock verdict as all defendants found not guilty of murder in Dea John Reid trial

Words by Ed King

After three days of deliberation, the jury for the Dea John Reid murder trial delivered their verdict at Birmingham Crown Court today – finding all the defendants not guilty of murder and assisting an offender.

One of the minors accused of murder, the teenager that delivered the fatal blow, was found guilty of manslaughter, with sentencing set for 5 May.

With all five defendants accused of murder as a joint enterprise, once one verdict of not guilty was returned it paved the way for the rest to likewise be acquitted of murder.

Hollie Davis (36, Castle Bromwich) who had been on bail after being charged with assisting an offender, was also found not guilty.

The others found not guilty of any crime, including George Khan (39, Kingstanding) and Michael Shields (36, Castle Bromwich) – who had been remanded on custody since their arrest – would be back home as soon as the court could process the relevant paperwork for their release.

In a case that has gone on for almost a year, tears of relief were shed both inside and outside the courtroom as friends and family members of those accused had been waiting at Birmingham Crown Court since Monday to hear the jury’s verdict.

Dea John Reid was fatally stabbed on Collage Road in Kingstanding on 31 May 2021, following incidents earlier in the day where he and a group he was with had attempted to rob the minors eventually accused of his murder.

Throughout the trial, extensive CCTV footage had showed Dea John Reid and his group coming into Kingstanding from Perry Barr – including the moments when both groups had met and the attempted robbery had taken place.

If found guilty of murder, the adults accused could have spent the rest of their lives in prison – with a ‘whole life order’ as a possible starting point for sentencing. As minors, the teenagers accused could have faced custodial sentences of a minimum of 12 years before being eligible for parole.

Before the jury returned to deliver their verdict, the presiding judge – Mr Justice Johnson – asked members of the public present to “control themselves” as the court would not tolerate any “outbursts” once the verdict had been read.

Dressed in white shirts and black ties, George Khan and Michael Shields hung their heads and looked down at the floor upon hearing the verdict of not guilty – with both wiping tears of relief from their faces.

However, for Dea John Reid’s mother and brother, who were present in the courtroom as the jury delivered their verdict, the judgement was a bitter blow for a family that has suffered such a tragic loss – as no murder charge was upheld.

Dea John Reid’s family, accompanied by Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, left Birmingham Crown Court calmly and quickly, and were initially unavailable for comment.

In a later statement, as the official family spokesperson, Bishop Jaddoo stated:

“Dea John was a well loved, brother and uncle. His family are mortified at the verdict and are of the opinion that is no justice for Dea John.

“The evidence clearly shows intent with a young man with a balaclava over his face and wearing a hood chasing Dea John with a knife and inflicting a stab wound to his (Dea John) chest and is not reflected in the jury’s decision.

“Many will say, where is the justice for Dea John.”

Bishop Jaddoo went on the say, on behalf of Dea John’s family, that whilst they were “mortified” with the verdict they wanted to thank West Midlands Police for the “support and the thorough investigation” they had conducted.

Kate Seal, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands, stated: “I cannot begin to imagine the crippling sense of loss felt by Dea-John’s family and friends.

“The verdict of manslaughter will not undo the devastation felt by so many at the senseless loss of a young life.

“Such unnecessary violence has no place in our society and the death of Dea-John Reid should have never happened.

“The irrational use of violence that is now prevalent on our streets and in our communities must cease if we are to prevent further tragedies among our youth. While no verdict can return Dea-John to his family, my thoughts remain with them.”

Sentencing for the minor now found guilty of manslaughter will take place at Birmingham Crown Court on 5 May.

NEWS: Jury prepares to consider their verdict for Dea John Reid murder trail

Words by Ed King

The jury for the Dea John Reid murder case are preparing to consider their verdict, as summing up for the defence councils on the high profile murder case finished this week.

Being heard at Birmingham Crown Court, on Monday, 28 March the twelve strong jury will decide, as a group, whether George Khan (39, Kingstanding), Michael Shields (36, Castle Bromwich), and the three minors accused of murder are guilty or innocent. All five have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On 31 May 2021, the 14 year old Dea John Reid was fatally stabbed on College Road in KIngstanding – dying at the scene, following a single blow to the chest.

After a swift but thorough police investigation, where officers trawled through hundreds of hours of CCTV footage an interviewed many witnesses, two men and three minors were arrested and charged with the murder of the schoolboy.

Michael Shields was the first to hand himself into the police, the day after the killing, with police eventually charging the Castle Bromwich man with murder, alongside Khan and the three minors.

The Crown Prosecution Service claim all five had ‘joint participation’ in the deadly attack, despite only one of the minors delivering the fatal blow.

Opening the case for the prosecution on Wednesday, 23 February 2022, Richard Wormald QC described the deadly chase and assault as a “hunt” and “revenge attack”.

The court then heard how the three minors, along with another friend, had been “mugged” by Dea John and other boys in his company earlier that day, leading to a retaliation attack that left the 14 year old fatally stabbed.

During their summing up statements, councils for the defence were keen to remind the jury of the fact the three minors had felt threatened from earlier incidents, including an initial altercation where members of Dea John’s group had tried to rob an Armani ‘man pouch’ from one of the teenagers accused.

Defending the child who had admited stabbed Dea John Reid, although claiming it was in self defence, Mr Clarke QC highlighted a piece of CCTV footage where he asserted you could see “a look of terror on his face” – arguing the final assault was a result of “continued threat… an action that has to be seen in the context of what happened before.”

But the twist of the case came from the alleged involvement of Michael Shields, who despite being charged with murder along with the other accused is claiming to be an unwilling bystander in an event he had no idea would end in serious assault, let alone murder.

The court had previously heard how the two adults accused of murder, George Khan and Michael Shields, had been drinking in The Digby pub on Chester Road before becoming embroiled in the search for Dea John and his friends.

Michael Shields’s defence council claimed he was only in George Khan’s VW Golf, the vehicle used by all five accused of murder to find Dea John and his friends, because he had no money to get home on his own.

Following the subsequent chase and attack, which left the 14 year old Dea John Reid bleeding to death outside the Costcutter on College Road, Michael Shields further claimed he was only aware there had been a stabbing after overhearing a phone call in the car whilst leaving the murder scene – at which point he asked the driver, George Khan, to pull over so he could walk home.

The prosecution does not dispute the fact Michael Shields left the car.

Furthermore, Michael Shields claimed he was threatened by Hollie Davis, who is the ex-partner of George Khan, not to go to the police – extending her threats to Shields’s ex-partner.

Hollie Davis admits she was “horrible to him (Shields)” during a series of phone calls made after the attack.

After hearing a list of positive character references, from men and women of different cultures and backgrounds, the defence council for Michael Shields’s reminded the jury how his client handed himself into the police the day following the attack, as he thought it was “the right thing to do’.

The defence for Shields further stated: “He’s gone from being a perfectly decent, hardworking individual to being on trial for murder, just like that.”

Amongst his final words, Michael Shields’s barrister asked the jury to consider if they believed his client was capable of the “calculated” murder of a child – adding: “This man, Michael Shields, is not a killer.”

All accused will be back in Birmingham Crown Court on Monday, 28 March for the final part of the judge’s summing up – before retiring to deliver their final verdict.

All five accused of murder deny the charges. Hollie Davis further denies the charge of assisting an offender.

NEWS: Courtroom in tears as Dea-John Reid’s final moments caught on CCTV are played to jury

On Friday, 25 February, friends and relatives of Dea John Reid left the courtroom in tears after the schoolboy’s final moments were repeatedly played for jurors.

The fourth day of the murder trial at Birmingham Crown Court, expected to last up to eight weeks, again centred on CCTV and doorbell camera footage from Kingstanding.

Police officers recovered footage from more than 20 cameras around Twickenham Road, College Road, Hometon Road, and Wardour Grove.

Jurors were shown defendants George Khan (39) and Michael Shields (36) along with their three child co-defendants driving around several roads in a blue VW Golf looking for Dea-John Reid and his friends.

The court previously heard how Dea-John had an altercation earlier in the day in Kingstanding, where money had been demanded, before one of the minors accused phoned Khan – who was drinking in The Digby pub on the Chester Road with Shields.

The two men allegedly then jumped into Khan’s VW Golf and collected the boys, some of whom picked up weapons – including a kitchen knife and a wheel brace, before driving around Kingstanding and Perry Common searching for Dea-John and his friends.

Detectives painstakingly pieced together CCTV from shops and footage from doorbell cameras to show the chase in chronological order.

Detective Constable Dave Pugh, giving evidence for a third day, played footage from a College Road camera which had both groups in shot.

He said: “This is the moment the two groups saw each other. Dea-John became separated from his group and can be seen running alone.”

The two men and three boys can then be seen running across a busy College Road chasing after Dea-John, with some of the group carrying weapons.

DC Pugh replayed the audio of a doorbell camera on College Road at half speed, two thirds speed and normal speed. An older man can be heard shouting “f**k him up” to the boys ahead of him.

One of boys caught up with Dea-John on the corner of Wardour Grove and College Road. The police have recovered camera footage from both streets giving a clear view of the two or three second altercation which left Dea-John dead.

The boy approaches Dea-John and they clash, the boy can be seen making a hand movement with a knife towards Dea-John’s body. Dea-John can then be seen recoiling and holding his side while his attacker runs off.

The unnerving footage was replayed at different speeds several times, prompting two members of the victim’s family to leave the court in tears.

The judge then paused evidence for lunch, whilst other members of Dea-John’s family were visibly upset outside the court.

Due to the interest in the case, the defendants, the judge, several lawyers, and some members of the victim’s and defendants families are in one court – while lawyers and extended family of the victim watch proceedings from another room.

Dea-John Reid’s murder on 31 May 2021 prompted a massive response on social media, with a vigil held on the spot where he died attracting more than 1,000 people from across the country.

Shields, of Alvis Walk, Castle Bromwich, and Khan, of Newstead Road, Birmingham, and the three children, who cannot be named because of their age, all deny murder.

Hollie Davies, 36, of Waldon Walk, Birmingham, is accused of assisting an offender. She denies the charge.

The trial continues.

NEWS: Dea-John Reid trial begins as George Khan, Michael Shields, and three minors stand accused of murder

Words & pics by Ed King

The trial over the killing of schoolboy Dea-John Reid began at Birmingham Crown Court today, as George Khan (39), Michael Shields (36), and three minors stood accused of murder.

Hollie Davies (36), former partner of George Khan, also stood accused of assisting an offender.

Sitting in the main courtroom listening to the prosecution’s opening were Dea-John’s mother and brother, accompanied by Desmond Jaddoo who has counselled the family ever since the murder.

A ‘spill over’ court had also been made available to cater for the large number of family members and friends of Dea-John Reid.

Also present in the main courtroom were friends of Hollie Davies.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Richard Wormald QC described the “revenge attack” that led to the fatal stabbing of Dea-John Reid on Monday, 31 May 2021 – where the 14 year old was killed on Collage Road, Kingstanding, following a single stab wound to the heart, as according to the post-mortem examination.

The jury were told how two groups of young males, one including Dea-John Reid and the other including the minors accused of murder, had interacted earlier in the day – beginning with a dispute after they first crossed paths near the Kingstanding Circle, and continuing at a convenience store in the area.

It was alleged the group including Dea-John began “mugging” the minors accused, as one “demanded” an Armani pouch from one of the defendants whilst others were asked to “empty their pockets”.

Running away from the attempted robbery, and being chased by the group including Dea-John, it was further told how the minors accused then spilt up – with one seeking refuge in a local newsagent, before being let out via a back entrance by the shop owner as Dea-John Reid and the others in his group waited outside the front.

The prosecution then described how the minors accused reconvened at a family member’s house, where one of them contacted George Khan who was at that time in The Digby Pub, on Chester Road, with Michael Shields.

It was told how George Khan and Michael Shields then collected the three minors accused, driving them in Khan’s blue VW Golf to the area where the earlier altercation had taken place – looking for Dea-John and his group.

It was presented by the prosecution that all five accused of murder knew weapons were being carried and had the intention to inflict serious violence and cause grievous bodily harm.

The prosecution then described how Dea-John and his group were eventually spotted by George Khan, Michael Shields, and the three minors accused – after being driven around “on the hunt” in George Khan’s blue VW Golf.

According to the prosecution, there was then a chase with all five of those accused with murder complicit in “a group attack, during which each played their party, running after Dea-John Reid, thus enabling” the minor who delivered the fatal blow “to chase down and fatally stab Dea-John Reid to the left side of the chest.”

Richard Wormald QC then added: “The male defendants acted like a pack, chasing down their pray. Just like a pack in chase, all were close and converging.

“Having carried out the attack, the group then made off in haste – not one of them offered any support or comfort to Dea-John Reid, they simply left him to die.”

Once the prosecution had finished opening, which took several hours, the sequence of events was supported by a series of CCTV images and footage – with DC David Pugh, from the homicide team based in Aston, corroborating the locations and the identification of the defendants as mapped out by the images and video captured.

None of the defendants accused of murder deny or contest the references made to them featuring in the CCTV footage.

The prosecution also told the jury, the minor who delivered the fatal blow “accepts that he killed Dea-John Reid by stabbing him, but he will claim that he acted in self-defence.”

The prosecution further explained how the following day in the hearing would likely be taken up going through the extensive CCTV footage, and how the police “have been able to zoom in on the fatal stabbing, which the jury will see in due course.”

The individual barristers acting on behalf of the accused were also given a brief chance to introduce their defence, which for those accused of murder hangs largely on either not knowing their co-defendants were carrying weapons, or for the minor who stabbed and killed Dea-John Reid that they were acting in self-defence.

The case continues and is expected to last between six to eight weeks.

ELECTION NEWS: Erdington to vote for next MP as by-election date set for 3 March

By Erdington Local election news team

The upcoming by-election to decide who will be Erdington’s next Member of Parliament has been set for Thursday, 3 March.

A tweet made by the Labour Party whips office on Monday, 31 January, stated:

“First item of business today in @HouseofCommons – Opposition Chief Whip @alancampbellmp moving the writ for the Birmingham Erdington By-election. Polling Day 3 March 2022.”

The by-election follows the sudden death of Jack Dromey MP, who was found dead at his constituency residence on Friday, 7 January.

Candidates from parties across the political spectrum are expected to contest the seat, with Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Lab, Holyhead) already announcing her intention to run as Labour’s sucessor to Jack Dromey – after being selected by local party members via an online vote on Wednesday, 26 January.

Currently the Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Cllr. Hamilton was the first candidate to publicly declare their intention to stand for the Erdington seat – which if successful, would make her Birmingham first ever black Member of Parliament.

Addressing local Labour Party members at her official campaign launch, at Highcroft Community Centre on Saturday, 29 January, Paulette Hamilton told the crowd: “Can I thank you all for your support. I cannot believe it, the overwhelming support I have had from people throughout the constituency.

“We have got a lot of work to do. We are going to run a clean campaign; we are going to fight at the doorsteps to take the Labour message to the people.”

Also currently in the running is Dave Nellist, the one time Labour MP for Coventry South, who has declared his intention to run for Erdington MP as the official candidate for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

A longstanding supporter of worker’s right – who famously donated 60% of his MP’s salary to the Labour movement, trade unionists, and community campaigners – Mr Nellist is expected to take a strong anti-austerity stance and champion support from Erdington’s industrial community and factory workforces.

Following his announcement on Thursday, 27 January, Mr Nellist posted on social media:

“With Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour welcoming a Tory MP into the parliamentary party last week – while confirming Jeremy Corbyn’s exclusion from the PLP at its national executive committee meeting on January 25th – it couldn’t be clearer that the interests of Britain’s wealthy establishment will be in safe hands if and when they decide to move on from Boris Johnson’s disintegrating premiership. Starmer is so obviously not on our side.

“That is why I am proud to represent TUSC in the Birmingham Erdington by-election and would urge other trade unionists, socialists and community campaigners to also consider standing for TUSC in the forthcoming local council elections in May.

“Red Tories, Blue Tories or Yellow Tories carrying out policies against the interests of the working class majority cannot expect to be unchallenged at the ballot box”.

Since announcing their respective candidacies, both Paulette Hamilton and Dave Nellist have been canvassing across the constituency and receiving strong online support – although response has favoured those with strong links to the area.

There is also growing concern that Dave Nellist’s candidacy could split the Labour vote, adding pressure to the party that has consistently held the Erdington seat since 1974.

At the time of writing, no other parties have proposed a candidate for the Erdington by-election – however many are speculating Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington) will stand again for MP, having contested the Erdington seat in the last four General Elections,

Cllr Alden, who has narrowed the gap between Conservatives and Labour in the last two General Elections, also lives locally – which could work well for voters who are keen to see a familiar face represent them in Parliament.

NEWS: Hundreds attend Jack Dromey’s funeral at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster

Words by Ed King / Pics by Michelle Martin

“A gentle but passionate man, who existed to change things for the better.”

Hundreds of people gathered at St Margaret’s Church in Westminster on Monday, 31 January, to say their goodbyes to Erdington’s well loved MP, Jack Dromey.

Braving the tail end winds of Storms Malik and Corrie, people from across the political divide joined Mr Dromey’s family, friends, colleagues, and constituents – with recognised faces from the halls of power, from Sir Keir Starmer to Jacob Rees-Mogg, in attendance.

Nestled into the 12th century church in the political heart of London, next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, a full house congregation came to pay their respects to the Brent born and Birmingham adopted Jack Dromey – a man who had spent a lifetime fighting injustice and inequality, first as a trade unionist and then an MP.

The service was conducted by The Venerable Patricia Hillas, the Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons who was appointed by the Queen to serve as a Canon of Westminster in April 2021. Songs and hymns were sung by St Margaret’s Consort, conducted by Greg Morris.

Opening with selected passages from the Bible, including John11: 25-26 ‘I am the resurrection and the life…’, the Westminster priest began by remembering the “passionate and generous” man that had served as Erdington’s MP since 2010.

Hillas went on to talk about Jack Dromey’s “broad reach” and willingness to cross the boundaries of faith and politics if it was “for the good of all” – a sentiment that would be reiterated throughout the service.

Following the opening hymn, ‘Abide with Me’, family memories were first offered by his son, Harry, remembering, with sadness and humour, his father’s love for his grandchildren and generosity – the long lockdown walks with his grandson, who would bounce back into the family home “as if he’d just been to Disneyland.”

Sir Tony Blair was the first of two former Prime Ministers to pay tribute to Jack Dromey, reading Isiah 58: 6-12, recalling the Lord’s cry to “share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house,” – attributes reflecting the man today’s mourners have lost.

Jack’s daughter, Amy, then read passages from her mother’s book, A Woman’s Work’, talking about when the young solicitor and trade unionist first me – before telling of the positive impact her father had on her own life.

Gordon Brown was next to address the congregation, praising his tremendous campaigning achievements and reflecting how Jack as the life and soul of “work events, as they’re now called” – receiving a  warm wave of laughter – before citing Jack’s understanding of the necessary balance of power and principals. The front rows of

William Blake’s Jerusalem was next on the order of service, before Joe Dromey took to the pulpit in a heartfelt recollection of the tributes that came flooding in after the shock news of his father’s death.

At points fighting back tears, Joe spoke of condolences from across the political spectrum – including a profound message from Guy Opperman, the Conservative pensions minister Jack shadowed in Parliament, who referred his counter across the aisle as “a gentle but passionate man, who existed to change things for the better.”

This, affirmed Joe Dromey, “…sums up Jack perfectly. And I am honoured to call him my dad.”

The service was brought to a close with further prayers and passages from the Bible, including a reading from Father Simon Ellis of St Margaret Mary’s Church in Perry Common – before Jack Dromey’s coffin, a simple wicker casket adorend with a wreath of red roses, was taken out of the church to be laid to rest.

Mr Dromey was found dead at his constituency residence, Highcroft Villas in Erdington, on Friday 7 January – survived by his wife Harriet, his sons Joe and Harry, his daughter Amy, and his grandchildren.

For more on Jack Dromey visit www.jackdromey.co.uk

FEATURE: Remembering Jack – Erdington High Street memorial for “a giant of Birmingham politics”

Words by Ed King / Pics by Claire Taylor

Erdington High Street has been the centrepiece of many recent political battles – from clarion calls for more community policing and a Public Space Protection Order, to ambitious regeneration plans that could bring in millions, a buzz has been returning to the once vibrant throughfare.

But on Sunday 16 January the High Street stood still, as hundreds gathered to pay their respects to “a giant of Birmingham politics and a very, very good man.”

Just over a week beforehand, the Erdington MP Jack Dromey was discovered dead at his constituency residence. Following ten days of shock and sadness, this was the day people came to say their goodbyes.

“We’re all Jack’s friends,” exclaims Gerard Goshawk, the well known minister from Six Ways Baptist Church who is introducing speakers onto the stage – a temporary platform outside the Co-op on Erdington High Street – and reminding the bipartisan crowd they are indeed just that.

A fierce trade unionist before being elected MP in 2010, Jack Dromey was known as a dyed in the wool “Labour man”, but also a canny campaigner who would extend a hand “across the political divide” to get the job done.

Standing shoulder to shoulder at his memorial are the leaders of both the Birmingham Conservative and Labour parties, further reflecting the impact of a man who, as Cllr Ian Ward would later state on stage, “was never blinkered or tribal when it comes to working constructively”.

Today’s cold January concourse hosts hundreds more well wishers from all backgrounds and belief systems – local MPs and councillors, Erdington residents and families, business owners and house builders.

Also in attendence are local campaign groups such as Short Heath Fields Trust – who despite spending much of their time locked in heated debates with Jack Dromey, maintained a healthy respect for a politician who ultimately “kept his word.”

Organised by the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce, of which Jack Dromey was a “driving force” behind, the memorial is being delivered by two organisations who knew the late MP well – Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) and Active Arts – alongside Reverend Gerard Goshawk.

With more friends and figureheads waiting in the wings, a friendly reminder from Gerard to keep all speeches under two minutes launches proceedings gets a ripple of laughter from the crowd – mirroring the minister’s call for celebration and humour amongst the grief.

First to speak is Cllr Josh Jones (Lab, Stockland Green), who talks through his memories of meeting Jack during his first General Election campaign in 2010, to standing beside him as one of the city’s youngest campaign agents in the MP’s subsequent bids for the Erdington seat.

But it was the heartfelt memory of Jack and wife Harriet Harman cancelling their family holiday to be at Josh’s wedding that hammers home the closeness of their relationship, one evolving from professional to personal, and rubber stamps the sentiment of remembrance that would be reiterated throughout the afternoon.

“It feels incredibly strange and weird to be thinking of Erdington without Jack… a wonderful MP, a wonderful friend, a wonderful comrade. I will miss him very, very dearly.”

Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Lab, Holyhead) follows Josh Jones, regaling her own memories of a man who “came with so many titles…” and “encouraged people to be a better version of themselves”. Before the stage is set for Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington), arguably Jack Dromey’s most immediate political postcode rival.

Immediately paying tribute to the late Penny Holbrook, the Stockland Green councillor who was also found dead at home back in November last year, Cllr Alden goes on to honour Jack Dromey’s “formidable reputation” in trade unions and politics, a man “passionate for worker’s rights”.

Afzal Hussain and Linda Hines MBE, WLCA Chief Officer and Resident Director respectively, stand together next – representing one of the key constituency stakeholders, who worked closely with Jack Dromey for over a decade on projects ranging from social care to High Street regeneration.

“Jack was a principled politician,” begins Afzal, “he had huge convictions and sense of justice and fairness,” before reminding the crowd of Jack’s pivotal work through the “the dark days” of the coronavirus crisis and his role on the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce.

A quick joke about Jack’s love of a “a good photo”, and an anecdote from Linda about meeting Jack when she was a last minute stand in for Santa (there are pictures), round off a eulogy from two more people who will struggle to see Erdington in the same way again.

Stepping back into the political arena, Birmingham City Council Leader and Shard End representative, Cllr Ian Ward, is next to speak – mourning the loss of “a great friend, inspirational colleague, and a good man.”

A close personal and professional ally, Cllr Ward continues to reiterate Jack Dromey’s ability to bring warring fractions together for the greater good – celebrating the late MP’s commitment “to give a voice to the unheard” and his “tireless enthusiasm and dogged determination”. Traits many in today’s crowd will both recognise and be grateful for.

But simplicity is often the clearest full stop, as Cllr Ward sums up his earnest goodbye to “ultimately a decent and principled man” by extending condolences to the grieving family he has left behind – hoping they know just “how much Jack was loved here in Birmingham.”

Jess Phillips MP for Yardley is next to address the crowd, having known Jack since working in his constituency office before becoming elected and whose own Yardley office has now stepped in to assist with “urgent” casework in Erdington.

A defiantly human face in the political mirror, Jess begins telling the second city crowd, “your stories, your lives, were always his very first and most pressing concern.

“Jack fell in love (with Birmingham), he chose us, and he saw what many outside of Birmingham don’t see – it may not be the prettiest but the people are magnificent. You won his heart.”

Reminding us of Jack Dromey’s devotion to his family, be it round a dinner table or in the halls of power, a memory of “the regulation weekly slide show of the pictures of Jack’s grandchildren” makes way for a live performance of a special jig written in Jack Dromey’s honour by the head of the Erdington Arts Forum, Jobe Baker Sullivan.

And as the music plays, paying homage to Jack Dromey’s Irish roots, the sun literally begins to shine.

A sharp reminder of Jack Dromey’s important role in the lives of his Erdington constituents comes as Jane Roche celebrates the MP’s support for the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice campaign. Jane lost both her sister and father to coronavirus within a week of each other, with Jack picking up the charge and pushing for a public inquiry in the house.

Ray Goodwin joins Jane on stage, both from the Castle Vale based Spitfire Support Services, and reiterates the impact of “the most remarkable man we have met; fearless, passionate, and caring – he fought for justice and fairness all his life.”

The day continues and the temperature drops, but the crowd standfast, as further messages of love and memories of laughter come flooding off stage. Representatives of local community groups, religious institutions, law enforcement, and local schools all offer their reasons for celebrating the life and legacy of Jack Dromey.

The crowd are invited to write messages of condolences for Jack Dromey’s family, hand written notes to be delivered by Active Arts and the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce, before the last opportunity to speak goes to Liam Byrne – Member of Parliament for the neighbouring constituency of Hodge Hill.

Liam’s own father was at school with Jack Dromey, the MP remembers, and the actions and integrity of that generation have clearly left their mark on the man – as Hodge Hill’s voice in the house walks us down Jack’s “long march for justice”.

“Sometimes that road is steep,” continues Liam, “sometimes that road is hard, sometimes on that road we get weary.

“And it’s at those points that you need someone to put an arm around you, to give you warm words, to tell you it’s going to be OK, to tell you you’re a superstar.

“Jack put the fuel in the tank all of us in the fight for justice. He was the best booster that has ever been invented… Britain’s second city has lost its greatest citizen.”

R.I.P. Jack.

Watch Liam Byrne MP speaking at the memorial for Jack Dromey MP

For more on Jack Dromey visit www.jackdromey.co.uk

VOX POP: Remembering Jack – “He was a Birmingham man; he was a local man. And he cared.”

VOX POP quotes & pics taken by Claire Taylor / Intro words & pics by Ed King

Soon after the announcement of Jack Dromey’s death on Friday 7 January, flowers and messages of remembrance started to appear outside his constituency office on Mason Road. – with further tributes flooding social media.

Many were in shock at the sudden and unexpected news, sharing their stories and grief both online and off.

Erdington Local took to the High Street he fiercely championed and asked for comment from some of his constituents – for our weekly VOX POP.

(Ed’s note… we used the headline quote to show how Jack Dromey was perceived, by many, as a ‘local man’ – despite being born in Middlesex. The full quote is the last in the VOX POP, which we felt was a testament to the fervour with which Jack represented his Birmingham constituency.)

Holding a position where concerns and complaints were part of the day to day, Jack Dromey heard first hand about the issues affecting people across Erdington – with many looking to his office for answers.

From large scale employment strategies to supporting school fundraisers and independent retailers, the ‘to-do-list’ in the local MPs office was often as varied as it was unending. But as Erdington’s elected voice in Parliament, it was down to Jack Dromey and his colleagues to work through it with tireless dedication.

When Erdington Local asked for comments on Jack Dromey’s death, and life, many people had many things to say – but not all were comfortable having their condolences captured on camera.

Thank you to everyone who stopped to share thier thoughts and stories with us, and to all who agreed to be featured in the article.

Remembering Jack memorial service on Sunday 16 January

A wider public memorial service is being organised by the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce on Sunday 16 January, to be held outside the Co-op supermarket on Erdington High Street from 1:30/2pm.

Speakers will include colleagues from Jack’s constituency office, alongside figureheads from local organisations and community support groups such as Witton Lodge Community Association, Urban Devotion, Erdington Street Pastors, and Spitfire Advice and Support Services.

Jack Dromey’s political peers will also be attending, with further public condolences and remembrance coming from Liam Byrne MP (Hodge Hill), Jess Phillips MP (Yardley), Cllr Paulette Hamilton (Lab, Hollyhead, Birmingham Conservatives Leader Cllr Robert Alden (Con, Erdington), and Birmingham City Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End).

The memorial for Jack Dromey is open to all members of the public – with the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce inviting people to gather by the Co-op from 1:30pm, with the service scheduled to begin at 2pm.

A spokesperson for the Erdington Covid-19 Taskforce told Erdington Local:

“On behalf of the people of Erdington, partners of the Erdington Covid-19 Task Force have come together to organise this tribute event for Jack.

“His legacy went beyond politics. His tireless campaigning on behalf of constituents touched so many lives so we wanted to create a fitting tribute to a man who was progressive and impactful in positively changing lives and communities.

“It’s a chance for the people of Erdington to pay their respects to Jack, to reflect on his work and to share memories of him.

“It should be a great occasion, celebrating the life of a man whose commitment to improving lives made him a hero for the community he served with such passion and honesty.”

Here are a few more memories and messages of condolences from people on Erdington High Street.

Harriet Spencer, Oikos Café, Erdington High Street

“He used to come relatively frequently into Oikos and he would always order a strawberry milkshake, which we used to love.

“He was such a champion of the café and enjoyed that we were hear and all the things we did, especially the music event. It’s really a shock to the area and all of us.”

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Christine Scarl, Pype Hayes

“I heard that he had died… its such a shame. He was really good at letting us know what was going on in the area, we would always be getting the leaflets through the door and everything. It’s such a shame.”

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Pat Wandby, Stockland Green

“I’m sad that Jack Dromey died… it was a shock, he was a nice chap and he always seemed to be fighting for the workers – to help them keep their jobs.

“Like with the HP Sauce factory, which should never have been closed. And he was always fighting for the Jag (Jaguar Land Rover, Castle Bromwich) and other industries.

“He came to our house once over an issue with some garages at the back… I did have a moan at him about Stockland Green and the potholes on the road, by the chip shop. But since then it’s been done.”

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Vera, Holly Lane, Erdington

“He passed away, bless him. He did a lot for Erdington, as out local MP. He did a lot for Jaguar and everything else.

“He was a Birmingham man; he was a local man. And he cared.”

If you have something to say about any of the issues raised in this VOX POP (or anything else you want to tell us about) please email: mystory@erdingotnlocal.com

For more on Jack Dromey visit www.jackdromey.co.uk

FEATURE: Remembering Jack – tributes to the late Erdington MP, Jack Dromey

By Ed King

On Friday 7 January, only a week into the New Year, the longstanding Erdington MP Jack Dromey was found dead at his constituency residence – aged 73.

Erdington Local asked local organisations, stakeholders, colleagues, and community champions who knew Jack to contribute some words and pictures in remembrance.

A significant part of Erdington since being elected MP in 2010, Jack Dromey was involved in numerous projects and initiatives to support the constituency.

From his work with the Erdington Covid Taskforce and North Birmingham Economic Recovery Plan, to every food bank or school road safety campaign that needed his support – the impact of Jack Dromey’s death will be felt by countless across the Erdington constituency and beyond.

Erdington Local wishes to extend our condolences to Jack Dromey’s family, friends, and close colleagues. We hope the following is a welcomed epitaph to a man who will be sorely missed and mourned for. RIP Jack.

With thanks to the following for their contributions:

Witton Lodge Community Association, The Pioneer Group, Compass Support, Spitfire Advice and Support Services, Castle Vale Community Partnership, The Hospice Charity Partnership, Save Our Schools West Midlands, Active Arts Castle Vale, Erdington Local, Erdington Arts Forum, Kingstanding Food Community,  Urban Devotion, Andy Street – Mayor of West Midlands Combined Authority, Cllr Robert Alden, Unite the Union, Erdington Labour Party, Josh Jones, Naziah Rasheed, Birmingham Leader Cllr Ian Ward, Liam Byrne MP (Hodge Hill), Jess Phillips MP (Yardley), Preet Kaur Gill MP (Edgbaston), Shabana Mahmood MP (Ladywood), Steve McCabe MP (Selly Oak), Short Heath Fields Trust, Short Heath Residents Action Group, Abbey Catholic Primary School, Paul Jennings, Haroon Chughtai, Simon Foster – West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.

With special thanks to the staff from Jack Dromey’s offices in Erdington and Westminster.

Remembering Jack – pictures and messages of rememberence

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“We are shocked and deeply saddened at Jack Dromey’s sudden passing. We have lost a principled public servant and a kind, generous and thoroughly decent man.

“At Witton Lodge Community Association, we had the privilege of working with Jack for over a decade and in recent years almost on a weekly basis. He was a friend of the Association.

“His determination to act for local people was second to none – whether helping to solve problems, creating opportunities to improve lives or celebrating the richness of local communities.

“He was an engaging and energetic man who collaborated with many, combining a mixture of good grace and steeliness to get things done. We saw this first hand through his leadership of the Erdington Taskforce and the North Birmingham Economic Recovery Board, through which we were able to support thousands of residents during the pandemic.

“Jack’s legacy will live on in his many accomplishments and the lives that he touched. Our heartfelt condolences to Jack’s family, friends, and colleagues. RIP Jack.”

Afzal Hussain / Chief Officer, Witton Lodge Community Association

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“Jack was so much more than a hardworking constituency MP; he had a real passion and sense of purpose in his work to fight for every constituency and make their lives better. He has been an unwavering supporter of our work and that of all social landlords and partners working across the communities. Jack advocated for his constituents across many issues, not least ensuring they had secure, well-paid work and decent housing and communities in which they can thrive.

“He had chaired the Castle Vale Neighbourhood Partnership Board for many years and done so in a way that paid no regard to tribal politics – it was always about getting the best possible outcome for the people he served. He was the best MP I have ever had the privilege to work alongside and he will leave a huge chasm in our communities that will be hard to fill. My thoughts are with his family, friends, his wife, children, grandchildren who he spoke of frequently and with such joy.”

Simon Wilson / CEO, The Pioneer Group

“Jack was an amazing MP who strongly supported the communities of Erdington. He was a strong arm in lobbying for improving people’s circumstances and was particularly engaged in some of our work with young people and families over the years. He will be dearly missed.”

Lisa Martinali / Community Regeneration Director, The Pioneer Group

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“Jack was simply the most remarkable man I have met, fearless, compassionate and caring, he saw something in me (personally) which I didn’t and through his kindness and support enabled me to see it also, I will be forever grateful.

“At Spitfire Services he became part of our collective Castle Vale family. A friend colleague and one of the greatest parliamentarians he will be missed terribly, there are not words to say how I feel about Jack’s passing. My thoughts are with his family.”

Ray Goodwin / Chief Executive, Spitfire Advice and Support Services

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“Jack has carried on with the tradition of providing senior leadership to the Castle Vale Community Partnership building on the likes of Lord Corbett of Castle Vale and Lord Rooker. Over the last four years, he has helped the partnership in securing funding for a range of community projects and fought for the support of residents throughout our communities.

“Jack always had the people at the heart of everything he did, and his legacy shall live on through the lives he has touched. We will always be whole-heartedly grateful for his dedication, and he shall be deeply missed.”

Sue Spicer / Vice Chair, Castle Vale Community Partnership

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“Jack was a huge advocate, supporter and friend of John Taylor Hospice in Erdington. His work locally and with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Palliative and End of Life Care reflected his commitment to the hospice movement and his constituents.

“Jack was a regular visitor to the hospice and always looked to find a way to help and support in any way he could. Warm, friendly and engaging, he showed humility and kindnesses to the people he met, he will be dearly missed by us all. Our thoughts are now with Jack’s family and friends.”

Simon Fuller / Chief Executive Officer, The Hospice Charity Partnership

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“The whole SOS family has been devastated by the tragic and sudden death of MP Jack Dromey. A wonderful politician, with a Trade Union heart. Passionate about campaigning for children’s rights, he supported SOS in so many of our actions and was driven to ensure ALL children had access to a good education.

“We will miss him dearly and send our love and condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.”

Kate Taylor, on behalf Save Our Schools West Midlands

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“The grief has caught many of us by surprise. Jack Dromey was the local MP – the person we demanded to be whatever we needed in any day because he was our local elect and in a position of responsibility. Actually, he was our captain, our comrade, our friend.

“One of the best things about my work in Erdington was getting to know Jack. He gave his all for Erdington, much will never be fully appreciated but his legacy is already and will be enormous. I have some very fond memories of Jack – throwing himself into creative projects including holding a vegetable for a photo shoot, enjoying many Evenings of Creativity, and walking with pride as part of our diverse community with Little Amal.

“It’s hard to now imagine an event or meeting without him being there. We will still save a seat for you. Thank you Jack, for being you, we will miss you.”

Claire Marshall / Project Director, Active Arts Castle Vale

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“A fierce supporter of Erdington Local, Jack was always championing the voices of Erdington and pushing us to celebrate the constituency’s achievements, endeavours, and people. He was immensely proud of Erdington and made damn sure others knew why. Not everyone in office cares as he did.

“Always available, Jack never hid from a contentious issue or a tough question. He was a man who could be careful with his words, but never lied. It would have been incredible to report on him ‘in action’ during the upcoming elections, a real tour de force.

“I told him this many times, but we wouldn’t have made it without his help. Plain truth. This is a real, tragic loss. RIP Jack, rattling the pearly gates with a battle cry for justice no doubt.”

Ed King / Editor-in-Chief, Erdington Local

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“I, along with many other musicians and artists in the local area, will miss Jack deeply. He was a champion of the arts, really seeing the value in what creativity does for the soul.’

Jobe Baker Sullivan / Erdington Arts Forum

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“Jack possessed a rare combination of concrete convictions with a willingness to collaborate to get things done. When the Lakeside Children’s Centre was threatened with closure it was Jack’s ability to draw people together from across the political spectrum that ensured we won the case for it to remain open.

“His influence took a grassroots campaign right to the corridors of people; he gave people a platform to speak rather than presuming to speak for him. I have lost count of the number of local people Jack described as ‘remarkable’. He was undoubtedly a remarkable man himself who has left an indelible imprint on our community and will be sorely missed.”

Andy Winmill / Director, Urban Devotion

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“Today we lost a true democrat.  Jack was a principled politician who fervently believed that the democratic process could improve the lives of his residents. His natural respect for political leaders, officers and even his political adversaries revealed his own guiding principles.

“He was a man schooled in the Union, a man who excelled in the art of politics, but one who always understood its ultimate purpose. He was a great collaborator always able to put party differences aside for the greater good. He was inventive, thoughtful, and some might even say a touch mischievous, but always in the name of getting an outcome that he believed was right.

“In recent years it has been a privilege to work with him and experience his unshakable belief in the value of uniting to protect the interests of workers, and nowhere more so than in Erdington. His many battles, campaigns, and passions all bore this hallmark.

“Birmingham has lost a dedicated servant. Parliament has lost a true believer. And we have all lost a generous, inclusive friend who set a fine example.”

Andy Street / Mayor of West Midlands Combined Authority

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“The shocking news that Jack Dromey MP had passed has rocked our local community and wider. From his days as a Trade Union organiser Jack Dromey built a reputation as a formidable organiser and public speaker, skills that went on to serve him well as in his later years he moved into frontline politics. The outpouring of tributes that have been seen since demonstrate the man that Jack was and the regard with which he was held.

“Nationally Jack had a reputation as a passionate defender of worker’s rights, who had dedicated his life to the Labour movement. Eventually going on to serve in the Shadow Cabinet nationally under Ed Miliband, Jeremy Corbyn, and Kier Starmer.

“From Jack’s rise to national fame, for his work organising and supporting the Grunwick strikes, to his most recent work supporting workers at GKN, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Jack always put solidarity with workers first”.

“While over the years Jack and I would often find ourselves as political opponents at election time; during the Covid-19 pandemic, Jack worked cross-party with my colleagues and I on the Council and with community groups to support residents through the Erdington Covid -19 Taskforce and the North Birmingham Economic recovery group working jointly with local stakeholders.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Jack’s family and friends at this awful time.”

Cllr Robert Alden / Erdington Ward Councillor & Leader of Birmingham Conservatives

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“Having worked with Jack over the years on a number of issues, not least the pending closure of our site, I can honestly say that it was an honour and a privilege to call him a colleague and a friend.

“Jack was a champion for working people as a trade unionist and as an MP for Erdington he has fought tirelessly over the years for manufacturing, especially automotive in the West Midlands. As Jack would always say once a trade unionist always a trade unionist.

“His passing will be a huge loss to not just his constituents in Erdington but to the larger Labour and Trade union movement. God bless Jack.”

Frank Duffy, GKN Unite convener

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“Erdington Labour Party is devastated by the tragic loss of our brilliant Member of Parliament, Jack Dromey. Jack was a wonderful man who cared deeply about delivering a better life for the people of Erdington, Birmingham and the UK.

“He fought hard every day to work towards a society based on egalitarianism, friendship, commonality, and kindness. He has done so much for the people Erdington and the members of our Party, that we will be forever grateful for the enormous contribution he made to our lives. He will be missed deeply.”

Message from the Erdington Labour Party

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“I can’t really put into words what an inspiration Jack has been to me since I first met him in February 2010.

“He continuously encouraged and supported me in any way he could and always had unconditional belief in me.

“He was an absolutely wonderful man and the world is a much worse place without him in it. He will be sorely missed by many for the brilliant MP, trade unionist and campaigner he was or for his numerous achievements, but I will just deeply miss my friend Jack.”

Cllr Josh Jones, Stockland Green

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“I was privileged to work with Jack for the past eight months. During this time I found him very supportive, motivational, and encouraging.

“He always said to believe in yourself.  ‘There is no mountain you cannot climb, there is nothing you cannot achieve,’ that was his gift to me which will remain with me forever. I will miss him hugely.”

Naziah Rasheed / Birmingham Labour Party BAME Officer

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“It’s a measure of the way Jack lived his life that the last meeting I had with him was to discuss a memorial for Erdington families who have lost loved ones to Covid. His first thought was always to give a voice to the unheard and he genuinely listened to and cared about the community he represented.

“Whether it was campaigning for people’s jobs, highlighting injustice or fighting cuts, Jack was a true Labour man, a man of strong values who was always on the side of the underdog.

“In the last couple of years, he worked closely with the Covid-19 bereaved families and worked tirelessly to give them a voice. He never stopped working for his constituents and the people of Erdington have lost a true champion.”

Cllr Ian Ward / Leader of Birmingham City Council

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“Jack Dromey was quite simply the greatest campaigner most of us have ever worked with. From his very first sit-ins to helping marshal the votes for Harriet’s bid to become Commons Speaker, Jack was not simply a founder member of the feminist husband’s caucus, his life was a crusade for decency pursued quite literally right into the final hours of his life.

“In Birmingham we are stunned. We thought because Jack was invincible, he was indestructible. We are struggling to comprehend our loss. Britain’s second city has lost our leading citizen, our first among equals.”

Liam Byrne MP for Hodge Hill

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“I worked with Jack in Erdington for a number of years, and he was so dedicated to the people in the area. Youth Homelessness is a real problem in Erdington and across the city and Jack organised an annual event with St Basils Youth Homelessness Charity for the young people to hold their own parliament in Westminster.

“He was always striving to ensure that the corridors of power were open for the ordinary people who would not normally get a chance to be heard. He will be so badly missed by all of us in Birmingham but mostly by those in Erdington.”

Jess Phillips MP for Yardley

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“After being elected in 2017, Jack was the person who took me under his wing providing support and regularly checking in on how I was doing. If ever I felt the imposter syndrome Jack had the ability to put me at ease and always pushing me to be my absolute best.

“Jack had a remarkable ability to bring people together. Following the tragic death of my constituent Dea-John Reid, Jack and I went to visit his mother where he was a tower of strength. At the vigil mourners approached Jack and the care he displayed was a symbol of his kindness.

“I was shocked to hear of his sudden death. I had seen him days before. He was a fantastic constituency MP, of the people for the people. Jack’s passing is a devastating loss to the labour movement, Birmingham as the city he endlessly served, and to all who knew him.”

Preet Kaur Gill MP for Edgbaston

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“Jack was always such a good friend and supportive colleague to me. He was truly inspiring. A force of nature that served the people of our Erdington and our city so well for more than a decade.

“His energy and enthusiasm for Erdington was limitless – every day working and campaigning to get the best for the people he represented. He will be missed by all who knew him.”

Shabana Mahmood MP for Ladywood

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“Jack was an inspirational colleague and a generous and decent man. He campaigned tirelessly for the people of Erdington and always had time for everyone, no matter how big or small their concerns. He was a champion for workers’ rights and the real living wage and a bold and fearless voice in Parliament where he constantly spoke up for the interests of Birmingham. We all feel his loss.

“I have lost a great colleague and a good friend, and my thoughts are with Harriet and his family and the loss they have suffered. We will continue to honour his memory by supporting the people of Erdington and backing the causes which Jack worked so hard to promote.”

Steve McCabe MP for Selly Oak

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“Jack made a promise to Short Heath Fields Trust to give us a seat at the table to get our community’s voices heard by BCC and he did. In our last conversation with Jack just before Christmas he made a further commitment to support, help and work with SHFT to give our team the chance to deliver our proposal at the playing fields.

“Jack and I didn’t agree on everything, but what I do know is he was a man of his word, a gentleman and believed our community deserved better, thank you Jack for everything.”

Steve Hughes / Chair, Short Heath Fields Trust

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“Jack gave a voice to our community when many others would or could not, by listening and not being afraid of a fight. We have ruffled each other’s feathers, laughed, smiled, and had verbal tug of wars until we reached a goal we could agree on over the last 12 months. Never once did he raise his voice or be anything other than a gentleman. He gave his word we would be heard, and we were.

“Jack taught me that when people come together to fight for the same cause there is power in that. I thank you for that Jack, and for standing alongside Short Heath Residents in our fight to save our playing fields.”

Estelle Murphy / Short Heath Residents Action Group

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“Jack was a huge advocate for education not only locally but through his work nationally. He always had time for his local schools; supporting leadership, praising teachers, and instilling in our pupils the power of an active and invested local MP. We keep him and his family in our prayers at this time.”

Mr Joseph McTernan / Principal, Abbey Catholic Primary School

“All the Abbey School community were deeply saddened to hear of Jack Dromey’s passing. He was such an enthusiastic supporter of our school and the whole of Erdington, always finding time to support and engage with our pupils. His involvement with our Pupil Parliament, Chaplaincy, and School Council Teams has inspired our children as they seek to be active participants in their communities, living out British values.

“Jack was especially dedicated to supporting our pupils in their campaign against the new Nationality and Borders bill, always replying to children’s letters and showing his deep compassion for the marginalised. We began our week in school with a memorial prayer service to Jack, who we shall miss but are very thankful to have known.”

Message from everyone at Abbey Catholic Primary School

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“Jack was passionate about health issues, working to ensure that his constituents had the best possible offer in health. He was very conscious of the disadvantages that many of his constituents suffered and worked tirelessly to redress the balance.

“He was a frequent visitor to the ExtraCare Village at New Oscott. He would spend time listening, talking, and getting to know what the residents felt about issues and seeing where he could help.  That sounds a bit like it was all serious, but it wasn’t. There would be plenty of smiles and humour to go with the serious chat.

“As a public servant it was a delight and a privilege to work with him. He had the very considerable skill of being able to support, advise and encourage me whilst holding me appropriately to account for excellent service delivery on his patch.

“His gratitude and respect for the NHS was a constant throughout the pandemic and he was a huge supporter of the vaccination programme. He was present, engaged, and supportive; a tireless champion of improving the lot of the disadvantaged and a great example of a politician absolutely driven by his values who lived them out through his love of people.”

Paul Jennings / Retired CEO of NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG, Chair of the ExtraCare Charitable Trust

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“I always felt with Jack that he spoke for the Erdington communities with great credibility and confidence, always asked the right questions, was aware of the important things and what was impacting the communities the most. He was able to do his job with great dignity and respect for everyone.

“He always made time for me, valued what I said and I felt he truly cared not just about me but all of the Police family.

“I found him inspiring with his zest and energy; his leadership around the Erdington Task Force was remarkable.”

Haroon Chughtai / Deputy Head, Prevent, Counter Terrorism Policing West Midlands (ex-Inspector for Erdington & Sutton Coldfield)

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“I am deeply shocked and saddened by Jack’s death. First and foremost my condolences go to his wife, Harriet Harman, and his three children.

“Jack stood up for others his whole life and served the people of Erdington tirelessly since 2010. He has been a formidable political figure for decades and a close ally of West Midlands Police.

“Jack was the Shadow Paymaster General but held a number of other Shadow ministerial positions including Shadow Minister for Policing.

“His passing is a huge loss for our region and he will be dearly missed.”

Simon Foster / West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner

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“Throughout our time working for Jack he steadfastly refused to be referred to as our manager and always said we were a team and colleagues.

“Jack was intensely proud of representing working people and the people of Erdington, both as a Member of Parliament and in his former role as Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, later Unite.

“Without fail, Jack energetically stood up for Erdington and was determined that the communities he represented achieved their full potential and were never left behind. As members of his team this drove us on to be the best we could be for him.

“We will all miss Jack immensely. His kindness, his deep affection for his family and his sheer belief in the labour movement will stay with us forever.”

Message from staff at Jack Dromey’s offices in Erdington and Westminster

For more on Jack Dromey visit www.jackdromey.co.uk

NEWS: Mystery over man found in Fazeley canal near Butlers Bridge on Kingsbury Road

Words & pics by Ed King

Questions and confusion swept across Erdington yesterday as the body of ‘a man’ was pulled from the Fazeley canal near Butlers Bridge on the Kingsbury Road, Tyburn.

As of yet unnamed, the man was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency services responded to a call at around 11am.

A spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 11.08am to reports of a patient in the water on Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.

“We sent two ambulances and two paramedic officers to the scene and on arrival they found one patient, a man, it immediately became apparent that nothing could be done to save him and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.”

Local residents were alarmed as sirens and uniforms flooded the area, with police officers searching CCTV footage until the evening.

Reports came from people living in Burcote Road as emergency services descended on quiet off-shoot of the Tyburn Road, which has allows access to the Fazeley canal through a small iron gate.

Further up the canal, towards Egerton Road, residents also saw police officers searching for clues – but with no information on the man’s identity concerns grew that it could be a friend or neighbour.

A local resident who has lived on Gunter Rd since the new houses were built nearly 20 years ago, told Erdington Local:

“A friend of mine who lives on Burcote Road said they (emergency services) were outside her house at around 11am – but my son saw the police here (Egerton Road) not so long ago.

“I thought I’d come down and have a look, I might see something; I thought the family might have put some flowers down which might have a name on the card.

“I’m just wondering if it’s somebody local, from round here… we don’t even know how long he was in the canal for.

“Apparently, somebody walking their dog found him and called the ambulance and police, but we don’t know.

“We usually fish here, with the kids; we’re only on Gunter Road. Quite a few people have drowned in here… It makes you wonder if it’s anyone you know, being so close.”

Staff at the nearby KFC restaurant on Kingsbury Road also confirmed to Erdington Local: “They (the police) were looking for CCTV cameras to see if they (the deceased) crossed the car park to get to the canal.”

Birmingham’s canals have been marred with mystery before, such as when the body of an unknown middle aged man was found by factory workers near the Tyburn Road in November 2010.

Seven years after the grim discovery West Midlands Police launched an appeal for information as the man was still unidentified nearly a decade later.

Earlier today, West Midlands Police made the following statement about the body pulled from the canal by Butlers Bridge:

“Yesterday (14 July),  we received a 999 call reporting a body in the canal at Kingsbury Road, Erdington. A man was recovered from the canal, and sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

We are in the process of formally identifying the man, who we think is in his 30s. At this stage his death is being treated as unexplained.”

You can contact West Midlands Police via live chat at www.west-midlands.police.uk if you have information that could help – quoting reference number 1047-140721.

If you’ve been affected by this event, the charity Samaritans is there 24/7 to listen.