NEWS: The Festival of Flying launches at Greenwood Academy today – with free to attend outdoor aerial theatre show, CastAway

Words by Ed King / Production pics by Andy Moore – Highly Sprung

On Friday, 20 May, Greenwood Academy will host the launch of The Festival of Flying – an ongoing project with local residents, Active Arts, and Highly Sprung Physical Theatre.

Free to attend, members of the public should get to Greenwood Academy on Farnborough Road for 4pm – to see a special performance of CastAway, Highly Sprung’s renowned outdoor aerial theatre show.

Suitable for people of all ages, the event will finish by 5pm.

A spectacular outdoor production, using a specially designed ‘gyroscopic flying machine’, CastAway explores the impact of today’s throwaway society on our waterway – in an innovative and fresh approach to aerial theatre with parts of the performance happening 26ft above the audience.

CastAway’s all female cast takes you through an underwater world where performers dive, twist, and float, in a narrative inspired by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a floating island of everlasting plastic that has now grown to 6½ times the size of the UK.

The free performance of CastAway, to be held at Greenwood Academy at 4pm on Friday, 20 May, will mark the official launch The Festival of Flying, 

Organisers hope to ‘inspire the next generation of innovative engineers’ through special workshops and the outdoor ariel theatre show.

For more on CastAway check out the trailer from Highly Sprung Physical Theatre below.

Exploring the industrial, regeneration and green future of Castle Vale, The Festival of Flying will work with Castel Vale residents and the local community to produce a week long fusion of music, aerial, and mass performance this September.

Led by Active Arts, The Festival of Flying will champion ‘the creativity, energy, and passion of communities in Castle Vale,’ with organisers of the programme working with local communities over the coming months to ‘produce a unique event, celebrating local history, heritage, and innovation’.

Presented as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, The Festival of Flying is a Creative City Project generously supported by Birmingham City Council.

Artistic Director, Sarah Worth, said: “The Festival of Flying will be working with young people to inspire them to find new ways to express untold stories. We are proud to realise it in Castle Vale and to be part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival.”

CastAway – Highly Spring Performance

For more on Active Arts Castle Vale visit www.activearts.wordpress.com

NEWS: Police cordon off Gravelly Hill North after woman “kicked and punched” in vicious assault

Words & pics by Ed King

Police cordoned off a section of Gravelly Hill North last night after a vicious assault where a woman was believed to have been “kicked and punched’ – sustaining head injuries needing immediate hospital attention.

Alerted to the attack by West Midlands Ambulance Service, the first to attend the scene at around 9:30pm, local law enforcement arrived soon afterwards and began an immediate investigation – taping off the crime scene until after midnight.

Uniformed officers remained on Gravelly Hill North until the early hours, ensuring public safety whilst investigators scoured the scene for clues.

After lifting the police cordon at 12:30am, police are now continuing their investigation collating CCTV footage from around the area and appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

The woman who suffered the attack was initially treated at the scene before being taken to hospital for “further assessment”.

Despite immediate concerns and the severity of injuries to her head, it is not believed the physical damage suffered by the victim is “life threatening or life changing.”

A spokesperson from West Midlands Ambulance Service told Erdington Local:

“We were called at 9.22pm to reports of an incident on Gravelly Hill North, Erdington, Birmingham. One ambulance, a MERIT trauma doctor and critical care paramedic and a Patient Transport Service crew who came across the incident attended the scene.

“Upon arrival we found a woman. She was assessed and had sustained potentially serious injuries.

“She received treatment on scene and was conveyed to hospital for further assessment.”

A statement from West Midlands Police added:

“We’re investigating an assault after ambulance colleagues alerted us to a woman with injuries in Gravelly Hill North, at just before 9.30pm yesterday (Monday).

“Officers attended and found a woman in her 30s was being treated by paramedics for an injury to her head.

“We understand she had been kicked and punched and officers cordoned off the scene as initial enquiries were carried out.

“The woman was later taken to hospital for further checks for injuries which are not believed to be life threatening or life changing.

The cordon was lifted by about 12.30am and investigations continue with CCTV footage being retrieved from the area.”

West Midlands Police have asked for anyone with information on the assault to get in touch, via Live Chat at www.west-midlands.police.uk – quoting investigation 20/468351/22

Alternatively, members of the public can call 101 to make a direct report to the police.

NEWS: Local GP surgery prescribes Erdington Walking Group for healthier mind and body

Words by Jobe Baker-Sullivan / Images supplied by Erdington Walking Group

A Stockland Green GP surgery is prescribing the Erdington Walking Group (EWG) to help improve local resident’s mental and physical health.

Healthcare officials at Tudor Practice, Reservoir Road, Stockland Green, have recognised the EWG as a vital resource for people who are feeling “isolated, lonely or inactive”, especially following the Covid pandemic and lockdowns

“I found out about EWG through Facebook and the ‘Next Door’ app,” explained Alex, a healthcare support worker at Tudor Practice. “I also had a patient who was part of the group mention it to me.

“Before Covid we used to have a different walking group that we would refer patients to which was beneficial, but due to Covid that stopped. Covid caused a lot of patients to feel isolated, lonely, and inactive. Coming out of lockdown, it was hard for them to get back into a routine they may have once had.

“I thought signposting them to Selina (EWG founder) would be a good idea. Not only does the walking group combat loneliness and isolation, the exercise is beneficial for health reasons.

“A lot more patients were getting diagnosed with pre-diabetes/diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity etc.”

EWG host free meet ups, which are ‘open to all age groups, abilities and doggies on leads’. The group meets every Monday and fortnightly on Thursday between 6:30pm and 7:30pm.

Due to “growing demand” the EWG have added another weekly group, meeting every Tuesday between 1pm and 2pm – said EWG founder Selina Gooden.

Harold MacDonald has been a regular walker with EWG for over two years. He told: “It was the perfect incentive to get off the settee and mentally de-stress while getting some fresh air and gentle exercise.

“There’s always a nice mix of people of all ages, ethnicity, and both sexes – even the odd dog walker and pram pusher too. People can walk as fast or slow as they like. I would recommend it to everybody.”

EWG founder Selina Gooden is planning more events as the weather improves. “The group is open to all ages; we’ve had people from the age of five to 84 walk with us.

“With the summer coming up I’ll be putting on a treasure hunt – there will be gifts, animal toys, and edible treats along the route for people to find along the walk,” added Selina.

For more information on Erdington Walking Group contact erdingtonwalkinggroup@hotmail.com – or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/erdingtonwalking

NEWS: Love Erdington arts festival at Central Square running from 10-15 May

Words by Jobe Baker Sullivan

Celebrating creative talent this spring, Arts All Over the Place (AAOTP) have planned five days of poetry, music, and art in Central Square on Erdington High Street, running from 10 – 15 May.

The completely free Love Erdington festival is a culmination of the Creative Catalyst workshops, held every Thursday at the Secret Art Studio Space (SASS).

The weeklong programme starts on Tuesday, 10 May with a VIP launch lunch from 12pm – featuring Erdington based conservatoire graduate Edwin Podolski playing violin.

Open to members of the public, anyone wanting to attend the Love Erdington festival VIP launch lunch should email: artsallovertheplace@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, 11 May will see two sessions with Birmingham poet Kiran ‘Kiz’ Manley, from the collective Hip Hop HEALS. “We do creative workshops with a well-being twist,” explained Kiz.

“We use scientifically evidenced calming techniques from expressive arts research to settle people into sessions. Then we energise people’s expression and connection with others through fun prompts to bring about a creative buzz.”

Thursday, 12 May will host a craft workshop with Margaret Murray, an art facilitator who ran the regular AAOTP Creative Catalyst workshops. Her plan is to create models of birds with movable wings, which members will flap as part of a procession used in the festival’s grand finale.

“Creative Catalyst has really lived up to its name,” said Margaret. “It has been providing opportunities for participants to revisit or learn new skills and to share their creative talents. It has provided a really friendly place to chat and even laugh.”

Arts All Over the Place (AAOTP) work with people who have experience of dealing with mental health issues. “We care for carers, as well as care for people who need caring for,” told Cathy Crossley, head of AAOTP.

Friday, 13 May is set to be a ‘carers day with information stalls’ from Home, a group with a contract through Birmingham City Council that provides support for carers. “They will be giving out information in the afternoon,” added Cathy.

Also on the Friday, from 2pm there will be a workshop with professional model maker Trevor Boddington. AAOTP previously ran Creative Catalyst workshops in Castle Vale where Trevor and the participants created a model of The Sanctuary on Tangmere Drive.

Trevor will be teaching people how to create models out of junk material such as tin cans and cardboard boxes. “Trevor is fantastic at creating things out of other things that are too nice to throw away,” said Cathy.

Saturday, 14 May, the final day of the festival, will present a procession in Central Square and music from three bands, including the Village Green Band – founded in 2022 as an offshoot of the Erdington Traditional Irish Sessions.

“We can’t wait to be part of this festival. Anything that’s a chance for me to bang my drum, both literally and figuratively, celebrating Erdington,” said Robert Tanley, co-founder and Bodhran player for the Erdington Traditional Sessions. “It also gives us a chance to advertise our third Sunday sessions at the New Inns.”

For more details on the Love Erdington festival email: artsallovertheplace@yahoo.co.uk

NEWS: “The Justice for Dea John Reid campaign has a lot of work to do,” as teenager guilty of killing is sentenced to six and a half years

Words by Ed King

The teenager convicted of killing 14 year old Dea John Reid in Kingstandng last year has been sentenced to six year and a half years, with an order to serve half of it in a juvenile detention centre.

Dea John Reid was fatally stabbed on Collage Road on 31 May 2021, with two adults and three minors arrested and charged with his murder. In a shock verdict in March 2022, all were acquitted or murder – with the charge against the boy who delivered the fatal blow dropped to manslaughter.

In UK courts, manslaughter can carry a jail term of up to 24 years for adults – with sentencing guidelines cutting that in half for minors.

At the sentence hearing on Friday 6 May, for the prosecution Richard Wormald QC argued how the court has “clearly rejected his (the minor guilty of manslaughter) defence of self defence,” and the killing had been “motivated by revenge… after an orchestrated chase”.

He added the killing was especially “shocking” as it “took place in broad daylight” in a busy residential area and in front of numerous members of the public.

Speaking for the defence, Tim Clarke QC mitigated how the “negative influence” from the adults who had been previous charged with murder was a significant factor and “the motivation they had and the words they used” were not the same as his client’s.

Throughout the case, extensive CCTV footage had clearly shown racist language being used towards Dea John and his group of friends by some of those accused, although not by the young person now guilty of manslaughter.Mr Clarke QC added, there was a “public duty to reach the right sentence, not the one that will bring comfort” to those hurt and affected by the case.

Presiding over the case, Mr Justice Johnson told the juvenile “You killed Dea John Reid. You had armed yourself with a knife. He stood no chance; he was unarmed he was no threat to you.

“You have taken the kitchen knife to the scene, along with the balaclava and gloves – you had planned to commit some form of offence. It involved others but you look a leading role.

“The CCTV shows there was a concerted chase of DJ which was led by you.

“I can only impose a custodial sentence when no other avenue is appropriate. I do not think you are a significant risk to the public, but you took Dea John’s life – the offence is so serious I have to impose a custodial sentence.”

Dea John’s family were present in the courtroom as the sentencing was handed out and were permitted to address the court with a statement from Dea John’s mother, Joan Morris.

Read by Bishop Desmond Jaddoo, who had been counselling the family since the killing and throughout the trial, the personal message told how the family had “put our faith in the justice system” and felt “let down” by the previous acquittals.

Following the sentencing, which will see the teenager who killed Dea John spend only another three years in a detention centre, Bishop Jaddoo addressed a crowd outside the court, stating how the trial “tells us how this system is not gear up to give black people justice”.

He told how Dea John had been “chased by a lynch mob and knifed to death” and how “this does say that this great city Birmingham, that does say black lives matter… black lives just do not matter.”

Closing his remarks, on behalf of Dea John’s family, Bishop Jaddoo added: “Dea John’s death must not be in vain and trust me it will not be.

“The Justice for Dea John Reid campaign has a lot of work to do.”

Bishop Desmond Jaddoo outside Birmingham Crown Court – Friday 6 May

NEWS: Erdington’s city councillors announced as local election results declared

Words by Ed King

Voters across Erdington have decided their next council representatives, as the results of the local elections were announced today.

Winning the Castle Vale Ward, Labour’s Ray Goodwin was “blown away” by the support he received from local voters – beating The Green Party’s John Macefield by a narrow 44 votes, but with a confident 233 lead over the Local Conservative candidate Tyrese Romain.

He told Erdington Local: “I’m absolutely blown away; this is absolutely amazing. I did wonder if I should stand, but as many people know it was Jack’s (Dromey, Erdington’s recently deceased MP) last wishes was that I stand, and it was really important that I did. So, in my mind I did it for Jack. And Jack, I won it for you as well.”

The Green Party also picked up many new votes in the Gravelly Hill Ward, where newly standing candidate Siobhan Harper-Nunes achieved 363 votes – beating the Local Conservative candidate into second place by 35 votes.

Although not enough to take the ward from Labour’s Mick Brown, who has traditionally held a strong lead in Gravelly Hill, The Green Party’s endorsement from local voters shows a significant move away from previous local election – with Labour losing over 400 votes from the 2018 results.

Green party candidate Siobhan Harper-Nunes told: “Of course, I am disappointed but really not surprised.

“I have loved every minute of the Gravelly Hill campaign, meeting people, getting to grips with local issues and of course solving problems.

“We have gained a lot of support and the Green Party has made a footprint across the city. At local elections people must vote for the candidate they believe in and it’s clear, their belief is still unanimously with the sitting councillor.

“My work as a Green Party advocate has only just begun and I will still be around pushing forward on green issues.”

Labour continued to clean up across the constituency, with both candidates in Stockland Green – Jane Jones and Amar Khan – successfully retaining the ward for the party, although losing hundreds of votes from the 2018 elections.

Local Conservatives’ new Stockland Green candidate, Estelle Murphy – who moved into politics after successfully campaigning to save Short Heath Playing Fields – was voted in third, and the only front runner candidate to improve on her counterpart’s performance in the 2018 elections.

She told: “This has been a brilliant learning curve as a first innings and I’m looking forward to what I can achieve in the next four years.”

Elsewhere across the constituency, Perry Common was won by Labour’s Jilly Bermingham, who beat the Conservative candidate Rachael Okello with a 204 vote lead.

Whilst Pype Hayes was won by Labour’s Basharat Mahmood, beating Local Conservative Clifton Welch by 91 votes – mirroring the closely fought contest in the 2018 local elections.

Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore retained the Erdington Ward with a confident majority, the largest in the constituency, collectively beating Labour’s Suriyah Bi and Basharat Mahmood by 1189 votes.

Speaking to Erdington Local after the announcement, Cllr Alden said: “It’s a huge honour to represent the people of Erdington, something I’ve been delighted to do for almost 20 years.

“Erdington’s an incredible place and we’ll keep doing all we can to represent the people of Erdington.”

Cllr Gareth Moore added: “The responses, over the last few weeks on the campaign trail, have been really positive and people are grateful for the work Robert (Alden) and I have been doing in Erdington and it’s great to see that reflected in the result today.”

But the shock of the day came in Kingstanding, as Labour and Local Conservatives split the ward with one candidate winning for each party – Rick Payne taking 1286 votes for the Local Conservatives, and Des Hughes receiving 1350 for Labour.

Whilst both candidates were saddened their running mates would not be join them in local office, each were firm that they would work together for the good of Kingstanding.

Local Conservative Rick Payne told: “I just want to thank all the people of Kingstanding who have put their trust in me to represent them as a councillor.

“And I will work with who I have to work with to get the best for Kingstanding.”

Labour’s Des Hughes, who was elected Kingstanding councillor in 2015 but lost the ward the following year, added: “I’m delighted that the electors in Kingstanding have given me the opportunity to represent them again, which I look forward to doing with enthusiasm and vigour.

“I do regret that my college, Naz Rasheed, isn’t able to join me. But ultimately, we’ve (Rick Payne, Local Conservatives) got our political differences, but the objective is to serve the residents of Kingstanding and that’s what counts.”

NEWS: Erdington Ward Labour candidate Suriyah Bi petitions Government for £10 ID cards to help employment

Words by Ed King

Erdington Ward Labour candidate Suriyah Bi has petitioned Government for ‘an affordable national identification card’ to help people get back to work.

Responding to the concerns of one Topcroft Estate resident, Ms Bi wrote an open letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – the Rt Hon. Thérèse Coffey – asking for ‘ID that people can access at no more than £10.’

For many jobs, potential employees are required to show an officially recognised national ID such as a passport or driving licence.

Current UK passports for adults can cost between £75-95.

A provisional driving licence can cost up to £43, with the cost of the theory and practical tests adding up to another £98 – whilst learning to drive can amount to hundreds of pounds before you even take a test.

For many people across the UK these costs are too high, leaving them without any way of having the official ID required by employers.

Suriyah Bi is now asking the Work and Pensions Minister to introduce cheaper identification, to help break ‘cycles of poverty and homelessness’ and support those struggling financially ‘to access employment and have a means of income.’

Ms Bi told Erdington Local: “While door knocking on the Topcroft Estate, I met a lovely resident who told me about the difficulty in finding employment due to having to have a form of ID, such as a passport or a driving license.

“However, with the current cost of living crisis she was stuck between feeding her family, heating her home and having to pay around £90 for a passport to access employment.

“She wanted an affordable form of ID that would cost no more than £10, so she could become employed.

“I felt it was my duty to take her concerns directly to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and ask her to consider implementing this nationally, as many people may be in a similar situation.

“This could be a very important step in the right direction to break cycles of homelessness and poverty.”

Suriyah Bi is standing as one of the two Labour candidates contesting the Erdington Ward in the local elections on 5 May, alongside Basharat Dad – Labour’s second candidate.

Erdington Ward is currently represented by Local Conservatives Cllr Robert Alden and Cllr Gareth Moore.

Local elections take place on Thursday 5 May.

For more on Suriyah Bi and Basharat Dad’s campaign for the Erdington Ward visit www.facebook.com/SuriyahBiandBasharatDadforErdington

NEWS: Kingstanding boxer wins gold medal at Gee Bee Championships

By Erdington Local news team

Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell has won gold for Great Britain at the prestigious Gee Bee Championships.

The championships, held in Finland, were the first of three tournaments in what is set to be an unforgettable year for Farrell – culminating in the 24-year-old fighting in front of his home crowd in the Commonwealth Games.

The featherweight was the first Team GB fighter in the ring on Sunday and his victory set the tone for the rest of the day, with his team returning to the UK with eight medals.

Niall told Erdington Local: “Finals day is always amazing, I was kind of nervous because I wanted to give the team a good start, we are really close knit team and we all cheer each other on after our own fights.

“I’ve got the European Championships and then the Commonwealth Games in July. I should be in the team; it will be amazing. I have not fought in England for years now so to have the Commonwealth Games in my own city will be something I will remember forever.

“I have got a lot of support in Kingstanding, 50 people once travelled with me to Croatia so imagine what it will be like in the NEC for my fights.”

Niall has been fighting for the prestigious Team GB Boxing for seven years and regularly mixes with world champions and Olympic gold medallists as he is pushed to the limit by his coaches at the Sheffield headquarters.

However, Kingstanding’s Second City Boxing Club is where his heart will always be.

He said: “My dad set up Second City for me and my brothers really and all my family are involved. What the club has achieved in this area is something we are all really proud of.

“Youngsters have come into the gym to keep off the streets and have ended up fighting for championships and wearing England shirts.

“I am treated no different to anyone else when I go in the gym, in fact I might get shouted at more than anyone else by my dad. But I know because I am a Team GB boxer I can inspire any kid who walks into that gym.”

Niall is wary of looking too far ahead as he needs to think one fight, and one tournament, at a time, but he hopes to be selling out arenas in the professional ranks one day.

He said: “The Commonwealth Games will be a great platform to build on, I want to turn professional one day, and I will want to be fighting for world titles in Birmingham, but I cannot think too far ahead. I just know there are exciting times ahead.”

He added: “I have had a lot of support from Kingstanding, from everyone at the club, to my sponsors Absolute Scaffolding, Four Roads Construction, Spanclad Construction, and Luke Roper (Luke 1977), and I know I when I go into a school or a gym, if I can change just one child’s mindset then I’ve won already.

“However, I know the whole city will be behind me during the Commonwealth Games, it will be the kind of thing when everything is done, my career is done, that I and the rest of the Team GB boxers will look back on and smile.”

For more on Niall Farrell visit www.teamengland.org/news/generation-22-niall-farrell

For more on Second City Boxing visit https://www.facebook.com/Second-City-Boxing-Club

NEWS: WLCA Chief Officer Afzal Hussain appointed Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands

Words by Steve Sharma / Pics by Ed King

Afzal Hussain, Chief Officer at Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA), has been appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands.

The role comes in recognition of his work and contributions to communities and social enterprise in Birmingham and across the region. He is one of six new Deputy Lieutenants with backgrounds ranging from education, entrepreneurship, homelessness, and music.

A royal appointment, the Deputy Lieutenants participate in civic, voluntary, and social activities within the lieutenancy.

Afzal will support The Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Mr John Crabtree OBE – the Queen’s personal representative in the county – in a number of ways including attending on Royalty during official visits, representation at citizenship ceremonies, supporting the armed forces of the Crown, and encouraging charitable and voluntary work and local initiatives to benefit the community.

“I am honoured to have been appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands,” said Afzal.

“Our many citizens, community and voluntary organisations play a vitally important role in the life of our region and I look forward to promoting and encouraging this further.’

During the pandemic, Afzal convened the Erdington (Covid 19) Task Force and the North Birmingham Economic Recovery Task Force, which have supported thousands of residents and vulnerable groups to access health and wellbeing, housing, employment, training, and enterprise support services.

Afzal is also an active member of several Boards in Birmingham and the West Midlands, providing experience and insight in community-led approaches to tackle deep-seated challenges, as well as capitalising on opportunities that unlock and nurture talent.

Prior to running WLCA, his previous roles include Director of Coventry New Deal for Communities and Deputy Chief Executive of Aston Pride NDC – where he worked with the board, local government, community leaders, and senior officers to successfully re-establish and manage the £54m multi-partnership initiative tasked with regenerating one of Birmingham’s most deprived wards.

In his role as WLCA Chief Officer, Afzal was also a key part in the multi million pound regeneration bids for Erdington High Street and continues to work with local stakeholders at sourcing further investment opportunities.

Working alongside NHS Property Services, WLCA were further responsible for the new Health and Wellbeing Hub that took over the old walk-in centre site on Erdington High Street. WLCA are also developing plans for an ambitions Enterprise Hub at the old Erdington Swimming Baths.

With the Commonwealth Games coming to Perry Barr in July/August – and satellite events held across the region – the recently appointed Deputy Lieutenants for the West Midlands will also support the city in delivering this premiere sporting event.

“The West Midlands is this year welcoming visitors from throughout the world and the West Midlands Lieutenancy is committed to supporting and representing every community in the County,” said Mr Crabtree.

“As the second largest lieutenancy in England and Wales and home to nearly three million citizens, the enthusiasm and additional reach of the new Deputy Lieutenants will complement the great work of my existing Deputy Lieutenants.

The West Midlands Lieutenancy comprises Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. It was established in 1974.

For more on the West Midlands Lieutenancy visit www.wmlieutenancy.org

For more on Witton Lodge Community Association visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk

EXCLUSIVE: Lyndhurst residents pay hundreds for decommissioned sheltered housing

Words & pics by Ed King

Residents in Standleys Tower on the Lyndhurst Estate are being charged hundreds of pounds a year for sheltered housing that was decommissioned around seven years ago – Erdington Local can reveal.

Once only accessible to people over 50, as part of a Birmingham City Council run sheltered housing scheme, the old block was once a well loved home to many of Erdington’s older residents – who paid a standard weekly service charge for onsite care and support.

But since the flats were ‘open aged’ nearly a decade ago, all the Standleys Tower residents – regardless of age or when they started living there – are still being billed for a weekly ‘Sheltered Housing Charge’ by Birmingham City Council, amounting to over £460 extra on their annual rent for 2021/2.

“We used to have a warden who would come out every day and look after the elderly people who were in the block, to sort their problems out and everything,” told Derek Walton, 62, who has lived in Standleys Tower for over a decade.

“They decommissioned him seven years ago and they’re still charging us for it. The service charges used to pay their wages.

“I’ve been here 11 years now, and I’ve always had to pay the service charge. I first raised this about four or five years ago, but it was just like water under the bridge.

“But every year we’ve asked the same question because we’re being told ‘no you’re not being charged for it’. We don’t know what we’re being charged for until they send the breakdown in a letter that comes out once a year, just before April.”

According to a series of letters given to Erdington Local, the Lyndhurst residents are also charged a further yearly cost of over £590 for ‘Night Security’ – despite no safety personnel being stationed on the estate and all the internal cameras at Standleys Tower having been removed around four years ago.

Standing nine stories high with a total of 36 flats, residents of Standleys Tower are paying Birmingham City Council a potential total of over £37800 each year for services and security that do not exist or they get no benefit from. And despite repeated attempts to have the Local Authority drop the levies, which are added automatically onto resident’s yearly rental, those living in the old Lyndhurst tower block have been repeatedly ignored.

“To my knowledge there’s about five or six other residents who have rung up (Birmingham City Council) and asked about it,” added Derek, “but they’re just getting run round in circles.

“It’s been impossible, you get to the front desk then they put you on to somebody else, who then puts you on to somebody else… you just give up trying.

Born and bred in Kingstanding, Derek moved to the Lyndhurst Estate after having to care for an aunt with Alzheimer’s.

Following a massive heart attack, he was forced to quit his job as a heavy goods driver and now has a defibrillator installed in his chest, constantly linked to a monitor. Derek’s heart can miss several beats a day and it is imperative he avoid stress and unnecessary physical exertion.

The rising cost of living is also a concern for Derek and many across the UK, with the money being paid for defunct services by residents in Standleys Tower better spent on household bills and everyday essentials.

“It would pay half of my bedroom tax for a start off,” told Derek. “The cost of living has gone sky high, it’s ridiculous. The money would help go towards my gas and electric, to cut down my bills and the rest of it.

“It does stress you out because you can’t get anywhere… you get nowhere at all. It never used to be like this. When we started a (residents) forum the Council used to back you up left, right, and centre – now it’s like the don’t want to do anything.

“I’m off work because of my heart and I get help with my rent; it’s the people who are out there working and still have to pay this that I’m really worried for.”

Whilst the Standleys Tower residents are drawing blanks with Birmingham City Council’s housing department, Erdington ward Councillors Gareth Moore and Robert Alden have been trying to get the Local Authority to address their concerns and issue a refund.

Cllr Gareth Moore said: “Despite raising on several occasions, the Council have continued to charge tenants wrongly and have failed to act to address this unfairness.

“It’s made worse as it was the Council who decided to decommission Standleys Tower as a sheltered housing scheme, against the objections of tenants, and then have the cheek to keep charging them.”

Cllr Robert Alden added: “the Council need to refund residents every penny they have falsely charged them – with interest. They should stop trying to get out of refunding it and just give residents their money back. Any further delay is totally unacceptable.”

In a full Council Cabinet meeting on 15 March, Cllr Alden further challenged Birmingham City Council leader, Ian Ward, to stop the charges for a scheme that no longer existed and reimburse the Standley Tower residents in full.

When offered a copy of the resident’s yearly bill, which states ‘Sheltered Housing Charge £8.86’ in the weekly breakdown, Cllr Ian Ward responded if the “asserted” complaints were true then the Council “would indeed look into it.”

Erdington Local has approached Birmingham City Council for comment.

If you are a resident of Standleys Tower, or a Council tenant being charged for costs and services you are not receiving, please email: edking@erdingtonlocal.com