EXCLUSIVE: Local campaigners ‘ready to take on any private developer’ after Council halt housing plans for Short Heath Playing Fields

Words & pics by Ed King

In a surprise U-turn, Birmingham City Council have halted their housing plans for Short Heath Playing Fields – returning the site back to the Education Department.

In an email to Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) from the Birmingham Leader’s office, sent on Thursday 25 November, Cllr Ward informed them Birmingham City Council no longer saw the site as viable for their proposed development of 84 houses.

The news was met with relief and hope, from a community that have been locking horns with Birmingham City Council for over a year to keep the green space for public use – from regular dog walking and sporting activities, to organised events such as the recent ‘pumpkin hunt’ which saw families from Kingstanding to Castle Vale come together on the parkland.

But local campaigners are “ready to take on any private developer”, as moving the land back into the Education Department portfolio could end up with a quick sale in the commercial market and planning applications to build even more houses on their “beloved fields”.

In previous statements made by Birmingham City Council, if the fiercely fought over green space was no longer earmarked for development by Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT): ‘it is anticipated that the land would be sold relatively soon to a private developer.’

In the same message, Birmingham City Council went on to state:

“It is known that private developers would look to maximise the density of any site as far as possible, it is also a known and demonstrable fact that homes delivered by private developers are almost all of a smaller size than any BMHT designed homes, therefore the likelihood is that there would be in excess of 84 homes on the site, and should that developer seek to build apartments on a low rise form, would again most likely exceed 100 plus homes and apartments.”

After receiving the email from the Birmingham Leader, Short Heath Fields Trust told Erdington Local:

“This is a huge win for us all. We at Short Heath Fields Trust are delighted by the news that the Council will not be building on our green space.

“We know this is a battle won, but not the war. We would like to know the results of the environmental surveys and the more detailed look into the grounds actual viability for development which we know we’re undertaken.

“We have taken on Birmingham City Council with its huge legal department and we are more than ready to take on any private developers if needed.

“We will continue to make sure the community gets a say in what happens at our beloved fields. To try to bring the community’s vision of the return of sports for all and to see it given back to the community.

“Considering the Council haven’t paid a penny for this parkland it should be put into the parks department not education, as that is where it belongs, so this community can keep using and enjoying it instead of generations past, present, and future having to keep fighting for it.”

The campaign to save ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ began in August 2020, after a contentious period of initial public consultation which many claim they were unaware of.

Starting with a Facebook page and online petition, local residents eventually formalised into Short Heath Fields Trust – following a community protest that grabbed the attention of politicians from both sides of the aisle.

Leader of the Birmingham Conservative Party and Erdington Ward councillor, Robert Alden, joined local residents in their protest against the Council’s plans – having been already fighting the proposed development from Birmingham’s corridors of power.

Cllr Alden told Erdington Local: “The decision of the Council to finally listen to the thousands of residents locally who have been calling for the site to be saved is a welcome one. Short Heath Playing Fields is a green lung in our area that needs to be preserved.

“However, residents will not forget that the Leader of the Council and the Labour MP stood in front of residents telling them the site had to be built on.

“Therefore, residents will rightly be concerned that the City Council will simply decide to change their minds again next summer, after the all-out council elections.

“That is exactly what they did with Burford Road Playing Fields, Kingstanding, in 2018. They claimed they were saved going into the 2018 elections and then agreed to build on them in 2019.

“Residents can rest assured we will continue to fight and keep the pressure on the Council to preserve Short Heath Road Playing Fields and other green spaces locally.

Erdington MP Jack Dromey has also been heavily involved in the campaign to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’, responding to the growing concerns of local residents, meeting regularly with SHFT, and using his position to broker meetings with Birmingham Council Leader Ian Ward.

On hearing the land was being given back to the Education Department, Jack Dromey said:

“The campaign to Save Short Heath Playing Fields has been a strong, community-led campaign and the news that Birmingham City Council will not be building houses on the site will be welcomed by the campaigners.

“Since I was first approached about the issue two years ago, I have been working with all those concerned to try and find a way forward that the local community can support, and I’d like to thank everyone involved for the constructive way in what has sometimes been difficult discussions.

“I will continue to work closely with campaigners and the community on the future of Short Heath Playing Fields, that are near and dear to the heart of the local community.”

Despite various alternatives being proposed by SHFT, including putting sports facilities on Short Heath Playing Fields and a list of surrounding brownfield sites on which to develop social housing, the fate of the green space seemed sealed.

During a meeting with local residents on Friday 20 August, the Birmingham Council Leader reiterated the likelihood of a private sale if the land could not be developed by BMHT – urging residents to accept the Council’s proposal.

At the same meeting, Cllr Ward also announced the number of proposed houses to be built would be reduced to 66 from the 84, to make way for ‘a green corridor’ connecting Short Heath Road to Bleak Hill Park.

Commitments were also made of reinvesting up to £1millon from the development back into the local community for health, wellbeing, and sports facilities.

However, if the land is sold to a private developer the size and scope of any development remains to be seen – alongside any possible reparations to the local community.

Erdington Local has approached Birmingham City Council for comment.

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

For more on the fight to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ click here to visit the campaign’s Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/groups/1007069176404521

NEWS: West Midlands Crime Commissioner celebrates ‘fantastic job’ by Erdington Street Pastors

Words & pics by Ed King

On Saturday 13 November, the Erdington Street Pastors were joined on their morning patrol by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster – walking with the team up and down Erdington High Street.

Celebrating the efforts of the Street Pastors, Simon Foster told Erdington Local: “My message to the Street Pastors is that they’re doing a fantastic job on Erdington High Street.

“I think it’s a brilliant initiative and I’ve been very pleased to support it as Police and Crime Commissioner.

“It really does help the neighbourhood police teams; helping them prevent crime, protect people, and ensuring that vulnerable people are kept safe.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey, who also joined the Street Pastors and Simon Foster on patrol and talking to people on Erdington High Street, added: “The Street Pastors reassure the local community that the High Street is a welcoming place that they can go to.

“As Simon (Foster) has said, they reach to and put their arms around sometimes some of the most vulnerable in our community who have fallen through the net and as a consequence of which sometime behave badly.”

A global initiative, Street Pastors are currently active in over 240 cities and town across the UK – including 20 in the West Midlands alone. Twelve Street Pastors have been patrolling Erdington High Street since their ‘commissioning’ on Saturday 18 September.

Working with the police and local community leaders/groups, the Street Pastors help tackle issues around anti-social behaviour and public disturbances, whilst offering a friendly face for anyone who needs help or just wants to talk.

Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim is lead pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Erdington and Chair of the Erdington Street Pastors, who joined with churches across Erdington to bring the inititive to the area.

An active Street Pastor himself, Pastor Rasaq led the Saturday morning team on patrol with Simon Foster and Joack Dromey. He told Erdington Local: “It’s greta to have Simon (Foster) join us on patrol in Erdington, he has been humbly walking with us for two hours – meeting popel and seeing what we do.

“Erdington Street Pastor have been well supported by the West Midlands Crime Commissioner’s office and we look forward to building on that partnership.”

But since 2010 the West Midlands has had £175m pulled from its policing budget, seeing a drop of over 2000 police officers – around 25% of those in active service, and over 50% allocated to community policing..

Recently re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for the region, Simon Foster has put this top of his agenda.

He added: “My key campaign pledge is to rebuild community policing in the West Midlands because I think dismantling it was a big mistake; it was counterproductive, it’s a false economy

“It’s really important that we have community initiatives like the Street Pastors, like Neighbourhood Watch, like Street Watch, Speed Watch, Street Wardens, all of those different projects play a really important role in providing that help, reassurance, and support to local communities.”

A very real concern for many across Erdington, Jack Dromey has been hearing about street safety from local residents during sessions at his surgery.

He explained: “If you lose 2000 police officers, if you lose so much of the social fabric that diverts young people from crime, what you see as day follows night is a rising crime and that’s wrong.

“Time, and time, and time again I get people who come to my surgery – people I’ve met today on the High Street here with Simon (Foster) – who say, at the most extreme, we’re afraid to go out at night, we no longer feel comfortable in our community, on our High Street. That is absolutely and fundamentally wrong.”

For more information about the Erdington Street Pastors and to see if you can get involved email Pastor Rasaq at chair.erdington@streetpastors.org.uk

For more on the Street Pastors initiative visit www.streetpastors.org

NEWS: Erdington loses out on Levelling Up millions as the only Birmingham bid to fail at the first round

Words & pics by Ed King

Erdington High Street lost out on millions of pounds of investment today when its application for the Government’s Levelling Up Fund fell at the first round – as announced in the Chancellor’s Spending Review.

One of four applications made by Birmingham City Council, Erdington High Street’s bid was the only one to be denied at this stage – despite being for the lowest amount of money.

The Levelling Up Fund is a £4.8 billion national pot of money earmarked by Government for regional investment into local infrastructure.

The Levelling Up Fund application for Erdington High Street was at £12,700,000 – with further investment coming from the private sector, including the transformation of Central Square into a destination venue of shops, cafes, bars, and apartments.

Birmingham’s other bids, which have all made it through the first round, include £19,941,000 for the A457 Dudley Road Improvement Scheme, £17,145,000 for the Wheels site remediation, and £15,539,000 for Moseley Road Swimming Baths.

Erdington’s Levelling Up Fund bid was worked on by both Labour and Conservative politicians in the area – alongside key local stakeholders including Godwin Developments, Witton Lodge Community Association, and Erdington Business Improvement District.

Following the news, Erdington MP Jack Dromey (Lab) issued the following statement:

“Once again, the Government has failed to provide the investment Erdington High Street so desperately needs. This decision flies in the face of their ‘levelling up’ rhetoric and badly lets down one of the poorest communities in the country.

“This investment would have provided an invaluable economic, social and cultural boost to our community, as well as providing employment opportunities for Erdington, which has an unemployment rate that stands at twice the national average.

“But this is not the first time Government has let Erdington down. Following the rejection of the Future High Streets Fund bid on Boxing Day, we continued to seek investment in our High Street.

“Working together with Birmingham City Council, key local stakeholders, and the local community, we submitted this comprehensive and ambitious bid to the Levelling Up Fund complete with a solid business case and significant private investment.

“This makes the decision to deny Erdington of investment once again outrageous and inexplicable.”

Erdington ward Councillors Robert Alden and Gareth Moore (Con) made the following statements:

Cllr Robert Alden said: “This is a bitterly disappointing decision.

“When the Council took the four bids for Birmingham through cabinet, we warned that the Council providing £15m of match funding for the other three bids and nothing for Erdington would weaken the application and give the impression to civil servants that the Council clearly considered the bid to be less important than the other four.

“Sadly, that is exactly what seems to have happened”.

Cllr Gareth Moore added “The Council administration refusing to put match funding into the Erdington bid, was always a kick in the teeth for the hard work of local partners like the Erdington BID, Witton Lodge Community Association, regeneration officers who worked on the bid, businesses, developers and community and church groups.

“So, to now see that the three bids the Council did match fund were approved and that the Council refusal to match fund Erdington has potentially cost Erdington is disgraceful.

“However, a massive thank you to all the partners and officers involved who have been helping fight for Erdington”.

Erdington recently missed out the Future High Streets Fund, another cross party and local stakeholder application, which would have seen over £50m pumped into the town centre in a joint investment from Government and the private sector.

 

NEWS: Erdington MP calls on Government ‘to ensure a decision is made’ over £12.7million Levelling Up Fund

Words & pics by Ed King

Erdington MP Jack Dromey has called on Government to ‘ensure a decision is made… as soon as possible’ over a £12.7million Levelling Up Fund investment into the High Street, Erdington Local can reveal.

In a letter issued to Michael Gove earlier today, Mr Dromey urged the recently appointed Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to respond to Erdington’s bid – allowing Birmingham City Council and local stakeholders to ‘get on with the job of delivering the improvements to infrastructure Erdington so desperately needs.’

An application for the Levelling Up Fund was submitted by Birmingham City Council in June, which if successful would see a multi-million pound injection into Erdington High Street, but has so far received no response from Government.

One of the criteria for the Levelling Up Fund, a £4.8 billion national pot of money for investment into local infrastructure, is for any successful bid to ‘begin delivery on the ground in the 2021-22 financial year’.

With only 6 months to go until April, concerns are growing if a decision is not reached soon the ambitious plans for the High Street could become impossible to deliver.

In his letter to Michael Gove, Mr Dromey continued: ‘I always say that Erdington may be one of the poorest constituencies in the country, but we are rich in talent.

‘The determination, innovation, and passion of local people, especially in the face of adversity as we have seen recently, never ceases to amaze and inspire me. However, without investment we will never realise this potential to its fullest.’

To read the full letter sent by Jack Dromey MP to Michael Gove click here.

Erdington’s Levelling Up Fund bid was worked on by both Labour and Conservative politicians in the area – alongside key local stakeholders including Godwin Developments, Witton Lodge Community Association, and Erdington Business Improvement District.

Included in the bid were plans for a major redevelopment of Central Square, transformation of St Barnabas’s churchyard, and seeing the listed Erdington Baths turned into a cutting edge business hub.

Erdington recently missed out the Future High Streets Fund, an application made that would have seen over £50m pumped into the town centre in a joint investment from Government and the private sector.

Now the hopes for the High Street are pinned to the Levelling Up Fund, which would again see a £12.7million investment from Government topped up by the private sector.

Godwin Developments, who are looking to develop Central Square into a Brindley Place style destination venue of restaurants, cafes, and stylish accommodation, are keen to help transform Erdington High Street.

Matt Chandler, Development Director at Godwin Developments, told Erdington Local: “Erdington, with its young population, has great potential and the Levelling Up Fund would ensure that it is unlocked with a major boost from well-thought through schemes breathing life into the high street, providing places to live and community assets for years to come.

“The Fund would prove transformational for the area, creating economic, employment and cultural opportunities for residents and encouraging further inward investment.

“With the Commonwealth Games arriving in Birmingham next year, all areas of the city should receive the investment they deserve.”

NEWS: Strike at GKN Chester Road factory ‘suspended’ until October

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Unite and Jack Dromey MP

The planned strike at the GKN Chester Road factory will be suspended until Monday 18 October, announced Unite the Union in a statement issued this week.

Scheduled to begin on Monday 27 September, industrial action will now be put on hold for at least three weeks whilst representatives of the 500 strong workforce finally begin talks with GKN owners Melrose PLC.

GKN workers, Unite the Union, and Erdington MP Jack Dromey have been calling for emergency talks with Melrose for several months, wanting to explore alternatives to closing the plant, but have been constantly rebuffed.

At the eleventh hour ahead of industrial action Melrose have now agreed to enter talks about the future of the plant, which provides essential drives lines for the automotive industry – including the nearby Jaguar Land Rover plant at Castle Vale.

A plan for the Chester Road factory had previously been put forward and hopes remain the Erdington site could play a key part in the electrification of the UK’s automotive sector, building the new propulsion units needed in electric vehicles.

Unite national officer Des Quinn said: “In the spirit of good will, the planned strike action has been suspended to allow for talks about the future of the factory with key stakeholders to take place.

“It is hoped that all sides can use this window of opportunity to secure a long term future for the factory.

“Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.”

Since the closure was announced at the start of the year, MP for Erdington Jack Dromey has been working with Unite the Union to negotiate a deal to save the Erdington factory.

Mr Dromey added: “The reopening of negotiations between the workers, their union, Unite, and GKN/Melrose presents a real opportunity to secure a settlement to save the GKN plant from closure.

“The GKN workers and Unite have always been clear that they stood ready to enter any discussions to save the GKN Chester Road plant from closure.

“In the spirit of that commitment they have suspended strike action to allow these talks to now take place. In return, the company have made clear their commitment to pause any movement of works and machinery out of the plant.

“It is vital that all those involved in these talks now do all they can to keep the plant open and to stop 519 well-paid, skilled jobs being lost in one of Britain’s most deprived communities.

“The role of Government will be key to prevent closure and the export of production to Poland and France. The British Automotive industry needs high-quality components made here in Britain.”

To find out more about GKN Automotive visit www.gknautomotive.com

For more from Unite the Union visit www.unitetheunion.org

For more from Jack Dromey MP for Erdington visit www.jackdromey.co.uk  

 

NEWS: Erdington Street Pastors are now on patrol

Words by Adam Smith

The first Street Pastors were commissioned this week, with a ceremony taking on Saturday 18 September. The uniformed support workers are set to become familiar faces in Erdington patrolling the High Street.

The outdoor commissioning ceremony was held near Costa Coffee, where 12 volunteers from local churches were given the relevant powers by The Ascension Trust to become Street Pastors.

First launched in 2003 in Brixton there are now 240 towns and high streets in the UK where The Ascention Trust have trained volunteers to provide a reassuring presence during the day and night.

Erdington MP Jack Dromey and Assistant West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil attended the service.

Erdington Street Pastors chairman Rasaq Ibrahim told Erdington Local: “This has been a journey of ten months to get to this point.

“We had a target of 20 pastors to start with but at the moment we have 12. We will be recruiting more in October and I urge anyone who believes they could be a street pastor to get in touch.

“Eventually we hope to patrol the High Street every day but for now we can only do twice a week, Mondays and Saturdays for a few hours at a time.”

He added: “We will engage with everyone on the High Street, no matter their race or religion, we want to be recognisable and be there to help people who need help.”

Mel Taylor, from Six Ways Baptist Church, was commissioned as a Street Pastor and is looking forward to starting his role.

He said: “I have lived in Erdington for a long while and have seen the difference food banks have made so I wanted to get involved.

“Through the foodbank I have got to see the problems local people face and I think being a Street Pastor will help me help others.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey believes the new Street Pastors will make a difference to the High Street.

He said: “The High Street has been in decline for years and the launch of Street Pastors initiative is a landmark.

“What we badly need is local people, from the churches, patrolling the High Street combating crime and anti-social behaviour but also reaching out to the vulnerable.

“I think it is an outstanding initiative and will hopefully go some way to tackle people who are causing problems for the High Street.”

He added: “The Street Pastors along with the investment we hopefuly will get from the Levelling Up fund will make a huge difference to Erdington High Street.”

Assistant West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil spoke to the Street Pastors and members of the public on the High Street.

He said: “We support the Street Pastors and are very grateful for the work they will be doing.

“The PCC Simon Foster is very aware of this project and is happy to be funding it and he has said he will go out with the Street Pastors as soon as is possible.

“The kind of work Erdington Street Pastors will be doing is so important because people will respond to them as they will know they are coming from a place of compassion, and they will be part of the community.

“The privilege is ours and we look forward to working with the Street Pastors in the future.”

If you believe you could be a Street Pastor email chair.erdington@streetpastors.org.uk and for more information – or visit www.ascensiontrust.org/street-pastors

NEWS: Erdington Street Pastors take to the streets with official ‘commissioning’ ceremony

Words by Ed King

Erdington will the see the ‘commissioning’ of twelve Street Pastors on Saturday 18 September, at a public event taking place outside Costa Coffee on the High Street from 11am.

From Saturday onward a dozen Street Pastors will be patrolling the streets of Erdington, after being officially welcomed into the community during a ceremony from the nationwide Ascension Trust  – who pioneered the original Street Pastors project in 2003 in London.

Working with the police and local community leaders/groups, the Street Pastors will be helping to tackle issues around anti-social behaviour and public disturbances, whilst offering a friendly face for anyone who needs help or just wants to talk.

A global initiative, Street Pastors are working in communities across the world – with teams active in over 240 cities and town across the UK, including 20 in the West Midlands alone.

Recruitment is also already underway for more volunteers, with plans to train a further 20 Street Pastors from October – who will be active across Erdington in groups of twos and threes from November 2021.

Speaking at the commissioning event for the first twelve Erdington Street Pastors on Saturday 18 September will be the West Midlands Assistant Police Crime Commissioner, Tom McNeil, who will be making the keynote speech to welcome the initial team.

Also addressing both the public and Street Pastors will be MP for Erdington Jack Dromey, Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim from the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), and a selected group of civic and Church leaders.

Pastor Rasaq is the Chair of the management committee for the Erdington Streets Pastors project.

Pastor Rasaq told Erdington Local: “The Erdington Street Pastors are a chance for the Church to get out onto the streets – to help, listen to, and care for the people of Erdington. They will be there to offer support to everyone, no matter what faith or background the Street Pastors will be there to help.

“Erdington has seen an increase in crime an anti-social behaviour and the Street Pastors will be working with the police to tackle these ills in our community.

“There are Street Pastors working in cities and community across the world, and they have been proven to help reduce crime and increase support for the community.

“The Street Pastors are going to give people in Erdington another layer of support and will be a visible helping hand on the High Street and further across the constituency.

“Anyone looking to join the Erdington Street Pastors should get in touch – we offer full training and support, taking in new recruits from October.”

For more information about the Erdington Street Pastors and to see if you can get involved email Pastor Rasaq at chair.erdington@streetpastors.org.uk

NEWS: GKN Chester Road workers on ‘all out continuous strikes’ from September 27

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Unite the Union and Jack Dromey MP

Workers at GKN Chester Road’s factory will be on ‘all out continuous strikes’ from Monday September 27, a statement from Unite the Union announced today.

Earlier in the month, Unite the Union held a ballot for industrial action with 95% of workers who voted saying they were in favour of strikes.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “GKN’s cynical attempt to close its Erdington plant is a disgrace. We will not stand by and let this employer offshore British jobs without a fight.

“We will leave no stone unturned in the ongoing battle to ensure the future of the Birmingham factory and our members.”

Unite national officer Des Quinn added: “Melrose GKN has grave questions to answer, if it has taken government money for research and development and now intends to use what it has developed abroad, that is a betrayal of the workforce, a betrayal of Birmingham and a betrayal of UK taxpayers.”

In January 2021 GKN Driveline owners Melrose PLC announced plans to close the Chester Road, with production being moved to plants in Poland and France – making over 500 Erdington workers unemployed.

Hopes were the Erdington factory could play a key part in the electrification of the UK’s automotive sector, building the new propulsion units needed in electric vehicles.

But despite repeated efforts from Unite the Union, Jack Dromey MP for Erdington, and the Chester Road factory staff, Melrose have remained steadfast in their plans to close the Chester Road site.

In a previous statement, Melrose said: “GKN Automotive has fully considered the counter proposals put forward. However, the outlook for the highly competitive automotive market remains unchanged.

“Regretfully, therefore, we are proceeding with our proposal to close the site. Supporting our people continues to be our priority.”

Jack Dromey MP raised concerns over the future of the Chester Road factory when Melrose took over GKN back in 2018.

Since the closure was announced at the start of the year, Mr Dromey has been working with Unite the Union to negotiate a deal to save the Erdington factory.

In response to today’s announcement, setting the date for strike action as Monday September 27, Jack Dromey MP said: “For the past eight months, the 519 workers at GKN Chester Road have fought hard to explore all possible alternatives to closure of the Chester Road site.

“In that time, GKN/Melrose have rejected the workers’ comprehensive alternative business plan and since then have flatly refused repeated invitations to enter further discussions about how to save the plant from closure.

“GKN/Melrose have shown nothing but contempt for the workers and what is at stake for them and their families and also the great damage closure will inflict on the local economy.

“Faced with such intransigence by GKN/Melrose and their intention to push ahead with closure by summer 2022, the workers have been left with no alternative but to take strike action.

“The workers have mine and the local community’s 100% support. As their local MP, I and their trade union, Unite, will continue to explore all options to keep jobs and production at Chester Road.

“We believe there is a way forward and we stand ready to enter any talks to save the plant. GKN/Melrose and the Government must now show the same commitment.”

To find out more about GKN Automotive visit www.gknautomotive.com
For more from Unite the Union visit www.unitetheunion.org
For more from Jack Dromey MP for Erdington visit www.jackdromey.co.uk

NEWS: Erdington Labour and Kashmiri community host post-lockdown Eid Fair

Words by Ed King

On Saturday September 4, Erdington Labour and the constituency’s Kashmiri community will be hosting a post-lockdown Eid Fair.

Held at Highcroft Community Centre, Slade Road, Stockland Green, the event is free to attend and will run from 11am to 4pm.

Observers of Islam across the world celebrate two Eid events each year. Eid al-Fitr (or ‘little/sweet Eid’) is a three day festival marking the end of Ramadan in May. Whilst Eid-al-Adha (or ‘big/salty Eid) is a four day festival to celebrate Ibrahim’s obedience to Allah, starting on the 10th day of the last month in the Islamic calendar  which in 2021 would have been July 9 to 13.

This year, due to restrictions from the Covid pandemic, both Eid’s were celebrated within households and ‘bubbles’ – as many religious festivals were curtailed due to the spread of coronavirus.

But the chance to come together as a community, welcoming all faiths and backgrounds, has not been lost – with Erdington Labour and the Kashmiri community working together to host this special Eid Fair event.

Spearheaded by Naziah Rasheed, Erdington Labour’s BAME Officer, the Eid Fair will have a variety of food stalls, local produce, games, and fun activities for children – such as a bouncy castle and a face painting stall.

Naziah Rasheed told Erdington Local: “Since the Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in July this year , we decided to organise a belated Eid Fair for the local community in Erdington.

“Although it’s an Eid event, it’s not only for Muslims but for all faiths to celebrate together.

“The aim of the event is to bring all communities together to have a fun day out and also to promote local small and home based businesses, for them to display their products and services.

“We have food stalls from different cultures and cuisines including Moroccan, Afghan, Kashmiri, Indian a,nd East African to name a few.”

The recently appointed Edington Labour BAME officer is also keen to hear from Erdington’s BAME communities, with a recent survey sent out asking ‘to know the issues the BAME communities are facing’ so she can ‘work towards making change locally and nationally.’

An online version of the BAME survey can be found at www.jackdromey.co.uk/erdington-labour-bame-survey

Open to all faiths, backgrounds, and ages, the Eid Fair will be held at Highcroft Community Centre on Slade Road, Stockland Green – running from 11am to 4pm on Saturday September 4.

For more on Highcroft Community Centre visit www.highcroftcommunitycentre.co.uk

For more from Erdington Labour visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonLabourParty

NEWS: Strike action set for GKN Chester Road factory as workers ‘fight for their jobs’

Words by Adam Smith / Pics supplied by Unite and Jack Dromey MP for Erdington

Workers at GKN Driveline have overwhelmingly voted to strike in the face of the Chester Road factory being closed next year.

Unite the Union held a ballot for industrial action and revealed today 95% of workers who voted wanted industrial action.

Announcing the ballot result Unite declared if GKN’s owners do not back down over closure they “could see strike action hit the plant and customers over the coming weeks.”

There was a turnout of 95% meaning of the 519 workers facing redundancy 93.1% voted to strike.

Unite can now call a strike within the next six months providing they give GKN seven days notice.

In January this year, GKN Driveline owners Melrose announced plans to close the factory and have ignored Unite the Union’s alternative business plan to save the factory.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “This is a tremendous result and shows the determination and confidence of the GKN workforce to fight for their jobs, their community and the long-term future of their plant.

“This is a highly viable plant which could and should be playing a leading role as the UK moves to the electrification of its automotive sector.”

He added: “It is now incumbent that everyone concerned with the future of GKN Driveline including customers, the government, local politicians and GKN’s parent company Melrose PLC, come together to hammer out a future for the plant and the UK’s supply of key components.

“The alternative is a long drawn-out dispute that will damage both GKN and the company’s customer base.

“We have called an urgent meeting of all parties involved and expect both GKN, its customer base, as well as the government, to respond positively to a viable alternative plan to secure the plant’s future.

“The ball is now firmly in GKN and Melrose’s court and how they respond will dictate how this dispute will develop over the coming weeks and months.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey worked extensively on the alternative business plan for the GKN plant and backed workers plans for industrial action.

He said: “Today’s result sends a clear and unambiguous message to Melrose/GKN that the 519 workers will do all in their power to save the historic Chester Road plant from closure.

“In one of the poorest constituencies in the country, the closure of the Chester Road plant would be a hammer-blow to the local community.

“Generations of local families have been given greater opportunities in life due to GKN, yet Melrose/GKN now want to close the plant without even considering any alternative to closure.”

He added: “The workers have today shown that they will stand up to protect their livelihoods, their local community and the opportunities available for future generations. They remain open to any discussions to avoid industrial action and to keep the plant open. They can be assured of my wholehearted support.”

To find out more about GKN visit www.gknautomotive.com

For more from Unite the Union visit www.unitetheunion.org

For more from Jack Dromey MP for Erdington visit www.jackdromey.co.uk