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.

NEWS: Biker gang blocks up Kingsbury Road – performing dangerous stunts in the traffic

Words, pics & video by Ed King

Hundreds of motorists were stopped from returning home on Friday after scores of bikers blocked up Kingsbury Road, near Tyburn House Island.

At around 6:30pm, a large gathering of motorbikes and quad bikes swarmed across the two lanes of traffic and onto the central reservation – many trying to buy petrol from the Shell garage.

As the gang of bikers grew in number, some began driving up and down the dual carriage way and grass embankment – performing ‘wheelies’ and ‘donuts’, leaving deep tyre marks across the central reservation. One daredevil was seen ‘careering’ into the early evening traffic with one wheel off the ground and both hands in the air.

With around 50 bikers blocking the throughfare, tired motorists could do nothing but sit it out and wait for the chaos to subside.

Jules Cox, 43, told Erdington Local: “I was sitting in the Burger King car park – I had just finished work in Erdington and was on my way to Castle Vale, pulling in to get a drive through and make a phone call.

“Suddenly I heard what sounded like cars on a racetrack, then about 10-15 motorbikes – high cc expensive looking ones – came careering down the Kingsbury Road and pulled up onto the central reservation.

“Within about five minutes there were maybe 40-50 motorbikes and quad bikes, but some were in the Shell garage next door and I couldn’t see the exact number.

“Pretty quickly they had blocked that whole side of the Kingsbury Road and traffic started to back up. The bikers were riding up and down both the road itself and the grass in the middle, doing wheelies and donuts.

“It was more annoying than threatening, but I wouldn’t have suggested challenging them. With that many people being reckless on high performance bikes, with the kind of adrenalin that brings, you never know what will kick off.”

A deliver driver collecting orders from Burger King, who didn’t want to be named, added: “I think they had come from town; there had been a lot of bikes in the city centre earlier waving flags and making noise.

“They didn’t bother me making my deliveries, but it is dangerous. Although I used to live in Italy and you would get hundreds of bikers together there, this is nothing compared to that.”

The Shell garage quickly put a ‘Closed’ sign in the window and waited for the bikers to move on.

Staff from the garage told Erdington Local gangs of bikers come to the garage about once a month, but never in such large numbers – they were worried about people driving off without paying.

Motorbikes are responsible for around 19% of all road traffic fatalities, according to a report by the Department of Transport. Over extended driving, calculating deaths per billion passenger miles, motorcyclists are over 100 times more likely to die in an accident than those in a car.

West Midlands Police had to be extra vigilant during lockdown, with dangerous drivers taking advantage of the empty roads and using them as their own personal racetrack.

Following an arrest earlier this year, where the offender was jailed for 14 months, Traffic Sergeant Mitch Darby, said:

“Anti-social off-road biking is a real concern for our communities. We’ve responded by running operations to catch offenders and they will continue throughout the summer.

“Anyone who rides dangerously – or rides an off-road bike illegally on public roads or in parks – runs the risk of being arrested and having their bike seized and crushed.”

Biker gang ride off from Kingsbury road – finally allowing rush hour traffic to move

NEWS: Erdington Academy given green light for £6.8m expansion to cater for 300 more pupils

Words by Adam Smith

Erdington Academy has been given the go-ahead to increase the number of its pupils from 900 to 1,200 after Birmingham City Council agreed to inject nearly £6.8 million into the school.

The Kingsbury Road secondary school will be refurbished and a brand new two story teaching block will be built on site – with work beginning next month and completed by Christmas 2021.

The new teaching block will include science labs and prep rooms, a drama teaching space, staff work rooms, office space and new staff and pupil toilets.

Birmingham City Council’s cabinet approved the £6,825,463 capital investment after a report from Dr Tim O’Neill, Director for Education and Skills, which said the authority had “a statutory duty to ensure that there are sufficient pupil places.”

The near £7m bill will be paid for from the Department for Education (DfE) Basic Need Grant and School Condition Grant.

However, consequential revenue costs arising from additional places including additional staffing, utility costs and any on-going day to day repair and maintenance will be the responsibility of Erdington Academy.

Balfour Beatty has been chosen as the construction partner for the scheme and ground is set to be broken at the school on November 23.

Councillor Jayne Francis, cabinet member for education, skills and culture, backed the new investment into Erdington Academy.

She said: “We have a duty to ensure that sufficient school places are available in our city.

Erdington Academy currently has 900 pupils, and the proposal is to expand two forms of entry to 1,200 places for pupils aged 11 to 16 years old.

There’s been a slight delay with planning, so it will be heard toward the end of September and once secured we will be able to carry on with completion of the work.”

Erdington Academy (formerly Kingsbury School and Sports College) converted to an Academy within the Fairfax Multi Academy Trust (FMAT) in 2016.

To find out more about Erdington Academy visit www.erdingtonacademy.bham.sch.uk

For more on Fairfax Multi Academy Trust (FMAT), visit www.fmat.co.uk