NEWS: Erdington stakeholders told “officers are doing what they can” as crime and community policing discussed at local meeting

Words by Ed King / Pics by Mohammad Ashraf 

Crime and community policing were the main issues discussed at Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton’s Big Conversation last week, with a keynote speech from West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster.

Joining Mr Foster were Chief Inspector Kelly Monaghan, from the Birmingham East Local Command Team, and Erdington’s new Inspector Shameem Ahmed.

Organised by the Erdington MP, the Big Conversation events began soon after Paulette Hamilton was elected to Parliament in March 2022 – bringing senior Council officials and public servants to address local stakeholders and concerned Erdington constituents.

On Thursday 12 January the subject of focus was crime in the constituency, with CI Monaghan opening by identifying the “priorities” for police in the area – hosted at Perry Common Community Hall by Witton Lodge Community Association.

Top of the list was burglaries, with CI Monaghan reiterating the nationwide pledge made in October 2022 that “every single person who is a victim of burglary gets a visit from one of our officers.”

One concerned resident challenged the claim, citing a house on Harrison Road – off Erdington High Street – that has been repeatedly used for growing cannabis, with people breaking in to steal the illegal crops “leaving a trail of (cannabis) leaves through the car park” opposite the address.

Councillor Gareth Moore (Con, Erdington) was quick to suggest “could the police use closure orders” on properties that had repeated problems, as has been previously enforced to shut down unruly HMOs.

Vehicle crime was another “big business” high on the police agenda, with its “knock on effect” to burglary and other offences including the rampant trade in stolen catalytic convertors.

Successes by the Stockland Green police team were mentioned, with both Chief Inspector Kelly Monaghan and Inspector Shameem Ahmed advising the use of anti-theft aids such as steering wheel locks and tamper proof screws for licence plates.

Youth violence was also a paramount police concern on the agenda, discussed only hours before an Erdington based teenager would be charged with the Boxing Day murder of Cody Fisher.

“Gang violence” was raised by Paulette Hamilton as a growing concern amongst her constituents in places such as Wyrley Birch, with the Erdington MP quizzing the police if they were “working with local partners” to effectively tackle the issue.

Consistent crime and violence on Erdington High Street was also raised, with the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) imposed in May 2022 making little impact despite the “40 fines” reported to have been issued.

As one resident commented: “there are street drinkers and dealers outside Boyles (betting shop)… if you are fining them then it’s not working.”

Paulette Hamilton underscored the issue, stating “people are saying the soul has left the High Street” and again calling for more “joined up work” with local partners and police.

Erdington’s new Inspector Shameem Ahmed, who took over the Neighbourhood Police Team several months after Rachel Derby left the post in October 2022, was candid about and committed to the problem facing her force.

“I’m not confident or happy the issue is being resolved as it could be,” told Inspector Ahmed, “and working with partners is something we (police) could do more about – my officers are doing what they can.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster then introduced himself to the room, giving a full background of his role and cementing his commitment to “productive, problem solving, and visible community policing.”

In an immediate challenge, the lack of any noticeable police presence was quick to be raised – with Paulette Hamilton MP stating “you never see police in open spaces” such as parks or children’s play areas, despite a number of violent attacks in areas such as Pype Hayes Park.

Inspector Ahmed informed of a “walkabout” with uniformed officers in Finchley Park, Kingstanding, organised for the end of January – with Ms Hamilton responding: “how is this supported locally and why are you not linking with local councillors?”

Inspector Amend replied “they should be”, despite Councillor Des Hughes (Lab, Kingstanding) unaware of any planned activity at Finchley Park by West Midlands Police. The Kingstanding councillor further suggested Birmingham Citry Council’s Parks Department “had a role to play” in safeguarding the public spaces within their portfolio.

Concerns over the increase of licenced premises and betting shops on Erdington High Street was fiercely debated, with several stakeholders in the room having worked to block the recent application by Boyles Sports to open a second Erdington site at the old HSBC building opposite The Swan pub.

A lack of communication between local police teams and the planning committee, who are ultimately responsible for allowing or blocking applications, was raised as a systemic problem – with one local resident suggesting campaigners and members of the public alike should contact the West Midlands Police Licensing Team directly if they wanted to challenge future plans for more betting shops.

Councillor Gareth Moore (Con, Erdington), who sits on Birmingham City Council’s Planning Committee, further addressed the need to “break down the silo mentality” when gathering evidence and responsible authority support to challenge contentious planning applications.

The recent ‘Pop Up Police Stations’ held on Castle Vale were praised, with Simon Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of The Pioneer Group – who took over the housing portfolio of the estate’s Housing Action Trust – suggesting “another model” could be adopted across Erdington, giving the public more access to local police teams.

Paulette Hamilton was quick to endorse anything that supports “a core level of service (from local police teams) that makes people feel safe,” further suggesting more police “pop ups across the constituency.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster confirmed there would be a new police station opened in Erdington by “summer 2025”, situated at the existing site on the corner of Sutton Road and Wilton Road – although there would be “no public desk”, with the nearest station open to members of the public based in Stechford.

Widely challenged by the room, the lack of a publicly accessible police station in Erdington “seems crazy” to Reverend Emma Sykes from St Barnabas Church, who implored the Police and Crime Commissioner to “consider” revising the plans.

Paulette Hamilton MP will be hosting another Big Conversation later in the spring. For more information visit www.paulettehamilton.org

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pics supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

I hope everyone has enjoyed a lovely Christmas break and spent some valuable time with your family. As I look back at 2022, I know it has been a challenging year for many people in our community and across the country.

At the beginning of the year, we sadly lost Jack Dromey MP. He was loved by many across the constituency that he proudly served for 12 years. In the months that followed, I was absolutely honoured to be elected as the Member of Parliament representing Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale. I know that I have some very big shoes to fill.

Since I was elected, I have been working non-stop and have helped more than a thousand local people with casework issues ranging from housing and antisocial behaviour to immigration and benefits. I have regularly spoken up for local people in Parliament and held the Government to account by raising the issues that are important to you like fly-tipping, poor housing, and the cost-of-living crisis.

We campaigned to stop another betting shop opening on Erdington High Street – and won. Sadly, the betting shop has now submitted an appeal to the government to try and overturn the council’s decision and wishes of local people. I will be fighting this appeal all the way.

Our High Street needs investment and I’ve worked with local groups to submit a funding application that will transform to the area and make it a destination again – if it’s approved by Ministers.

I’ve been working in every corner of our community – whether it’s helping with litter picks in Stockland Green, arguing for tougher laws to tackle rogue landlords in Gravelly Hill, supporting our incredible local businesses on Erdington High Street, making the case for more police resources to get crime down in Kingstanding, helping local people in Castle Vale with rising housing costs or fighting for better services in Perry Common and Pype Hayes.

I regularly visit foodbanks in our community that do incredible work to support struggling local families. I’ve listened to heart-breaking stories from working people who are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis. Local people told me that their wages just weren’t paying enough to keep up with rising bills.

I was an NHS nurse for over 25 years, and it absolutely breaks my heart to see nurses strike for the first time in 106 years.

Nurses work extremely long hours, often for very low wages. They deserve the dignity of fair pay and acceptable working conditions. The power to stop these strikes, that even nurses themselves don’t really want, lies squarely with the Government. But Ministers are still refusing to even talk to them.

Our country is crying out for strong leadership to get our economy moving and help struggling families deal with the cost-of-living crisis. But sadly, we have seen chaos with 3 different Prime Ministers, inflation hitting a 40-year high and the Government crashing our economy, leaving millions of families struggling to pay their bills.

2023 will bring more challenges for our community but know this, I will be there – with you – every step of the way, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns. 

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

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pics supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

As we’ve moved into winter, devastating housing inequalities across the UK have been exposed. In November, we learned of the tragic death of Awaab Ishak in Rotherham, a two-year-old who died as a result of prolonged exposure to mould in his home. Sadly, all too often I hear about families living in similar conditions in our own community.

Just recently I was contacted by a family in Erdington who have been living in temporary accommodation for years.

The mould in their property was so bad that mushrooms were found growing in their bathroom.

I heard from another local family of five sharing a one-bedroom property, where all four children have been prescribed inhalers due to the terrible mould in their home.

After a decade of Conservative mismanagement, £38 million is already being spent every year on treating homes with mould but this simply isn’t enough.

With energy bills going up and a cold winter ahead, we can expect a spike in damp and mould problems. As much as the Tories would like to pretend, this issue isn’t going away.

I spoke in Parliament about how this tragedy – and the shocking cases in our constituency – shine a light on our broken housing market. I urged the Government to bring forward legally enforceable minimum standards for private accommodation and to give local councils stronger powers to tackle rogue landlords.

2022 has been such a hard year for many people in Erdington and across the UK. The cost-of-living crisis is hitting our most deprived neighbourhoods the hardest and energy prices are soaring. Chaos in Downing Street has left working people paying for Tory negligence.

But on a more positive note, it was an absolute joy to attend the Erdington Christmas light switch-on this year, which was a brilliant community event on the High Street and my first time attending as the local MP. It really put me in the festive spirit!

This is my last column of the year, and I want to wish everyone in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale a very happy Christmas! 

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

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pics supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

After just 45 days, Liz Truss resigned as Prime Minister, with her chaotic and disastrous leadership crashing our economy and leaving the reputation of our country in tatters. Her kamikaze ‘mini’ budget spooked the markets and forced lenders to withdraw hundreds of mortgage deals overnight, leading to working people in our community facing an average mortgage increase of £413 a month.

The Tories have also U-turned on the energy price cap, potentially leaving households with average annual energy bills of more than £4,000 from April next year.

The mess that the Tories find themselves in is of their own making. At this critical time when the country needs stability, the chaos they have created has put millions of working people in financial uncertainty.

After ousting Liz Truss and making her the shortest serving Prime Minister in UK history, Tory MPs have recently appointed Rishi Sunak as our new PM without him saying a single word to the public about how he would fix the problems we’re facing. Instead, he has boasted of taking money from deprived communities like ours and handing it to the richest areas.

The impact of Tory infighting has had a devastating effect on our economy and areas like ours have been the hardest hit. I’ve been speaking to local people at foodbanks in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale to hear about how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting them.

At Bethany Community Foodbank, I met people who are sadly having to choose between heating and eating every day. The foodbank started with helping 90 users every month 6 years ago, but now helps a staggering 1,200 users each month. I heard heart-breaking stories from families, with young children who are struggling with the rising cost of bills as their income remained the same.

The amazing volunteers at Castle Vale Foodbank told me that they are seeing nurses and police officers accessing their discreet service because they can’t make ends meet.

And at Erdington Foodbank, several local people spoke to me about unfair sanctions being applied to their Universal Credit claims, coupled with low wages that were forcing them to turn to the foodbank.

People in our community are crying out for help as they struggle with rising costs. We need economic stability and a government that puts the interests of our country first. To end this chaos, we need a general election to let the people decide.

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

Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell out of Commonwealth Games after controversial referee decision

By Erdington Local news team

There was heartbreak and confusion in Kingstanding as local hero and boxer Niall Farrell’s gold medal dreams ended in a controversial defeat last night.

Coachloads of friends and family left Kingstanding Circle for the NEC to watch an international sporting spectacle where their star was expected to shine.

At Second City Bar & Lounge, Kingstanding Road, the red and white balloons had been blown up and the cross of St George laid across every available table in anticipation of a night to remember.

Despite being Monday evening, Second City had the packed out feeling of a Saturday; rounds of sour vodka shots were being shared around whether people ordered them or not.

The smokers outside stood underneath the old sign of the Kingstanding pub, which stands derelict across the Circle, happily knowing they had already claimed the best seats in front of the big screen.

Red ‘Team Farrell’ t-shits were the most popular item of clothing in the 100 plus crowd, and everyone had a tale to tell about their local boy done good.

There was a stampede inside when the boxing began, eagle-eyed punters spotted friends and family ringside on TV, and shouted hello to them.

The cheers reverberated around the club when Niall entered the ring following his Northern Irish opponent.

Though his crowd wore red, Niall wore blue, his hair pulled up into a ponytail and his tattoos looking perfect beneath a sheen of glistening sweat.

The action got underway and there was immediate flurry of punches between the fighters; there was no feeling each other out, it was instant action.

There were winces as Niall took the first shot and swearing to the roof when a looping right hand landed flush on the Kingstanding fighter’s head. A minute later and another punch landed, forcing the referee to give Niall a standing eight count.

This wasn’t good.

Niall was showing flashes of brilliance, his class was there to see, but his opponent did not pay any attention to reputations.

Another punch landed, Niall’s leg slightly buckled but he was standing tall and ready to go, to power through to the next round.

However, the ref thought different – as the amateur rules are different to professional boxing, when even an armchair fan knows someone has to be knocked to the ground and fail to get up in ten seconds to lose.

The ref spoke to Niall, and his opponent ran to his team in celebration. One man in the Second City crowd spotted it first: “That’s it, he’s done, lost.”

It took about 30 seconds for everyone to realise the dream was over, the Sunday night watching Niall fighting for gold would not happen, nor the parade when the victorious hero brought the gold back to Kingstanding.

He had lost.

The finality of it was etched in his face as he refused to shake the ref’s hand; someone had let the air out of the room.

There was no anger, just a profound sadness a young man who dedicated his life to sport would not be one of the stars of his hometown Games.

One woman demanded to be interviewed so she could call it “a fix”, and a chippy whose shift tomorrow was looking more unlikely with every round added: “He could have carried on, he was not hurt, this is a rubbish way to end a boxing match.”

Francis Heeney spoke for everyone when he said: “Niall is a winner. He will not come back here a loser, he is our winner, who else here is fighting for their country in the Commonwealth Games? No-one.

“Niall loves Kingstanding, and we love him, whether he loses or wins.”

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

For more on Second City Bar and Lounge visit www.facebook.com/secondcitybar.lounge

LOCAL PROFILE: Niall Farrell

Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell is preparing to represent his country in the England Boxing squad at the Commonwealth Games 2022, pegged by many as serious contender to bring back the gold.

Erdington Local caught up with Naill in the middle of his rigorous training schedule and ahead of his first fight scheduled on Monday, 1 August – at the NEC Hall 4, from 6:30pm onward.

Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell is planning to bring a Commonwealth Games gold medal back to Kingstanding. Named in the England team for his hometown games, Niall is working around the clock to ensure he leaves nothing in the ring at the NEC.

He trains during the week in the GB Boxing facility in Sheffield and then during the weekend he can be found in the ring in Kingstanding’s Second City Suite with his dad.

The 24-year-old has been boxing for his country since he was 15 but had a nightmare few years with injuries.

He told Erdington Local: “I had to have three operations in three years on my hands. I saw then what my life would be without boxing and I did not like what I see.

“But I believe I have come out the other side of it stronger, I feel fitter than ever and am glad I got through all those injuries; it was tough physically and mentally but I’m ready to go now.

“That is why I am giving everything now. I have always had a great work ethic, I want to show the kids of Kingstanding that if you work hard then anything is possible, in and out of the ring.”

Niall could be one of the standout stars of the Commonwealth Games, being from Birmingham and in real contention for a gold medal.

He said: “I know I can beat anyone in the world on my day so I am planning on winning gold. I’ve already had ITV get in touch; they want to come to the club.

“I want them to be there when I come back to Kingstanding with a gold medal, imagine what a party that will be in Kingstanding!”

He added: “I am all about Birmingham, I always have been, I love my hometown so to be fighting at the NEC, which I remember going to see a concert with my family, is a dream come true.

“If you are a proper Brummie you love the city, you live here, so seeing the Commonwealth Games in basically my back garden is going to be unforgettable.”

However, Niall will not be staying at home during the Games as he wants to be close to the England boxing team.

He added: “There is not a more individual sport in the world than boxing, you are in that ring alone. But it also a team sport too because of all the support we give each other.

“I am going to be staying in the athlete’s village with the rest of the team, we are coming to take over and I want to be part of every moment.

“I want support my fellow boxers every step of the way.”

Niall is also keen to use the connections he has made in boxing and his rising profile to help others.

He said: “I’ve met a lot of interesting people and made connections through GB Boxing, so want to use that to do some good. I run my own charity, Support Futures, and I am patron for the Good Shepherd charity.

“I also want to be a good example for the kids of Kingstanding. I think the best way to do that is lead by example, by working hard, showing discipline. I take time to talk to the kids; boxing can change lives and I will always try and show what can be done.”

Niall is looking forward to fighting in front of his friends and family at the NEC, and it will take four or five fights to clinch the gold medal. However, he also knows the Second City Suite will be packed every time he fights.

He said: “My fights should be on TV so I know the place will be absolutely rammed on fight days. It will be the place to be that’s for sure.

“This could be the biggest few weeks of my life and I want everyone to know I will be giving everything to win that gold medal.”

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

For more on Second City Boxing visit: www.facebook.com/Second-City-Boxing-Club-316607835888890/

For the daily schedule for boxing and all sporting events at the Commonwealth Games 2022 visit: www.birmingham2022.com/schedule/day-by-day

NEWS: Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell to represent England at Commonwealth Games 2022

By Erdington Local news team

Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell has been chosen for the England boxing team for the Commonwealth Games 2022.

The boxer only found out last week he was included in the team for the Games which start on July 28.

Niall will be boxing in front of a home crowd at the NEC’s LG Arena and could be one of the stars of the Games as a local athlete with real medal ambitions.

Niall told Erdington Local: “I am so pleased to be included in the team for the Commonwealth Games.

“Boxing always leaves it late when it comes to selecting a team and though lots of people were telling me I was a certainty for the squad it just does not work like that in this sport, anything can happen.”

Niall has fought all around the world in amateur boxing but rarely fights on home soil, so is looking forward to having friends and family around him when he steps into the Commonwealth Games ring.

The 24-year-old said: “I have not fought in England for years now so to have the Commonwealth Games in my own city will be something I will never forget.

“I am still waiting for the schedule to come out and then I will know who I am fighting and what time and day I will be at the NEC. It’s so exciting.”

Niall, who fought back from two injuries which kept him out of the ring for nearly three years, has had a successful run up to the Games. He won gold for Great Britain at the prestigious Gee Bee Championships in the spring and won silver at the European Amateur Championships.

Niall regularly mixes with boxing stars after training for seven years at Team GB Boxing’s headquarters in Sheffield, but always calls Kingstanding’s Second City Boxing Club his home.

His dad runs the club and the place will be packed for Niall’s fights in the Games.

Niall has plenty of causes he will give publicity too if his profile raises due to a successful run.

Farrell is an ambassador of a homeless charity and chairman of Support Futures which rehabilitates and educate young people across West Midlands.

He said: “Boxing moulds you. I see people come into the gym at home and they’ve changed their lives through boxing and that’s what I’m trying to push.

“There’s so much more to it that training and fighting. It’s a chess match. It’s not how hard or how many times I can punch you – it’s about how many times I can hit and not get hit.

“I’m hoping with the Commonwealth (Games) in England people can actually see there’s a lot more to it.”

Niall is aiming to turn professional one day and a Commonwealth Games gold medal etched in the memories of millions who watch it would be the perfect platform.

He said: “I always get a lot support from Kingstanding, 50 people once travelled to Croatia to watch me so being down the road will be great for everyone.

“My sponsors Absolute Scaffolding, Four Roads Construction, Spanclad Construction, and Luke Roper (Luke 1977) have helped massively.”

He added: “It is a dream come true to be boxing in my hometown of Birmingham, I remember watching the Commonwealths before I was on GB and now my dreams come to reality.”

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

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

NEWS: Fire engine robbed whilst tackling Dulwich Road house explosion

By Erdington Local editorial team

Heartless thieves stole lifesaving equipment from a fire engine as its crew battled the blaze caused by the recent gas explosion in Kingstanding.

Grandmother Doreen Rees-Bibb died during the blast at the house on Dulwich Road, Kingstanding, on Sunday, 26 June, which left another man fighting for his life in hospital and destroyed or damaged six houses.

West Midlands Police revealed today whilst heroic residents and fire crews tried to save lives, someone prised open a cabinet on a fire engine at the scene and helped themselves to vital safety equipment.

A pump, cutters, a hose, and bolt croppers were taken from the fire engine and detectives are combing through footage from the area to identify the offenders.

Chief Inspector Kelly Monaghan said: “This is a despicable act during a serious incident when other members of the public were acting so heroically and selflessly.

“The items stolen are essential for firefighters to act quickly and save lives when it matters most, just like we saw in Kingstanding on Sunday.”

She added: “A side shutter was prised open and a pump, cutters, a hose and bolt croppers were taken. We’re already looking at footage from the area to identify the offenders.

“If anyone has any information please contact us via Live Chat on our website quoting 20/591089/22 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

The outpouring of support for families affected by the blaze was praised by the police, fire service, and Birmingham City Council.

Kind-hearted residents swamped the Kingstanding Inn, Second City Suite, and The Beggars Bush with donations of clothing, essentials and food for the families made homeless due to the blast, which was “most likely” caused by faulty pipework in the property.

A GoFundMe campaign was also set up by Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, who lives on Birdbrook Road. At the time of writing over £2,500 had been raised in donations.

A vigil was also help one week after the fatal explosion, to remember Doreen Rees-Bibb and show support for those affected.

If you have any information regarding the theft from the fire engine, please contact West Midlands Police via Live Chat at: www.west-midlands.police.uk/contact-us/live-chat quoting 20/591089/22

Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

For more on the GoFundMe ‘Kingstanding house explosion’ campaign visit: www.gofundme.com/f/kingstanding-house-explosion

NEWS: Dulwich Road house explosion “most likely” caused by faulty pipework

By Erdington Local editorial team

The gas explosion which destroyed a house in Kingstanding and damaged six other properties, leaving a grandmother dead and a man fighting for his life in hospital, was “most likely” caused by faulty pipework West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) have stated.

West Midlands Fire Service came to the conclusion after four days investigating the cause of the devastating explosion on Dulwich Road on Sunday 26 June.

A WMFS spokesman said: “We would like to take this opportunity to again extend our sympathies to everyone affected by Sunday night’s events in which, tragically, a woman lost her life.

“The man who was rescued remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital.”

The spokesman added: “Extensive investigations at the scene of the explosion are now complete.

“Demolition work on Tuesday enabled investigators to safely access and test sections of the property’s internal gas piping.

“They have concluded that the explosion was most likely caused by the accidental and inadvertent ignition of a large escape of gas from a joint in the pipework.”

West Midlands Police officers are also gathering evidence for HM Coroner and family liaison officers continue to support those most directly affected.

The Health and Safety Executive will continue to make enquiries as to whether any work-related activities contributed towards the incident.

The WMFS spokesman added: “We are extremely grateful to the families involved, and to the local community, for their understanding and patience throughout the initial emergency response and the subsequent investigation.

“The community has been fantastic in the aftermath of this tragedy, offering support and shelter to those affected, and we would like to thank everyone involved in that effort.”

The Kingstanding Inn has stopped accepting donations of items for those affected by the blast after being deluged by people bringing clothes and food.

Kingstanding Councillor Rick Payne said: “On behalf of those who have done a stellar job of collecting items for the Dulwich Road relief I just want to make everybody aware they there has been an overwhelming response.

“Thank you everyone that has donated for your generosity, The Kingstanding Inn has been absolutely inundated and has asked me to inform residents that they are no longer taking any donations.

“There was a massive surplus and as a result, following a meeting of the charities who have been working within the community over the past few days, a decision has been made to donate the surplus items to local schools and charities.”

A GoFundMe campaign was also set up by Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, who lives on Birdbrook Road. At the time of writing £2,365 had been raised in donations.

For more on the GoFundMe ‘Kingstanding house explosion’ campaign visit: www.gofundme.com/f/kingstanding-house-explosion

NEWS: Community vigil to be held one week after Dulwich Road house explosion

By Erdington Local editorial team

A vigil is being held on Dulwich Road on Sunday 3 July, marking a week after the tragic gas explosion.

At 7pm the community will come together to mark the moment the blast ripped through the Kingstanding home, killing Doreen Rees-Bibb and seriously injuring a man who remains in hospital.

Several people were made also homeless from the incident, and the Kingstanding community rallied round this week by raising money, giving donations, and offering support.

Sunday’s 7pm vigil will be to remember Doreen, age 79, who was killed in the blast, and to show solidarity for the man still fighting for his life. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Kingstanding resident Cassie Harker said:  “Everyone is going at 7pm we are all lighting the candles at the time the explosion happened.

“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone represent our community and come together as one.”

There has been a massive outpouring of grief for “fun-loving grandmother” Doreen, who died at the scene.

Her daughter Karen led the tributes to her mother saying: “We are so devastated that me and my sister have loss our mother Doreen in a fire, it’s the most terrible way to die. We miss her so much.”

Doreen was a popular figure around Erdington and Kingstanding and friends who remember her enjoying nights in The Acorn and the former HQ, now the Pheasant Plucker, on High Street, flooded social media with fond memories.

Former karaoke DJ at HQ Gary Neale said: “She was my friend, and a lovely lady.”

Several people who she had helped in the past by giving sage advice and support also mourned her loss.

Maureen Harwood said: “I’m so sorry, she was such a good friend to me, and helped me.”

Alex Stanley said: “I can’t believe it is true, Doreen was such an angel, I am absolutely heartbroken. She was always asking about me, telling me to get out of Birmingham saying “Alex you are better than this place”. RIP and party hard up there.”

Eight families were forced out of their damaged houses and there have been several fundraising drives to help them, with the Kingstanding Inn, Second City Bar and Lounge, and the Beggars Bush all accepting donations.

Kingstanding resident Sam Wellings, Birdbrook Road, also set up a Go Fund Me which has so far received over £2000 in donations.

Rachael Pike-Franklin said last night (Tuesday):  “We are working alongside some of the families in our community at the Kingstanding Inn the clothes donations have been phenomenal and we are truly grateful for everyone who has been a part of collecting and donating .

“For now we have been asked to not accept anymore clothes donations but are looking for fresh food products to help feed the families in our community at this tragic time.”

Investigations into the cause of the explosion are still ongoing. However, gas suppliers Cadent have confirmed their role in the investigation is over.

Elliott Nelson, Cadent network director for the West Midlands said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those impacted and everyone in this close-knit community.

“Since the incident, our engineers have been on site working with the emergency services.

“Following a thorough investigation, we can confirm that the gas mains and service pipes in the area are sound and were not the cause of the incident in Kingstanding. The matter now lies with other agencies for further investigation.”

A for sale advert for the house posted two months ago included information about the boiler, which “needed replacing”.

West Midlands Fire Service investigators remain at the scene trying to find the exact cause of the explosion.

In a recent public update, WMFS told: “Wed 29 June, it is likely that demolition work will be needed at the scene, following which the next stage of investigations can be planned.”

For more on the GoFundMe ‘Kingstanding house explosion’ campaign visit: www.gofundme.com/f/kingstanding-house-explosion