OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

As your MP and a local resident, I am often told of your concerns about crime and antisocial behaviour in the area, particularly knife crime.

Worryingly, the B23 postcode had the highest number of reported knife crime incidences in Birmingham last year, according to the latest figures. This is not a coincidence, but it is the direct result of the Tory Government’s failure to tackle the root causes of knife crime.

Under the Tories, knife crime has gone up by 77% since 2015. Ministers have slashed funding for vital public services, such as education, health, and youth work. They have cut 21,000 police officers since the last Labour Government, leaving our streets less safe and less protected.

However, this can change. Labour has a plan to invest in our communities and give our young people their future back. Labour will:

  • Extend the ban on zombie knives to ninja swords.
  • Establish an end-to-end review of online knife sales.
  • Close the loophole that allows online marketplaces to sell dangerous knives.
  • Introduce a new Young Futures programme to establish new youth hubs, with both mental health workers and youth workers.

For too long, the Tories have been soft on knife crime and soft on the causes of knife crime. Labour would put the safety and security of our community at the heart of its government.

Together, we can end the knife crime epidemic and build a better future for Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale.

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

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

I hope everyone in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale had a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful new year.

I’d like to congratulate Renata from SS Mary and John Catholic Primary School for winning my Christmas Card competition. And well done to the runners-up, Valentina and Burham, whose cards were fantastic.

2024 is both a year of opportunity and challenge. For more than 13 years, the Tory government has let down people in our communities, failing to address the key issues that affect us, such as the rising cost of living, the lack of GP and dental appointments, the surge in crime, the proliferation of HMOs and the decline of Erdington High Street. They ignored our repeated applications to the Levelling Up Fund, which would have revitalised our High Street.

Making matters worse, the Tories’ shameful Rwanda plan is in tatters, and they have no clear plan to fix the broken system they created. They have squandered billions of pounds on vanity projects and crony contracts, while cutting vital public services and support for the most vulnerable.

This year, our country will face a crucial choice: more neglect and chaos with the Tories, or credible leadership with Labour. Labour has a plan to rebuild Britain, invest in our NHS, create good jobs, make our communities safer and stronger, and get Britan’s future back.

As your local MP and a proud resident of this area, I will always stand up for you and our community.

Together, we can make 2024 a year of hope and change.

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

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

As 2023 comes to an end, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my work as your Member of Parliament for Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale over the past year.

As your representative in Parliament, I have spoken 39 times to raise a variety of issues that matter to you. I have spoken six different times about the problems on Erdington High Street, which is the beating heart of our community.

I have raised concerns about the lack of GP appointments, along with mental health services, the mortgage crisis, knife crime, antisocial behaviour, HMOs, the cost of living crisis, levelling up, and much more. I have always done my best to be your voice in Westminster and to hold the government to account, and I will continue to do so.

As your local MP, I have also been working hard to help you with your individual problems and concerns. I have responded to 1,975 pieces of policy casework and sent out over 9,000 emails to assist you with various local issues.

I have also visited local schools, businesses, charities, and community groups to hear your views and support your ambitions.

As someone who lives locally, I am proud to represent our community in Parliament and in our constituency. I will continue to work hard for you and to fight for a better future for all.

Finally, I want to wish everyone in Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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

NEWS: Kingstanding’s K-Star Academy Muay Thai fighter Gene Smith wins ISKA British Campion belt in rare hometown contest

Pics supplied by K-Star Academy

Kingstanding K-Star Academy fighter Gene Smith recently won the ISKA British Campion belt, continuing his spectacular rise in the world of competitive Muay Thai.

The 16-year-old impressed the judges at the recent hometown fight, held on Sunday 19 November at North Solihull Leisure Centre, and is now preparing to face the best from across the globe at the world championships in Thailand next year.

Smith has found it increasingly difficult to find matches as his reputation has grown throughout the sport following a lightning run of form – earning him Midland, British, and World Muay Thai titles.

Then on Sunday 19 November, the Kingstanding trained fighter also became the ISKA British Champion – winning on points against Fin Mueller from Wales. The fight was matched prior to the event by the organisers.

The WBC World Mauy Thai Games are in February at the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok. However, Gene Smith’s next fight is a little closer to home when he will face Josh Duncan in Liverpool on 16 December.

Smith told: “I am delighted with another victory and another title. Everything I am doing is working towards the world championships in Thailand.

“I loved every minute of representing my country at the WBC World Championships in Venice in June and in Canada the year before at the World Muay Thai Games. But know I have to be 100 per cent dedicated to the sport for me to compete with the best in the world in Thailand.

“Being in Asia, where the sport originated, makes me even more excited to fight in Thailand.”

Gene’s coach is Steve Logan, who first set up the first K-Star in Kingstanding more than 30 years ago and is hoping to guide Smith to world glory.

He said: “Sunday was another brilliant performance by Gene. We know the entire division, junior and adult, fear him and this is brilliant for when he represents his country in Thailand next year.”

Gene’s father, Great Barr businessman Roland Smith, a former fighter himself, understands the work which goes behind his son’s rise to the top table of the global sport.

He added: “Gene has got the talent, the determination, and dedication to get to the top, but this sport costs money and his sponsors have helped him to focus more on just being the best he can.

“Gene has achieved so much already, from his title wins, to representing his country to being the youngest UK fighter to have ranking.

“However, he could not have done it without sponsors Jacksons Recovery, Green Power Plant Hire, Beeches Recovery, 24 7 Worldwide Exhibition Services, Level Group, Endangered Fightwear, Foxstar Clothing and Art Attack Design Associates with support from Luke1977.”

Mauy Thai doesn’t receive sports funding from outside sources, with sponsorship one of the only ways new and rising fighters can professionally compete.

For the Kingstanding K-Star Academy fighter Gene Smith, training and travel costs can easily climb into the thousands as he takes part in fierce competitions across the world competing to be the best.

Anyone interested in supporting Gene contact design@artattack.org.uk

Follow Gene Smith on Instagram at www.instagram.com/gene_kstar

For more on K Star Academy visit www.k-starthaiboxing.com

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

As your local MP representing Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale, I care about the issues that affect you and our community. Here are some of the things I have done in the past month:

I recently hosted a meeting with Simon Foster, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Superintendent Richard North, local traders, and officials from Birmingham City Council. 

We discussed the ongoing issues of crime and antisocial behaviour on Erdington High Street.

Importantly, they heard concerns from our traders, recognising the need for more robust measures to enhance security and enforcement, and the need to work more closely to combat crime in the area.

I was also approached by traders on Slade Road who raised concerns about issues they were experiencing, including theft, antisocial behaviour, and the presence of sex workers. I empathised with the challenges facing local traders and will be following up on their concerns and working towards a constructive solution. 

I recently participated in a National Day of Action for Safer Streets to prevent road accidents, injuries, and deaths. As part of this effort, I’m backing the campaign to reduce speeds to 30mph on local roads. I would urge everyone to have their say by taking part in the consultation – please do get in touch if you want to know more. 

Despite 13 years of Conservative cuts to policing, I will not give up on fighting crime and antisocial behaviour in our area. I will keep working to secure the resources we need to keep our community safe. 

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

NEWS: Kingstanding rallies round family after sudden death of kind hearted mum and animal lover

Words by Kingstanding editorial team

The Kingstanding community has rallied round a kind hearted local family, after the sudden death of a 42-year-old mum left behind more than just her grieving loved ones.

Animal lover Clare Banks, who had attended Stockland Green School, could never turn her back on an animal in distress, and along with her long-term partner Simon and their seventeen-year-old son Mikey had adopted a house full of rescue animals.

But following her fatal heart attack at home earlier this year, Clare’s tragic and sudden death also left her beloved 22-year-old horse Tallulah facing an uncertain future – with the horse potentially being put down if the stable costs to keep her could not be met.

Clare’s friend Louise Jordan, who also looks after Tallulah’s sister, launched a GoFundMe page to safeguard the horses’ future and prevent her being put down if a buyer cannot be found.

Within 48 hours nearly 40 people donated more than £1,300 to the online campaign, smashing the target of £1000 and ensuring Tallulah had the finance needed to keep her safe and pay for her upkeep at the stables where devoted Clare had cared for her.

Louise Jordan told: “Clare was just 42 when she unexpectedly lost her life. The family have requested no flowers, but instead are asking for donations to help look after her beloved horse (Tallulah) who’s missing her so much.”

A well loved member of the Kingstanding community, hundreds of people turned out for Clare’s funeral on Friday 13 October at Streetly Crematorium and for the wake held at New Oscott Social Club.

Greving partner Simon, 47, explained: “Clare was like Dr Doolittle, I’ve never known anyone love or care for animals like she did.

“When she was a girl, she found an injured squirrel and managed to tame her and have it as a pet for years, its unheard of to that with a wild squirrel.

“She was one of a kind. I’ve so many pets now, including four dogs; she would always get her way when it came to saving a dog from being put down. She should have been a vet.”

He added: “She even convinced me to get two horses, not one, when she told me Tallulah’s sister needed a home too. And she presented the horse to her friend as a Mother’s Day present, because she was like that.”

“However, we need to ensure Tallulah is looked after so she can stay with her sister at the stables in Walsall Wood. So many people have come forward, because she touched so many lives.”

Simon, an asbestos removal manager, added: “Kingstanding has just been amazing, so many people have offered their love and support.

“There is not a lot that can be said at the moment, we are all in shock. All I can do is give people a hug and thank them.”

To help support Tallulah and donate to the appeal, visit www.gofundme.com/f/keep-clares-horse-whos-missing-her-so-much – or search ‘Keep Clare’s horse’ on www.GoFundMe.com

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

As your local MP for Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale, I am committed to fighting for the future of Erdington High Street, which faces many challenges. One of the biggest concerns I hear from you is about the impact of gambling on our High Street.

That is why I recently objected to the plans of a betting shop to extend their opening hours as I’m concerned it would fuel crime and anti-social behaviour in our area. I have urged the planning committee to reject this application.

Another issue that I was contacted about was the future of the New Inns Pub, which is a historic landmark and a vital community hub for our area. In response to my letter, I’m glad the owners have confirmed the building will remain a local pub and continues to serve our community for years to come.

I have also invited the West Midlands Chief Constable, to join me for a walk along Erdington High Street. I want him to see and hear the challenges that our local businesses and residents are facing.

Our High Street continues to be let down by the Tory Government, who earlier this year rejected our Levelling Up Fund Bid.

This fund should have helped areas like ours that have been left behind. Instead, affluent areas like the Prime Minister’s own constituency received millions of pounds in funding.

Erdington is my home, and I will continue to fight each and every day for the investment our area deserves.

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

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

I hope you enjoyed the summer break. As for me, August has been another busy month, tirelessly working to get the best for our community.

Recently, I proudly stood with residents to oppose the latest planning application for a 7-bed HMO on Gravelly Lane, which would have made it the 209th HMO in our area. It’s no secret that our communities in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale have been grappling with an influx of HMOs, and the associated problems that follow.

Thankfully, our campaign successfully persuaded Birmingham City Council to reject the application, making it clear that we don’t need any more HMOs in our neighbourhoods.

Another matter that was bought to my attention was the speculation of the future of Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre in Kingstanding. The Centre holds a special place in my heart as it’s where I first worked as a district nurse, so I know how important the Centre is for local people.

I wrote to the CEO of NHS Birmingham and Solihull seeking clarification. His swift reply provided assurances that the Centre will stay at its current location for the foreseeable future, however, concerns remain about the state of the building that are under careful observation.

Places like Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre provide vital services to local people. Sadly, after 13 years of Tory neglect, our local NHS centres are at risk. Only a Labour Government can fix this mess, save our NHS, and prioritise the health needs for communities like ours.

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

(Ed’s note: This column was first published in the Erdington Local newspaper on 4 September, before the announcement of a Section 114 notice issued by Birmingham City Council.)

NEWS: Professional Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell gets ready for September fights

By Erdington Local news team

Kingstanding boxer Niall Farrell is “loving” life as a professional and keeping busy with two fights this month – his first taking place at Planet Ice in Solihull on Saturday 9 September.

Fighting in the All of the Lights tournament, presented by Tommy Owens Promotions LTD, Farell will appear as an undercard on a bill of lightweight boxers from across the country – including Nottingham’s Delmar Thomas and Dudley’s Ryan Griffiths.

For more information and links to online tickets sales for All of the Lights, click here.

Niall Farell, a former Team GB member, swapped fighting for his country across the world to enter the professional ranks earlier this year and made an impressive start with unbeaten 2-0 record.

The 25-year-old is still training at Second City Boxing, Kingstanding, and has appointed Birmingham veteran John Pegg as his manager to navigate the notoriously slippery world of the fight game.

He told Erdington Local: “I hopefully will be 4-0 by the end of the month, and then hope to fight another twice before the end of the year.

“I am loving being a pro-fighter now; I always have a date to fight, and I am learning every day and I am keeping busy.”

He added: “The lightweight division has some of the best pound for pound fighters in the world and I am just starting out, so I am just concentrating on the next fight.”

Niall is fighting on Saturday 9 Septemebr at Solihull’s Planet Ice. A key component of being a pro-fighter is being a “ticket seller” and ‘Wacka Farrell’ has already amassed a big following from Kingstanding.

He said: “I am not sure how many I’ve sold but I know there is a coach leaving Kingstanding for Solihull. I am so grateful to everyone who supports me, now I am professional people will be able to see me locally instead of me flying all over the world in amateur tournaments.”

Saturday’s opponent was meant to be Niall’s toughest test yet, Logan Paling, but he has had to rearrange the bout for Thursday, 28 September at Cannock’s Bar Sport.

Niall said: “I am not sure who my opponent is on Saturday (9 September), but I can’t wait to get back in the ring. The difference from amateur three bout fights and longer professional fights is it’s not such a big rush, I can take my time.”

Niall decided to turn professional after a controversial decision ended his dream of winning gold at last year’s Commonwealth Games in his own city.

He said: “I had a great amateur career, fighting for your country all over the world is a great experience. It gave me a profile which is helping me as a pro and the bonds I made with the boxers who were my teammates are still there.” 

Niall still helps out at Black Country homeless charity The Good Shepherd regularly and enjoyed running Second City’s summer children’s camp in the school holidays.

He said: “We will be doing more summer camps because it was a real success, it was not just about boxing but it was nice to see some of the children join the club afterwards.”

Click on the links to follow Niall Farrell on social media including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

I hope everyone in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale is looking forward to the summer break and spending some valuable time with their family. Although Parliament is in summer recess, my work in our community will continue throughout.

Recently, I was made aware of a planning application that proposed to convert the Royal Oak Pub into a 10-bed HMO. The property is located in Stockland Green ward, in an area that already has a significant number of HMOs. I led a campaign calling on local people to object to the planning application, and our petition collected the support of 398 concerned residents.

I’m delighted that Birmingham City Council listened to residents’ concerns and refused the application. This shows what can be achieved when a determined community works together.

Also in July, our amazing NHS marked its 75th Anniversary. I’m proud to have worked in the NHS as a nurse, first training as a district nurse in Kingstanding and then dedicating 25 years to supporting people across Birmingham. Living in Erdington, I still rely on and cherish our local NHS services.

The NHS was Labour’s greatest achievement, founded in 1948 and continues to provide care to everyone free from the point of use. Sadly, after 13 years of Tory mismanagement, we have seen a huge decline in our health service, making it impossible to book GP appointments, creating long operation waiting times and worsening staff shortages. Our NHS is broken, and it will take a Labour government to save it.

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